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" Meg's Roman Wall Day "

Date & start time: Wednesday  22nd June 2016,  10.30 am start.

Location of Start : The red phone box, Loweswater , Cumbria, Uk ( NY 143 211 )

Places visited : Buttermere, Honister, the Roman Wall, Vindolanda, Lanercost and home.

Steel Rigg Walk details :  2 mls,  450 feet of ascent, 1 hour 20 mins.

High point : The whole three days has been really great.

Walked with : Meg, Helen, Jono, Ann and our dogs, Harry and Dylan.

Weather : Perfect summer weather, warm sunshine with fluffy white clouds, very clear viz.

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Meg was our holiday guide to Emma Gorge, Kimberley, Australia, way back in pre-digital 1998. 

We've kept in touch and when she wanted to visit the Lake District it was a perfect chance to be her guide to our part of the world.

- - - o o o - - -

During the time that Meg, Helen and Jono stayed with us they enjoyed the sights of wildlife in our garden.

A great spotted woodpecker has been a frequent visitor to enjoy the peanuts on our bird table.

An acrobat on the feeder.
The wood pigeon prefers ground feeding.

A vibrant yellow hammer after the table food.

Our red squirrel appeared, to the delight of ourselves and our visitors.

Climbing up on the bird table . . .
but his colour is different . . .
Wow . . . we have two squirrels !

We even have two puffins in the flower bed . . . but they are looking rather wooden compared to the rest.

- - - o o o - - -

On the second day of Meg, Helen and Jono's visit we head out for Hadrian's Wall.

The weather isn't looking quite so settled as we drive up to Buttermere . . . . but the forecast is good.

On cue the sun comes out as we stop to visit Buttermere Church.

A small but delightful Church built on the hill above the village.

The unique entrance gate . . .
A classic old church organ . . .
. . . and the Wainwright Memorial window.

In the Church are a remarkable set of kneelers, each hand embroidered with local themes.


On Syke Farm the Ayreshire cattle have produced calves

who are now out in the field and growing fast.


The view from the car across to the High Stile Ridge

on the opposite side of the Buttermere valley.

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Hold your cursor over the picture to pat the calf.
Time to be heading off to Honister . . .

Can't pass without a quick look at the famous Buttermere Pines.

Ahead is the climb up Honister Pass.

We stopped to let our guests appreciate the size and scale of the fells, especially here where the Honister Crags tower above the road.

[ For those that watched the recent British TV drama " The A Word ",  this part of the road was the scene for each of the weekly opening sequences.]

Jono, Helen and Meg at Honister Mine.

Our brief visit today would  have to be restricted to the shop and workshop of the mine.

Wide screen television . . . Honister style.

A viewing window in their cafe gives a view of the cutting room where the big clogs of slate are cut with diamond-edged saws.

A few minutes to spare and we take a short walk outside to appreciate the scale of the mine workings.

Looking down the road at the Honister Ramble bus negotiating the steep 1:4 gradient hill climb.

To the left the cliffs and many levels of Honister mine . . .
. . . and to the right the Yew Crag Quarries and funicular.

- - - o o o - - -

We could have spent hours here . . . but the request was for " Roman remains" much further afield.

Our route took us down into Borrowdale and alongside Derwent Water.

Despite the tight time schedule there's always time to stop for a few moments along the way . . .



This is the Ashness Jetty

and the Keswick Launch landing stage in Barrow Bay.


[ Parking can be found a short distance up the Ashness Bridge road ]

Click here or on the photo above for a larger Loweswatercam annotated panorama.

- - - o o o - - -

From Keswick we drove on via Penrith, Langwathby and over the A686 mountain road towards Alston.

The famous Hartside Cafe . . . only a quick stop as people wanted lunch with a view of The Wall.

. . . but the driver and photographers wanted to see the view over the Vale of Eden from here so the car stopped as requested.

Click here or on the photo above for my larger Loweswatercam annotated panorama.

Over the mountain road, the building of which was overseen by Mr McAdam of tar-macadam fame.

My passengers informed me that their guide book indicates that it is one of the ten finest mountain roads in England .

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Several minor roads later and we reach our destination at Steel Rigg.

. . . and relax !

Our sandwiches were in desperate need of some liquid accompaniment.

We found a perfectly placed gentleman with a Scottish accent (we were just north of The Wall) and he had a van serving excellent tea and coffee.

He also lent us his nice chairs for a few moments . . . as lunch was enjoyed with the desired view ahead of us.

Time for a walk.

Steel Rigg is a great starting point as it has a fine section of Roman wall

running along the top of a rock escarpment formed by the geological phenomena known as the Whin Sill

In the distance is Crag Lough, the half mile long lake nestled behind the up-turned strata of the geological sill.

Between here and there we should find good examples of the wall, of guard turrets

and a mile castle where a gate through the wall would have stood.

We set off on the path that would take forty minutes or so to reach the rocky high ground in the middle distance.

The first of the undulations, down the dip and a steep climb up the other side.

The wall across the valley floor was Roman but the one up the far side was a smaller, more modern farmer's dry stone wall.

Looking back at an un-named farm, Once Brewed House and the Twice Brewed Youth Hostel near the main road.

