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Explore the Fosse Way – a quintessentially English road in the heart of Roman Britain


If you take the A5 to Rugby you will come to High Cross. It's nothing special: Leicestershire farmland on one side, Warwickshire farmland on the other.

You are ten miles from the geographic center of England – but also in the heart of Roman Great Britain, the only place where our two greatest Roman roads meet.

Watling Street runs north of Dover. Most of the route from London to Wroxeter (Viroconium) Shropshire is the A5. The other, much less known, is the Fosse Way, which connects Exeter (Isca Dumnoniorum) via Corinium (now Cirencester) to Lincoln (Lindum Colonia).

Old Route: The Fosse Way stretches from Exeter via Corinium (now Cirencester) to Lincoln. Pictured is a wooded path on the Fosse Way near Bath

I was raised near High Cross. Every summer we drove down the Fosse on our way to our annual South Wales vacation.

The Fosse may be straight, but it is wavy. After too much pop and candy, I rarely got as far as Brinklow, Warwickshire, before car sickness took its toll.

Today the Fosse is little more known than the counties through which it passes. Still, it's the epitome of the English street. It starts in Tennyson's Lincolnshire, runs through Shakespeare country and then through Laurie Lees Cotswolds, Pam Ayres & # 39; Cirencester and Jane Austen's Bath.

There are seven English heritage sites along the way, from the Bronze Age Rollright Stones to the Tudor Party Palace at Kenilworth in Warwickshire.

The Fosse is a magical, shape-changing thing. It's a fine gray line on your phone card: one second there, invisible the next.

The Cotswold village of Bourton-on-the-Water is in the heart of the Fosse. We rented a stylish little house a five-minute walk along the banks of the Windrush to the teeming heart of the village.

Mark Jones of the Daily Mail lived in the Cotswold village of Bourton-on-the-Water in the heart of the Fosse

The Daily Mail's Mark Jones lived in the Cotswold village of Bourton-on-the-Water in the heart of the Fosse

The house was ideal for two people and a blind rescue dog. Duchess the Dog activated her DPS (Doggie Positioning System), sniffed around, and happily curled up in the hut's dog bed.

We managed to get a table at The Rose Tree. Once you couldn't get a meal in Bourton without scones and curdled cream. Now we had pork medallions and an excellent Worcestershire Pinot Noir. The ancient and modern Romans would have agreed.

Heading south down the Fosse in Cirencester we saw how the Smart-Set lives. We went into the living room of a private house. It was minimalist, elegant, with wall hangings in abstract patterns and a tiled mosaic floor.

But this was a first century AD private home: we were at the Corinium Museum in Cirencester. This beautiful replica of a room in a Roman villa with the original mosaic floor is the highlight of this excellent little museum.

Mark writes that in Roman times, as pictured, Cirencester became a center for good living and prosperity - just as it is today

Mark writes that in Roman times, as pictured, Cirencester became a center for good living and prosperity – just as it is today

Cirencester became a center of good life and prosperity in Roman times: as it is today. Corinium was ultimately abandoned by Rome and looted, neglected and flooded. The Fosse Way became a backwater.

How wonderful a backwater is can be seen near the village of Shipton Moyne.

We turned onto a B road that led into a forest. The tarmac was leaking: this was a place for walkers, riders and cyclists, not the Porsches and Audis you see on the busy A429 on the Fosse Way near Bourton.

However, it is the same way. Children screamed happily in a ford, a Labrador took stones from the water and put them on the bank. The hedges and wheat fields stretched into the distance.

When we parked the Fosse from Tetbury and called a train station, there was a machine selling Duchy Original products: something you don't see on an average platform. But then we're near the Prince of Wales home, Highgrove.

We had some fine fish and chips at the Cat & Custard Pot Inn in Shipton Moyne, which Princes Harry and William visited in happier times. I'm sure there could be a moment or two when Harry would give anything to sit outside with a pint of Elmers and watch the hikers run by from the Fosse. I know I would.

(tagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) Travel (t) Escape (t) London