Who said the weather man was wrong? Not me! I had finished the night shift, and it was a little before 6am, on what looked like being a very fine Sunday morning. I was tired, after all, 12 hours awake, when you should be tucked up cosy, with someone warm and enticing! Still, it was too good to waste! I drove home, and as I already had all my riding gear in the rear of the Jeep, all I needed to do was change, coffee, and a bacon sandwich! Kissing the lady in my bed goodbye, I grabbed my saddlebags and strode off in the direction of the Jeep.
By now it was just after 6.30am, and as I was hitching up the trailer, I caught the eye of Gracie in the adjacent field. To say that she wasn t in the mood was an understatement! I could detect from where I was, that she wouldnt want to go riding today. Sure enough, off she went down the hill to the bottom of the field! A short time later, and with the horse in tow, we loaded up and bade farewell to the herd, who were all neatly standing in a row waving goodbye! Well it looked like that!
I had for sometime been eyeing up the old Roman road, that runs across the fell tops from Ambleside to Pooley bridge in the Cumbrian Lake District. This is thought to be the highest Roman road in Britain, taking in some of the best mountains in the Lakes. It was originally built to allow supplies to be delivered from the Southern Lakeland to Forts and towns in the North of Britain, without being attacked by the locals, known at the time as the Brigantes, now more colloquially known as hooligans!
All that is left of this vast road, can be seen on the OS Maps of Cumbria. For the casual observer, there really isnt much more than a six foot wide track, that wends its way across the tops of some of the wildest country in Britain. On the Maps it will seen as a red dotted line, alongside will be written the words, “High Street”, for that is what indeed it was. It has always been used as a pack horse route, and during the 19th Century as a meeting place for the farmers and shepherds, in the valleys on either side of the hill. It was also known as “Race Course Hill”, as the locals gathered to race Fell Ponies, and swap lost stock, each year on the 12th of July.
I had reached the small parking area at Pooley Bridge, and had unloaded Gracie, she hadnt changed her mind! Then as I began checking the tack, I knew why! The certain way her tail swished, and how she whinnied at me, not that I could do anything for an in season mare! Still, I loosened the tack a little and made her a bit more comfortable. Swinging into the saddle, we made our way to the Bridleway that crosses from Pooley Bridge to Helton, this is still a main access for pedestrians and tourists, and thankfully horses!
the sun had risen well and was to my amazement, bringing the dull cloudy morning to life. The beams of light splitting the moisture laden air that clung to the hill sides. From a point about halfway to Helton, this track is bi-sected. The High Street route slices right through at this point and forms a really well made crossroads. A large stone cairn, its quartz stones glinting in the sunlight, marks the point at which we turned South towards Loadpot Hill. Rising towards the hills, the views began to open out and from the track, Ullswater lake, could clearly be seen, its blue waters ringed by small boats at its shoreline.
The clouds of the early morning, had been replaced by a gentle haze, it extended across the whole of the High Street range, blotting out any real views, and hiding the beauty and remoteness of this wild area. My intention this day had been to complete the whole 22 mile round trip in one go. But after careful thought, and with the first hot day for weeks begining, I decided to turn back after a short five miles. there was very little to be gained, and as any photographs, wouldnt do the ride justice, the ride could wait. It would still be there for the next time.