Exploring England #27
We knew there were Roman ruins at Ambleside – they were clearly marked on the map. There was just one problem. We couldn’t find them!
Driving north on the A591 we passed by the spot where we thought they should be but we didn’t see any signs. We doubled back and looked again, but there was no indication of their whereabouts from the road.
We spied a small tourist information centre, so we parked the car and went in to seek help. A friendly man said there definitely was a Roman fort and pointed vaguely towards Borrans Park. We set off on foot in the direction he’d indicated, walking through spacious parkland at the northern end of Lake Windermere.
We came to a rocky outcrop which looked a little like a wall – could this be the remains of the fort? It didn’t look quite right, but we climbed up and over and took some photographs just in case.
From the top of the rock we could see small groups of people in a field at the far end of the park, eyes down and looking very intent. Perhaps we hadn’t gone far enough. We continued on, until an information board confirmed our suspicions. This time we had found the ruins.
The foundations are all that is left of the stone fort constructed here at the start of the 2nd century AD. We wandered around each part of the fort, joining a herd of contented cows who seemed oblivious to the curious visitors in their field.
In one corner of the field was the start of a public footpath – a country walk beckoned and we couldn’t resist. We said goodbye to the the cows and headed off on a raised boardwalk over marshy land on the bank of the River Rothay.
The lush greenery of the woods was mirrored in the calm, shallow water of the river, and we stopped several times to enjoy the beautiful reflections. At the junction with the River Brathay the water was so clear we could see dozens of tiny fish swimming downstream.
Leaving the river behind, we passed through a turnstile and crossed another field before joining the footpath on busy Borrans Road.
As we walked back to our starting point in the park we checked once more for a sign to the fort. Had we missed it on our drive?
No, there weren’t any signs. Lucky we found the information centre or the Romans would still be undiscovered!
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