Just occasionally I go further afield for my strolls but this is the first time I have ventured so far North.
It was, however, worth it because I was in search of Hadrian and the Hammer of the Scots!
Students of Hadrian’s wall often make the mistake of just following the line from Carlisle towards Newcastle.
The wall, however, began on the banks of the Solway Finch at the point where the River Eden enters the estuary.
In the little village there are buildings with masonry from the wall incorporated into them. This is one of the most attractive bird walking areas of Britain and about half way along the route is a monument to the warrior King Edward I (1272-1307) and who was a thorn in the flesh of all people of Southern Scotland.
This walk should be planned well in advance and only attempted in good weather. In these conditions the route is level and easy.
Begin in the village of Burgh-by-Sands and take plenty of time to explore the buildings, including a thatched cottage with walls composed mainly of wattle and lamb but is supported by large buttresses. There are also solid stome-built farms containing masonry from Hadrian’s wall. It is surprising to find that in the 18th century there was once a tabacco-processing factory. Continue on to the church of St Michael, here is an impression of a pele tower dating to 1181 at a time when it was the Scot’s turn to hammer the English. The windows are narrow and the walls are nearly 7 feet thick. These slits allowed archers to be devastated outwards but only a very skilful archer could direct a missile into the tower. Look out for a memorial to Edward I where his body lay in state in the name of the church in 1307. (see point 3) From the church turn left for a very short distance before turning sharp right. Follow a substantial track which eventually lead to a damp area of marshland grass. At one time sea-washed turf from this area was exported for use in sports grounds, including the old Wembley stadium during its heyday between the 1920s and the 1960s. Look to the right where at certain times of the day a spectacular bore rushes up the firth and into the river.
This is a wet area and after bearing left and passing across footbridges you reach the substantial monument dedicated to Edward I. The ageing Edward who had earned his name of the hammer of the Scots camped on this spot on his way from Carlisle and was taken ill and died in 1307. No monument was erected to celebrate his life until 1685, a substantial replacement was erected in 1803 and a restoration carried out at the turn of the present century.
The track bears left and passes through areas of marsh which is rich in birdlife and was used as a firing range during the Second World War. The area is now well managed by the National Trust and cattle and sheep grazing is controlled to allow breeding and feeding spare for wildfowl and waders. Cross footbridges and over stiles and through gates. At the road turn left and return to the village.