This fantastic Lake District tour to Hadrian’s Wall takes you through the heart of the Lake District through the valleys and besides the lakes and on towards Penrith and the North of the country.
This full day tour starts in Windermere with pick ups from Bowness and Ambleside beforehand. The tour starts by heading north up over Kirkstone Pass. The mountain pass has an altitude of 1,489 feet making is the highest tarmac road in the National Park, so as you can imagine – the views are something special up there! Kirkstone Pass connects Ambleside in the Rothay Valley to Patterdale in the Ullswater Valley, therefore it is a popular, scenic route for those exploring the Lake District. Near the summit, built on the site of a 15th century Monastery, there is the old coaching inn which is popular with tourists due to its low beams, open fires and good beer! As we drive by the old coaching inn, you will see the commanding view down to Windermere and Morecombe Bay in the distance. As we continue to travel north of the pass to Ullswater, you will be take in the fantastic views of Brotherswater and Place Fell. Brotherswater has inspired many people, including Dorothy Wordsworth who wrote about Brotherswater when writing to her brother William back in 1802: ‘the boughs of the bare old trees, the simplicity of the mountains, and the exquisite beauty of the path….the gentle flowing of the stream, the glittering, lively lake, green fields without a living creature to be seen on them.’ So as this quotes suggests, this route really does offer some inspiring scenery.
The tour then travels on towards Ullswater. Ullswater is the second largest lake in the Lake District, being approximately 9 miles long, it has also been described as the most beautiful lake in England. Referring back to William Wordsworth, it was Glencoyne Park at Ullswater that gave him the inspiration to write his most famous poem, Daffodils. As you travel alongside Ullswater your friendly driver/guide will be telling you lots of interesting facts, about the Lake District and also Roman Britain.
We continue into the remote 'Debatable Lands' of the Border Reivers heading to Lanercost Priory, with time to see and visit the church built within the priory ruins and more Burne Jones windows. The Augustinian priory of Lanercost stands nearby to Hadrian’s Wall and was much involved in the Anglo-Scottish wars. During King Edward I campaign in 1306 – 1307, he stayed at the Lanercost Priory for 6 months and it suffered terribly from Scottish raids, almost destroying the building. However, in 1537 it was finally dissolved by Henry VIII and almost all of the building were stripped of lead, apart from the church. However today it is a beautiful 13th century church which remains remarkably well-preserved.
Moving on we then travel along side Hadrian’s Wall, following it past ‘Mile Castles’ and ‘Towers’. Hadrian’s Wall is almost 80 miles long and was the northern boundary of the mighty Roman Empire for around 3 Centuries. It was built by a force of 15000 men over a 7-year period and comprises of forts, Mile Castles and every third of a mile a Turret, stretching from the North Sea to the Irish Sea. Originally, up to 3m wide and 5 to 6m high but much of the ruins today are 1 to 2m high. To the south of the wall is the Vallum, a ditch mound, designating the south boundary of the militarised zone. It was designated a World Heritage Site in 1987. The wall really is the focus of this fantastic day tour, as you will learn so much about Hadrian and his army.
The next stop will by the Roman Army Museum, where there is time for lunch and a café inside. The Roman Army Museum lies on the site of Carvoran Roman Fort adjacent to sections of Hadrian’s Wall. The museum’s artefacts, videos and reconstructions give great insight into the life of a Roman Soldier and the building of the wall at the northerly boundary of the Roman Empire. Their award winning 3D film illustrates the military and civil engineering accomplishments of the Roman’s in Britain, which you may watch if you wish.
After lunch we the make our way to Vindolanda. Vindolanda is an amazing working archaeological dig site to the south of Hadrian’s Wall. There were 9 forts built on the site over the 400 years of occupancy of the Roman’s. Each day during the summer, treasures are uncovered by the volunteer excavators. The on-site museum, extended for 2018, displays the best of the artefacts. You will have time to wander through the fort or Vicus remains imagining the sights and sounds the building walls would have heard.
After our trip to Vindolanda, we continue along Hadrian’s Wall seeing the spectacular Fell End, Sunny Rigg, Great Chester and finally Steel Rigg before making our way back to Windermere.