A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about scenery

Doing as the Romans Do - Walking the Wall

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"When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love." - Marcus Aurelius (Roman Emperor)

Foodie moment

We saw a sign for one pound curries at a pub on the way to our accommodation in Carlisle and they were really nice! You can't beat a one pound dinner!

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Cultural moment

The British love to go waking, whether its for a week long holiday making their way along the length of Hadrian's wall, or on a Sunday afternoon. It is a much more popular pass time here than back in Australia. Whilst 'tramping' in Scotland and England we also learnt one of the nicest things about the UK walking culture is that everyone says 'Hello' as they walk past. It can sound a little repetitive when you pass a large group, but it develops a lovely sense on community and makes you feel part of something, even if you're on your own.

Wow moment

On the long drive from Fort Augustus down to Northern England, we stopped briefly in Stirling to check out the castle. A pretty town set along a steep hill leads up to the Stirling castle sitting on the top of the hill. The nearby Old Town Cemetery gives amazing views over the town and the castle, a great photographic opportunity!

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Hadrian's wall was constructed by the Roman army, construction begin in 122 AD. It originally formed a border across the North of England stretching from one coast to the other, and was built to keep out those savage Northerners (otherwise known as the Scots!). Nowadays most of the wall has been demolished but there are still some parts that are intact, and these are the ones we visited. The countryside surrounding the walls is wild and barren, and we could see why the Roman guards on wall duty would have dealt with the difficulties of exposure, temperature and boredom! Hiking the walls is breathtaking, both because of the up hills and just the enormity of the history we were seeing.

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What we learnt today

Whilst at Hadrian's wall, we visited the Roman Army Museum, which ended up being one of the best museums we have visited on this trip. It covered the make up of the Roman army and the life of a Roman soldier on the front line of Emperor Hadrian’s formidable British frontier. There were many Roman artefacts, costumes, re-enacted stories from soldiers point of views and a great 3D movie that showed reconstructions of the Roman garrisons and fortresses along Hadrian's Wall.

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The Roman army was made up of many sections, beginning with the individual soldier of either Roman background or men taken captive from previous battles (known as Auxiliaries). These formed group of centuries, cohorts and legions which totalled 5,400 soldiers. The leaders of centuries are called Centurions and the leader of the entire legion is called a Legatus Legionis. It was this structure of rank that contributed to the Romans success.

The Auxiliaries are enemy soldiers that join the Roman army by capture. These soldiers are chosen by showing a particular expertise in battle such as the expert archers of eastern Europe. The Auxiliary armies are similar but separate to the group of the main Roman army and are usually sent to battles far away from their home country to prevent bias or favouritism of their homeland.

Many men joined the army because of its enticing rewards. The main being that after 25 years of service a soldier could retire, receive Roman citizenship (if not already), be given his own piece of land within the empire and benefits for himself and his future family. However the tough life and high risk of death while serving in the army prevented many men from ever lasting the full 25 years.

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Posted by travellinglise 08:59 Archived in England Tagged scenery hadrians_wall Comments (0)

Skye High and Loving It!

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"Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that's born to be King
Over the sea to Skye." - The Skye Boat Song

Foodie moment

At the top end of our journey on the Isle of Skye, we stopped off in a town known as Portree. It's a nice little fishing town on the coast of the island with many restaurants and cafes. We ordered a large serving of chips with vinegar from the local fish 'n' chip shop and sat down to eat them by the seaside, watching the seagulls.

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Cultural moment

Although we just missed the "heat wave" by a few weeks, Summer in Scotland is not what we would associate with typical summer weather. It was quite cloudy and gloomy, especially on the Isle of Skye and rained a fair bit, however this enhanced the true highland experience. Even when the sun did make an appearance, the temperature barely ever topped the low twenties and the wind in the mountains stripped any sunshine heat away anyway. Lisa stated a few times that she would never be able to live without a Summer. I wonder what it is like in the wintery parts of the year!

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The highland cow (coo with a Scottish accent) is a globally recognised symbol of Scotland. They are hairy beasts with long horns and appear to look big and friendly. We were lucky enough to spot some on the side of the road and get up close for some photos. I was soon reminded that they are in fact bulls and aren't as friendly as they look when I tried to pat one on the head and he got a bit skittish!

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Wow moment

Today we drove to the Isle of Skye (we left from our accommodation in Fort Augustus) and it took two hours of driving just to get to the bridge crossing. The roads on the way to Skye were really windy (that's windy as in twisting) and fun to drive, but not great for Lisa's travel sickness. The scenery was beautiful, with the roads taking us through forests, mountains and around the edges of lochs. However, once we reached Skye the scenery took on a different look, with most of the forests gone, there were grassy and craggy mountains all around that were tall enough that the clouds had to flow around them. It was really spectacular and amazing, a type of scenery I had never seen anything like before.

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Whilst on Skye we took a hike to the Fairy Pools, which are a group of many small waterfalls that flow from the base of mountains and across a wide and long glen. The hike was easy to begin with, flat with a few stream crossings and was quite busy with lots of other fellow hikers. The scenery was surreal, with clouds like I had never seen before, flowing in fast and around the huge mountains, I have never seen clouds move that fast and low. The waterfalls and river were beautiful, with rock pools all along the river. When the path started to disappear I started to get adventurous and decided we should walk all the way to the beginning of the river at the base of the mountains. It looked a lot closer that it was, and before long we were the only ones hiking. Eventually we reached the base of the mountains and discovered many piles of rocks that were left by previous hikers. We left our own rocks and began to walk back. We could see our car in the distance as a tiny speck, and it took a good 2 hours to get back!

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What we learnt today

Wasn't much of a lesson today, but more of an experience. The drive on the way to Skye was actually more spectacular than on Skye itself. Driving around the Lochs on the mainland was definitely the driving highlight with breathtaking views at many points. Although Skye is amazing in its own way, it has a more barren and craggy landscape.

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Posted by travellinglise 04:18 Archived in Scotland Tagged scenery isle_of_skye Comments (0)

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