Monday 27 May 2024

Carlisle Day 3

 May 26th. Woke to rain, cleared to showers.  Chilly 

This morning was a healthy breakfast of yogurt, granola and fruit.   Also a more leisurely start.   I had a better sleep last night - perhaps I’m making peace with the Duvet Society?

We  programmed Lady Satnav, who warned us that we would need to travel on unpaved roads and into a restricted access area.  What? we thought.   The lady at the Information Centre never mentioned that.  Anyway we  drove out via Brampton, Banks, Lanercost Priory and Birdoswald.   Sellar and Yeatman in their memorable “1066 and All That” never included the wonderfully quaint names that British towns have!   Although to be fair, Birdoswald dates around 800 years prior to what they describe as “A Memorable Date”.     At one point we disagreed with Lady Satnav and forced her to recalibrate as we followed the clearly marked road signs.  The climax of our battle with her was when she demanded we turn right onto what was clearly marked as a Public Footpath!  In faith we drove one more mile without her assistance to find a well signposted pay and display car park at Birdoswald.   Members of English Heritage could park for free but ordinary mortals needed £4 in coins.  Phew!   I had the correct amount.   

And up a short slope, there was Hadrian’s Wall.   Built in around AD122 and stretching straight into the distance as far as the eye could see.   Archaeologists think it would originally have been around 4.5m high but this portion is more like 2m and it is thought that much of the stone was removed and used for local farmhouses and roads.  Stretching from Bowness on Solway in the West to Wallsend in the East it is around 73 miles long and there is a public walkway alongside most of it.   The lady who took our £15 entry fee to the Roman Fort said that forts were built along the length at around 12 miles apart = a days march.  

Here at Birdoswald the remains are clearly visible of the square fort.  A gate in the centre of each side.  The foundations of what is thought to be the granary and the barracks.   Today there were a couple of re-enacters who were entertaining with graphic descriptions of how to build flaming arrows and to kill off enemies.   A little boy about 7 was excitedly telling his version of the story at the same time causing some audio disturbance for the gathered crowd and eventually she told him “I’m telling the story will you please shut up”. The little boy did but his mother’s face was a picture!  

The gift shop at the exit (of course) was a disappointment for me as it seemed to be aimed at parents buying for children.  Roman costumes, board games and trivia but no postcards of the scenery at Birdoswald itself.  The tea rooms were full to capacity so we decided to drive to Lanercost Priory 4 miles back down the road.

Apart from ourselves most people seemed to have hiking boots.  We saw lots of walkers all kitted out and cyclists too.   It’s not far from Carlisle to The Wall but for a lot of the way the road is narrow, even though two way.  Little Sister drove slowly but at one point we came up behind a large group of walkers.  Most were sensible and were facing on coming traffic.  But one chap with a large pack, had head phones on and was using his cell phone.  We slowed, then slowed some more.  His friends waved at him, crossed in front of him and generally tried to make him aware but only when he’d finished the business on his cell phone did he look casually look up, act as if he’d just seen us and move aside.  Fortunately others on the road including farmers were considerate and there are little indentations in the road side sporadically to allow for Little Sister’s kindness stops.   

At Lanercost Priory we parked, for free here, and went in to the tea rooms.  Lentil and Tomato soup didn’t appeal so we each had a cheese scone and a pot of tea.   They were really busy and a lady that Little Sister chatted to told her the trains had all been cancelled so her choir had to travel by bus for their 3pm concert in The Priory.  In the gift shop I noticed that around the ceiling in a frieze type painting were family names so I asked what these were.  They were an incomplete list of Border Reivers families.  Border Reivers were bloodthirsty raiders who from the late 13th century to the early 17th century crossed the border between England and Scotland (both ways) and without regard to nationality looted and plundered.  The gift shop lady told me that it those who died from Border Reivers were called bereived from which derives our word bereaved.  It’s a good story anyway!   We saw a cyclist group called Carlisle Reivers Cycle Club but they didn’t look at all blood thirsty.

After which we returned to our apartment in rain, very thankful for the dry spell we’d had to view the wall.  Then at 2:30pm we walked a zig zag route through town to Carlisle Cathedral to attend evensong and for me to see the famed painted ceiling.   

There has been a place of worship on the cathedral site since 1122.  We were impressed that some pieces of the ancient buildings have been retained on the grounds.   These two are part of the cloisters that originally surrounded the cathedral building.  

Both of us found it interesting to compare the choir here with that at Winchester.  Carlisle choristers are both boys and girls and some looked very young, maybe six or seven.  They were so small they could hardly be see over the choir stalls.  I felt that they lacked the enthusiasm shown at Winchester but were drowned out by the energy of the wonderful pipe organ.  I’m quite sure that the stone floor of the Cathedral reverberated when the organist hit full volume.

We didn’t kneel in the service tonight, nor were there pretty kneelers to tempt us.  But afterwards in a small side chapel we found some.  All the same, I felt they lacked the attraction of those I saw at Winchester but neither did they have the back story of those.

So far each new destination has become my new favourite but currently, this being the last night here, Keswick is still in pole position.


Clare-Aimetu said...

You were so lucky with missing the rain. Hadrian's Wall is an impressive structure, it must have been very formidable in its time. Thank you for sharing photos of Carlisle Cathedral, we haven't been there.

Maggie said...

That ceiling is fantastic, thanks for sharing your photos, I've never seen Hadrians Wall, I've only ever passed through that part of the country.
We've had rain all day again here, thunder for an hour or so this afternoon too, it's Bank Holiday tomorrow so it's bound to rain again.

Leonore Winterer said...

Oh, the wall sure is impressive, even at half its original height. What a chore it must have been to gather all that stone, back when it was built!