The weather was glorious a few weekends ago so we decided to make the most of it with a visit to Hadrian’s Wall. Just north of Carlisle, Birdoswald is a fantastic place to see the longest stretch of the wall and extensive remains of a Roman fort!
Birdoswald is signed off the A69 round about and is the half way point between Carlisle and Hexham. We parked on site and headed into the visitor centre, which has a great shop selling all things Cumbrian and Roman as well as a café – best of all it’s all completely dog-friendly, which is great as we had my Miniature Schnauzer Oscar with us!
We arrived just in time for the lunchtime talk on ‘How to be a Roman’. A fully dressed Roman soldier described exactly what it was like to be in the Roman army and got all the children in the audience involved too. It was a fantastic demonstration and really interesting for grown ups and kids alike.
After the talk we explored the fort ruins and saw the walls, gates, granaries and parade block. Then it was on to the grand event – a walk along Hadrian’s Wall. This particular section is 2 metres tall and my partner and I, plus dog, walked right the way along it! There really is nothing better than walking through history, especially when it’s accompanied by wonderful countryside scenery! You can see out to the hills of the Northern Pennines.
We followed the Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail, which takes in Milecastles, turrets, a river crossing and evidence of the turf wall which preceded Hadrian’s Wall itself.
Harrow Scar milecastle was a real highlight and had an amazing view over the River Irthing. A bridge then took us over the river to the remains of the eastern abutment of the old Roman Bridge.
We then made it to Gilsland and stopped for a coffee and a piece of cake at the House of Meg tearoom. From there, we walked to Poltroll Burn Milecastle and along a path following the line of the wall – the wall had disappeared again but the path is clear and easy to walk along. Ahead we saw the ruins of Thirlwall Castle and decided to stop and take a look. This 14th century castle is partially built of stones ransacked from the wall. According to legend, a solid gold table was hidden down a well here when the castle was under attack – it has never been recovered.
We had been walking for an hour and a half and decided to head back towards Birdoswald at this point. All in all, a fantastic day out and perfect if you’re looking for things to do in Cumbria.