I couldn’t visit the northern part of the UK without considering a visit to Hadrian’s Wall thankfully, a peek at day tours from Edinburgh revealed quite a few went down through the boarder region and onto Hadrian’s Wall.
So the first of our day trips from Edinburgh actually involved leaving the country!
The destination was Steel Rigg and it’s one of the most intact sections of the wall today. Of course the wall isn’t as imposing as it once was, because of earth building up around it and farmers recycling the stone. You have to love the Romans though… they built it in the straightest line they could over the hills:
The wall is actually two walls with a dirt filling and this was built some years after the original wall Hadrian began.
It continues its path up and down over the landscape around Steel Rigg (the skinny line running over the hills). These are all part of the Whin Sill a geological feature that gave me something to geek out about! I’ll spare you my geeky glee, but it is interesting to note that the rocks of the Wall were quarried elsewhere because the rock of the hills – dolomite – is incredibly tough.
Being me I didn’t follow the rest of the tour group to the top of the hill, but entertained myself taking pics of birds, the wall at different points, the landscape and some people rock climbing! Gives you a sense of scale for the size of those dolomite blocks that make up the Whin Sill.
I could bang-on about the wall – it has a fascinating history – but then I’d run out of space to talk about the other things we got to see on this Rabbie’s tour.
Our first stop on the way to Hadrian’s Wall (Scottish side of the boarder) was an old rail viaduct at Leaderfoot, which was very cool.
Note also the number of lambs… it was a good spring for mini-bleaters.
The second stop was Jedburgh Abbey which is right in the boarder region, where constant warring has left a string of ruins. It’s a lovely shell of what must have been a very beautiful building.
Again we had beautiful sunshine, though it got a bit cloudy once we crossed the boarder.
We finally crossed into England at Carter Bar. It was nice to stretch our legs for a few minutes here, but it was interesting to see a piper, in his kilt and with a van boot full of tacky souvenirs working the visitors. Our bus was small and he soon took the car to the other side of the road when a big tour coach heading into Scotland showed up!
I love that this border crossing is just a bit of road in a gently hilly area.
From Carter Bar we went straight to Steel Rigg, but that wasn’t the end of the sites! We stopped at Vindolanda Roman Fort for lunch and a look-see. Like so many Roman sites it’s mostly a floor plan in the landscape, but you could feel the size of the place.
It’s a huge site and I enjoyed seeing features that I’ve seen at other Roman forts
There was a team doing work on one part of the fort while we were there and you can see the fruits of their efforts in a wonderful on-site museum. Because the fort was well populated, there is a wealth of pottery, jewellery, tools and animal skeletons to give you an idea of life. I particularly liked a display on locks they’ve found, but also this group of “face pots”.
What the little info board tells you is that the larger face pots may have been funerary urns
After that it was a the long ride back to Edinburgh which was broken by short stops including the Lanercost Priory, eating at a road services stop and a very quick stop at Moffat. It has a sculpture of a sheep that comes with an amusing story, but I was more amused by this shop…
Pity it was closing!
The Rabbie’s tour was great and we had fun talking to the guide who was not only born in Oban – where we were heading next – but had spent his school years in Adelaide!