Helen and Jono enjoying the walk and the views it offered.

Meg was intrigued by the wall too . . . these Roman remains are far older than 'modern Australia' her home region

However, the age of Australian Aboriginal art and artifacts, a passion of both Meg and Helen, far exceed these remains by many thousands of years.

Old Roman stone and a new foxglove . . .
More purple colour on the turf covering.

A beautiful rock plant in full bloom . . . maybe one of the mountain thyme family ?

The wall continues on . . . close to the steep-sided escarpment.

Mile Castle 39 . . . a rather utilitarian name for an old gateway and minor barracks for soldiers living on the wall.

The foundations are all that remain of the internal living quarters enclosed within the protective outer wall.

Dylan on the other side of the fence . . . again.

On again, following the path behind the wall.

In Roman times the wall would have been much higher and its width would allow a walkway along the top for the soldiers to use.

The wider view looking down on Sycamore Gap.

A steep, pitched descent . . .
took us down to the famous sycamore . . .
. . . that is featured in National Park literature.

The tree really became famous when it featured in the " Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves " 1991 film staring Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman.

We did have a good look up into the tree but Robin Hood wasn't hiding there any more !

Ann makes her way down from the tree ahead of Jono and Meg who have been enjoying the view from on high.

The Four Musketeers . . . but no . . . there were three and it was a 1993 film.

Some spare Roman stones make a reasonably comfortable resting place for a few moments.

The walk back had a lower option on a grass path that avoided most of the undulations.

I think this is where we came in . . . and it is only just past four o'clock and the coffee van may still be there !

- - - o o o - - -

Also in the Steel Rigg area is one of the finest of Roman Forts.

It was a short drive over to Vindolanda Fort.

You buy entry tickets and pass through a small exhibition area before exiting onto the site.

Sadly they had a "strictly-no-dogs rule" and would not make an exception for our two well behaved personalities

which meant that Ann stayed back and gave the dogs an extra walk outside the car park . . . a real shame but she has been here some years ago.

It was just four tickets then, not five, for the last hour of the day . . . Jono and Helen study the information board . . .

. . . then transpose it to the view ahead.

The Vindolanda Trust have constructed an example of the old turf wall and the later stone wall on one corner of the site.

Not only did it give an impression of what the wall could have been like . . .

it also gave you a higher perspective of some of the rest of the Vindolanda site.

The turf wall came complete with a real live rabbit.

The site is being continually excavated by the Trust and has been finding a vast quantity of artifacts.

It seems that the workers have downed tools as it is the end of the working day.

Towards the lower edge of the site is the old Roman Bathhouse.

Raised flooring . . .
Post-Roman buildings within the fort outline.
Present day excavations still on-going.

Vindolanda is also famous for having a large village complex outside the walled fort itself.

Here in "The Vicus" is an example of a butcher's shop, identified by the floor drains of the abattoir area.

A raised platform gave an overview of another Roman Bathhouse area.

Like Hardknott Fort yesterday, this bathhouse was located outside the main walls of the fort.

On site the Vindolanda Trust had a fine museum

(unvisited due to the time) and on the site

have tried to create features that made sense of the

foundation and shaped stones that they found on site.

This is the re-built channel taking water to the bath house.

No doubt there's loads of info on their web site

including a warning about their dog policy

that seemed a little unreasonable to us

as other walled forts in this area do allow dogs into similar locations.

- - - o o o - - -

With the clink of a door lock behind us we started on our way home.

We take the scenic route via Birdoswald Fort near the village of Gilsland.

We visited here earlier this year in March.
Roman walls incorporated into the more modern farm buildings.
A later Peel Tower dating from the 16th Century.

This area has one of the longest continuous sections of original wall.

We follow part of it towards Carlisle.

Our road dives down into the valley and on passed Lanercost Priory.

They were having a music festival during this week . . . but unfortunately we were otherwise engaged.

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Our final deadline of the day

was to be home, changed and ready

for a meal at the Kirkstile Inn.


- - - o o o - - -

Photo by Meg

Meg and myself . . . we went 'posh' and ate in the restaurant area.

Jono and Helen

. . . and finally a photo of Meg and Ann outside, with our cottage in the background.

[ Apologies - the colour is a little weird due to the fill-in flash kicking in unexpectedly ]

- - - o o o - - -

It has been a lovely few days, where we have been able to entertain Meg, Helen and Jono and show them some of the highlights of our part of the world.

The weather also came up trumps to show Cumbria and The Wall in such beautiful light.

We can only hope your visit to the area, should you be able to make one, will offer you the same delightful weather.

Till we meet again . . . .

- - - o o o - - -


Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Canon Sureshot SX220, or my Canon 1100D Digital SLR.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . dramatic landscape, history and so many attractions in one area.

Go to Top . . . © RmH . . . Email me here

A local walk with our visitors 

Meg's World Tour of the Lakes

Meg's Roman Wall Tour

Previous walk - 20th June 2016 - Meg's World Tour of the Lakes

A previous time up here - 12th Feb 2008 Wall to Wall Sunshine - Vindolanda

Click here for a link to the official Vindolanda Web Site

Next walk - 24th June 2016 - The Railway Children Challenge 2016