On Thursday 31 March 2016 friend Elaine and I drove west. We parked at Burgh by Sands church (NY329591) at about 0930 and she had a look at the church while I put my boots on and turned on the Strava app. When the satellites spoke to me – what would the Romans make of that? – we walked through the churchyard, then the field beside the road, then the road itself. It was a glorious day for a walk. If my geography is correct (scoffers be quiet) these trees must be along the line of the wall – the sheep enjoy a good scratch.
We came down into the village of Beaumont (apparently pronounced Beemont) and walked up to St Mary’s church NY347593. I will blog the church separately – it stands on the site of a Roman turret (70A). Breeze (Collingwood Bruce’s Handbook to the Roman Wall) tells me that in 1928 the Wall was found in the churchyard. It is 8 feet wide, its flag foundation set upon a foundation of clay and cobbles a foot deep “which was probably the base of the Turf Wall, The stones used for the core came from Stonepot Scar, north of the Solway” (page 349). Imagine the logistical operation to bring them across the river and get them to the Wall. We missed a building stone of the fifth cohort of the Twentieth Legion which was fished out of the Eden in the C19 and is now in a wall opposite the church.
The correct path follows the Eden, but floods mean a diversion. We were sent down the road to Kirkandrews-on-Eden – what are these yellow flowers? The Kirk was closed in 1750, but the churchyard is beautiful.
Then a muddy bit through to Grimsdale – a salutary reminder that the Trail is promoted for walking between May and September, not in the wet season in March (sorry!). The wall must have run along this escarpment, with lovely views north, but geophysical survey and trenching of the presumed site of Milecastle 69 at Sourmilk Bridge in 2000 did not find anything. We found two people repairing the bridge and its surrounds – and doing a good job. The fellowship of masons down the ages – they asked us if we were walking the whole Wall. I said “yes,” but qualified it with the phrase, “slowly in several stages”.
A little further on there is a very complicated stile. The gate was wide open due to the masons, but Elaine felt she had to follow the instructions. The track came down through some lovely trees and past a platform. I tried to put forward the theory that the Romans invented station platforms – we all know that they invented the railway gauge of 4 foot 8½ inches (if you’re not sure what I’m on about google “roman railway gauge”) – but Elaine was having none of it.
We came into the village of Grimsdale – the church marked on the map was closed during foot and mouth and never re-opened. We came upon a lady cleaning a fridge. Her children keep it stocked with drinks during the summer to earn pocket money, “but they can’t be bothered to clean it in the Spring”. As a service to future walkers – drinks are available at NY368579. Well done mum – thank you!
Our walk took us beside the River Eden, and it was a lovely stretch, even the new bypass didn’t seem too much of an intrusion. The river rises at Mallerstang, follows the Settle to Carlisle Railway (!), enters Carlisle from the east, and then flows into the Solway a few miles north of where we are. 90 miles long, and one of the few rivers to have a predominantly northward flow.
The path is very well maintained. We saw some deer just after we had crossed the bypass, while Breeze does a good job of working out which of the lumps and bumps are Wall and Vallum. The path should continue beside the river, but flooding has caused a diversion – well signed.
With hindsight I am annoyed with myself as you turn right just before the 1859 Border Union Railway Bridge across the Eden, and I didn’t walk down to photo it. It looks quite a splendid bridge. This map, again taken from the excellent Cumbria Railways site, shows the layout of lines – the Eden Bridge must have been just above the Engine Shed in the top left corner of the map. The whole area is now woodland, and the Friends of Engine Lonning have their own website. There is lots of fascinating industrial archaeology hidden in the trees. A reminder that the canal was opened between 1823 and 1853, then the Silloth railway was built on top of it. Then everything else was added.
