Summer K(nights) - 'Roman' off the beaten track at Hadrian's Wall

The best road trips in my life always seem to get even better when I take a left turn, when I should have taken a right! ... when we leave the city lights behind us, head for the hills, and let the days unfold naturally. No alarm clocks, no deadlines... just us and the open road... and freedom - true freedom to choose when to stop, and when to go. When we set the pace...

A few years ago I took my boys on a road trip to Scotland. All we knew is where we would be laying our heads each night. That was pretty much the extent of our planning. Yes, we knew of some of the sights that peppered the way, but it would be down to us, and how we felt each day, as to when and where we chose to make a pit stop. Each day would remain an adventure waiting to be discovered. Each day we wondered what vista might catch our imagination before it blurred into the distance in the rearview mirror...

And so it was that we found ourselves at the English Heritage site of Birdoswald Roman Fort at Hadrian's Wall in Brampton, Cumbria, just East of the Lake District in Northern England, close-ish to the Scottish border. It boasts one of the best preserved and longest continuous stretches of the wall remaining as well as the remnants of an ancient stone fort.

In case you were not aware, the Romans, under Julius Caesar, first sought unsuccessfully to make inroads into Britannia in 55 BC. Almost a hundred years later, they tried again under Emperor Claudius, and by 79 AD they had control of what is now known as Wales and Southern Britain. They continued to invade the North, mounting attack after attack on what is now known as Scotland, but had limited success. By the time Emperor Hadrian came to power in 117 AD, they decided to consolidate and protect the territory that was under Roman control and built a wall almost 80 miles long in 122 AD across the country to defend themselves, and the territory under their control, from what they termed the Northern barbarians. source

We had planned to stop off for just an hour to see the wall and grab something to drink on the go, but we ended up having so much fun exploring the area, that we spent half a day there.

When we arrived at Birdoswald we had to visit the gift shop first as that is where they sold entry tickets to the site... Of course, within a blink of an eye, my boys were dancing round the shop, armed to the hilt and brandishing handmade wooden swords and crossbows, carefully selected from the overflowing bins in the centre of the shop. We were on holiday and they had an allowance so if it be swords and crossbows they wanted... swords and crossbows they could have!

It certainly made the exploration of the battlements far more exciting than it might have been. My two little knights jousted on the ramparts of what remains of the walls of the fort and I had a lot of fun watching them and shadowing them... making sure I was ready to catch any little knight or soldier who might fall... but they were steady-footed🤗. Incredible to believe that the wall is over 1900 years old! 😱

We also explored the ruins of some of the ancient Roman stone grain houses... From very little my boys have always found opportunities for parkour in every adventure we encounter.

The boys were finally convinced to surrender their swords and crossbows for a more sedate breather in the on-site rustic cafe. Just look at that view through the window! 😍 As we overlooked the ruins of what remains of the Roman walls, we enjoyed a cuppa tea, accompanied by freshly baked scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. Very defiantly English of us 😂I do wonder what the Romans might have said about that!!! 🤣🤣🤣

Taking my children to a cafe for tea and cake is one of the things I have always done with them. It is also how I choose to spend time with them individually when I feel that I need to check in with one of them on a 1:2:1 basis.

Truth be told, I don't remember how good the cream teas were at Birdoswald, but I do know that nothing beats a great cuppa after a wonderful morning exploring the great outdoors, off the beaten track...

All images are mine and were taken by me.

Dreemport banner used with permission of @dreemsteem and @dreemport and designed by @jimramones

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