Peter Savin – Walking Hadrian’s High Way

Mark Richards on the trail near Great Chesters Roman fort

Walking Hadrian’s High Way

A treat for both heritage and outdoor enthusiasts

We are really please to introduce the first in a series of two posts on Rohantime regarding Walking Hadrian’s High Way.

The first post is from Peter and covers the early planning and research for walking the route with Mark Richards. The second post is Marks own story of the walk. Last week he published Hadrian’s High Way, in two handy volumes.

A magnificent 100-mile journey, traces the Roman road structure linking ten Roman forts from the Cumbrian coast at Ravenglass…

Peter Savin – Walking Hadrian’s High Way

Last summer I was up along Hadrian’s wall to visit the excavations at Vindolanda Roman fort and finding I had a day to spare I got in touch with the writer of the Hadrian’s wall footpath Guide and Rohan fan Mark Richards, Mark and his wife Helen had very kindly invited us for Christmas the previous winter after Storm Desmond flooded my house, we’d talked about walking together but never got round to it so this time I was keen to meet up. Mark was up for a wander but mentioned a new route he was working on and he was currently researching and walking a section in the south Tyne valley and did I want to come along? I was aware of the Roman fort at Whitley castle and the Maiden Way roman road that ran over the Pennine hills up to Magnis Fort on Hadrian’s Wall so the idea had me hooked.

So we met up on a fine June morning and walked my first length of Hadrian’s High Way up towards Hadrian’s famous wall. I’d done my homework and researched the visible remains of the roman road and this seemed to impress Mark and from then on we tackled more and more of the route together as free time arose.

Walking with Mark gave me a real insight as to how the guide book writer operates when “in the field” so to speak, too much chatter and the gates or route direction changes can be easily missed, features of the landscape overlooked so we developed an easy silence and I learned to stop at each stile or gate to let Mark note its arrival along the route. As the unofficial photographer I spent time ahead or some way behind getting the long shots of Mark on the route so quite often we walked apart each making mental notes or Photographing the landscape from our own perspective.

Crossing the parade ground at Hardknott fort in Eskdale

The route research wasn’t totally without incident; we both went off route trying to find the actual line off the roman road one day on Wrynose and ended up in thigh deep in muddy bog in a hidden stream running down the fellside. Mark did stop laughing long enough to check I was Ok!

One of the most interesting and rewarding sections for me was in the Eskdale Valley, a place I thought if knew reasonably well but a little research with old maps and Archaeological reports plus walking with Mark and his encyclopaedic knowledge of the lakes through his Fellranger guidebooks was a revelation. Finishing that evening at Hardknott fort as the sun sank low was a highlight of the route.

Peter Savin in vintage Rohan fleece

So now it’s done, it’s your turn to follow the route through from the Cumbrian coast across Lakeland and the Eden valley onwards to Vindolanda Roman fort. I wish you all the best on your travels.

Peter Savin – twitter@pete_savin

Thank you Peter – Read more from Peter on Rohantime


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