Thursday 20 April 2023

Hardknott Pass Roman Fort


As Cumbria has just been split, administratively, back into its original counties of Cumberland and Westmorland, we decided to walk in both of them at the weekend.

We would also have walked into the northernmost part of Lancashire, but we haven't given that bit back to the Lancastrians. A triangular stone pillar marks the spot where the three counties historically met, and we dutifully walked around it. Probably should have done it widdershins, but we didn't think of it at the time. This was possibly because we were indulging in the popular local pastime of walking-with-clouds-in-our-boots. The forecast was for cloudy but dry, but neglected to mention that the cloud level would start at sea level, and we were at around the 400m mark. We also visited the Roman fort at nearby Hardknott pass (which vies for the title of steepest pass in England along with another in Yorkshire). Goodness knows what it was like for the poor Roman soldiers in winter.

Due to the weather, we did not see much in the way of wildlife up there, so yesterday, as the sun was shining, I took a walk up by Tom Rudd beck and back through the cemetary to see what flowers and insects I could find. Florally, whites and yellows are the colours of the month, with primroses taking over from the daffodils, and great sweeps of Wood Anemones competing for space with the still present Lesser Celandines from last month. 

Blues are also beginning to make an appearance with Speedwells and Common Dog Violet now appearing.

The dearth of insect life this spring is worrying, particularly in terms of biodiversity. With the exception of three butterfly species (Peacock, Red Admiral and Orange Tip), everything else was either bees or flies (and many of the flies were bee mimics). That's only 3 of the 20 or so insect orders that live in this country (See p12 of The Quick Guide to Creepy-Crawlies). Where were the beetles? Where were the true bugs?

News From The Old Cornmill

Having deported mouse number one, his mate has now come looking for him. She will be joining him on the old railway line this morning, and the entrance to the kitchen via the gas pipe will be sealed. Meanwhile, Ishbel has a new resident in the garden. A couple of years back, we put a small pond in her back garden. Meet Jeremy, who has now taken possession.

All the best,


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