Posts By: Kim Lawler

Hadrian’s Wall Walk, Part 3: The Journey Days 4-6

walking-hadrians-wall-path

Day 4 (Steel Rigg to Banks/Lanercost, around 13.5-14 miles with the walking from Once Brewed to Lanercost) started with a sausage butty from the camp site cafe, then we were up on the hills again and at the highest point of our walk. It was all downhill from there!

We started with more of the crazy ups and downs and awesome views, before settling into more of a farmland setting. The one thing that struck me about this day was the lack of places for food. A few of the places we’d banked on were either shut or no longer serving food. Luckily, we happened across House of Meg in Gilsland where we went for the default jacket potato with beans & cheese, and grabbed some tuna baguettes for later.

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A late end to the day saw us rolling into our posh (and slightly weird) B&B in Lanercost after 7pm. I’d paid extra for a room with a bath, and the queen size bed with plush feather pillows made for a wonderful night’s sleep.

Day 4 had some amazing parts of the wall, but was pretty much the last we’d see of Actual Wall. Sad times.

Day 5 (Lanercost to Beaumont, around 15 miles walking but a 19 mile distance) was the day that things went a bit wrong. It started well, with a nice cooked full-english breakfast at the B&B, and making good headway after an early-ish start.

honestybox

My parents had come to Carlisle for a couple of nights, ready to pick us up in Bowness-on-Solway when we finished. We planned to meet them for lunch and give them some of our kit (tent, inflatable mats) to lighten the load, after a bit of a google error on my part (giving them an incorrect postcode) they ended up 30 miles in the wrong direction and took longer to get to us than hoped! Also, on discovering that Adam had accidentally made our day into a 19 miler (thanks to accommodation distance confusion), we opted to have a lift into Carlisle city centre from Crosby-on-Eden (great pub there, by the way, The Stag.. totally dog friendly and good beer). This was around 4 miles but meant that we’d get to our accommodation at a reasonable hour and wouldn’t kill our already fatigued selves.

These things happen, and it was the suburbs of Carlisle so not amazing walking anyway. We’re not counting this as not completing the walk or anything, we certainly made up the distance elsewhere on the trip.  That night we stayed in a wigwam hut, it was warm, comfortable, and definitely something I’d stay in again. We ate cheese, bread, crisps and salami, and washed it down with beer.

Day 6. The last day. Beaumont to Bowness-on-Solway, 9 short miles. Today was very flat, which was very welcome. Day 6 leg fatigue is no joke. We ate chocolate with abandon, procured from honesty boxes en route. We got chased across a field by cows and suffered some of the muddiest parts of the trail (the kind of mud where you almost leave your boot behind).

muddyboots

It rained in the morning but cleared up in the afternoon. We met the guys who were maintaining the trail and had a chat with them, then we had our photo taken by a man in a hut, and crossed the finish line to cheers from my parents.

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And that was that. We went to the pub, had two pints, and went home after having crossed the country on foot.

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Hadrian’s Wall Walk, Part 2: Kit List

kitlist

I’m a sucker for a kit list, map, or itinerary, and I thought you might be too. This was the first multi-day hike that we’ve ever done, and we didn’t really know what to take with us. We looked up a few kit lists on the internet, and made a few calls of our own. Here’s the complete list of kit we took on Hadrian’s wall between the two of us and a dog. I’ve included brand names and links where possible, and items marked with an asterisk are the items we took but didn’t use.

Coats, bags, shoes & boots

Sleeping & Camping

Cooking

We were planning on heating water for coffee but didn’t due to high winds, so didn’t use any of this but would still take it again!

Accessories

Food & Drink

Entertainment & Electronics

Kim’s Clothes

Adam’s Clothes

Toiletries & Medicines

Extras

For Scout

And that’s it! There wasn’t anything that we wished we’d taken along with us, and we opted not to take a large microfibre towel to save on weight. Luckily we were staying places with towels/towel hire, so we didn’t miss it.

