We opted for a takeaway sandwich rather than breakfast at our B&B as we wanted to make an earlier start than the breakfast time of 8am… We knew we had a long day ahead but we had no idea how up and down and long the day would turn out!
About two and a half hours after setting off it started to rain. We were walking along some paving stones sheltered by trees so decided to change into our wet weather gear. That was a great decision. A few minutes later the heavens opened. It was a cold and heavy rain and was constant for an hour or so. The temperature dropped down to 12 degrees and we had to laugh considering this was England in August!
Temple of Mithras, built to worship the Roman sun god Mithras in the 3rd century
We passed two elderly English ladies who seemed delighted to tell us that we were just at the beginning of the very hilly, up and down section… And they were at the end! And they weren’t kidding! Hadrian’s Wall may be a flat path every other day (I don’t know) but today was more up and down than a rollercoaster. The worst part was that we could see the peaks and troughs ahead of us for miles and miles.
A long section of the wall
The best part was that on every peak we had stunning 360 degree views… Views of lakes, farms and ominous threatening black clouds, as well as other hikers. It was peak hour on Hadrian’s Wall, we must’ve passed at least 30 other walkers, walking in both directions and all rugged up in wet weather gear.
We also had the wall beside us for almost the entire day. It’s hard to imagine that it was up to 5 metres high in parts… And then when the Romans left, it was ransacked to build houses and churches and castles… It’s a less imposing 1.5 metres these days – and that would be a high section. The turrets and forts have been reduced to mostly foundations.
We got so wet from the rain and walking through muddy fields that we needed to change our socks during our lunch break at Housesteads Fort. Luckily the fort shop sold sandwiches, not exactly the warm soup and comfort food we’d been hoping for but it was the only place selling food along the wall for the entire 39km so we gobbled up their sandwiches with appreciation!
Howard walked his longest day ever, 39km and I must give him some credit considering how up and down the day was… And how considering I only booked our accommodation last week, we couldn’t get into anywhere in the towns along the trail so we’ve had extra km’s at the beginning and end of each day… But he’s taking it all in his stride, literally!
Unfortunately we only saw a couple of these very small signs, but most people didn’t and were walking along the top of the wall.
… to Cumbria
Our accommodation for the night was at Gilsland Spa Hotel, 01697 747203, (2km off the path) and when I rang earlier in the day to reconfirm and book us in for a massage, the lady at reception had to let me down ever so gently by telling me there was no spa at the hotel, that it was just an old name reflecting the thermal waters that once were used in the hotel, many, many years ago!