October 11, 2019 (by Jimmy) – When we left Ireland for England, our trip changed greatly. We had not planned England or Scotland at all like we planned Ireland. We had maybe two or three events scheduled, but the rest of our stay was to be spontaneous. Angela and I didn’t even have a route planned; we were just going to make it up as we went.
Bristol to Wales – Angela and I left Dublin in the morning and would be arriving around noon. This left us the afternoon to explore before we went to Wales for our first night. Angela wanted to visit the Cotswold area, and when I looked at the map, I noticed that near the northern part of that area was Stratford-upon-Avon. Stratford-upon-Avon was where Shakespeare lived. We went to Stratford and then drove down through the Cotswold before heading west to Wales for our first night.
Bath and Stonehenge – The next day Angela and I went to Bath. Bath is where the Romans found a hot spring and developed a bathhouse around it (this was about 75 AD). We toured the bathhouse and had lunch at a cafe where we sat outside. Next, Angela and I drove to Stonehenge. No one knows the actual origins of the stone formation, but it was a wonderful treat to have visited this historic and famous place.
Highclere Castle – If you watch Downton Abbey, you have seen Highclere Castle. This is the castle where the TV series and movie were filmed. We were able to take as many pictures we wanted but no pictures were allowed in the castle itself. The tour of the house was wonderful. Each room in which filming was done had an easel with a photograph of a scene from the show. The current owner of the castle is the godson of the queen. If you watch the show The Crown, the person called Porchey who is a close friend of the Queen was the current owner’s father. Now that I have seen the beauty of the Highclere Castle, I only wish they would pan up to the ceilings every now and again. The ceilings are gorgeous. Once we left Highclere, we headed north to Stoke on Trent.
Brougham Castle and Carlisle Castle – From Stoke on Trent our next stop would be city of Carlisle. However, Angela and I stopped near Penrith to visit a place called Brougham Castle. We then headed to Carlisle to visit Carlisle Castle. Carlisle is the most besieged castle in England. It is at the start of Hadrian’s Wall near the border between England and Scotland. Because of its strategic location, it has been besieged ten times in its 900-year history.
Hadrian’s Wall – Our next move was to drive the 73-mile length of Hadrian’s wall. Roman emperor Hadrian had this wall built to keep the “barbarians” (Scots) out of Roman territory. The wall does not run flush with the current Scottish border. The border of Scotland makes a northern run starting a few miles north of Carlisle and ending not too far south of Edinburgh. As Angela and I drove the length of the wall, there were places to stop and view Roman barracks, forts, and even an excavation in process at a place called Vindolanda. I met a few of the folks digging. They said they had a couple of days left before the next team came in. They worked two weeks at a time and all volunteers were welcome. I was asked to join them, but I couldn’t because I was on vacation, and I didn’t feel like rummaging in the mud (it was raining). I asked how long they would be working the site. They said that they had been working on this location for about six months with a few months left (they were digging what was believed to be a barracks for equestrian soldiers). After that there were over 150 other sites that needed excavated. They are going to be awhile.
Warkworth Castle, Dunstanburg Castle, and Berwick Castle – The end of Hadrian’s wall is near the town of Newcastle Upon Tyne. We left there and drove up the coast toward Edinburgh. Our first stop was at Warkworth Castle. Of those we saw, this was my favorite castle ruins in England. The castle looked small, but inside the rooms were rather big and considering how it would have looked in its heyday, this place would have been extremely impressive. On our trip north the next castle we came to was Dunstanburg Castle. I could tell we were getting close to Scotland; this castle was at the end of a golf course. We didn’t walk all the way up to it (I think it was 2-3 miles one way to get there), but we did get some pictures. Finally we passed by Berwick Castle in Berwick Upon Tweed (right before we crossed over into Scotland).
Next we moved into Scotland.