If you’re walking Hadrian’s Wall and don’t want to carry your stuff, there’re several companies who will take your luggage from stop-to-stop for a small fee.

Some of the links above are affiliate links, you can read my disclosure here.

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Hadrian’s Wall Walk, Part 1: The Journey Days 1-3

walking-hadrians-wall-path

It’s been over a week since we got back from our epic cross-country walk, I figured I should blog about it before I forgot all the fun (and not-so-fun) parts. You can read the first post about our intention to walk Hadrian’s Wall here. This was going to be one post, but after writing it and getting to over 3500 words, I’ve decided to split it up into a few posts!

Here’s part one, The Journey Days 1-3. I ended up taking all my photos on iPhone because my camera was inaccessible without taking my pack off, and it was raining. It’s kind of annoying because they’re not super great quality, but you get the idea ;)

We started our journey on the morning on May 1st, all packed up and ready to go, we headed for the 9.30am train to Newcastle. We were anxious about this part of the journey, it was going to be Scout’s second ever train ride (after a very stressful 10 minute journey a couple of weeks earlier) and quite lengthy at 2hrs.

We’d prepared her heavily with some serene-um tablets, an adaptil collar, and a bevvy of treats to keep her distracted. Adam takes a transpennine train every weekday morning for work, so we knew the spot with the most space and quiet (the toilet area vestibule in the first class carriage). She was a little panicked at the train station, but nothing we couldn’t control with a bag of fresh ham, and after lifting her on to the train she hung out under the fold-down seats for the journey, even managing to eat a dentastick!

After arriving in Newcastle, we had to make our way to Wallsend on the metro (another first for Scout). She did so well with all her public transport travel, but I think we were all relieved when we got to Wallsend and began our journey on foot.

We headed to the start of the route at the Segedunum museum, the fort at one of the ends of Hadrian’s Wall. Every year between May and October you can purchase a Hadrian’s Wall Passport which you get stamped at various spots along the way. We got our passport and first stamp, and set off in earnest at noon for Day 1’s walk (Wallsend to Heddon-on-the-wall, around 15 miles).

hadrians-wall-passport

The less said about the first bit of the walk the better. You’re basically walking on a really shitty path through a pretty industrial part of Newcastle. The streets were, annoyingly, paved with broken glass, which is just great news for people with a dog. I was also having problems with my bag, it wasn’t fitting right, and it just felt WAY too heavy. And weighing in at between 15-20kg, it probably was a bit heavy… I started getting worried that there’d be no way I’d make it to the end of day one, let alone the whole walk, with my bag.

Once you get back into the city centre the walk starts to improve a little. You’re walking along the side of the Tyne river, and there’re some quite interesting bits to look at (old industrial stuff, the bridges, the Baltic centre). We stopped for lunch at a Wetherspoons near some of the bridges, we’d been recommended it by the guy at the Segedunum museum because it was apparently home to some Witch trials back in the day.

We were then back on our feet and heading towards Heddon-on-the-wall, and our first stop. The first day was longer than we’d hoped, clocking in at 15 miles (but what felt like 20 miles considering all our morning’s travel). Our first night was spent eating cereal, drinking budweiser, scoffing “emergency chocolate” and nursing our sore feet. I was also trying to figure if I could get the bus for part of the journey during day 2…

A good long sleep later and our feet felt like new, after a full cooked breakfast our enthusiasm was rekindled, and we set off for Day 2: Heddon-on-the-wall to Greencarts Farm, around 17 miles (outside Chollerford).

vallum

This was the start of the walk proper. No more sprawling suburbs or industrial estates, this was when we got to breathe fresh air and enjoy the Vallums and views. We made good headway during the morning, with good weather and a good jacket potato lunch at Vallum Farm. There was more elevation this day, but I was feeling much better with my bag. I’d adjusted it correctly the night before, and it didn’t trouble me from here on in.

