296 pm Bowness-on-Solway to Glasson

This final part of my walk (the part that should have been after-lunch, but wasn’t because of the shut pub) turns out to be the nicest part of the day. Running on the shore side of Bowness is an Edwardian promenade, called The Banks, restored in 2002. It provides a shady walk and great views across the Solway Firth.

a01 Solway Firth, Ruth's coastal walk, Bowness, Cumbria, Hadrian's Wall

Here they’ve built a pretty pavilion, and this marks the beginning of the Hadrian’s Wall Path. (Unfortunately my photos are poor due to difficult light conditions.) 

On this side, a sign reads: “WALLSEND 84 MILES. GOOD LUCK GO WITH YOU.”

a02 Hadrian's Wall Path, Solway, beginning, Ruth hiking in Bowness

On the other side, the sign reads: “WELCOME. THE END OF HADRIAN’S WALL PATH”

a03 Hadrian's Wall Path, Solway, ending, Ruth hiking in Bowness

It’s a much more impressive end (or beginning) than the Wales Coast Path, which just kind of petered out on the way to Chester, marked only by a couple of big rocks. I decide that one day I’m going to do the Hadrian’s Wall Path. Another long-distance walk to add to my growing list!

The walk along The Banks doesn’t last for long. You soon have to rejoin the road, and leave Bowness along a quiet lane that follows the edge of the marsh. “Road liable to tidal flooding” warns another sign. Yes. But it is low tide at the moment.

a04 Grey Havens to Port Carlisle, Ruth Livingstone hiking the Hadrian's Wall Path, Cumbria

There is some traffic whizzing along this road, so it’s not as pleasant as it could have been. Here another sign tells me that “WHEN WATER REACHES THIS POINT MAXIMUM  DEPTH IS 1 FOOT”. It might just be me, but I find that a little confusing.

Is it supposed to be reassuring? Don’t worry, the water here is never more than a foot deep. Or is it a warning? Beware this water is up to a foot deep.

a05 warning sign, Port Carlisle, Ruth Livingstone on Hadrian's Wall Path

I soon reach Port Carlisle, where the footpath leaves the road and follows a track. Here’s a nice sign. “NO VEHICLES” but “WALKERS WELCOME.”

a06 walkers welcome sign, Port Carlisle, Ruth Livingstone

I’m still hoping to find a pub open for lunch, so the little blackboard sign seems a good omen. “Hope & Anchor. Meals, snacks, teas & coffees.” Excellent.

a07 Port Carlisle, Ruth Livingstone walking the England Coast Path

The trouble is… there’s no sign of a pub. I meet a couple walking their dog, but they seem as unsure about the way to the pub as I am.

“Look, there’s Hadrian’s wall,” the man says, and points to a brick structure standing on the other side of a waterway. I think he’s joking at first. Then realise he’s deadly serious.

“Um, I don’t think that’s the Roman wall,” I say, carefully. “It’s probably the ruins of a jetty. This place is called Port Carlisle.”

a08 is that the wall, Port Carlisle, Ruth Livingstone

Hadrian’s Wall actually runs just inland of Port Carlisle, according to my OS map. There are no stones left – they’ve been plundered to construct local buildings – just a raised bank is all that remains in this area.

The couple seems to lose heart at this news. They follow me for a while, but turn back. Perhaps they find the pub eventually? I realise I’m past the point of hunger, so I carry on.

The official Hadrian’s Wall Path turns inland as some point, but I stick to the shore. It’s too muddy to walk on the foreshore, so I walk along the grassy bank instead. This too is soggy and is clearly being eroded by the tides.

a09 walking to Glasson, Ruth's coastal walk, Solway Firth

The sun is sinking lower in the sky. Ahead is a high outcrop of land, almost a cliff! It has no name on my map, but it’s where Milecastle number 77 used to stand, one of the many Roman forts that guarded the wall.

a10 near Milecastle 77, Hadrian's Wall, Ruth Livingstone

I’ve joined a little footpath, but it comes to an end at the base of this low cliff. I was hoping to find another right-of-way, as shown on my map, that leads up over the cliff and then joins the road to Glasson. But there is no obvious sign of a path. I scramble up the slippery slope, hoping to pick up the footpath in the field above.

At the top of my mini cliff is another military structure, a ruined tower. I’m sure this isn’t really Milecastle 77, but probably something left over from the second world war. Or, maybe, even an agricultural building. Anyway, I enjoy pretending I’m a Roman soldier, and stop to take a photograph looking across the Solway Firth, which appears to have grown even wider at this point.

a11 Solway Firth, Ruth walking Hadrian's Wall, Cumbrian coast

I find my footpath. It’s a very muddy farm track. I make my way as far as the Trig Point (another military invention!) but then give up. I’m only wearing walking shoes, and the track is covered in half a foot of cow slurry. Yuck.

a12 trig point, Milecastle 77, near Glasson, Ruth hiking in Cumbria

I strike off down the hill, crossing a very boggy field, aware I’m trespassing. At the bottom of the field is a barbed wire fence and a hawthorn hedge. I throw myself over the fence, and push my way through the hedge, tumbling onto the marsh below with a few new scratches.

a13 Westfield Marsh, Ruth's coastal walk, Cumbria

I splosh through the marsh to join the  road, grateful for firm tarmac beneath my shoes once again.

