Hadrian’s Wall doesn’t stop us

Looking back to Kirkstone Pass.

I wake up shivering with a fever. It turns out about 2% of people who have the yellow fever immunisation have this reaction – well, I’m assuming that’s what causing the problem; according to the interwebs it’s either that or ebola.


The drive South is clearly marked along the motorway by the words “THE SOUTH”. There’s little room for confusion.

The drive itself is easy on the huge three-lane motorway. We whizz past Edinburgh, Glasgow and, in a very Jane Austen turn, Gretna Green. As we cross the border into England the countryside changes almost immediately. English greens are a shade lighter; the hills are less craggy; the walls and building less forbiddingly grey.


Walking along Hadrian's wall
Walking along Hadrian’s wall

Hadrian’s Wall is a pleasant surprise in that there are clear chunks of it still standing. It turns out that the whole idea of it being built to keep out the Scots may, at best, be simplistic. It was likely built as a way of levying taxes on trade to and from the North. No one is sure though; and there’s much more for the imagination to conjure with in blue faced barbarians attaking the might of the Roman Empire than in people meekly handing over taxes to some guy with a clay tablet.

The boys had fun doing a little course on how to be a warrior and another on archeology. These were not exactly well produced and we all had fun picking the ‘facts’ presented to bits. I mean whoever heard of a Roman soldier shouting “Odin” as he charged, or a viking forming a shield wall.

Driving away from Hadrian’s Wall it was interesting to see how many of the extensive drystone walls keeping the local sheep in were made of lovely squared-off blocks.


Another motorway stretch and then on to some incredibly tiny, twisty roads through the Northern Lake District. In the bright sunlight the scenery was breathtaking. Especially as we rose up and over Kirkstone Pass. As you crest the pass you’re suddenly confronted with hills rolling down to the lakes below.


Coniston seems like a pleasant town and it’s clearly not as touristy as Windermere. We had dinner in a local pub with its own microbrewery and watched the world go by. In Coniston, the world is filled with walkers in serious boots, mountain bikes and kids.

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