Offlist Walk: Hadrian’s Wall (Gilsland)

11 02 2012
11th February 2012
Mrs NLW
3.3 miles
Explorer OL43 (Hadrian’s Wall)
Overcast, cold
Poltross Burn (Milecastle 48)

Poltross Burn (Milecastle 48)

Whilst the rest of the country is covered in snow, Mrs NLW and I find ourselves in surprisingly snow-free Cumbria. We start the walk in Gilsland on the Cumbria/Northumberland border; from the local primary school we join and then cross the main Carlisle to Newcastle train line, and immediately encounter the wall and Milecastle 48 (Poltross Burn). We cross a stream, duck under the railway, and pass through the village of Gilsland heading out over a bridge towards the north, and at a T junction turn west along a lane towards Roadhead. The lane climbs as it twists and turns, and we find a welcome bench with views over the Irthing valley.

River Irthing (from Willowford bridge)

River Irthing (from Willowford bridge)

We pass several beautiful B&Bs before leaving the lane across a couple of boggy fields, descend steeply to cross a stream, then up and across another large field to Birdoswald Fort. The museum and tea rooms looked equally interesting and welcome, but we were keen to get on and so headed to the wall. I’d been told that the wall can be unimpressive, but I certainly didn’t feel that way: next to the wall is a stone wall built as a field boundary, one was built nearly 2,000 years ago, the other in the last 30 years or so, and I know which one will be there longest. Hadrian’s wall is wide and solid, it’s hard to imagine anyone breaching this wall when it was defended, at least prior to the invention of dynamite.

We walk alongside the wall until Milecastle 49 where we bear south in order to cross the pretty Willowford Bridge, and then rejoin the wall past milecastles 48b and 48 and then back to Gilsland. All in all, and enjoyable walk.

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