Hadrian’s Wall

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Taking our time today

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The Pennine Way joined us.

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Lough Crag below the wall

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A slow steep slippery descent

From Carraw B and B to Twice Brewed Inn
13 kilometres
8:40 AM to 1:23 PM
328 metres Up, 368 metres Down
Saturday, June 11, 2016

What was Hadrian thinking In 122 AD? I guess he had plenty of soldiers to build a fifteen foot high ten foot wide mound of earth to hold back the hordes of barbarians from the north. But then he saw that the ground had more stone than dirt ; so, along side the mound which had already created a ditch, he set his minions to constructing an equally high and wide stone wall. Of course, if you are going to have a wall run across this narrow part of England, only 73 miles (117.5 km), you also need some gateways to be able to maintain both sides of the wall. So let’s have a “mile castle” every mile. Now you need two turrets spaced equally between each of these precisely built 20 foot by 20 foot square mile castles. Hadrian and his band did not do anything by halves! The Romans soldiers also needed a place to sleep; so, let’s build a stone fort every five miles. The one we passed at Housesteads is one of the best preserved forts. We did not tour these extensive ruins but we did get a view of the many rooms that had one to two foot high walls still standing. Just imagine all those soldiers busy building! They finished this construction in six years and there are still well preserved evidence nearly two thousand years later. We need some of this expertise in Toronto working on a new Gardiner Expressway!

Brian thinks Hadrian could have done things much more cheaply with less labour and effort if he had just offered some Roman coins to each man, woman and child to the north who made up the hordes. How many of them could there have been, really? But then we would not have these lovely ruins to view and an excuse to explore this part of England.

Why didn’t we spend time wandering around the fort? This was a drizzly day with thick fog. We could not see more than ten metres in any direction until our last half hour when it began to rain harder but the fog also lifted a little. I kept imagining what the fields and hills would looks like if we had had a blue sky. At least we used some rain gear, even the rain cover for my day pack: bright pink to show up on this gloomy day. Our bright yellow rain jackets and some yellow trefoil in places along the wall provided today’s sunshine.

We were able to check into Twice Brewed upon our arrival but our rooms were not ready. They were by the time we had warmed ourselves with a large bowl of tomato tarragon soup and warm bun. We should not have looked into Eliane’s room then we would not have had room envy. Eliane has a room twice the size of ours with a king size bed and a view to the fields behind the inn. Our double bed looks to a green hill across the road from the front of the inn. Ah well, Eliane had a tiny single bed garret on the third floor of the B and B in Robin Hood’s Bay and her room at the Old Repeater Station last night was nothing special. She was due for a nice room.

We are once again far from a village but the inn has food and drink and hot water. Who could ask for anything more. We reserved a table for this evening as a local fair is taking place just over the hill below Hadrian’s Wall. From on high, we saw the pens of sheep, heard the herding dogs barking, saw a bouncy castle. The local foot race took place through the fields below us. We saw the runners going and returning. Apparently many of the fair participants will be looking for food and much more drink here this evening.

Walking Hadrian’s Wall is a much more up and down affair than we anticipated. We had not done much, if any, research into this. Obviously if we are in a hilly part of England, which we are, the wall will follow the hills. Naturally the wall was built on the precipice of the hills. When we looked over the wall, where we could see through the fog, what we saw were sheer drops. Just as well not to look down. We saw half a dozen Irishmen clinging to the precipice on the opposite side of the wall. We recommended they climb over to our side. They did. We probably saved a few Irish lives today! This group was hiking all of Hadrian’s Wall in less than five days.

 

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