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The Hadrian’s Wall Adventure (Part 2) – Poltross Burns Milecastle, Walltown Quarry and Vindoland Roman Fort & Museum

By Adventures, Friends & Family, Happiness & Joy, Life, NatureNo Comments
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Simon & I had a coffee break at Birdoswald Roman Fort & Museum prior to getting back on the road.

This is part 2 of The Hadrian’s Wall Adventure, part 1 can be read here.

My good friend Simon and I stopped for a coffee and cake break at Birdoswald Roman Fort & Museum before getting back on the road.

4. Bridge over the River Irthing
We couldn’t find this. Unfortunately I didn’t have mobile phone signal to search for it on Google Maps. We could have asked a local, but decided to drive on instead. We had a number of places on a list we still wanted to see.

5. Milecastle 48
We followed the road along Hadrian’s Wall. We saw the good signage for Milecastle 48. We parked up in the free carpark. We followed the signs, the field was muddy and we’d recommend hiking boots. From the bottom of the hill we could see train tracks that blocked our access to Milecastle 48. There’s obviously another entrance to Milecastle 48, but we decided to move on to our next destination.

6. Poltross Burns Milecastle
Poltross Burns Milecastle is well sign posted, just drive slowly due to two sharp bends with immediate turns straight after. There’s a dirt track opposite at least one big house where you can park for free. It wasn’t on our list of places to visit, we more stumbled across it accidentally. It is the remains of a Milecastle set beautifully on top of a hill with good natural light. It is well worth the short walk. Below are Essential Info and photos:

Essential Info:

  • Remains of a Roman Milecastle.
  • Highly Recommended: beautiful and a good photo opportunity with the Milecastle wall.
  • Admission Fee: Free
  • Opening Times: Always open. It is recommend that you visit in daylight. There is no street lighting and there are stairs that would be hazardous after dark.
  • Car Parking: Free on a dirt track.
  • Not suitable for wheelchair users due to stairs and no ramp access.
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Stairs to Poltross Burns Milecastle.

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A beautiful view on a bridge on the short walk to Poltross Burns Milecastle.

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Poltross Burns Milecastle is a great place to take a photo with a high wall behind you.

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Poltross Burns Milecastle Foundations/Ruins (1).

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Poltross Burns Milecastle Foundations/Ruins (2).

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Simon sat in the sun on Remains of Poltross Burns Milecastle.

7. Walltown Quarry
Walltown Quarry is a place of natural beauty. It does take you into Northumberland, meaning that any parking tickets you bought in Cumbria aren’t valid. It has a large natural duck pond, plenty of space to walk in nature (whether you prefer a short or longer walk) and a newly planted peace labyrinth.

The large duck pond is lovely. There’s lots of natural beauty to be admired. The peace labyrinth has been newly planted, but once the plants embed the walls will be about waiste height, full of colourful flowers and be reflective and peaceful. Below are Essential Info and photos:

Essential Info:

  • Walltown Quarry is a former quarry and now a place of natural beauty. It has a large natural duck pond, plenty of space to walk in nature and a newly planted peace labyrinth.
  • Highly Recommended: a place of natural beauty.
  • Admission Fee: Free
  • Opening Times: Shop open 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday. Unsure of Sunday opening hours.
  • Car Parking: £4 for all day.
  • Facilities: Toilets. Reasonably priced gift shop that sells reasonably priced coffee and provides tourist information.
  • Caution: Stick to well worn paths. There are reeds covering some of the surrounding wetlands, which could be hazardous or even life threatening.
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Walltown Quarry, a bird came to visit Simon and I on one of the many picnic benches.

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View of the large natural duck pond.

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The newly planted Peace Labyrinth.

