Hit the Wall Tour – the campaign strengthens

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.

image

The company had to make it over the peak of Winshields Crag and further.

imageimage

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.

imageimage

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.

imageimageimageimageimageimage

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.

image

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.image

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.

image

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.

image

At the end we could see that it would be more marching uphill to reach the top of Sewingshields Crags.

imageimage

image

At the top more wonderful views

image

image

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.

imageimage

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.

imageimage

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.

imageimage

The legion rested at Limestone Corner, an area with huge stones, actually made of basalt, some weighing 13 tons.

image

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.

image

image

image

So a day here to rejuvenate … Until the next despatch

Kaye

 

 

Hit the Wall Tour -news from the front

It is now day 5 on the expedition and the company remains in good spirits. Prepare for lots of photos, some of which you will have seen if you follow us on Facebook…

On Wednesday Petermus Maximus celebrated his big birthday by walking from Carlisle to Crosby-on-Eden. We enjoyed the sunshine and almost had to break out the sunscreen. Here are some sights…

imageimageimage

We arrived at our camp for the night – the Oakwood Park Hotel – to find that it was actually a large Georgian house beautifully decorated and with the most wonderful grounds teeming with sheep, chicken, ducks and even pheasants. The lady who owns the house had even made Petermus a birthday cake!

imageimageimage

imageimage

Yesterday we marched from Crosby-on-Eden to Lanercost. The fields were a little steeper but the glorious weather continued. One of the disadvantages of this walk is that there are often NO facilities in the small towns. This presents a problem for the female members of the company particularly.  I had to take advantage of the offer from an anonymous lady in Newtown to use her loo – an offer for which I will be eternally grateful!

imageimageimageimageimageimage

The last two photos are of Lanercost Priory. This is special because it is the first time that we see large parts of Hadrian’s Wall – that’s because the Augustinian monks who built the place knew where they could find a ready supply of stone when they came to build the priory – yes they ‘recycled’ the wall. They weren’t the only ones – many builders did the same but they did it in style. The border thugs regularly popped in to cause an ‘infinity of injuries’ until finally King Henry VIII shut it down in the great dissolution of the monasteries. Subsequently it was given to a nobleman and eventually English Heritage took over so everyone can enjoy it all.

Day 5 started with casualties. The selfie stick used to record a group photo at the start of each day cracked under pressure and threw its claw in. A memorial service was held before the expedition set off this morning.  The march was a little steeper again and some members of the legion had additional problems with their transportation. Petermus had problems when his boots took turns to attack him. Yesterday the left one inflicted minor injuries and today, for no apparent reason the right one assaulted him. Fortunately there were medical supplies in the garrison and disaster was averted. Indeed when he was asked if his toe was sore he replied “No, I can’t feel anything below my knee”. Good result.

Although there were a few clouds today the weather was still excellent and we actually walked beside the wall for much of the day. The scenery changed from riverbank to forest to rolling hills. The only problem the legion has with rolling hills is that while it may be a pleasure to go down, going up the next hill is not so enjoyable.

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage

Isn’t it magnificent? Until the next despatch….

Kaye

Hit the Wall Tour – An Update

Day 1 – at first light, around 9am, the expedition to walk Hadrian’s Wall path got underway after a light meal the locals call a ‘full English breakfast’. The sun was shining and the views across the Solway Firth were magnificent.

The walk started at Solway-on-Bowness, a fascinating town with some rather amusing history. The locals have a history of fighting with the Scots across the firth and in 1626 border raiders stole the bells from the local church. As the thieves were escaping across the firth they accidentally dropped the bells into the water. The bells have never been recovered. Subsequently some locals went across to Scotland and stole two new bells from Scotland and here they remain.

image

The thought of walking 84 miles was a little daunting but the small company (of two) set off in good humour. At the end of the first mile we meet an interesting character Roger Brough, who has set up a signpost which enables him to add any place in the world. Naturally we asked for Brisbane. And naturally there was a photo. And a donation box.

image

We watched the sea birds, followed narrow paths and crossed through timber gates. All the way the views were wonderful, sometimes the water, sometimes patchwork fields.

image

We saw apple trees weighted down with fruit and the ever-present bramble bushes. Apparently you can call them blackberries if the fruit is bigger.

image

We saw some other walkers, although most think it is too cold. More fool them it is wonderful here. We see many locals, some of whom have four legs. Signs warn us that we must share the road at times.

image

We arrive at our accommodation – Hillside Farm – and the view is very rural. The colours are so nice.

image

The end of the first day is at Burgh-on-Sands where King Edward 1 met his untimely end. In fact there is so much history here that it is difficult to take it all in.

image

On the second day we are heading for Carlisle. There are many hazards along the way – steep riverbanks, the threat of violence

imageand locals plying us with temptations such as caramel ice-cream from the Lakes District or homemade bramble jelly

image

The road was a little more difficult that the flat marshland from yesterday although, again, it was a beautiful day. We started by walking through fields lined with hawthorn and ash

image

and finished by following the river Eden. We had a break on the riverbank and watched a man fly fishing.

image

And finished the day in Carlisle

image

So 24km and all without the aid of a Medivac helicopter or even a blister pad – that’s a result!!

Stay tuned

Kaye