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Hadrian's Wall Path in five days, East to West

Hadrian's Wall Path in five days, East to West


Postby walk aboot » Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:58 pm

Date walked: 09/04/2012

Time taken: 5 days

Distance: 138 km

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Hadrian's Wall Path: 86 miles

Last Sunday I headed down to Newcastle on the train, to start walking the Hadrian’s Wall Path on Easter Monday. I booked into my room above a pub in Wallsend then decided to go for a wander. I stopped at the top of the stairs to let an army of lads (fellow guests) pass, all carrying two pints, one in each hand, to their rooms.

I saw my first bit of Hadrian’s Wall during my evening stroll, next to what remains of a colliery. I also saw domestic cat, which caught my eye because its’ markings looked half wildcat (stripes) and half leopard (spots). It started to walk towards me until two mistle thrushes started dive bombing it away. I had already seen the mistle thrushes’ fledglings so I knew why.

On the way back to the pub where I was staying a guy shouted across to me from another, ‘Fancy a drink? Buy one get one free’. No thanks. I think they must have been doing the same deal where I was staying.

Sharing a toilet with an army of drunken lads is no fun at all...they all miss! :? :lol:

Monday/Day 1 - Wallsend to Heddon-on-the-Wall (15 miles):

The walk starts at the Segendunum Roman Fort Museum at Wallsend (a Metro ride from Newcastle city centre). That’s if you’re doing the walk from East to West, as I was, because that’s the way the Wall was built. Some people prefer to walk in the opposite direction, with the wind behind them (and not in their faces). The walk along cycle route 72 is like any other urban pathway but enjoyable, listening to and catching sight of wee birds; I did hear a woodpecker along here but I couldn’t see it. There is a picturesque marina on the way to the Newcastle centre and an impressive ‘village’ of doo huts on the way from it. I say village because there were so many of them.

1 Segendunum museuem from cycle route 72 path.JPG
Segedunum Fort Museum from Cycle Route 72


Once you reach Tyne Riverside Country Park (12 miles in), you are away from the city and in the countryside. I saw a fox not far from there (at Heddon Banks). I watched it for ten minutes as it hopped about the grass (trying to catch butterflies, insects or mice?). Ten minutes after that I walked past what looked like a burst pillow of white feathers near a chicken coop – the fox’s doing.

1 Foxy at Heddon Banks.JPG
Foxy at Heddon Banks


I stopped overnight at Heddon-on-the-Wall. Food and drink stops are limited on Hadrian’s Wall Path so I was disappointed to find that the only cafe was closed. I couldn’t get a meal in the local pub (standing room only because there was a football match on TV), so I opted for some snacks out of the petrol station shop instead. At my farm accommodation I met a fellow walker at the gate who was waiting for a local pizza delivery! And the hostel had a common kitchen! The accommodation along the Path is very good, with barns for campers too.

Next morning the farmer’s wife (hostel owner) was telling us over breakfast how busy a time Easter is for her husband, who has to get up at 4am every morning during lambing. I left whilst the other Wall Path walkers were still eating their breakfasts; I like to make an early start, so I can walk at a comfortable pace, without ending up still walking in the late afternoon/evening.

Tuesday/Day 2 – Heddon-on-the-Wall to Chollerford (16 miles):

I was glad I decided to wear my walking boots instead of my trainers for this stretch of the path because it does go through a lot of muddy fields. I was on my own for the first couple of miles but then a couple with two kids and a dog joined the path from a country lane and walked ahead of me. Their arrival on the path coincided with a kestrel flying off with its prey right in front of me. The dog was sick a few times.

There were cute wee lambs everywhere! These cute wee lambs got everywhere! During the course of my walk I had to chuck a total of three lambs back over to the right side of the fence, where their mothers were frantically bleating for them.

4 Lambs.JPG
Cute wee lambs


I took a short break in the hide at Whittle Dene Nature Reserve, where the visitor information boards promised sightings of yellow wagtails, whooper swans, and otters...I saw not a thing, not even a mallard.