8. Vindoland Roman Fort & Museum
Vindoland Roman Fort & Museum is just passed the Roman Army Museum. We had originally decided not to visit Vindoland Roman Fort & Museum due to the admission price of £6.75 per person. We were looking for Sycamore Gap and decided to go into the reception of Vindoland for directions to Sycamore Gap. The reception staff were helpful and informed us of where we could find Sycamore Gap, showing us a map and informing us that it is a 45 minute walk from Vindoland.

Simon suggested that as it was four thirty in the afternoon that we should pop into Vindoland Roman Fort & Museum instead of walking to Sycamore Gap. I was reluctant at first, especially after our disappointing experience at Birdoswald Roman Fort & Museum. We decided to go for it and it was anything but disappointing.

Vindoland Roman Fort & Museum is a ginormous fort ruins with a surrounding town. It is well worth every penny of the admission price. There is free parking. To see and absorb everything at Vindoland will take you at least half a day. They are still excavating at Vindoland, so if you visit in another few years there’ll be even more to see.

Due to time of our arrival, we didn’t have time to see everything. So set at least half a day a side for Vindoland alone. We intend to go back next year, spend the morning in Vindoland and then the afternoon on the road continuing to follow Hadrian’s Wall and stopping at places of interest. Below are Essential Info and photos:

Essential Info:

  • Remains of a Roman Fort, Town and has a museum, cafe and gift shop.
  • Highly Recommended: It will take you at least half a day to see everything.
  • Things to do there: Walk the streets that the Romans did. Marvel at Roman architecture and planning including: sewage and drainage network (without the sewage thankfully) and under-floor heating. See both a wooden and stone turret recreation, visit the museum, listen to archaeology talks, have coffee in the cafe and checkout the gift shop.
  • Admission Fees: View here.
  • Opening Times: View here.
  • Car Parking: Free parking with a large carpark.
  • Has toilets, cafe and gift shop.
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A Roman-style Fountain in the courtyard of the entrance to Vindoland Roman Fort & Museum.

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A statue of the Goddess Juno in the courtyard of the entrance to Vindoland Roman Fort & Museum.

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Model of Vindoland Roman Fort and Town in Introduction room of Vindoland Roman Fort & Museum.

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The path to the foundations and ruins.

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Romano-Celtic Temple Remains.

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Wells and Water Tanks.

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Wooden Turret.

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Stone Turret.

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The Mausolea foundations.

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The remains of a foundation that predates the Roman settlement.

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Bath House remains.

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Building Remains.

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We walked along the main street, probably part excavated and part restored.

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A photo of a heart shaped foot stone.

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Inside the Fort remains.

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The Fort Wall.

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Inside the Fort, looking out into the Town that built up around it.

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Remains of Temple to Jupiter Dolichenus.

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Back Entrance to Fort.

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HeadQuarter Building (Principia)

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Prefect’s House Well.

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Roman builders stone carving.

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Cook brick-work on Roman remains, probably for drainage.

We had a lovely day exploring Hadrian’s Wall. We will be going back, probably about this time next year to do Vindoland Roman Fort & Museum properly, to hopefully visit Sycamore Gap and explore more new places of interest in the Northumberland side of Hadrian’s Wall.

Blog soon,

Antony



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The Hadrian’s Wall Adventure (Part 1) – Lanercost Priory, Banks East Turret & Birdozwald Roman Fort

By Adventures, Friends & Family, Happiness & Joy, Life, NatureNo Comments

Recently my good friend Simon and I went up to Cumbria to visit Hadrian’s Wall and places of interest nearby. We planned to follow Hadrian’s Wall from Cumbria to the beginning of Northumberland. We deliberately missed out Carlisle Castle, as we felt that this would probably take up most of the time on our day trip and wanted to see as many places as possible. It was great weather and we set off at 07:45am, completing the drive from home to Lanercost Priory in about two and a half hours with a service station stop.

