Day 1: Bowness-on-solway to Carlisle
- Distance: 15.8 miles
- Accommodation: home
Stage 1 of my walk along the wall began at Bowness on Solway. Day 1 I was accompanied by my partner and our dog Sydney so it was a lovely day soaking up the sushine getting into the swing of my walk.
I did my walkers duty and got my photo taken at the Path Pavilion on The Banks (after searching for the well hidden pavilion, as the guide book said it was ‘prominently signposted off the main street’ but we didn’t discover this handy sign until later walking past again finding it hidden behind a larger decorators white van!).
Bowness on Solway sits on the site of Maia Roman Fort, this little coastal village provides a great place to start or finish the walk with accommodation, camping and pub to make the most of. Looking over to Criffel on the Scottish shores of the Solway it was a fitting place to start my walk along the wall, having looked over to Criffel all my life from my childhood home on the outskirts of the Northern Lake District Fells.
This expansive estuary is the last resting place of the Bowness church bell. I was entertained to read in my Cicerone guide book the story of the bell, in the reiving days a raiding party from Middlebie snook across and removed the bell. They weren’t rewarded for their efforts as the Bowness residents rowed after them with such vigour and rage, the bandits resorted to throwing the bell overboard. In retaliation the men of Bowness stole the Middlebie church bell. To this day each new minister at Middlebie is obliged to write a futile letter requesting the bell’s return.
From Bowness on Solway we headed past Bousted Hill where I spent many hours of my childhood and teenage years learning to ride horses and having many hours of lessons. From jumping in the arena and cross country in the field to hacks across the marsh and pub rides I loved this place in the outdoors doing my favourite hobby.
From here we trundled along paths I have spent many hours walking up and back due to my previous job as a Countryside Access Officer for the local highway authority with my role to establish the England Coast Path through this area. This job took me along the shores of the Solway to the riverbanks of the Eden and into Carlisle so I knew the area well.
This section of the walk doesn’t give any sight of the original wall but it is a stunning part of Cumbria to explore. Passing the King Edward I Monument, marking the spot where the king died of dysentery after he instructed his army to carry his body into action.
In my role as a Countryside Access Officer in Cumbria I had the pleasure of helping to maintain the Hadrian’s Wall Path, gaining a great deal of historical knowledge of the path from colleagues and getting my first taste of National Trail legislation and maintenance.
Passing through Beaumont, Kirk Andrews and Grinsdale I am able to follow my nose along paths I know well, along the Eden where I’ve been treated to seeing king fishers flitting past. I spent many hours at the CNDR road crossing of the Eden as part of the establishment works of the England Coast Path, this may sound odd as it is several miles in land from the Cumbrian coast but this bridge if the first viable crossing for walkers to get from Rockliffe to Burgh Marsh.
We the reach the old Waverly viaduct, a stone arched river bridge opened in 1861. Despite considerable opposition the railway closed in 1969, there are now aspirations to reconnect the line to Carlisle as a 30 mile section is now having tracks laid from Edinburgh to Galashiels. There is hope from the locals including myself that the bridge will be opened as a multi user route/bridleway. In my current role as Access Field Officer for an equestrian charity I am lobbying to gain access across the bridge to connect the two sides of the river for horse riders.
It was at the viaduct where my partner spotted something odd in the water, which upon closer inspection turned out to be an otter! I have spotted otters on the Eden before but they have generally been further into town. I turned back into a 5 year old, being overly excited and letting everyone else that passed know where Mr Otter was showing them from one of the old bridge buttresses where they could see him. It was an honour to be able to watch the otter fishing and eating for a good 20 minutes, I was gutted to only have my 18-55mm camera lens with me to capture the photos as we were so close it would have been a great opportunity for some whisker tickling photos, but that’s the way of packing lite for a long distance hike I guess.
Now some people choose to detour into the historic city of Carlisle but having grown up within 30 minutes myself I know the city well so was happy to follow the Eden up to Rickerby Park which was the end of my first day. At the end of day 1 I felt pretty impressed with my walk time and didn’t feel to worse for wear. As we were still so close to home we retreated back to our own bed for the night to get a good nights sleep for day 2 on the wall.
Hadrian's Wall Path - Walking the Wall Cumbria Hadrian's Wall Path HWP Long Distance Walking Trail National Trail Northumberland Northumberland National Park public rights of way publicrightsofwayexplorer