Hadrian's wall, part 10 - Burgh on Sands to Bowness
Tue 18th October 2011
Day ten and the final leg of our journey across the isthmus linking the east and west coasts which started ten months ago back in January in sunny Tynemouth, how time flies. It may have been sunny when we started this series of walks but there was snow on the ground too, and plenty of icy patches so weíve walked through all four seasons – sometimes in a single day, do you remember the Force 8 westerly gale on the day we started from Brocolitia for instance?
With only a nominal 7.1 miles to cover we enjoyed the luxury of a more leisurely pace even though some of us met at Kirkharle for 8.00 am for the drive over to Carlisle and beyond, the narrow main street of Bowness-on- Solway certainly has the feel of ďbeyond.Ē The use of the company people carrier is really appreciated by all for longer transfers. A civilised start included morning coffee (from flasks) before boarding the minibus for the drive back to our starting point at the now familiar cattle grid near Dykesfield. Alighting here sight wasnít the dominant sense, surrounded as we were by incontinence; some of us had only just got our kit clean from last month!
The three miles to Drumbrough (pronounced Drumbruff) were uneventful if you discount elevenses at the rather posh shelter overlooking the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near Boustead Hill. The village has a unique assortment of different styles of housing and is built on a drumlin, a remnant of the last Ice Age but I donít think anyone was listening by then – Iím used to it by now. Far more interesting was watching one of our numbers tucking into a third breakfast and repacking his rucksack for the umpteenth time, what a hero. Oh yes, and someone else literally ďput his foot in itĒ which I fully accept was my fault for suggesting we walk on the salt marsh away from the traffic, sorry honestly. If we hadnít come this way we wouldnít have seen the haff netting frame on the edge of the saltmarsh, a rare and ancient form of fishing unique to the estuaries of the North West. As we approached Drumbrugh we were passed by a convoy of classic tractors, little (by todayís standards) Massey Fergusons, David Brown and International Harvester models en-route to somewhere – we didnít see them again after that, not even the one flying the Union flag. Their drivers were very gracious and waved to us as they passed and not a single piece of bailing twine in sight anywhere. Team photographs in front of Drumbrugh Castle having studied this bastle house and noted the Roman alter at the top of the steps with a possible second one at ground level.
Down the lane from Drumbrugh towards Drumbrugh Moss National Nature Reserve, a raised bog, eventually took us past Walker House Farm, an apt name in the circumstances. The sections of the walk in the vicinity of Drumbrugh and Glasson proved to be very wet and muddy. As we were quite close to the respective mosses named after them and the fact that the highest point in the area was only 13 metres - and that in the middle of the raised bog it isnít surprising! Lunch was taken perched on some articulated farm machinery to keep out of the mud. One of the smallest and lightest of our number clearly hadnít absorbed the moments of a force part of her physics education however causing havoc with everyone elseís carefully balanced sandwich boxes and flasks and cups – how we laughed. Having just packed everything away ready to move off it poured down, waterproofs on we squelched towards Port Carlisle. This was intended as the outport for Carlisle itself linked initially by a canal and replaced 30 years by a faster rail link. After failing as a port it was promoted as a resort which also failed.
Just short of the failed portís dilapidated breakwater and harbour installations we stopped to take off said waterproofs because the sun came out and remained so for the rest of our walk. On the red sandstone breakwaters the ornithologists spotted a solitary little egret and a grey heron plus lots of lapwings, oystercatchers. Some ducks, probably pochard ducks judging by their reddish-heads were in the water beyond these structures. Cormorants flew along the firth at low level whilst the westbound contrails of North American bound passenger jets passed overhead considerably higher. Sunbathing session over we followed the shoreline past the remains of the lock gates with their smoothly crafted masonry around the seaward side of the village towards Bowness only just over a mile distant. The flood tide was coming-in quite quickly now as we reverted to the road walk between the two settlements. On arrival at Bowness we made our way to the official end of the walk for celebratory photographs and returned to our vehicles.
A celebratory drink, alcohol for some, tea for others, was taken at The Greyhound in Burgh-by-Sands on the way home along with a very nicely decorated Hadrianís Wall cake courtesy of A (thank you VERY much indeed). We all really appreciated it and Three Breakfasts Man even took some of the remaining cake away with him in case of an emergency stop in a lay-by on the way home!!!!!! In the last few months we have seen and experienced several different landscapes, in a range of different conditions, in addition to the focus of the Roman Wall itself. We are really lucky to live in such a diverse and accessible landscape. Equally importantly we have come to know each other quite well, to appreciate on anotherís personality and sense of humour so that the banter has been light hearted and a real and genuine pleasure. Iíve really looked forward to our walks; they have been more than the sum of their parts. I hope you all feel the same and that there are many more to come in the future.