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Before setting off to walk Hadrian's Wall, we spent the morning in the Tullie House Museum in Carlisle. We went particularly for the Roman exhibits, but also found the stories about other epochs in Carlisle's history fascinating. There was a video about life in the time of the border reivers --- armed bandits who terrorized the countryside in the border area for centuries, until about 1700.
After lunch in the museum cafe, we took the early afternoon bus to Bowness-on-Solway. This was a special bus called the AD 122, named for the year that the Emperor Hadrian commanded that the wall be built. The bus runs a route near the Wall, and once a day goes all the way west to Bowness-on-Solway. This was the western end of Hadrian's Wall, though nothing of the Wall remains there today.
We got off the bus at the end of its route, and started walking east, as we would be doing (roughly) for the next 84 miles (the official length of the path; we actually walked a good bit more, with side excursions and going to B&Bs.) We soon came to a little pavilion marking the beginning of the Hadrian's Wall Path. Two charming young girls were there to greet us and sell us little beach stones that they had stamped with an image of Hadrian. We asked one of them to take our picture, and I took theirs. Above the door was a wooden plaque wishing us well on our walk. (Above the door on the other side was a congratulations sign, for those finishing the walk!)
|It was rainy that afternoon, and we arrived at Highfield Farm dripping wet. The young couple and their small daughter were very welcoming, and made much appreciated tea and cakes for us. After we had recuperative showers and baths, they drove us to a pub for dinner. The next morning it was grey but not raining as we left the farm.|
|For several miles we were walking in a very flat salt marsh area that floods several times a year. The grass here is sweet, and grazing rights for cattle are rented to farmers from far off. The unit of grazing right is the "stint": the right to graze three sheep or one and a half cows! Cows wander freely; drivers must beware.|
St. Michael's Church in Brough-by-Sands has a thick-walled fortified tower. The church was built in the 12th century, within what had been a fort on Hadrian's Wall. They built the church largely with stones from the fort and wall. Then in the 14th century, when border warfare was an almost constant worry, the townspeople added the fortified tower for their protection. The only entrance to the tower is through a gated entrance inside the church.
Julie, at Highfield Farm that morning, had made us packed lunches. We found a satisfactory spot and enjoyed them. After that we walked on to Carlisle. We stopped to see the castle, and then returned to the guest house where we had stayed two days earlier.
The next day we walked for several hours beside the River Eden. At the village of Crosby-on-Eden we stopped at the Stag Inn for mid-morning coffee.
|Then not long thereafter,
we were walking through fields along a ridge, with the
foundations of Hadrian's Wall under our feet.
Old Wall Cottage, which we passed a
bit later, is a 17th century cottage, made from Hadrian's Wall stones, as are many
houses in the area.
This "green lane" was pleasant walking. The North Ditch was to our left, behind the hedge. There was a defensive ditch on the north side of Hadrian's Wall for most of its length, and much of it still exists, even where the wall itself has disappeared (into houses!).
We stayed that night at Town Head Farm, at the edge of the village of Walton. Dinner that evening was at the appropriately named Centurion Inn, .
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