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My blog nick-name is SIR HUGH. I'm not from the aristocracy - my middle name is Hugh which relates to the list of 282 hills in Scotland compiled by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891. I climbed my last one (Sgurr Mor) on 28th June 2009


Wednesday, 22 July 2020

The Roman Milestone

Tuesday 21st July 2020 - Lanes and tracks from the Lune valley - 4 miles

Studying Ordnance Survey maps has taken up a large, but pleasurable amount of time during my life. Identifying some unusal feature often provides an objective for a walk and many posts here have been so inspired.

Today I was excited to see a "Roman milestone" shown in the Lune valley north of Kirkby Lonsdale, an area I have been exploring recently.

I parked just before Rigmaden Bridge which crosses the River Lune, now surprisingly large considering the short distance from its source. I went to have look before setting off in the other direction.

I soon left tarmac onto an old sunken lane which at one point was an active but shallow stream for about fifty yards.

The public footpath passes through Hawking Hall Farm farmyard. A gate barred the way but a farming youth appeared and set about untying the gate fastening made with that awful orange hairy string much favoured by farmers. Once you have tied a knot it is difficult to undo because hairy strands from other parts of the string interfere with the bit you are trying to manipulate and I had a little chuckle to myself as I stood and watched the struggle.

I marched on and for some reason I had now forgotten about the Roman milestone which had sparked my plotting of this route. The milestone was about a hundred yards off the footpath up a steep grassy slope according to Ordnance Survey, but my attention was distracted by The Church of Holy Ghost at Middleton now in view across the field.
I had a mooch round the churchyard but due to Big C the doors were locked. I gleaned the following from the Visit Cumbria website (much edited):

...designed by C.J. Ferguson, and built in 1878. There has been a church on this site from 1634---

... there are a number of beautiful stained glass windows in this tiny church, and one in particular has an odd ‘mistake’ in its design

 ...the second window from the right shows Jesus healing a blind man. If you look closely, the blind man has two left feet!

Perhaps Jesus should have sorted the guy's foot whilst he was on with the blindness?

I walked a couple of hundred yards south up the main road before turning off east onto a minor lane. It was just then that I remembered about the Roman milestone - I was cross with myself for missing this anticipated highlight of the day and debated whether to go back, but it is revealing how laziness can galvanise the mind - I realised I could drive back there at the end of my walk and sort it then. One of the old songs sprang to mind:

"I'm happy again.
I'm laughing at clouds."

Approaching Tossbeck farm the footpath had been diverted and my OS msp was out of date. As I was prevaricating in the farmyard. literally only five yards from the diverted path a guy emerged from an open barn and told me I was trespassing. He was an educated sort and a bit ratty, but behind him in the barn I could see a car without a body. After a word of apology for my trespass I enquired whether this was a Lotus 7. He replied informing me that it was a Formila Ford racing car and when I expressed further interest his whole demeanour changed and I was invited in to look at photos of his racing achievements over the years and and having a good old discussion about motor racing before he gave me detailed instruction to follow the rest of the diverted footpath. I do enjoy reversing these initially controversial encounters especially as this turned out to be of more than casual interest.

The rest of the walk was through pleasant farming countryside nestling up to the limits of cultivation below the Barbon hills above.

I drove back and parked in the handy churchyard and set off back up the road a few hundred yards to branch off on a lane marked on the map which turned out to be just a grass field. The Roman Milestone was sbout two hundred yards on this track on higher ground (according to OS) and I could see a prominent tree which turned out to mark the spot almost exactly.

There was no sign of the Roman Milestone.

I trudged back to the road. Where I had branched off earlier on the minor road there was s bus shelter. I went to look. There were village notices inside. One of them told me that "The Roman milestone is now in the churchyard."

Well I did find it in the end - it was hardly the most exciting thing I've ever seen but such items do fire the imagination of the doings and the scale of the Roman occupation I still had a lingering feeling of self deprecation at my mishandling of this expedition, but honestly, it had been a good little walk.

The river Lune bridge is just behind me.
I set off up the road and traversed the cultivation line below the hills gong off to the right

Leaving the tarmac onto the sunken lane

I think it must have been this farmer's birthday the day before

Middleton Holy Ghost church, and below

Branching off the main road towards the foothills. The bus shelter is just behind me

Ligularia ( according to PlantSnap) - escaped from the garden on the other side I think - also known as Rocket Plant

On the way to the diverted footpath

They knew how to nestle these farms into the landscape below the cultivation line



  1. That Roman milestone stood on the Ribchester to Carlisle route which crops up a lot on my walks. There is an interesting video of its recent history.
    Is it time for the OS to reposition it? If you hadn't asked you would never have tracked it down.

  2. For a ‘mishandled’ expedition Conrad, it turned out rather well I think and gave you an interesting day.

  3. BC and All - I watched the video. It seemed to be a bit vague about the exact location used by the Romans and perhaps that information has never been confirmed unequivocally but it seems a shame that it can't be seen where they placed it giving more context and meaning. My post was a bit of hyperbole but good fun.

    BC- the riddle was not solved by "asking" but by seeing the village notice posted in the bus shelter.

  4. Well done Conrad. Good to search.
    BTW, the "Red" on the Massey Ferguson 5470 tractor is rather purple. You must have a setting wrong on the camera. The 5470 was a bit of shock to me as I was only recently reading the specifications of it and I found out that the Perkins engine had been replaced by the Sisu 44 engine made in Finland I think. The tractor itself is assemble in Beauvais France. I remember going to the factory and was very impressed with the organisation. The tractor is 125hp and has 16 forward and reverse gears in a dynamic shift box. Its been around for quite sometime with minor changes occurring year on year. Cost wise I am guessing a bit at around 50-60k new.

  5. Ignore my comment about your red settings. Your camera is fine. On my Mac book it’s a purple hew but on every other device it’s perfect MF red. My apologies.

  6. Alan R - First of all thanks for your comprehensive reply all of which I find interesting.

    Secondly, thanks fo my great relief at your follow up. My son W had suggested I should email Massey Ferguson to ask if they had implemented a colour change at some time!

    And perish the thought of going into those technical colour and "white balance" settings on the Panasonic which are incomprehensible.

    I can now go back out tractor hunting again with renewed confidence.

  7. I'm picturing a date in the distant future, when all reasons for the moving of the milestone have been forgotten, when historians will scratch their heads and come up with a theory as to reason for the stone's churchyard location.