adam-scout-vallum kim-wall

Day 2 was LONG, at 17 miles. We were due to camp at Greencarts but, after the rain started in the late afternoon and was due to get stormy overnight, we opted for the offered camping barn instead. Luckily we’d bought some cheese scones & sausage rolls at Vallum Farm earlier in the day, which was just enough for our dinner.  I’ve never stayed in a camping barn before so it was an experience, we thought we had the whole place to ourselves but a guy came in at around 8pm. Weirdly, his alarm went off at 3.30am and he headed out at 4am. Some people do the walk in 3-4 days (crazy, crazy people), so we figured he was one of those weirdos.

camping-barn

Day 3 (Greencarts to Once Brewed/Steel Rigg, around 11 miles) started with a cooked breakfast from the kind lady owner of Greencarts. We knew day 3 would be a challenge, the elevation was more than the day before, but we didn’t quite know what to expect. The rain was still coming down but was due to clear up later in the day. Weirdly, I didn’t get disheartened by the rain, yeah.. it put a dampener on the views, but I didn’t cry (wahey!).

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We walked through the amazing Housesteads on this day which, even without the views thanks to the rain and mist, was some of the best (and most challenging) walking of the whole trip. There were some crazy ups and downs, and I think it’s this day that’s totally fucked up my knee, but wow.. yeah. If you’re gonna do anything on Hadrian’s Wall, make it a circular walk that takes in Housesteads. Basically, Day 3 = all the superlatives, and without turning into Doge I’ll just say “Such wall! Much amaze!”.

Oh, but ladder styles? They can go fuck themselves. I hate them with a day-pack, I loathe them with a multi-day camping pack. Scout, however, loves styles of any kind. There are LOADS of styles all along the wall.

hadrianswall-view
winshields

We got to Once Brewed at around 4pm and headed straight to the tourist info centre, where we stocked up on chocolate & crisps. Luckily the sun had come out so we were able to eat at the pub (Twice Brewed). You know what sucks? They don’t let dogs in. A huge pub, with many rooms, on a hugely popular walking trail, in the middle of nowhere, don’t let dogs in. Bitches be cray.

We camped at Winshields farm that night, our wee tent was so comfortable and we all got a really good sleep.

More to come!

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On Adventure, comfort zones, and pushing boundaries

adventure

So this is kind of a break from the norm, a more personal post, oohh-eerr. Not that I’m against getting personal on this blog, but most of my posts lately have been more about business and creativity than actual life.

About a year or so ago I started getting itchy feet for adventure.

We’d started doing a lot more walking with the dog, longer walks over moors, fields, woodland and hills. We’d spend our weekends getting aquatinted with the outdoors, pushing ourselves to walk further and harder than before. I’d started doing more classes at the gym and I could see huge physical improvements. I could climb up rocks that I’d have previously cried about, I wasn’t afraid to scramble down hills, and I started punching the air when I made it to the top of tough hills.

There were low points too, of course. That time I cried on the moors because my jeans weren’t flexible enough (I soon invested in actual walking trousers), and I had ridiculous menstrual cramps. I think I told the Pennine Way to go fuck itself. Or the time I thought I’d never get down the muddiest banking ever, and cried again. I’m such a fucking pussy sometimes.

I cry less now, and punch the air more. Just the other week I traversed the boggiest downhill section in Holmfirth, and whooped the whole way, not caring if I fell and got dirty, just happy in the fact that I no longer gave any fucks about the mud. Ice though, I still cry about ice.

I started to crave more. Bigger challenges, something more testing, something that would probably make me cry but feel like a god damn heroine after the fact.

On May 1st 2015 we start the first of our adventures, walking the length of Hadrian’s Wall. We start in Newcastle and walk East to West, ending up in Bowness-on-Solway.

