Verterae Roman Fort
Brough Castle, Great Musgrave, Brough Sowerby and Augill Castle
Today's gently undulating 'in the vale' expedition follows one of the East Cumbria Countryside Project's carefully crafted 'Discover Eden' Walks, the route is consistently way-marked and affirmed by their delightful colourful flying kingfisher logo. ECCP have produced an excellent illustrated guide (£2), on sale locally. En route keep an eye out for each of the seven attractive bronze motifs set on top of posts.
Divided by the lorry infested A66, Market Brough and Church Brough are located in a once strategic location - at the point where the arterial Roman Road from York to Carlisle (in the volatile west), enters the Eden vale after the wild crossing of Stainmore. This is the land of the west moorland folk, the people who inhabited the realm of the Helm Wind, that periodic bitter, unrelenting wind that can cascade down the high Pennine scarp when an east wind prevails.
Verterae Roman Fort is the first evidence of military defence in this area its outline can still be seen below the Norman castle, which in turn commanded the continued life of the important trans-Pennine trade route. The rumbling sound of the lorries, overlaid during weekdays by the rhythmic chatter of machine guns and exploding bombs, give a hint of what it must be like to live in a war zone: the result of training activities on the MOD's Warcop ranges. For all that the air is charged with anger and rage, the walk succeeds in soothing the spirit as one drifts through a historically rich landscape, where farming and nature have worked hand in hand over countless generations.
Leave the rectangular square in Church Brough at Wiend Cottage, at the southwestern corner, following the lane which passes the path to St Michael's Church. One should make time to look at this lovely old ecclesiastic building (normally open from 10am to 4pm), its western aspect is quite amazing, long and low, its sturdy masonry culminating upon a massive tower, the fine-mullioned windows lending a pleasing grace to a classic Eden edifice.
The continuing lane slips through a red sandstone cutting, the tilted strata weather-hollowed at its lower end. Behind the house 'Manderley' stands the old vicarage, a considerable building in its own right. Fork right at the gate in the dip and follow the track up to a gate entering a level hedged lane. From this ridge-top passage Brough Castle can be seen in all its dramatic strategic glory with the square-cornered platform of Verterae in front of the keep. Elsewhere the great upper Eden landscape of fells and rolling country stretch around the compass with Nine Standards Rigg, Mallerstang,Wild Boar and the Howgills, all comparatively low profile, as are the more distant Far Eastern Fells of Lakeland. However, the prominent limestone bluffs of the west-facing Pennine escarpment beyond the A66 take the one's attention. You may spot Fox Tower, a curiosity that could be mistaken for an industrial ruin. Perched above Hellbeck Wood, a notable native ash wood, the building is nought but an eighteenth century folly.
This is an excerpt from Mark's original article. To see the full article, you will need to download the PDF using the link below
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© Mark Richards 2008