To get to the Hardknott Roman Fort you have to drive up Hardknott Pass, which rises 1,000 feet out of Eskdale in little more than a mile. It is one of the most spectacular roads in the country with hairpin bends as steep as 1-in-3. If the road is icy, or you are towing a caravan, don’t even consider this road! For cars, it is a scary drive, if you are not used to narrow, winding, hill roads; but most problems arise at peak holiday times. So take it slowly, carefully and use your gears – the views and the experience are well worth the effort. When you gaze down from the remains of the fort at the western end of the Hardknott Pass (1,291 feet) it’s easy to see why the Romans chose this site. Hardknott Castle Roman Fort enjoys a commanding position down into the green valley of Eskdale. Attacks from three sides were impossible and a trench prevented attacks from the east. Soldiers were garrisoned here to safeguard the road they had constructed to link the fort at Ambleside and the port of Ravenglass. Preferring to take the most direct route, they drove their road over the most difficult terrain in the Lake District, through the Hardknott and Wrynose passes. Despite the wonderful views, the Roman soldiers must have regarded isolated, windswept Mediobogdum as an unglamorous posting. The ruins, however, are still impressive. The soldiers drilled on a flat parade ground near by. The bath house would have been one of their few home comforts.
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About the area
Cumbria's rugged yet beautiful landscape is best known for the Lake District National Park that sits within its boundaries. It’s famous for Lake Windermere, England’s largest lake, and Derwent Water, ‘Queen of the English Lakes'. This beautiful countryside once inspired William Wordsworth and his home, Dove Cottage, in Grasmere is a popular museum. Another place of literary pilgrimage is Hill Top, home of Beatrix Potter, located near Windermere. Tom Kitten, Samuel Whiskers and Jemima Puddleduck were all created here.
Much of Cumbria is often overlooked in favour of the Lake Distirct. In the south, the Lune Valley remains as lovely as it was when Turner painted it. The coast is also a secret gem. With its wide cobbled streets, spacious green and views of the Solway Firth, Silloth is a fine Victorian seaside resort. Other towns along this coastline include Whitehaven, Workington and Maryport. Carlisle is well worth a look – once a Roman camp, its red-brick cathedral dates back to the early 12th century and its 11th-century castle was built by William Rufus.
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