It is now day 8 in the campaign and the scribes tell of the gruelling two days just past. Saturday saw the company leave the secluded valley of Greenhead for the wild crags of the Housesteads fort. The path along the wall continued and the first hill did not hint at what was to come.
The company had to make it over the peak of Winshields Crag and further.
The scouts reported back that it would be a mixture of minor roads and field paths, steep in places with varying gradients across several valleys and ridges, with a total descent of 430 metres and ascent of 620 metres. What they didn’t mention was that the descent would be almost perpendicular into deep narrow valleys that were the gaps between the crags and then the ascent would be likewise to the top again and again and again.
The local animals with which we shared the path continued to be the most timid creatures and we were amazed at how close we could walk to them without startling them in any way.
Always the wall kept us on the right track as we celebrated the victory of another hill. The company was unusually quiet, each with their own thoughts of how we would survive this most gruelling of marches yet.
Everywhere we saw milecastles, turrets and the shadow of the Empire’s efficiency.
As we reached the top of each crag we were treated to magnificent views, the air cool but the day clear. We continued the arduous route through more crags and down though Sycamore Gap. Further on the sun broke through the clouds over the patchwork fields and the pines and sycamores standing above the waters of Crag Lough.
Another two miles across paths that climbed again, to tackle the last slope at Hotbank Crags. The scout had foretold that the gradient eased along the top although Petermus Maximus doubted the validity of the claim. Finally we came to our camp where the commander said we could rest for the night. The owner, a very talented chef, as well as some medicine in the form of gin and tonics helped the legion start to forget the trials of the day.
It was with heavy heart and aching legs that the company left Hunter Crook Lodge. The campaign was now to head to Chollerford and Chester’s Fort. We set off from Housteads Fort, the sun shining brightly once again.
The anaesthetic of the night before had renewed the resolve of Petermus Maximus and, as he had no use for his knees anyway, he continued along the first path at good speed.
At the end we could see that it would be more marching uphill to reach the top of Sewingshields Crags.
At the top more wonderful views
And another path – into a wooded area that had been cursed by a necromancer and appeared to get further away the more you walked towards it.
Petermus enjoyed the fact that we were walking on level ground, although the spirits of the company dipped slightly when we found there was still another 6 miles to go until camp.
A visit to the Carrawburgh temple fortified us although we had nothing to sacrifice at the altar. Petermus thought that the bloke who organised the tour would be a good candidate but unfortunately he was not in the garrison so we marched on.
The legion rested at Limestone Corner, an area with huge stones, actually made of basalt, some weighing 13 tons.
Here we changed direction now heading to south of east. Another two miles of grassy paths, wooded areas and finally the road to Chollerford and Chester’s fort where we would rest up for a day.
And all the while the beautiful wild flowers, placid farm animals and wild things to see.
So a day here to rejuvenate … Until the next despatch