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Hadrian’s Wall Sign

Before I write about Lanercost Priory and the other places we visited, I want to say that most places were well sign posted and on Google Maps (providing that you could get a mobile phone signal). Two things should be noted:

  1. Romans like to build things on the top of hills – so good mobility is required. Carparks are short or long up-hill walks from places of interest. Some places have free car parking whereas others you have to pay. Once you’ve paid for parking in one carpark, you are covered in most others using the same ticket. But I would still encourage you to check that you are covered with your ticket. If in doubt, ask English Heritage Staff who will be able to tell you.
  2. Most sites are looked after by English Heritage, with some places being free entry and other places being paid entry. English Heritage don’t do an all-day ticket that covers the admission fees to all charged places of interest that they run. So you have to pay per place, and this means that the cost can quickly add up.

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1. Lanercost Priory

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Lanercroft gate entrance remains.

Lanercost Priory is an architecturally beautiful Priory complete with traditional working church. The Priory’s beauty is increase by the sunlight.

Inside the church I didn’t take any photos out of respect. But in the centre of the room is a ginormous plane-glassed window which gives a superb view of the priory.

Essential Info and plenty of photos below:

Essential Info:

  • A Priory & Church. Priory dates back to the 13th century.
  • Highly Recommended.
  • Admission Fee: £4.60 with gift aid (£4.10 without)
  • Opening Times: View Here
  • Cafe: It has a Cafe but it is expensive, so avoid.
  • Toilets.
  • Gift Shops: It has plenty of them which were overpriced.
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Lanercost Church

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The Priory (1).

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The Priory (2)

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The Priory (3)

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The Priory (4) – A Small Door with Lovely Brickwork

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The Priory (5) – Tomb

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The Priory (6) – Roof.

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The Priory (7 – Tomb Carving (close up).

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The Priory (8) – Another Tomb.

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The Priory (9) – Hand Carved Baby’s Tomb.

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The Priory (10) – Another Tomb.

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The Priory (11) – Another Tomb Carving.

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The Priory (12) – Door to ruins.

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The Priory (13) – Simon in a doorway.

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The Priory (14) – Courtyard remains.

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The Priory (15) – Side building that would have been the kitchen.

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The Priory (16) – An outside view.

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The Priory (17) – Rectory Undercroft from the 13th century.

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The Priory (18) – Me being silly with an open gate (1).

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The Priory (19) – Me being silly with an open gate (2).

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The Priory (20) – Inside the kitchen building, which would have been four floors up. The Ivy growing up the ruins of the building were beautiful, so I just had to take a photo of it.

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2. Banks East Turret
Along Hadrian’s Wall at each Roman mile was either a Turret, Milecastle or Fort (written in order of size from smallest to largest).

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Banks East Turret gives you a feel for how wide the wall was (about 8 feet wide).

Bank East Turret gives a good indication of the width of Hadrian’s Wall, being approximately eight to nine feet wide. Hadrian’s Wall would have stood at sixteen to twenty feet tall, but unfortunately there is no place where the wall remains intact. People took it down to build smaller walls and other buildings sometime after Hadrian had built it.

Out of all the turret’s we came across, Banks East Turret is the Turret that had most to see. It has free admission and parking and has an exquisite view of the landscape.

Essential Info and photos of Banks East Turret are below:

Essential Info:

  • A Turret that would have been on Hadrian’s Wall.
  • Has a exquisite view of the landscape.
  • Highly Recommended.
  • Admission Fee: Free
  • Opening Times: all days & times.
  • Parking: Free
  • Gift Shops: It has plenty of them which were overpriced.
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    Banks East Turret remains (1).

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    Banks East Turret remains (2).

    [
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    Banks East Turret has free parking and an exquisite view of the landscape.

    From Banks East Turret we drove to Birdoswald Roman Fort. Along the road were a few tiny turrets that aren’t worth stopping for, just slow down the car and take a glance out of the window on the way past.

