Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Castle to Castle January 2009

A run along the Roman road, 34 miles, 5200 feet, 7 hours 30 mins

For some years I’d contemplated a run along the Roman road, but a perusal of the map one Tuesday provided the inspiration that I’d been searching for.  How about running from Penrith Castle to Kendal castle and take in Lowther on the way?  I could get the train from Oxenholme and make a day of it.  The dye was cast and Wednesday morning saw me jogging up from Kendal to Oxenholme to catch the 8.30 train.  

Kendal Castle - end of the road
The train is a far superior form of transport to the car and I arrived in Penrith in a relaxed frame of mind – that is until I discovered that I’d left my map behind.  No matter, I took a good look at a map in the bookstore, remembered what I could and set forth.  The crisp frost made for a bracing start but I was soon in to my stride and the miles passed easily up on to the long ridge that is the Roman road.  A keen wind lent a rawness to the morning and I was glad not to be a legionnaire in a friendless landscape.  The summits pass quickly in this part of the Lakes such is the relative flatness of the terrain, but the lack of contours can also make for a rather monotonous plod.  The enveloping mist, strong headwind and lack of company emphasized the drabness of winter on a day such as this.  Even the snow was wet, melting and grey.  The walkers that I met on the way didn’t appear to be enjoying it very much and there was little reason to linger on High Street.  Yet once out of the clinging mist, the rollercoaster ridge of Ill Bell lifted my mood and the ensuing jog in familiar hills was lent a special quality by being part of something bigger.  There is a peculiar satisfaction in identifying a pleasing line of the map and following it to its conclusion.  The Roman Road is a very obvious and pure line, with a good pre-amble by the Eden and finishing with a delightful crossing of Kentmere and Potter Fell.  This is my home territory and two miles would have seen me home, but instead I was bound for Bowston, the Dales Way and the River Kent leading in to Kendal.  As darkness fell, I made the last ascent of the day up to the castle, gloriously lit against the night sky, with the myriad of lights dotted below.  It had been a good day.

The Route
Penrith Castle – Lowther Castle – Askham – Arthurs Pike – Loadpot Hill – High Raise – Rampsgill Head – High Street – Thornythwaite Beacon – Froswick – Ill Bell – Yoke – Sour Howes – Ullthwaite bridge – Staveley Head – Potter Tarn – Bowston – Burneside – Kendal Castle.

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