Galava – Walking to a Roman Fort

One of the most fascinating things about the Lake District is the evidence of the Roman occupation, whether it be the Roman road over High Street or the various forts.

Galava

Galava

In all my time in the Lakes, I had never been to Galava, below Ambleside on the shores of Windermere. A few months ago, standing on the rocky Todd Crag on Loughrigg Fell, we saw the remains of its walls far below, rather like an aerial photograph.

Earlier this week we set out from Rydal Church and walked the lane Under Loughrigg, mostly along the banks of the lovely little River Rothay. A good day of dry weather and very clear views. This is a lane that the Lakeland literati knew very well. At Fox Ghyll lived the opium eater Thomas de Quincey. He was a great walker, both by day and night, and we were conscious of walking in his footsteps.

We watched a very large trout resting in the river and the Rhododendrons were in their glory.

The fallen walls of Galava (c) John Bainbridge 2015

The fallen walls of Galava (c) John Bainbridge 2015

Beyond Rothay Bridge we made our way into Borrans Park and into the remains of Galava. It must have been quite a place in its day. With that Roman stamp of “Here we are – take us on if you’re hard enough!” A statement of power first built in around 79AD. But even the Roman Empire passed away.

This area was defined as the North Pole by Arthur Ransome in his novel “Winter Holiday”, where his Swallows, Amazons and D’s make an expedition through a blizzard to reach this spot. I still shiver at the thought of it.

On this hot day, the meadows were blessed with buttercups, orchids, cuckoo pint and Ragged Robin.

Into Ambleside then, refreshments at Cafe Treff and a browse in Fred Holdsworth’s independent bookshop. One of the hall marks of civilisation, being able to ramble and then visit a bookshop.

We returned by way of Rydal Park, currently disfigured at a hydro system is being installed. Past the Grot, the picturesque grotto of Romantic times, and a rather lovely waterfall.

The Grot at Rydal (c) John Bainbridge 2015

The Grot at Rydal (c) John Bainbridge 2015

Even a short ramble in Lakeland provides a number of delights..

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