It’s going to be a walk of firsts for me:

  • The first multi-day hike
  • The first time I’ll have camped in over 8 years (and not at a music festival)
  • The first time I’ll have carried a huge pack over a great distance
  • The first time I’ll have seen a giant stone phallus*

It’s around 84 miles, through towns, country, woodland, fields, and bogs. It’ll be hard work, but worth it… I think.

I was the fat kid with asthma in school, I shied away from sports and didn’t even dream of doing anything like the Duke of Edinburgh. But now, at 30 years old, I’m pushing myself totally out of my comfort zone and feeling more content than ever before. Just look at what my body can do! These legs, these thunder thighs, are going to carry me across the entire country. I’ve already started planning our next adventures, and eventually I’d love to do something even further out of my comfort zone (Machu Picchu or Kilimanjaro), but for now, those 84 miles are what I’m aiming for.

So here’s to adventures, pushing your boundaries, and doing things that you never expected. Here’s to standing at the top of a muddy bank, crying that you won’t make it down, but having no choice but to do it, succeeding, then feeling all kinds of awesome.

*You should probably follow me on instagram to see the delights of my trip, stone phallus included.

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Why I won’t book a call to discuss your potential project…

why-i-wont-book-a-call-to-discuss

I don’t do calls.

Well, hardly ever. If I can avoid a call, I will.

Calls suck. They suck time, they suck because I work from home and get a billion deliveries a day, and they suck even harder when you ask for video on Skype (because I don’t feel the need to dress fancy for my colleagues, the dog and cats). But mainly it’s the time thing.

Don’t get me wrong, Skype has its uses, mainly in the text-chat capacity. And if we’re kicking off a project and you want to chat around some ideas, then I’m usually pretty happy to schedule call then, but otherwise? …

Let me break it down further…

  • Calls, of any kind, require scheduling. We have to block out time from both our schedules. While 10am on a Monday might be convenient to me, it might not be to you.
  • Calls over-run, we might have said ‘this is just a quick call’, but that soon turns in to 40 minutes!
  • We’ll spend at least 10 minutes going over niceties, getting our shit together, and saying goodbye. During those 10 minutes we both could’ve been doing something way more awesome.
  • Unless we’re taking endless notes (which prolongs the length of the call anyway), everything’s lost once it’s been said. The written word is so much better for referencing after the fact.
  • You might have an in-depth question about something relating to a bit of web development you need, things like that usually require a little research – totally not easy to do whilst on a call.

A call just pisses at least an hour of everyone’s time up the wall. And you know what’s worse? When we have to email to follow up after the call! Dude! That should’ve been the only bit of correspondence we needed.

So, if you try and schedule a call with me to discuss your potential project, I’m gonna be pointing you towards your email. If you insist that we chat, then I’ll have to charge you a consulting rate for the duration of the call. Time is valuable for both of us, and it’s totally not cost effective for me to dedicate an hours worth of time to a project that might not even make it to my table!

“But Kim!” I hear you exclaim, “How can we figure out if you can work on my project if we can’t talk on the phone?! How do I possibly know what to include in an email!”.

I’m glad you asked!

You see, I’ve been doing this making-websites-for-other-people thing for a few years now, and I know what questions to ask. Infact, I have a fabulous form that you fill in! Actually, I have two! I have one that I have you fill in to give me the low down on what you want me to do, and I have another for you to fill in when we kick off the project.

The answers on these forms give me all the information I need, and they even work in your favour — you get to sit down and really concentrate on what you need from the person you’re hiring, whether that ends up being me or someone else.

I know a lot of my peers will scoff at my not taking calls, bad client relationships they say, but honestly? It’s never been an issue in my business. I’ve conducted huge projects just via email and project management systems, and I’ve also been sat silent for 2 hours on group calls in big agencies (man, I do love billing for those two hours, though) when I could’ve been doing something way more productive.

If calls work for you and your business, and you’re 100% sure that there’s not a better way of communicating that’ll save both parties time, then great! Carry on! But me? I don’t do calls.

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