I’ve written in previous blogs about the Roman road running through the Eden valley and then to the Stainmore Gap across the Pennines. A good section in open countryside runs from the town of Appleby to Powis House, near to the village of Long Marton.
A good section, but one that nature is in a fight – a winning fight – to take back from the Roman Empire.
Trees and thick undergrowth are encroaching on to the line of the road, and some of the lower sections are awash with water – though it is February, of course, and the road is dryer in summer. How damaging this is to the archaeology I’m not sure. I suspect it’s been a while since archaeologists examined the state of the road.
While the engineering of the road is undoubtedly Roman, I don’t believe for a moment that the Romans pioneered this route. A look at the archaeology across the Eden Valley and the Stainmore Gap suggests to me that there must have been a prehistoric trail which the Roman surveyors adapted and improved for their own use. I believe the same might be said about the more famous High Street in the Lake District.
As a bridleway, this section of the Roman road is in imminent danger of being obstructed by overgrowth, and the muddy conditions make walking hard work. Time the Ramblers footpath officer had a look.
We plodded along it and it certainly provides an historic atmosphere, though we didn’t feel inclined to walk back the same way, instead taking the lanes to Long Marton and then back to Appleby.
A balance has to be struck between the preservation of our precious archaeology and giving nature its head. I feel that, as far as this section of the Roman road is concerned, it’s gone too far in the latter direction.
All pictures (c) John Bainbridge 2018
My new country walking and outdoors blog is coming soon…