2 Walking the Way.JPG
Hadrian's Wall Path


2 Planetrees.JPG
Planetrees Wall


My B&B accommodation was actually just outside Wall (the place, not the Wall). When I phoned to see how near or far they were to the village, my hosts insisted on driving less than a mile to come and collect me. They remarked on my wind-in-your-face-all-day complexion. I said it sure beat paying for an exfoliating facial beauty treatment.

Three ‘wild’ peacocks live on the farm next to the B&B; or rather they mull around there by day then walk along the roof of an outbuilding at night, to fly-jump over to the oak tree they roost in. I say wild because even though the farmer says they have there for twenty years, they have always been left to their own devices.

I went for a wander in the evening. Hexham is only a few miles from Wall but I didn’t fancy walking along the dual carriageway to get there, and I thought I’d missed the last bus which would still have been able to bring me back on a return ticket (my hosts later told me that there is an off-road path you can follow). As I was walking along the quieter road to my B&B I spooked a leveret; it ran out in front of me straight into the path of an oncoming lorry :shock: , but thankfully, the lorry driver missed it :D .

Wednesday/Day 3: Chollerford to Gilsland (21 miles, 564 metres ascent):

I must have been half-cut (tipsy) when I was planning my trip and booking my accommodation from the comfort of my Glasgow flat, because I had managed to set my self up for a full day walking 21 miles over the most demanding (up and down) section of the route. And it rained a lot :? .

This is the by far the most impressive section of Hadrian’s Wall Path. I’ll certainly be doing it over a couple of days next time, staying somewhere like Hexham or Halfwhistle and using the Path’s regular bus service. Highlights include the section of Wall from Housesteads Fort onwards, and Walltown Crags and Quarry. I spooked a weasel at the start of the Wall Path from Housesteads. It literally went ‘Eek!’ as it saw me then bolted back into the Wall itself.

3 Leaving Housesteads (3).JPG
Day 3: Hadrian's Wall Path


3 The Wall n Crag Lough.JPG
Hadrian's Wall and Crag Lough


3 Walltown Crags n Quarry (3).JPG
Walltown Crags and Quarry


I was pleased to see lapwings in a field beside the road. My dad used to collect lapwing eggs in his boyhood and my granny used to make pancakes with them; the shells, he told me, are too thin for boiling. My dad is forever moaning that he never sees ‘peewits’ these days, around the area where he has always lived, but I suspect the reason for this is because my granny used to make pancakes with their eggs!

I did come off the Path to visit the Twice Brewed Inn for a bowl of soup, a pot of tea and a half pint of Twice Brewed Bitter. Vindola Fort is not far from the Inn but I didn’t have enough time in my schedule to visit it. I walked along the road for a few miles from the pub and so the blisters started (walking boots + tarmac = ouch). I ducked over a drystane dyke beside the road for an impromtu toilet stop and a passing car driver tooted his horn; it’s been a while since my rear has raised such a reaction :oops: :lol: .

I didn’t visit any of the Fort museums along the Path, mainly because I was passing them early in the morning (they don’t open until 10am). For those who do want to visit them though, it’s worth joining the National Trust beforehand (entry is £6 per adult at each museum but free for members).

Around 6pm my mobile phone rang, it was my Gilsland B&B hosts asking where I was because they had my tea ready (I was less than a mile away...honest). They told me later that I was only the second guest they had ever known to have walked that section of the route in one day...so there is, or there has been, at least one other eejit like me out there then.

Thursday/Day 4: Gilsland to Carlisle (19 miles):

Day 4 was a pleasant one, ambling along country paths and roads. The sun was shining most of the day, and I watched a hare munching its greens in a field for a few minutes. A yellowhammer perched on a tree nearby to have a look at me, bold and bright it was.

q bird (4).JPG
Yellowhammer


I did pass through a few villages on this route but food and drink stops were once again sparse. I walked an extra mile to Irthington to buy a bottle of juice in the only shop.
‘Oh, I didn’t hear you coming,’ the shopkeeper said, ‘I didn’t hear a car coming into the drive’.
The village shop is closing at the end of this year. There’s no longer a trade for it – car-driving nation.

