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Sunday, 23 August 2009

Hadrians Wall Day 4 Housesteads to Birdoswald

Having postponed my walk on Hadrians Wall due to a duff weather forecast, I turned up at Housesteads car park (pay and display £3 for the day) – in heavy rain… well dhuuhhh… Anyway, it soon stopped. Then it started again. Then it stopped..stated ..stopped…. I think you’re probably getting the picture.

I’ve walked this part of the wall many times before, and most of today’s walk coincides with the Pennine Way (wot I’ve also done – see Doodlecat)

There’s a lot of up and down. In fact, it’s up and down like a bride’s nightie – but there is a lorra lorra archaeology, chuck and the actual wall – sometimes as high as eight or nine feet – is followed for closely for most of the way. This includes the absolute classic view of Hadrian’s Wall that appears in all pictures of Hadrian’s Wall. I’ve included one version of the same pic. The cliché bit is about the poor Roman soldiers all lonely in their turrets, gazing out over a brown steppe-like countryside wrapped in their woolly togas, fondling their short swords and thinking of Rome.

I strongly suspect it wasn’t much like this. They were more likely to be thinking of Spain or somewhere else, and there was probably a healthy social life involving celtic beer and naughty ladies. Possibly naughty goats, cos some of the Romans (it is said) were a bit like that. And the countryside was farmed and those to the North weren’t by any means all hostile all of the time.

So it was probably just boring. Doing a stint in a milecastle or a turret would have been deadly dull, cos nothing much happened for ages and ages and ages….

And it’s a little bit like that. Sometimes you can get just a bit too much of the Romans. But it’s The Wall, innit. I mean to say, it’s The Wall.

This is a tough bit, though. I covered a bit less ground than intended. There were attempted muggings by some youthful beef, but I was standing for no nonsense. They soon lost interest and went back to eating the landscape. The ground was also waterlogged with becks in spate. The path isn’t very muddy, though. I think the failure to do the full planned distance was more to do with a late start and all those contours.
Today also crossed the highest point on the wall - Winshiels crag at 345 metres. This categorizes this LDP as a low level walk, (thats what I think anyway) - but walkers, especially thise maybe doing their first LDP, should be aware that this section is harder than anything else. It is the crux of the route, if LDPs have a crux. Take your time on this part, and don't plan it as part of a long day. There's coffee and cakes to be had at Carvoran and Birdoswald and there's a pub just off route near Great Chesters and a pub at greenhead. Take advantage of these. You are on holiday y'know....

I walked for a while with an American with an Osprey rucksack and trail shoes. His opinion was that this was a very beautiful country and , of course, he was right. He knew a lot about the Romans….

At the end, at Bordoswald, I had a coffee and got the AD122 bus back to the Housesteads. This is an excellent service with very helpful and friendly drivers – and it seems to be well used.

Another 12 miles of the wall done – and 1800 feet of up and down.

This is the best section (so far…)

After this I visited Hexham for the supermarket and the petrol and headed off down to Clapham in the Yorkshire Dales for a little bit of caving… more of which in a bit.


Tykelad said...

Good report Mike, when I was there the sun was out and tourists were swarming like flies round a cow's 'arris.

I suppose being a guard hereabouts was boring, but it was still preferable to the fortnightly chariot ride to St Jamesius Parkus for the same oldus same oldus crappus!!

mike knipe said...

I'm saying nothing - mind, they're mainly Sunderland supporters around here, so I'd probably be fairly safe...
Fair number of tourists about on the wall. Lots of walkers too - mainly just doing day walks, I think.
Up the clarets anyway!

ukmase said...

Muggins cows, begging pigs......the wildlife of today needs to shape up and respect their elders.

mike knipe said...

...we'll not mention the sheep - attractive, though some of them are....