April 22, 2010

So our cliff-top camp turned out nice and quiet. In the morning we did our usual coffee walk (when we walk with our coffee mugs) this time through the Reserve. The reserve didnít yield very much, other than a kestrel and some chaffinches, but it was a nice walk through a river canyon that looped back to the ocean.

The one disconcerting thing that we have noticed here is that a very large proportion of dog owners fail to clean up after their pets. Needless to say, that even in a reserve we have to watch where we step.

As we drove through Hartlepool yesterday, we spied a couple of stores that we wanted to go back to so that we could buy some more supplies. Well, by the time we stopped at both stores and got fuel, it was nearly lunch time! It is so amazing how much time simple, routine things take.

OK, now we could finally get moving again, so we zipped (at 40 mph) to our next destination, Hadrianís Wall. A brief summary here, Hadrian was the Roman Emperor around 120AD when Rome controlled England. The Emperor decided that it was time to set a boundary on Roman land, and keep the Scottish "barbarians" in check, so he ordered that a wall be built across the country. The wall went from the east coast to the west coast, a total of 82 miles???

There isnít too much left of the actual wall as most of the stones were reused or plundered (depending on who you ask) for use in constructing homes and churches. Along the course of the wall, there are Roman forts that are being excavated, museums of archeological finds, and several stretches of intact wall that can be visited.

We explored the ruins at Chesters Fort and checked out the finds in their small museum. We have visited Roman sites as far south as Morocco and now as far north as the Empire went Ė England. It is truly amazing what a standard of development the Romans had: bridges and roads, aqueducts and fountains to bring drinking water to the cities, sewers to flush waste away, baths with warm and cold rooms, along with granaries to store food for an extended time.

Our camp this night was at a farm that was open for overnight visitors. Not only was it interesting to stay on a farm, but they had a washer and dryer so that we could do laundry. Ah, such luxury.

Moving on the next day, we visited two more excavated Roman forts, and walked along a couple of sections of existing wall. NAMES HERE that we found very interesting. Of course without the descriptions provided by the parks we wouldnít have known what we were looking at, but now we know that this pile of rocks was a barracks and that those rocks were the commanderís quarters, oh and those other rocks were the baths. Apparently the Romans were very efficient and used the same designs for forts and other installations throughout their empire. Itís kind of like walking into a Wal-mart store and always knowing where something will be found, regardless of what city the store is in.


The wall


Latrines

We were hoping to camp at a quiet quarry along the wall, but we wanted to get an internet connection with our wifi router and this spot was off-line. So we continued on to the next community where we found a nice parking spot at a trout farm, only to find we were still off-line. Oh well, weíll just have to wait another day to catch up on emails, etc.

In the morning, after our coffee walk and breakfast, we drove into Carlisle Ė a city Ė to find a nice parking spot where we could have some quality internet time. We found such a good spot, right near the center of town that we decided to spend the day and night there. At lunch, Kim took me out for a birthday meal, then we explored the walk streets, the old church that dated back to Norman times (that is the 12th century) and then to the castle overlooking town.

The castle also dates back hundreds of years and is still used by the military for offices. We explored the dungeon where we saw the "famous" licking stone that prisoners allegedly licked in order to get the moisture off of the rock Ė such was their treatment and their thirst.

In the morning, after checking our emails we headed off for our next destination, the Lake District. Our guidebook describes this National Park as the most idyllic area in the country, next to the Scottish Highlands. We wanted to see for ourselves so that we can compare them when we get to Scotland.

One thing for sure, we found that the roads were just barely wide enough for us to pass oncoming traffic. Many times we had to stop in the roadway while other vehicles crept by us. It was a bit unnerving, but we got through with no problems. Oh yes, did I mention the rain and the fog that reduced visibility to nothing? We had to contend with that as well.

We stopped at a National Park visitorís office to check on camping options and the attendants were so friendly and helpful that they called ahead to the campground to make sure that they had space large enough for us. So feeling secure, we headed off into the Langdale Valley to the campsite. After miles and miles, with the roads getting smaller and smaller, we stopped for directions to make sure that we hadnít passed our destination. No problem, we were just a quarter mile away.

Finally arriving at the site, we picked a nice spot along a babbling brook and close to the fields where we were amused by the antics of dozens of new born lambs.

 

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