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Chapelburn, Birdoswald Hadrian's Wall, Denton Fell, Cumbria/Northumberland.
[20.9 km] Wed 02 Dec 2015

OS Grid ef: NY 59813 64579
Lat/Long: 54.974196, -02.629353
The weather forecast was very confusing. Iíd already planned todayís route and knew there would be some rain. The early morning forecast confirmed this but said that tomorrow would be fine and sunny in the area of my walk. I made a snap decision to cancel the walk today and go tomorrow instead. Just to check I looked at two separate weather websites to see if they agreed. They didnít and one had more heavy rain for tomorrow as well.

Bridge over the Irthing
I went back to my original plan and set off to drive north. I reached Chapelburn and parked my car in the small lay bye next to the telephone box. The path left the road and headed between some buildings and down a wet and very muddy field. I crossed the River Irthing by a substantial metal suspension bridge then turned right towards Lanerton Farm.
Lanerton Farm stock
On the way I noticed a stone post in the river bank with an inscription. I couldnít read what it said but it wasnít old enough to be roman. I walked through the farmyard which was very tidy and clean and as I reached the steep uphill farm track a truck drove down. It was a Fallenstock vehicle and was there to remove a dead sheep lying by the gate. Up the track I reached the line of Hadrianís Wall vallum ditch. It was now raining quite hard as I followed the path by the ditch. Shortly before Birdoswald I reached a very substantial length of stone wall. 12 metres before the remains of Turret 49B I found the stone carving of a phallus on a stone on the top course.
Phallus near Turret 49B

Turret 49B

Turret 49B
I joined the road to pass the farm buildings and re-joined the wall towards Milecastle 49. There is an excellent website run by Archaeologist Mike Bishop which has masses of information on the wall. He gives details of two more stones with a phallus on along this stretch of wall.  The first one is near a culvert hole through the wall and the next about 120m further along. I saw the first one on Wed 27th July 1977 while walking along the wall with Charlie.
Second phallus of the day.

Third phallus along the wall

Willowford foot bridge
The rain continued to fall as I descended the path to the footbridge over the River Irthing. I was hoping to get some shelter under the bridge so I could eat my sandwiches but it was still too wet. Looking at the raging river it is hard to imagine that when we crossed in 1977 there was no bridge and we didnít even have to take our boots off. The remains of the Willowford Roman Bridge looked impressive in the wet.
Willowford Roman bridge
I walked up to Willowford Farm and photographed the information plate by an inscribed stone saying Philippus built this. I found an old wooden shed so went inside to shelter from the rain and eat my sandwiches.
Willowford Farm (note sign on near wall)


Philippus built this
 I continued along the farm access track and by an incredible coincidence met the same man walking his dog who Iíd spoken to while walking here on Thu 12 Nov 2015. We chatted and walked together as far as Crooks where he headed home and I turned to the right to join the minor road south to the main A69 trunk road.
The busy A69 trunk road in the rain.
I crossed the road and through the farmyard at Gapshield and up a wet track. I saw a Pennine Way marker post but continued on past an interesting old brick building whose use I couldnít figure out. The map shows a disused quarry nearby so it was probably to do with that.
Old building possibly for the old quarry
The way ahead was now horribly wet and boggy. I headed for a trig post then had to walk along the nearby wall to find a crossing point over a wooden stile.
Trig post

Horribly wet path

Cup marks
Even though I was back on the Pennine Way the route was still very wet needing constant detours to avoid deep water. Across Hartleyburn Common I left the path to continue by the fence. I crossed over to head for the pine plantation to the west. My objective was to investigate cup marked rock shown on the map and adjacent ancient settlement ditch. I found the cup marks but it is difficult to say if they are man-made of natural. The settlement ditches were very impressive but looked pre-roman.
Settlement ditch
I headed for the Denton Fell Plantation wall and managed to climb over it without any problems. It marks the county boundary so I crossed from Northumberland in to Cumbria. I followed the line of an old fire break to meet one of the forestry tracks. I followed it though an area of felled and cleared trees and back into forest. I emerged at Denton Fell Farmhouse and joined the road back down to the A69 road again. Straight across I followed the single track road which becomes a track before the railway crossing. The annoying thing is that the railway level crossing gate and adjacent pedestrian gates were both locked so I had to climb over. I re-joined the road and short walk back to the car at Chapelburn.
Forestation, deforestation, desolation.

Denton Fell Farmhouse

Locked level crossing