A highlight of this section was, for me, Bleatarn. It is only a grassy mound of lumps and bumps now, but it was where the Roman soldiers used to quarry stone for the Wall. There’s just something about the place, you can walk about there for ages 8) .

4 Bleatarn (4).JPG
Bleatarn


I booked into my budget hotel in Carlisle. I was staying there for two nights, so I could leave my bags in the same place for a couple of days. I did use a baggage transfer service for the walk, which was excellent value, £28 for 4 days.

Day 5/Carlisle to Bowness-on-Solway (15 miles):

The first part of the route in this section follows the River Eden from Carlisle. A dog-walker told me that two otters live on the river, one named Raymond and his mate. I didn’t see them.


Eight miles of this section involves walking along a tarmac road beside the Solway Firth. The Solway sands are prone to flooding so there are tidal information boards at either end to let you know when it safe to walk...the board said there was no fear of me being rescued by the RNLI on this particular day 8) .

5 Solway sands (7).JPG
Solway sands


The Solway sands are excellent for bird-watching but binoculars are required; it’s too dangerous to walk on the sands towards the shore line to get near them.

There are honesty food and drink stops along this section (makeshift stations where you leave money for the items you help yourself to). There are also formal establishments; I had a bowl of soup and a cup of tea in the Highland Laddie pub at Glasson.

The end of the Path is a wee shelter beside the estuary in Bowness-on-Solway. I had my ‘whoop whoop’ moment there, and then waited an hour for the King’s Arms pub to open at 4pm. I had a half pint of ale in there, and watched a group of elderly locals play dominoes for pennies. They asked me if I wanted to join them but I declined; I had a feeling these regular players would be able to fleece me of my grush (loose change) in no time.

5 The Finish (2).JPG
End of the walk


5 Kings Arms.JPG
King's Arms at Bowness-on-Solway


I got the 5.10pm bus back to Carlisle. The buses run a few times throughout the day, and there is a taxi service on public holidays and Sundays (£6 per person sharing). Booking a taxi back to Carlisle when you arrive in Bowness will cost you £30. In the village hall, which is left open to the public so they can access the toilets, there is an information board with telephone numbers, etc, and a visitor book to sign.

During the bus journey back to Carlisle, five wee lambs had pushed themselves under the field gate and were now on the roadside. The driver stopped so that a few passengers could get off and usher them back into the field. As I said before, these wee lambs were everywhere!

I spent the next morning shopping for wound dressings, corn plasters and medicated talcum powder in Superdrug, Semi-Chem and Boots, in that order. It was well worth the blisters though, a terrific walk. :D
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Re: Hadrian's Wall Path in five days, East to West

Postby westcoasthiker » Sun Apr 15, 2012 5:08 pm

Thanks for the trip report. We will be starting our Hadrian's Wall walk on May 5 finishing on May 12. Hopefully we'll see lots of birds and mammals along the route.
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Re: Hadrian's Wall Path in five days, East to West

Postby walk aboot » Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:14 pm

:thumbup:

Enjoy your trip westcoasthiker, you'll love the walk :)
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Re: Hadrian's Wall Path in five days, East to West

Postby Gavin99 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:11 am

That's a fine report WA, looks like a fascinating route . Apart from missing Raymond you had some lovely wildlife to keep you company , I like the fox photo , he's got that ' It wisnae me! ' look on his face after his chicken dinner :D
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Re: Hadrian's Wall Path in five days, East to West

Postby walk aboot » Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:12 am

Thanks, Gavin :) .

