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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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…