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.
More to come!