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Thursday, 16 July 2009

Hadrians Wall Day 1 (pt 1)

This is the start of my exposition of the Hadrian’s Wall path from Wallsend to Bowness on Solway. I’ll be doing this in day walks over the next couple of months.
Its not a guide to the walk, but, maybe, readers planning to do this walk from East to West might get some idea of what its like.
Readers intending to travel West to East will need to read it backwards.

Day 1 – Wallsend to Heddon on the Wall 14 Miles and (a mere) 450 feet of uphill.
Mainly riverside, Newcastle Quayside, Alang the Scotswood Road to Blaydon, more riverside, and a golf course. Pretty much all on tarmac or pavement. And flat. You don’t need hill boots for this. Take some cash to spend.

I used public transport to get around. Apart from the walking bit. I walked the walking bit.

I was lucky that I’d taken the median time from all of the clocks in the house and not just the mode. If I’d used the mode, I’d have missed the ten past eight bus from Crook which leaves at three minutes to seven. As it was, I was early.
This didn’t matter too much as the train was late.
As the station announcer announced

“Bing Bong! The necks chain at parterm too will be the delayed nine chirtneer to Enber Wavlie calling at NoooCASSSSle, Mor’eth (glottal stop used), and Enber Wavlie. Chain is appomatly ther mizz late due to sinlin dicklies at Doxtah. We appljize for this dlai. Fangoo. Was that allright? (second voice in background) "Better. Try it a bit quicker next time. Or when there's another train going through”

Anyway, it turned up eventually and the Tyneside Metro took me efficiently to Wallsend (announced as “Warlzend”) in about a quarter of an hour.

I progressed slightly self-conciously down to the start of Hadrian's Wall, the excavated and partially recreated roman outpost of Segedunum, with its visitor centre and general “stuff” It’s a big site. Apparently it was very a very popular posting for roman soldiers due to it being very near the shops and not too far from Whitley Bay, where they could take the kids to the sands at weekends.

I followed the “Hadrians Way” brown signs past the cranes and slipways and semi-derelict shipyard buildings of Swan Hunters and on to the tarmacced strip of an old railway line. From Segedunum to Newburn, Hadrians Wall path doesn’t follow Hadrians Wall (which goes through backyards, school playgrounds, factories and sandwhich shops) but sticks to disused railway lines and riverside promenades until it escapes the city when it turns north to join the wall. This part is known and signposted as “Hadrians Way”

It’s a fine walk, though and starts well with a long, wild strip of feral woodland, thick with all kinds of wild flowers, the scents of which mix with the city smells of fresh coffee and new bread and the seaweedy River just over there. There’s also willow warblers and chiff-chaffs mixed with gulls and factory noisies and police cars and childrens playgrounds. They've even got a rich cover of almost ripe brambles and dozens of cherry trees full of cherries. And buddleia with butterflies. It’s a heady, exciting mix. I found it immensely enjoyable and I marched along easily and happily. There are no difficulties. There’s even a tea van (“get Stuft”) which does a very nice sausage butty for a couple of quid. But there’s pubs and cafes as well.
Just one word of warning for those having a late start, or maybe late Eastwardly walking people - some parts of the path show clear signs of a number of fires, probably, I would guess, the local yoofs destroying stolen cars. This might not be such a good area to walk through in an evening without a large dog or a pal called "Basher", or , possibly "Crusher" who constantly asks the question "Can I 'it 'im now, boss?" (daytime Geordies are very friendly, however)

Ultimately, the path leaves the line and joins the riverside at Walker and follows this into the middle of the city where I decided to sit and take it all in for a while. I sat in the sun at the Quayside pub amongst the lunching office workers.

To be continued…..


John J said...

Nice, very nice!


mike knipe said...

Aw ta John J (simper - examines shoelaces....)