    3. Birdoswald Roman Fort & Museum
    At Birdoswald Roman Fort & Museum is were we saw Hadrian’s Wall at it’s tallest. It’s a good opportunity to get a good photo of the wall. It costs £6.80 with gift aid (£6.10 without gift aid) for entry to a tiny museum that we walked around in 5 minutes and is totally overpriced. It has a paid carpark, but the ticket can be used at other sites throughout the day. It has toilets and a reasonably priced Cafe. The place features foundations and although they are mildly impressive, they are nothing when compared to Vindoland Roman Fort & Museum.

    Rather than paying for entry, you can walk around the outside of the fort for free and see the foundations over a small wooden fence. Below are Essential Info and photos:

    Essential Info:

    • Remains of a Roman Fort, mostly foundations only.
    • Cautiously Recommended: We would recommend walking around the outside of the Fort and looking in. Admission fee too expensive and not value for money.
    • Admission Fee: £4.80 with gift aid (£6.10 without)
    • Opening Times: View Here
    • Car Parking: Paid, but can use ticket across other sites throughout the day.
    • Cafe: Reasonably priced. Well worth stopping here for a drink and cake.
    • Toilets.
    • Gift Shops: One small gift shop.
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    Hadrian’s Wall View at Birdozwald Roman Fort.

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    Birdozwald Roman Fort – Photo Opportunities, especially on the outside of the fort.

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    Another View of Hadrain’s Wall.

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    Birdoswald Roman Fort (1) – The Foundations, which for price of entry were disappointing.

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    Birdoswald Roman Fort (2) – The Foundations, which for price of entry were disappointing.

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    Birdoswald Roman Fort (3) – Remains of gate entrance.

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    Birdoswald Roman Fort (4) – Remains of gate entrance house (1).

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    Birdoswald Roman Fort (5) – Remains of gate entrance house (2).

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    Birdoswald Roman Fort (6) – A beautiful view from outside of the fort.

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    Another view of Hadrian’s Wall.

    In Part 2, I’ll be writing about and sharing more photos of: Bridge Over River Irthing, Milecastle 48, Poltross Burns Milecastle, Walltown Quary & Vindoland Roman Fort & Museum.

    Blog soon,

    Antony

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    Ebook Review: Killing The Dead by Richard Murray

    By Amazon, Books & Authors, ReviewsNo Comments
    Killing-The-Dead-Book-Cover-Richard-Murray Ryan has just thanked the man he has murdered for the pleasure he got from taking his life, when an incessant banging comes from his front door. He opens the door to Lilly, a frightened woman who is being chased by zombies. She explains that the world is being taken over by the living dead.

    Then Lilly discovers Ryan’s secret hobby – killing the living. We discover that Ryan is a serial killer from the North of England and that he believes his best chance of survival in this new world of The Undead is to be part of a group. Lilly agrees to be part of his group – but with rules and conditions.

    Ryan and Lilly then set off on an action-packed adventure, being chased by zombies as they search for somewhere safe.

    The concept in Killing The Dead is brilliant. A serial killer in a zombie apocalypse. It’s great to read a zombie apocalypse story set in Britain, written by a British Writer.

    Ryan’s character was fascinating. Cold and logical but still likeable. The other characters felt two dimensional and lacked development – but this was probably due to the relative short length of the novella format. I think the story would have been better as a novel.

    Ryan’s character was so captivating, that his perspective was enough to make the reader want to read on. The use of hooks would have benefited the story. As would the use shorter sentences for action scenes, which would have added to the readers sense of tension.

    Killing The Dead had good description and perfect pacing, however the ending was a bit abrupt and left the reader with no sense of conclusion or satisfaction. I have since discovered that this novella is part of a series – it’s good to know that more of the story will be told.

    A lack of editing let Killing The Dead down. There were sentences that didn’t make sense due to missed or wrong words, a few grammatical inaccuracies and similarities that just didn’t work.

    Overall, you’ll enjoy Killing The Dead by Richard Murray, which is available to download for free (at time of writing this review) on Amazon.

    Review soon,

    Antony

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