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Set within the southern end of England's Northumberland National Park, Crag Lough is one of three lakes known as the Roman Wall Loughs. The cliffs that rise above Crag Lough's southern shore support remains of historic Hadrian's Wall, attracting hikers and sightseers from around the world. Combining one of England's historic treasures with the beauty of green rolling hillsides, Crag Lough sets visitors on the path to exploring England's natural beauty, unique geologic features and ancient history.
From approximately AD 43 to 410 the Roman Empire occupied portions of Great Britain, naming the land Britannia. During the reign of Emperor Publius Aelius Hadrianus (AD 117 to 138), a 73-mile east-west wall was built across England. Exactly whether the wall was built to mark Rome's northern boundary, create a defense against northern invasion, or occupy the time of Rome's isolated soldiers is still under discussion. A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, the remains of the wall dotted with the ruins of forts, towers and old gateways form one of England's most treasured sites. The three Roman Wall Loughs running near Hadrian's Wall sit within Northumberland National Park; however, ownership and oversight of the lakes differ. Crag Lough and Broomlee Lough fall under the supervision of England's National Trust, while Greenlee Lough is managed jointly by Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Northumberland National Park Authority and Natural England.
Once a land of many lakes, the three Roman Wall Loughs are a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a European Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The lakes are all that remain of ancient glacially-created water bodies. Older lakes have been drained or filled with sediment over time, leaving Crag Lough as one of northeastern England's few natural lakes. Plans have been made to preserve this shallow 18-acre lake by creating spawning areas and restoring streams that once filled and drained Crag Lough.
Today the fishery at Crag Lough operates on a three-year fishing lease with the National Trust. Terms of the lease reflect efforts to preserve the natural features and restore the native fishery of Crag Lough. The fishing lease encourages the stocking of local and native brown trout or sterile triploid trout while the self-sustaining brown trout fishery is being established. Open for brown trout fishing from May 1st to October 31st, anglers are required to have a permit from the owner of Crag Lough's fishing rights as well as an Environment Agency National Rod License. A catch and release policy is in effect with a limit of 15 rods in the water's seven-foot depths at any one time. With Crag Lough measuring just over a half mile in length and tenth of a mile in width, a maximum of five boats may be on the lake at any time.
A rock cliff named High Shield Crag rises above the southern shore of Crag Lough. Created 295 million years ago the crag is part of Whin Sill, an impressive volcanic intrusion running through much of south and east Northumberland. Taking advantage of the feature's added height, Hadrian's Wall was built along Whin Sill, now providing visitors dramatic views of hills, meadows and lakes. While taking in the expansive scene at Crag Lough, bird watchers will enjoy observing curlew, kestrel and skylarks grace the water with whooper swans, goldeneye, graylag geese, white fronted geese, lapwings, tufted ducks, teal and widgeons appearing in the winter.
Set along the heights of Whin Sill, the ruins of Housesteads Roman Fort remain one of the more popular attractions along Hadrian's Wall. Found immediately east of Crag Lough, Housesteads is the most complete Roman fort in Britain and includes the remains of a granary, barracks, hospital, kitchen and hypocaust (underground heating system). A museum on the grounds interprets over 2,000 years of English history. Housesteads also provides one of two car parks available to Crag Lough visitors. The second car park is near a park visitor center and site named Steel Rigg, located west of Crag Lough.
While visiting Crag Lough, take the time to tour the breathtaking countryside. Northumberland National Park has over 600 miles (900 kilometers) of trails running from just south of Crag Lough north to the Scottish border. Along the way walkers, horse riders and cyclists will find opportunities to enjoy the scenery and observe the wildlife. Take in rock climbing, bird watching tours, or fell running races and you will discover the beauty of moors, hills, forests and rivers. Anglers will enjoy the River Tyne and River Coquet, two of England's premier fisheries and home to salmon, sea trout and brown trout.
Trek south of Northumberland National Park and you will enter a range of hills called the North Pennines. Designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and a UNESCO Global Geopark, the North Pennines include a unique mix of moors, meadows, rivers, rare flora and fauna. According to the North Pennines AONB Partnership, the region covers almost 770 square miles (2,000 square kilometers) including "40% of the UK's upland hay meadows; 30% of England's upland heathland and 27% of its blanket bog; 80% of England's black grouse; red squirrels, otters and rare arctic alpine plants."
Surrounded by so much natural beauty and fascinating history, it is not surprising that visitors will find an excellent selection of holiday vacation rentals, bed & breakfasts (B&Bs), self-catering cottages, and real estate properties near Crag Lough. The charming villages of Cawburn, Whiteside, Barden Mill and Haltwhistle all sit within five miles of Crag Lough. From camping barns to castles, select from among the offerings of country retreats and drink in the hospitality, explore the natural diversity and walk in the footsteps of Roman Legions.
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