We joined the B5307 and walked into town. Coledale Hall is a Grade II* listed building – see the British Listed Buildings site. The house name comes from Richard Coledale, a merchant who lived here in the reign of Henry VI, and the house was built in 1810 for Henry Fawcett (MP for Carlisle). In 1846 there were internal alterations by a Mr Withnal for George Mould (railway contractor). Not a railway contractor I have ever heard of, and I can’t find out much about him. A research project sometime! [see the note at the bottom of this blog most]. A little further on is this rather nice house with interesting brickwork. An interesting variety of houses and gardens. Past the hospital, and a Mobility Shop with steps up into it (as my daughter would say, “Really?!?”)
This is the entry to the Canal Basin NY389559, and the “Jovial Sailor” pub. Lots of Jolly Sailors – I have never seen a Jovial one before! I came across this canal basin when I did my sabbatical research on John Wilson Carmichael. These two pictures are reproduced in Bill Fawcett, A History of the Newcastle & Carlisle Railway 1824 to 1870; the first line across Britain, Newcastle upon Tyne, North Eastern Railway Association, 2008 (pages 13 and 41) – I think the originals are in Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery here in Carlisle. I am doing my Carmichael talk twice in the next couple of weeks – Ponteland Local History Society on Thursday 21 April and the Stephenson Locomotive Society in Newcastle on Friday 22 April.
We passed the Biscuit Factory – originally founded in 1841 by Jonathan Dodgson Carr, now part of United Biscuits. It suffered flood damage at the end of last year – five feet of water damaged the brick ovens, and left them with 500 tonnes of sodden biscuits, packaging and river silt to be moved. Production has now re-started – congratulations to them! Guardian new story.
Past the Cathedral, a steak pasty from Greggs (I deserve it after 6½ miles), and we got to the bus station with a few minutes to spare before the 1250 Stagecoach 93 service to Burgh. This was the bus I got on the other day when I did walk 1. We felt good after a lovely morning’s walk. Thanks Elaine for being good company – nice to walk with someone else.
Mr Mould – my friend Ray did some digging, so here are the references he found:
Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 1 July 1843 – New Wesleyan Chapel in Chorley. “The chapel is a neat and elegant construction. … The front and elevation of the building is much admired, and reflects great credit on the taste and skill of George Mould, Esq., railway contractor, to whom the erection of the entire building was entrusted.”
Carlisle Patriot, 8 October 1847 – Presentation of Plate to George Mould Esq. “The memorial is a splendid candelabra with six branches, upon a pedestal with shell feet. It is ornamented with three figures, two of which, as shown by the arms of the two towns, represent Lancaster and Carlisle. The third figure appears in the act of presenting a scroll, understood to be a plan of the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway, holding in the other hand a spirit level. At the back of the figures branches of laurel represent the prosperity of the two places. On two sides of the pedestals are bas-reliefs, one containing a delineration of the viaduct at Lancaster, the other the viaduct across the Lowther. The whole is executed in the most beautiful manner, and reflects credit upon the artist.” There is a long report of the dinner and celebrations,
Carlisle Patriot, 10 February 1855 – Royal Compliment to Mr G. Mould – Her Majesty the Queen of Spain has recently conferred upon GM, railway contractor, the distingushed order of “Charles the Third,” as a recognition of his enterprise in initiating the railway system in that country. M is now engaged in the construction of a line of railway which is to connect the Great Northern Port of Spain (Santander) with Madrid. By this means, with the adjunct of steamers between Southampton or Plymouth and Santander, the Spanish and British capitals will be brought within three days’ journey, and a new and immense source of agricultural supply will be opened out to this country.
Carlisle Journal, 10 April 1863 – Mr Mould’s bankruptcy – On Tuesday last, at the London Court of Bankruptcy, the case of Mr GM, railway contractor, of Santander, Spain (formerly of Carlisle), came on. Adjudication in bankruptcy was made, but advancement was stayed for appeal. The liabilities are said to be very large, but the amount did not transpire.
The Dublin Mercantil Advertiser, 4 November 1864, published a long record of a case in the Court of Exechequer which involved M and George Hudson. A rather sad end, from the reading of it.