Walking the Roman Road

The Romans put a road through the valley, crossing the Pennines via the Stainmore Gap. A famous road even in later years, where the Viking king Eric Bloodaxe died bloodily. Much of the road’s now incorporated into the present A66. Look at the Ordnance Survey map and see the many Roman forts along the way. My personal belief is that this is a much older route across the backbone of England – that the Romans just improved on a track that was already there.

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The Roman Road (c) John Bainbridge 2020

But not all the Roman road was incorporated into the modern highway. There’s a good stretch running from Appleby towards Temple Sowerby. A beautiful bridleway now and worth exploring.

On a glorious spring morning this week, we walked it, returning through lanes back to the start. We’ve walked the Roman road a few times. Some bits were badly overgrown in the past. I complained about this last winter, and I’m pleased to say someone has been out and cleared it, making for a more pleasant walk. And just a reminder, if you encounter a path problem please do log it on the Ramblers web page (you can download an app if you have a smartphone.) Here’s the link: https://www.ramblers.org.uk/advice/pathwatch-report-path-features-and-problems.aspx

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The Roman road becomes a path (c) John Bainbridge 2020

It’s been a joy to see the bluebells this year, and we saw what is likely to be the last of them as we walked the Roman road. In a distant field we saw a hare resting in its form. Magical creatures.

Imagining Romans on this old track – well, the earth level has almost certainly risen over the centuries, and while it’s relatively straight you have to use your imagination to picture it as a properly engineered Roman road.

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A wider stretch of the Roman road (c) John Bainbridge 2020

It would have been wilder countryside then, more heathland than cultivated fields, but they would probably have seen the long line of the Pennines as we still do. The three great hills – Knock, Dufton and Murton Pikes, would have been the same. And the distant fells of the Lake District.

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The churchyard Rook (c) John Bainbridge 2020

The trees that now line the Roman road, and it would almost certainly have been clear of them in Roman times for security reasons, are a haven for wild life.

As you reach the far end, the bank of the now removed railway line running from Appleby to Penrith comes into view. What a pity it was ever taken away.

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Long Marton Church (c) John Bainbridge 2020

We wandered through the Lanes past Long Marton and Brampton on the way back. The former’s parish church is Early Norman, c.1100 AD, delightful in its rural setting and with the noise of its rookery echoing along the lane. One rook sat on the churchyard wall, not flying away as we walked quite near.  We like rooks and rookeries. Fascinating birds in so many ways.

Just a reminder – the new and expanded addition of my book The Compleat Trespasser, is now out in paperback for £6.99 and as an Ebook for £2.99. Online sales only at the moment. Here’s the link…

Published by John Bainbridge

Rambler, hillwalker, stravaiger and trespasser, access campaigner. Novelist writing historical and period crime fiction.

20 thoughts on “Walking the Roman Road

    1. It is very pleasant, though we are missing the high hills. Hope you are keeping well? Regards John.

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      1. We are thank you, though Cumbria has a high number, and I know of four people who have died. Stay safe JB

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  1. Both of the first two images, but the second one especially, are exactly the kind of images I have in mind when we talk of ghost roads. Still extant enough to picture traffic, with a little imagination, yet clearly long-disused. Superb.

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  2. You certainly do have some nice walking around your area. I’m quite fed up of the ‘Roman-ness’ of many of our lanes around here though – there are some mile-long, even 3-mile long, straights and they get very boring! I prefer my backlanes winding…

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    1. Me too, though some of the Roman roads are not that straight, which I think strengthens my theory they are older

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  3. This looks another beautiful walk, John, and you can really see the Roman road characteristics of the route – so long and straight! It must have felt like a real journey, and with some great points of interest and scenery along the way. We thought the bluebells put on a stunning display this year, and I don’t know whether you’ve noticed this, but we’ve been finding the wildlife seems to have become much more bold during this time when we humans have been more off the scene. We’ve seen more hares, deer, low-flying kites and barn owls than ever before. It’s quite reassuring, really. And good luck with the book. I’ll look forward to having a read once I’ve finished my final assignment next month. All the best, and keep walking. 🙂

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    1. Good luck with you assignment. It’s been a lovely spring and we are very fortunate that we have been able to walk relatively freely from the door. And yes, I do think wildlife has been bolder. The hedgehog is back and we’ve had a pheasant visiting the garden. Keep well, John

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      1. That’s lovely to have the wildlife in your garden like that, and I’m glad it’s not just us that’s noticed the wildlife coming out of the woodwork, as it were. Thanks for your good wishes for the final assignment too. It’s going to be a mighty challenge in the circumstances I’m in, but we’ll just have to see I guess. Keep well too, and here’s to a little light at the end of the tunnel.

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    1. Sadly, the peace of this walk is now threatened by plans to build a new dual carriageway not far away.

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