Saturday, 21 August 2010

Great North Fun Day 24

Today we visited an extraordinary thing. A cathedral that actually felt like a place of worship rather than a tourist attraction.  To be honest I really wasn't keen about heading into Carlisle, especially on a busy Saturday, and we very nearly gave up on a couple of occasions, but we found good parking for Delores in the first car park we tried so we thought we'd give the city a go.

Hadrian's Wall.  Well, a bit of it.
First off we headed for the castle.  Ever since we joined the National Trust so we could save money and get in to see lots of new places, all the new places have been owned by English Heritage.  Carlisle Castle was one such place and at £4.80 each to get in we thought we'd give it a miss.  Leaving the castle we went through a really interesting underpass - not a phrase I use often but this underpass led to the museum and was full of interesting things from the history of the area.  It also didn't stink of pee, another rarity in the underpass world.

After a quick visit to the Tuille House Museum/ art gallery we found ourselves a proper northern tea room for a rest and a bite to eat.  Steve was thrilled to find they served proper rhubarb crumble in a proper bowl with lots of proper custard.  Those of you who know my husband will know how important good custard is to him.  Rested and replete we set off for the cathedral.

Not only was there no entry fee, or list of rules concerning the taking of photographs, but when we entered we were greeted by a lovely and very helpful lady who gave us a leaflet about the cathedral and told us if we had any questions to ask one of the assistants who were around and about.  Well we didn't have to ask, the assistants popped up regularly explaining different aspects of the history of the place and very patiently answering any additional questions we had.  I'm afraid I have pretty strong views about places of worship turning into commercial ventures so it was very refreshing to find a place that still realised what it's main purpose of existence was.

A bit more of Hadrian's Wall
Leaving Carlisle behind we headed off to check out the western end of Hadrian's Wall noting that the whole thing appeared to be owned by the National Trust, so we set off with our National Trust Sticker in the windscreen ready to take full advantage of our free carparking only to find that Northumberland National Parks own the car parks and it was £3 a day. All for a good cause I suppose.  We stopped at Walltown Crags for an easy stroll around and promptly got lost and ended up scaling one of the lesser crags to get back to the footpath.  Well I say footpath, I'm not convinced that any of it's previous users had anything other than 4 legs and a big fleecy coat.  It's quite remarkable how much of the wall is left here - it's a good 10 feet high in places - I can't imagine there's much being built today that will survive as long.

We finally made it back to Delores and the campsite.  The site is really quirky and friendly and even has a shower and a loo.  There's lots of interesting things in the surrounding fields to explore including a 40 foot high solar powered shower and washing machine.  We never actually made it into Gretna Green, once we read the leaflet for the Blacksmiths and realised it had sold it's soul years ago we thought we'd give it a miss.  Tomorrow we're heading down into the Lake District for plenty of walking but probably not so much cycling - those hills are looking pretty steep to me!

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