What have the Romans ever done for us...?
Our original 32 days car hire was up today and despite having extended (or set up a new "contract" as they called it at Hertz when we spoke to them a while ago), we were not sure whether we needed to return to Newcastle for the paperwork or whether it could all be handled over the phone. We had to assume the former, in particular since an additional driver of the hire car attracts a fee.
So, after breakfast we set out north towards Newcastle. Our plan was to call them on the way to get a definitive answer, which was also the inconclusive advice we received when we spoke to them a few weeks ago. Of course, just south of Newcastle, from west to east, runs Hadrian's Wall, that we had decided to check out regardless.
Some facts on Hadrian's Wall according to a brochure we picked up... It was built in AD122 by order of the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a northern frontier towards the "barbarians" of the north. The wall was 80 miles from coast to coast, reaching up to 6 meters in height and took 3 legions (around 15,000 men) 6 years to build.
Driving north on M1, the names of the places rang very familiar to anybody who has been to Newcastle north of Sydney, NSW. It was almost like they lifted these local names and replicated them there in bulk.
We called up Hertz not long after taking off from Dent, but being Monday morning, they were clearly busy and said would call us back with the answer. We waited for just a little while and then decided to drive towards Newcastle anyway. The phone call back didn't come until we were almost in Newcastle, and no, we didn't need to come in, the extension could indeed be handled over the phone.
Well, we didn't have to drive into the downtown of Newcastle, but we still drove through it and then turned west to reach a section of Hadrian's Wall remaining (most of it is gone, with a lot of the original rocks being reused for other construction purposes).
We arrived at a place called Cawfields Quarry, where a chunk of the wall was still present.
It had indeed been a quarry as evident by the pond of water left behind. The still remaining part of Hadrian's Wall finished at the top of the hill that you can see in the background.
We had to check it out, so parked the car in the paddock parking lot without "pay and display" and wandered the short distance towards the wall.
Remnants of the Hadrian Wall from the top of that hill that you saw in the previous pictures.
Here but no further. Di on the wall, trying not to be blown off in the gale. A little further behind Di is that quarry created pond again.
Hans on the wall with the wall heading east. We love that the local farmers just use it as part of their regular paddock dividers. The local cows were cute and clearly used to tourists.
As you can see, Hadrian's Wall was surprisingly thick, not sure exactly how thick. The brochure did not tell.
This rectangular formation is called a milecastle and was an opening for controlling and allowing people movements across the frontier. Presumably, there was one of these roughly every mile or so.
In addition to coming here and inspecting the wall itself, there is an 84-mile Hadrian Wall's Path National Trail and a 174-mile Hadrian's Cycleway. We did see some hikers in different places walking along the wall, but given that little is left of the original wall, the hike is perhaps somewhat symbolic.
We then drove east just south of the wall and encountered a few interesting names of villages. Yes, there was also a "Once Brewed". Other great place names included "Haltwhistle" and "Pity Me".
We soon arrived at another "Pay and Display" where you can park your car and then pay £6.20 per person to see the remains of the Homestead Roman Fort. This picture is taken from the road and as you may imagine, we were too tightfisted to fork out about £15 to go and see more stones.
The information board at the Homestead Roman Fort parking lot.
Proof of our tightfistedness... :-)
The fort is to the left just outside the photo, "Pay and Display" to the left and our car temporarily parked to the right so we can go out and take close up pics from a distance.
Yes, there were a few punters there at the Homestead Roman Fort, but not very many this windy cold Monday.
We did see some other clever punters who parked their car on a side road a bit further away and hiked to the fort from a separate by-way. Clever.
Time now was approaching 1.30pm and we decided to drive into Carlisle, the nearest town of any magnitude, for lunch.
Parking, as always, is scarce, expensive and not very central, and regular fast food joints are hard to find - but we did find an ASDA supermarket and decided to see what ready-made meals they had on offer.
So, we bought a baguette and a whole cooked chook and ate it... in the car. Here is Di pulling the fowl apart... while burning her fingers!
From what little we saw of Carlisle, not knowing anything beforehand and still don't, it looked nice enough and appeared to have been wealthy with a walled center to the city, but the weather did not encourage further exploration.
After our sophisticated car lunch, it was an easy drive south on M6 and back to Dent via Sedbergh.
We finally saw a sign for the "Yorkshire Dales National Park" and its distinctive logo, so just had to stop to take a photo. Interesting to find that sheep, cows and "behaved" dogs are allowed in national parks here. Any precious landscape within the park is protected by fencing.
We didn't get back to our room until 4.30pm having driven something like 300 km today.
Lazy evening in the room, including left over chook, baguette and coleslaw for dinner. Good night.