I soon spot the sign to Glasson and decide to stop here and see if the pub is open. I have an hour before I need to catch the bus. But I notice the sign also tells me that Kirkbride is only three miles away! I’ve nearly come round in a full circle.

a14 road to Glasson, Ruth Livingstone hiking the coast in Cumbria

I was bracing myself for another disappointing encounter with a closed pub. But I needn’t have worried. This is the Highland Laddie Inn, and it’s OPEN ALL DAY!!. Yippee!!!

a15 Highland Laddie pub, Ruth in Glasson, Cumbria

The landlord is reading his paper by the fire. I’m past the point of wanting lunch, so I order a half of cider and a packet of crisps. There is only one other customer in the place, so I don’t know how he justifies staying open all day, but I’m very grateful for a warm seat and a refreshing drink. Also grateful to learn the bus stops right outside the pub!

The landlord turns out to be a haaf netter fisherman. I’d read about this method of fishing, and was thrilled to see his photo, along with his poles and net, on the wall. This ancient method of fishing on the Solway might have been invented by the Vikings. You can read about it here: Haaf Netters Fishing

Miles walked today = 14 miles
Total distance around coast = 3,017

High Point: joining the famous Hadrian’s Wall Path.

Low point: discovering the bus fare from Glasson to Whitrigg costs over £5:00 and the trip involves a tortuous journey back to Bowness, then on to Anthorn and back again, before the bus lady dropped me off at Whitrigg Bridge. If I’d only realised… I’d have walked the three miles back to my car!


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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18 Responses to 296 pm Bowness-on-Solway to Glasson

  1. owdjockey says:

    For some reason, this corner of Cumbria is very expensive for bus journeys. I had to do a two-bus journey from Abbeytown to Bowness, which cost me £12.50!

    • £12:50? Crikey! Most people on the bus seem to travel for free, by showing their passes. I guess they make lots of money from the one-off travellers like us. My bus driver on this occasion was actually very embarrassed about the high fare.

  2. keithcase says:

    Scotland looks tantalisingly close but I guess you have to go through Carlisle. The walking in these parts looks much like Lincolnshire. Good Luck,


    • Hi Keith. Yes, it’s very flat countryside, and has been since I left Workington. In fact, very much like Lincolnshire as many of the fields around here seem to be reclaimed marshes. I feel right at home!

  3. Chris Elliott says:

    Hi Ruth – I forget how far you walked around Anglesey, but if you strip Anglesey out of your mileage to date (100 odd miles???) you are getting very close to what I think is the half way mark for your walk – your rules are not that dissimilar to mine and I reckon it is 6,100 miles – so in advance I give you my hearty congratulation, because when you accomplish it, I shall probably be pottering on myself. It’s a hell of an accomplishment. Well done on you. Keep up the good work and the marvellous blog and photographs. Chris

    • I keep looking a the map of the British Isles and, yes, I think I must be half way round. Can’t believe it’s nearly 7 years since I set off. Hopefully it won’t take me 7 years to do the rest, now that I’m retired I can spend far more time walking. Thank you, Chris, for your kind words about my blog.

    • I meant to say, Chris, thank you for sharing your wonderful photobook. It was absolutely gorgeous!

  4. babsandnancy says:

    Aha you answered my question from the last post in this post!

  5. beatingthebounds says:

    I walked part of Hadrian’s Wall (from Brampton to Chester’s Fort) with two of my kids a few years ago and I can heartily recommend it.

  6. jcombe says:

    Should have re-read this when doing this walk. I also tried to follow the path down the shore where you took the photo of the Trigg Point. The track from the road (I was going the other way) was fine at this time of year, but from there I managed to walk on the field to the edge of the shore and no sign of that footpath. I’m afraid I couldn’t face crashing through the gorse as you did – back to the road for me.

    • If you had found that ruined building, Jon, you could probably climb down the bank from there. It would be more a slide, than a climb, to be honest!

      • jcombe says:

        I did report this path to Cumbria County Council. Here is their (very speedy) response.

        “Many thanks for your recent email regarding the problems you encountered whilst using Public Footpath 214008 and 214024. We are currently working with Natural England to implement the English Coastal Path and are aware of these problems. You will be please to know that they will be resolved during the roll out of this particular phase of the new National Trail.”

        The England Coast Path seems to be the answer to every problem with footpaths along the coast – so I hope it turns out to be true! (At least it sounds like the path will be routed along these paths rather than the roads, then).

        • Hi Jon. Well done on reporting the problem with the footpath. (I always intend to, but lose interest once I’ve moved out of the area – shame on me.) Find it almost impossible to believe they’ll ever finish the English Coast Path. Certainly not by 2020. They seem to have left the most difficult bits until last! Of course, I hope I’ll be proven wrong.

  7. Marie Keates says:

    The Hadrian’s Wall walk does sound interesting and short by comparison to walking around the coast. Glad the pub was open.

  8. jcombe says:

    I made a start on walking the Hadrian’s Wall path today from Carlisle to Bowness. it was intended to be the other way round but a problem with the bus meant I had to reverse it. Had a funny encounter on the bus back. The bus turns at the west of the village. Here the car park was surrounded by cows who all came over to lick the outside of the bus. Apparently this happens often and the driver doesn’t know why they like to lick the bus! The Highland Laddie pub has closed down, looks like a while ago given all the cobwebs round the door and had a planning permission notice on so probably going to become a house sadly.

    • Ruth says:

      Sorry to hear the pub has closed, but not surprised. As for the cows, do you think they were licking salt off the bus? Very weird behaviour otherwise!

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