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.
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.
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).
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.
And that was that. We went to the pub, had two pints, and went home after having crossed the country on foot.
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.
1 x Crumpler camera bag* (For the first day this was down by my side, but got annoying so went into my pack with my camera – I relied on my iPhone for photography for most of the trip. Ideally I want to find a non-annoying solution to keeping my camera at hand, but safe and dry.)
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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!).
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.
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.
I wasn’t feeling today’s BEDM topic, so instead I thought I’d show you some photos from our trip up to Scotland last week with my parents. I didn’t take too many this year, since we pretty much visited the same places as last year.
We stopped off just outside of Glasgow on our way up, heading up to our log cabin in Elgin the next day. During the trip we visited several distilleries and some local sights (including Auldearn Antiques, just incase you were worried about the random bath). We drove back down on Friday in one loooooong drive!
This was pretty special, on a trip to Nairn we saw two swans and their new signets (apparently born just 4 days before) take their first swim (according to locals). Not something you see every day!
The final hoard. Should keep us going a while! Adam bought me a little hip flask, I just need an occasion to use it ;)
Ah, here I am with the last of my Paris posts. I can’t believe it’s been almost 4 weeks since we were there, doesn’t seem like that long at all.
One of the places I really wanted to visit was the Paris Catacombs, a network of underground passages left over from the times of stone quarrying under the city.
Impressive carvings left by the quarrymen
In the late 1700s, the catacombs were turned into an ossuary, with the bones from the severely over flowing graveyards being relocated into the network of passages. There are around 6 million skeletons (or partial skeletons) located in an area of passages under the city of Paris. Amazing, huh?
We queued for around 45 minutes to get down, they only allow a certain number of people in at a time… one in one out, really. You go down over 100 stairs to get into the tunnels, and then walk around 2.5km through the dark and somewhat dank passages before reaching the 83 stairs to the surface.
I found this pretty funny at the top of the last set of stairs…
It’s well worth a visit if you’re in Paris, but be wary of the queues and the opening times (I think it’s shut on Mondays, as lots of places are in Paris).
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