Hadrian’s Wall lies just to the north of Carlisle, and 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 roundabout and is the halfway point between Carlisle and Hexham. You can park on-site where you will find the visitor centre which has a great shop selling all things Cumbrian and Roman as well as a café. It’s completely dog friendly, meaning you don't have to leave the four-legged family members behind. Just make sure you pick up after them!
Plan your arrival to fit in with the guided walk ‘How to be a Roman’. This is a talk in which a fully dressed Roman soldier describes exactly what it was like to be in the Roman army and all the children in the audience get involved too. This is a fantastic demonstration and really interesting for grown-ups and kids alike, and it makes it a fun day out for everyone.
After the talk why not explore the fort ruins, the walls, gates, granaries and parade block? Then take a walk along Hadrian’s Wall and feel the history and stories that surround it. This particular section is 2 metres tall and you can walk 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.
You can follow 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 is a real highlight and has amazing views over the River Irthing. There is a bridge that takes you over the river to the remains of the eastern abutment of the old Roman Bridge.
When you make it to Gilsland, stop for a coffee and a piece of cake at the House of Meg tearoom. From there, walk to Poltroll Burn Milecastle and along a path following the line of the wall – while there are parts of the wall that disappear, there is a clear and easy path to follow and to walk along. Ahead, the ruins of Thirlwall Castle will come into sight and it's worth stopping to take a look and soak it all in. 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.
This is a fantastic day out and perfect if you’re looking for things to do in Cumbria.
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