Return to Whittle Wanderer

Hadrian's Wall. Birdoswald, Gilsland, Lanercost Priory, Banks, Cumbria.
[20.0 km] Thu 12 Nov 2015

OS Grid Ref: NY 57536 64747
Lat/Long: 54.975508, -2.664945

Drove via M6, A69 to Hadrianís Wall neat Lanercost and small car park at the remains of Turret 52A. It was a clear morning but hazy. I set off east along the narrow Hadrianís Wall path but it only took me to the next signal station where the path signs stopped. There was no access back to the road so I followed a gate into the field for a while then back to the road.

View at the car park

At 51A Piper Syke Turret I stopped to check the information board then continued on the road for a while then into the field, a track and back into the field to follow a longer path following the line of the turf wall path. Just before Birdoswald I headed back into the field and along the wall which is right by the road.

Click here for a fascinating website about Hadrian's Wall

51A Piper Syke Turret

Line of the turf wall path

Just before Birdoswald

The path went into the grounds of the farm but not inside where the fort area is. At this time of year the fort area is only open at weekends. The entry fee was astonishing at £6.40 for an adult and £5.80 for oapís. When I visited with Charlie in 1977 the cost was 10p. I was now on a part of the wall I visited last week. I followed the substantial section of wall all the way to the top of the steep slope down to the site of the Roman Bridge over the River Irthing. I knew the wall had a carved phallus on one of the stones so kept a look out for it as I walked along.

The wall after Birdoswald

Iíd seen it when walking along the wall in 1977 but didnít see it today. I had another look but still no luck. I descended to the river and over the footbridge. The bridge has only been here since 1999 and when I crossed the river with Charlie in 1977 we managed to hop over the rocks without taking our boots off.

River Irthing footbridge

Today there would be no chance of even wading as being washed away would be the result.

River Irthing from the footbridge

At the impressive ruins of the east bridge abutment I saw the first walkers of the day. I stopped a little further on to eat my butties. The wall then climbs steeply up to Willowford farm and along the farm track by the wall. I stopped to talk to a man walking his dog. He lived locally so I asked him if he knew if the phallic carving on the wall was still there. He answered ďWhatís and phallus?Ē After Iíd explained he said he didnít know.

East side of the river

I reached the road then turned right to head south west. I was now on the road for about 3 miles when I turned right along a narrow lane.

Level crossing

Up on a hill I could see St Cuthbertís Church but it didnít seem to have a main access road. There was a rough track to a gate but I didnít follow it. A later on-line search showed it as St Cuthbert, Chapelburn, built 1864 for the Mounsey family on the site of the original Anglo Saxon church. Another search gave it a date of 1868.

St Cuthbertís Church

Substantial property after St Cuthbertís Church

I continued down the road to Wallholme Bridge where I followed the path across a wet field. Over a footbridge the path is supposed to split but there was only one way ahead. When it returned to the river side there was a gate and post which had been undermined by the river. Someone had placed an old door over the gap and it was very dangerous opening and shutting the gate. It is only a matter of time before the gate falls into the river. I joined a track then minor road to Holmehead and the road into Lanercost.

Lanercost Priory Church interior.

Lanercost Priory

Lanercost Priory around 1740

Edward I
The last visit to Lanercost in 1306.
The died near Carlisle in 1307.

Brass rubbings showing armour of the period.

Before the priory ruins I left the road to head along an unmarked path across the fields to enter the Priory graveyard by a public footpath. The grounds of the priory were closed as they only open at weekends this time of year. Fortunately the church was open so I could have a short look inside. A sign said it was £1 to take photographs. I find this a strange and disagreeable charge as a photograph is hardly going to cause wear and tear. I left to follow a track heading north to re-join the line of Hadrianís Wall at Haytongate where the path headed steeply up and over Hare Hill. On the descent back to the road I reached the short stretch of wall in a fenced off area. A sign says this was thought to be the highest remaining stretch of wall but then says it was largely rebuilt in the 19th century. It still looks impressive at about 3m high. I soon reached the road then a short walk back to the car.

Probably the highest section of wall