Steam off to walk in the footsteps of Romans
Discover what life would have been like for a Roman infantry soldier manning one of the most isolated forts in Britain by taking advantage of an atmospheric excursion organised by Cumbria’s Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway.
The heritage Railway’s ‘Steam and Romans’ experience is running on Wednesdays June 20, July 18, September 5 and 26 and October 24 and combines a nostalgic journey back in time on a narrow gauge Railway, a minibus trip up the daunting Hardknott Pass to the former Roman fort of Hardknott (Mediobogdum) and exploration of Roman ruins at Ravenglass.
This day of time travel back to the days of the Roman Empire begins at Ravenglass at 10am with a walk to the Roman bathhouse in the coastal hamlet (Glannaventa) - once an important naval base and supply point for the Roman troops. Dating back to the time of Emperor Hadrian, this is the most completely preserved Roman building in Britain and once housed hot saunas, cold baths and an underground heating system.
Next on the itinerary is a glorious seven-mile train journey on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway to Dalegarth, in the shadow of England’s highest mountains, where soup and a sandwich are served as lunch.
The group depart by minibus to tackle the sinuous journey up to a height of 815 metres above sea level, to experience life through the eyes of a soldier in the Fourth Cohort of Dalmatians, who were stationed at Hardknott Fort. Roman occupation of the fort lasted from AD199 to AD138, as part of the Hadrian’s Wall defences. The troops could not have been better situated to guard their part of the Roman Empire, enjoying amazing views down the Eskdale Valley and out to sea from their lofty vantage point – views the group can capture on camera.
A tour of the fort by informed guide explains the lives of the 500 men stationed here using evidence such as the remains of the buttressed granary, the bathhouse, the commander’s quarters and the former parade ground.
Having toured the site and asked lots of questions, the group then return to Dalegarth for their train journey back to Ravenglass.
This trip needs to be pre-booked and costs £23.50 per person, including the light lunch. Due to the nature of Hardknott, this trip is not suitable for younger children.
Head to ravenglass-railway.co.uk to roam with Romans.