A Tour of England's North Country
Here a well-preserved 400m section of the Wall runs its way along the dramatic northern edge of the Whin Sill escarpment. We clambered up the waterlogged hillside to reach the ruins of Turret 45a with commanding views over a misty border country and along the line of the Whin Sill east towards the central Pennines and Northumberland. An easy stroll west took us along the section of wall which in places is more than two metres high and very well preserved.
Our next stop was at Steel Rigg for the fabulous views east along the Whin Sill towards Housesteads Roman Fort. The sun was shining and plenty of people were out enjoying the day. We followed the Wall for some way east before returning to the car. We didn’t quite make it to Sycamore Gap on this occasion.
Lunch was taken in the sunshine at Housesteads Roman Fort, my favourite place on the Wall. After a wander around the great little museum we headed up to the fort itself, spending time nosing around the Praetoria, the latrines, the granary and the curtain wall and gates.
The weather was wonderful with dramatic clouds drifting across the fells and the occasional burst of sunshine to light up the ruined stonework. Housesteads is an incredible place to visit.
From Housesteads we took a steep, winding road slightly south away from the line of the wall to reach Vindolanda. Here the highlight is really the original fragments of letters that are on display in the museum but we also had fun exploring the reconstructions of the wooden and stone wall and turrets as well as wandering around the extensive ruins of this fort.
The next day saw us out and about in North Yorkshire. We headed to Richmond, walking along besides the River Swale below the imposing curtain wall of the castle.
The colours were bright and autumnal and after spending time at the falls we walked along the old railway line to Easby Abbey and the church.
After a delicious lunch at the Station restaurant we came back through the town, passing St Mary’s church and returning to the cars by way of the market place.
Our final day in the North Country was really a return drive north to Aberdeen. This time rather than taking the western route we headed up the A1 and stopped off at a couple of spots along the Northumbrian coast. The first of these was Craster, the small fishing village where traditional smoked fish is still produced.
We walked along the easy going coastal path to the dramatic ruins of Dunstanburgh castle, the fortress of John of Gaunt. We had a pleasant wander around the site in the sunshine, enjoying views out to sea and further up the coast towards Bamburgh.
On the way back we had some fun making our way through a small herd of cows that had gathered on the path.
Eventually though we were back in Craster and driving further up the coast for a brief stop at Bamburgh.
From here we drove on to The Barn at Beal for a late lunch with views across to Holy Island and Lindisfarne. Although it would have been great to visit the island, tide and time were against us and so after the delicious food we got back on the road and had a pleasant journey back up to Aberdeen.