On Saturday, we made our way up the A6 to Brougham and Clifton.
The A6 is a very small major road, as it goes from Kendal over the fells to Shap, then up over the tiny Eamont Bridge to Penrith. It is extraordinary to reflect that it was the main road to Scotland on the West of the country until the M6 was built.
Clifton lies between Shap and Penrith, and is the site of the last battle fought on English soil: the Battle of Clifton Moor in 1745. This was fought by the retreating Jacobites, under Lord George Murray, and the pursuing English, led by the Duke of Cumberland. Bonnie Prince Charlie was already safely over the River Lowther, and lodged in Penrith. It was a fairly low-key affair, fought in the late evening, with about a dozen casualties on each side.
(I see Wikipedia refers to it as a skirmish, but the local signs, understandably, all cite it as a battle. With thousands on each side, it sounds reasonably significant to me. Wikipedia also disputes its claim to be the last battle on English soil, citing the 'Battle' of Graveney Marsh: which involved four Germans who had been forced to crash land their aircraft in the Second World War. Why the capture of four German airman is a battle but the engagement of two significant forces is a skirmish is opaque to me...)
There is not much to see at Clifton, to be honest. The George and Dragon pub has a very good reputation, but advance booking is essential to eat there, so we didn't try.
Brougham, however, has a lot more to offer.
The castle is very fine, dating back to the thirteenth century, and the walls of the keep still stand, including the (repaired) spiral stairs, so you can go to the top and walk around the perimeter at the highest level. That includes a tiny family chapel, with recognisable decorated stone.
Around the keep are, variously, the later gatehouse (largely still standing) and the ruins of many later buildings: a large hall, lots of additional accommodation, and so forth.
The setting is lovely, too, at the confluence of the rivers Eamont and Lowther: the Romans had seen the potential of the site and built a fort here, too.
In fact Brougham stands on the old Roman Road, now known as High Street, which continues over the fells (including the summit also called High Street) and down to Ambleside, and thence to the most remarkable Roman fort at Hardknott Pass. This was of particular interest to us, as we have previously walked over High Street summit, and also visited the fort at Hardknott.
Hall. There is a huge amount of restoration work to be done here: the perimeter wall survives, as do some of the buildings around the edges, whilst others have been restored. These now house various studios for photographers, potters and alternative therapists (!).
But the part that caught my attention was the derelict (but being restored) Chancellor's Den. It was here, apparently, that Lord Brougham, who was Lord Chancellor 1830-34 drafted the 1832 Great Reform Act and the 1833 Slavery Abolition Act.
All in all a great day out: plenty for the kids to do (they are not above playing sardines in a ruined castle in the rain) and lots for Anna and me to enjoy as well.
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