As mentioned in my previous post, the family and I recently spent a long weekend in Cumbria, the heart of England’s countryside. Although our chosen base for the trip –Carlisle was largely a let down:
(Read My: Top Thing to do in the English town of Carlisle for why 🙂 )
We couldn’t head so far north without visiting one of Britain’s oldest, yet often overlooked, landmarks: Hadrian’s Wall.
Built around 122 AD to separate the expanse of the Roman Empire from the unconquerable barbarians of Scotland, Hadrian’s Wall is England’s very own (if a lot smaller) Wall of China.
During its prime, the Wall stretched 73 miles, coast to coast, holding many castles and small forts along its length. Today, only about 10% of the original structure remains. Over the subsequent centuries stone has simply been removed, buried or destroyed.
Despite this, the fact that any of the wall has survived, and still remains in relatively good condition, is a rather impressive feat considering its age!
We opted to explore a section of the wall next to Lanercost Priory. Only a 20 minute drive from Carlisle, this is a great base for a short trip to the wall…
For one, its home to a great cafe. We had a lovely lunch here before heading out to explore the area! Serving soup, sandwiches and salad; its a modern but cosy little cafe with helpful staff and an overall pleasant vibe! – I’d highly recommend 🙂
But I digress… My belly full and warmed by delicious coffee/tea, it was time to find the ancient wall! Although badly signposted, after only a 15 minute walk (and several wrong turns) it was within our sites!
The wall was lower than I’d expected (no more than ankle height in places). Further, the section was relatively short… I’d naively assumed that the wall would stretch out far into the distance. In truth, the 10% that remains, does so in a handful of small, short sections like the one at Lanercost.
Despite feeling a little underwhelmed, I was still inspired by the fact that people patrolled its length, just as I was doing, 2000 years ago!! Plus, views from the section’s hill-top location were pretty splendid – So it wasn’t all bad 😉
After taking in the small section of the wall, we took an even more scenic route back to the Priory.
Walking through acres of green fields, with the regions mountains looming in the background, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the area! I was delighted to be immersed within the heart of the countryside!
Quaint little cottages, seemingly plucked from a Disney movie, greeted me from the hillside, while century’s old stone barns stood pride of place within the rural landscape:
Arriving back at Lanercost Priory, its seemed rude to park our car and enjoy the cafe without paying a quick visit to the priory itself.
Founded in 1166, this ancient holy site (like so many others) fell into disrepair following Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries in 1536. The Nave was later resorted into a parish church in 1740, which is still in use today!
The rest of the ancient structure consists of an eerie skeleton. Despite being bare, there’s still a grandeur about what remains of the building. The walls reach high into the sky and are laced with impressive arch ways and intricate masonry work!
At an entry price of just £3.20 (Free for English heritage members) its certainly worth a look around!
This quick trip into the true backdrop of Cumbria simply left me wanting more! Without a doubt I will be returning, I’m sure on several occasion, to fully explore the regions mountains. For now at-least, I can tick Hadrian’s Wall off my list following a lovely peaceful and enjoyable afternoon!
Visited Hadrian’s wall yourself? Planing a trip to Cumbria or the Lake District? Or simply have any thoughts on this post? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below 🙂