A Sunday Drive Along the Wall in North Cumbria and Northumberland

Since it’s a travel day for us, we thought we’d make the most of it by making as many stops as we could on our way to dropping off the hired car and taking the train to Edinburgh. Little did we know just how many stops you can make!

IMG_4649We headed north from our bed and breakfast in Windermere-on-Bowness and had some spectacular scenery before stopping at Aira Force, a waterfall managed by the National Trust. It’s a bit of a hike to get there from the car park, but well worth it, if you don’t mind stairs. Lots of them.

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Then it was off to Carlisle and the beginning of Hadrian’s Wall. (Editor’s note: we really wanted to see Carlisle Castle, but our time was limited.) There are the ruins of  several Roman outposts and forts along the border of Northumberland and Cumbria, four of which are managed by the English Heritage.

Birdswaldo Roman Fort

At the Birdoswald Roman fort, the wall has its longest continuous stretch, so it’s where we started. The complex is in a rather remote setting given its historical importance, and we were a bit underwhelmed when we had our first site of the wall. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site, after all. Since we were taller than the wall, it just didn’t seem very defensible!

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Housesteads Roman Fort

About fifteen miles east, Housesteads is set high on a hill and is the most complete Roman fort in all of Britain. The hike to get up there is about a half-mile (see the people on the footpath?), so we cheated a bit.

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Chesters Roman Fort and Museum

The best preserved of all the forts, Chesters was impressive. It’s also just a few miles down the road, a scenic drive in Northumberland. Good signage documents every building foundation, and there are quite a number of them.

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Corbridge Roman Town

We saved the best for last, for Corbridge is located near Hexham (where the Duke of  Westhaven’s brother from The Epiphany of an Explorer is an archaeologist) and it has some of the best artifacts and even the remnants of columns.

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On to Newcastle

Our next stop was the Newcastle Airport, where we turned in the hired car (rental) and took the Metro to the train station. The Virgin train left for Edinburgh at 14:49 and we were there by 18:15 and at the Radisson Blu by 18:30!

We’ll be sleeping well (and sleeping in). Ta-ta for now!

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