Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tuesday, Dunstanburgh Castle, Hadrian's Wall

Another day, another castle!

Northern England is covered with castles. In medieval times, the area was under constant threat of raids from Scotland. As a result, castles were built to provide protection. Yesterday at breakfast, an English couple staying at our B&B told us how they had enjoyed their visit to Dunstanburgh Castle. It is located near the fishing village of Craster, which is not far from away. We decided to plan a visit before we left for Keswick in the Lake District.

Unlike the Alnwick Castle that we visited yesterday, Dunstanburgh Castle is now a ruin. It was built in the 14th century by the Earl of Lancaster. Craster has a car park located just outside the village. You walk into the village and then turn and walk along the coast for a few kilometers.

We have been very lucky with weather so far on our trip. This was the first day that rain was a bit of an issue. We started our walk in drizzle, but when we reached the castle, the wind came up and the drizzle turned to rain.

Fortunately, when we got back to the village, we found a delightful little cafe where we found a warm bowl of Stilton and broccoli soup, some scones and a pot of tea to take away the chill.

By the way, we've been a bit surprised by the temperatures. We get down to single digits at night and daytime highs are in the mid teens.

While planning my first trip to England in 2006, I had read about Hadrian's wall. Hadrian is the name of the Roman Emperor who decided in 122AD to build a wall and fort system across the north of England from coast to coast. The wall represented the northern border of the Roman Empire and was intended to keep out the barbarians. The wall took the Romans six years to build.

We didn't get far enough north to see the remains of the wall on our 2006 trip, but this time we would be passing nearby, on our trip across England to the Lake District.

After returning to the car at Craster, we plotted our course to visit the wall. We have been using a combination of a GPS and a detailed map book we bought in a bookstore in London. This combination seems to be working.

We left the main highway, to drive on a secondary road that follows along the path of the wall. We found the Visitor's Centre of the Northumberland National Park and were given directions to where to view the wall.

We climbed a path to the top of the ridge, to get a closer view of a section of the wall.

A few miles later, we stopped again at another spot called Walltown and I hiked to a more impressive section of the wall. Cathy opted to stay in the car park this time. She took one look at the sky and with characteristic Newfoundland-mariner instincts, declared it was about to rain again. I went off on this hike by myself and got a few more pictures before I got caught in the predicted downpour.

We arrived in Keswick and found our B&B. It is called Seven Oaks on Acorn Street.

Again we are in a Victorian townhouse that is within a convenient walk of the market area of the town. Our host are very friendly and knowledgable about the walking trails around the area.

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