Acht I'll see an otter one day, when I'm least expecting it, I'm sure I will :D .
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Re: Hadrian's Wall Path in five days, East to West

Postby morag1 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:18 pm

Well done on completing Hadrians Wall Path :clap:

I've often thought about doing this myself, ever since a visit to Chesters Roman Fort a few years ago. Did you walk past that during your week?

walk aboot wrote:Sharing a toilet with an army of drunken lads is no fun at all...they all miss

Eeewww, dont like sharing with men either

walk aboot wrote:it’s been a while since my rear has raised such a reaction

:lol: :lol: Shameless thing, flashing at passing cars like that

Impressive display of wildlife on your walk, love the wee lambs :D
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Re: Hadrian's Wall Path in five days, East to West

Postby gammy leg walker » Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:29 pm

You may not be a "bagger"but that walk is still very impressive walk about.
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Re: Hadrian's Wall Path in five days, East to West

Postby mountainstar » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:04 pm

Congratulations on another LD walk under your belt :D
Just disappointed you never did a bit of wall rebuilding en route....some parts look as if the could have done with your expertise :lol:
BTW No white van man? or did he scarper when you went behind that wall :lol: :wink:
PS thanks for the card :thumbup:
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Re: Hadrian's Wall Path in five days, East to West

Postby ChrisW » Tue Apr 17, 2012 3:27 am

Lovely walk and wonderful memories for me courtesy of your beautiful photos...man I would like to walk that route tomorrow :lol: fantastic report thanks so much for sharing :D
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Re: Hadrian's Wall Path in five days, East to West

Postby walk aboot » Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:44 am

Thanks for the comments GLW, Morag and Chris :D

Here's a couple more lambs for you, Morag (they're wearing wee polythene jackets to stop them getting cold)...

553986_10150675478332562_742657561_9439373_981570453_n.jpg
Newborn lambs


And yes, I did pass Chesters Roman Fort but it wasn't open yet.
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Re: Hadrian's Wall Path in five days, East to West

Postby walk aboot » Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:46 am

mountainstar wrote:Congratulations on another LD walk under your belt :D
Just disappointed you never did a bit of wall rebuilding en route....some parts look as if the could have done with your expertise :lol:
BTW No white van man? or did he scarper when you went behind that wall :lol: :wink:
PS thanks for the card :thumbup:


:thumbup:

No WVM, mountainstar. It was me spooking the vehicle drivers this time...flashing my knickers at them! :shock: :lol:
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Re: Hadrian's Wall Path in five days, East to West

Postby madasa mongoose » Tue Apr 17, 2012 6:32 pm

walk aboot wrote:Hadrian's Wall Path: 86 miles

On the way back to the pub where I was staying a guy shouted across to me from another, ‘Fancy a drink? Buy one get one free’. No thanks. I think they must have been doing the same deal where I was staying.


An opportunity missed Janet. You could have been well in there, for a couple of pints at least :wink:

Great report. Really brings all those photos to life. And I clearly need to get some miles in before the Lairig Ghru. 21 miles in a day indeed! :clap:
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Re: Hadrian's Wall Path in five days, East to West

Postby walk aboot » Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:32 pm

:lol: :thumbup:
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Re: Hadrian's Wall Path in five days, East to West

Postby Fellwanderer » Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:20 pm

Great report. I walked it E-W in 2003 and W-E in 2007. The Chollerford-Gilsland section is superb - I'd rate it the second best linear walk in England outside of the Lakes!

A friend and I are doing it currently as a series of day walks using public transport only - although we may have to drive to Carlisle to do the final section to Bowness. We started from Tynemouth rather than Segedunum and did the section from Chesters to Housesteads on Monday.
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Re: Hadrian's Wall Path in five days, East to West

Postby walk aboot » Wed Apr 18, 2012 6:09 pm

Thanks Fellwanderer :) . I'll definitely be going back to do some day walks using the public transport, Carlisle is only 1 hour 15 minutes from Glasgow on the train 8) .

Which did you prefer, walking E to W or W to E?
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