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Thursday, 28 July 2016

Walk 185 Carlisle to Bowness on Solway (Cumbria)

Walk 185 Carlisle to Bowness on Solway (Cumbria)

(Fourth leg of English coastal walk – Gretna Green to Chester)

Map: L/R 85
Distance: 15 miles or 24 km approx
Difficulty: Fairly easy, mostly flat, although surprising amount of small ups and downs alongside the River Eden.
Terrain: roads, coastal and river paths. At times the road between Solway Firth and Burgh by Sands can flood up to 2 feet or more so check the tides and beware if heavy rain or recent flooding in the area.
Access: Parking in each location
Public transport: 93 bus runs a few times a day back to Carlisle Bus Station. Last one from Bowness is 18:58. Or you could get the 9:10 bus from Carlisle and walk back from Bowness.

Looking around Carlisle is not possible on this day but would recommend a half or whole day to visit Carlisle Castle and a look around the town. Look out for the Citadel or Court Houses which are built in the red brick typical of this town. The towers were built by Thomas Telford in 1810 and replaced similar structures built by HenryV111 in 1542 as an additional defence for the castle. The castle was built in 1092 by William Rufus and later served as a prison for Mary Queen of Scots. Before the Norman Conquest, Carlisle was part of Scotland and was not mentioned in the Domesday Book. William Rufus took the town for England in 1092. The castle was used in the Civil War and was held by he Royalist then the Parliamentarians. The last battle it saw was in 1745 when there was a Jacobite Rising led by Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Carlisle was a big centre for textile manufacturing after the Industrial Revolution. In the town centre check out Carlisle Cross, also known as Market Cross, which was erected in 1682. The lion on top has one of its paws on a book of the city and below there are four sundials.

Join the Cumbria Coastal Way on the western/southern side of the River Eden and walk seawards. Only a few steps inland just past Grinsdale is (or was) St Kentigern's Church. It was built in the 18th century on the site of a much older church. The saint, became Bishop of Glasgow and died in about 612. When I was looking at the outside of the church a man approached me and asked if I would like to look inside. Turns out he was an estate agent planning to convert the church into a residential property. I wonder what it looks like now.......

The River Eden can be very attractive in parts especially when the sun shines. At Beaumont the path crosses inland and follows the Hadrian's Wall Path. At Burgh by Sands (no sands that I could see) look out for St Michael's Church which was built using stone from the Roman wall. Soon after this point you could take a diversion to Old Sandsfield and view the memorial to Edward 1st (hammer of the Scots) who died when he was on his way to mete out rough treatment to Robert the Bruce in 1307. If you don't fancy this diversion then keep walking and you will come to the Greyhound pub where and stone and statue erected in 2007 marks the 700th anniversary of his death aged 68. The pub gets its name from the greyhounds that were trained by Lord Lonsdale on Burgh Marsh during World War 2.

Continue along the old Roman road to Drumburgh with its views to the Solway coast. It was designated an area of outstanding natural beauty in 1964. The small village of Drumburgh was the site of a Roman fort. In the 14th century a Pele Tower House (small, fortified house) known as Drumburgh castle was built with stone from Hadrian's Wall. You can still see this with its main door on the first floor as extra protection from raids across the estuary.

About 2 to 3 miles along the road is Port Carlisle which has a small island just offshore. Port Carlisle was originally a fishing village with the name Fishers Cross. The port was built in 1819 with a canal link to Carlisle. Unfortunately, it closed in 1853 due to financial difficulties and silting. The roads along this stretch are subject to flooding at high tides.

The final stop is Bowness on Solway. St Michael's Church in the village had its bells stolen by Scottish raiders in 1626 then Bowness villagers retaliated by taking the bells from a church near Annan in Scotland. Every new vicar in Annan requests the return of the bells but it is always refused!

Before leaving Bowness make sure you check out the western end of Hadrian's Wall. A plaque here marks the western end of the wall and notes that it is 73 miles from Wallsend at the eastern end.

Photos: St Kentigern's Church at Grinsdale on the River Eden (as it was a couple of years ago); Greyhound Pub at Burgh by Sands; the western end of Hadrian's Wall at Bowness on Solway.

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