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Walking Hadrian's Wall

UNITED KINGDOM | Monday, 3 July 2006 | Views [969]

Hadrian's Wall is one of those things that anybody who wants to spend a little time in England really should see.

It's a wall, a very long one actually, that was built by the Roman emperor, Hadrian, in the second century to either keep the Scots out of England or keep the English in. While that might seem counter-productive to many people, Hadrian thought it was a good idea.

Being a sucker for history, walking the length of Hadrian's Wall was something I had wanted to do for a long time. Finding a friend to accompany me wasn't too hard, but it was the same friend who had come with me to Iceland so we weren't exactly the most over-prepared of travelers. "She'll be right mate," was our typically Australian attitude to almost everything we did.

Day one saw us at Bowness on Solway which is on the west coast of England and the beginning of the wall - or at least where the wall had been originally. It also boasts mudflats, a couple of houses, some fields and a dog. But no wall that we could find.

We decided to ask one of the locals - the owner of the dog in fact - where the wall was.

"You see that pub?" he asked us.

"Um.. yep."

"That's it."

Hmmm. It seemed the enterprising locals had pilfered the remains of this ancient monument of one of the great walls of the world, in order to construct a pub. Well, I guess we couldn't really argue with their priorities.

The first couple of days walking were quite easy, though the walk east from Carlisle was steadily uphill for most of the day.

It was day three by the time the blisters and rain started to bother us a little.

Walking 90 miles with giant blood blisters on the souls of your feet because you were too stupid or stingey to buy a decent pair of walking shoes engenders a few emotions. For starters, anger at your own stupidity and stinginess. Anger at your walking buddy for not informing you of your initial stupidity. Anger at the fact that you are wet to the core as is everything in your pack. Anger that you're angry.

Even so, the range of emotions you feel at your predicament can be put into perspective.

Late on day three we hit our lowest ebb, having climbed steadily uphill for 10 miles, still soaked and with blood blisters. My friend's anger boiled over.

"I'm grumpy," he said. He's a man a few words.

"Still," I replied, "it beats being at the office."

"Hell, yeah!" was his reply.

And there is the crux of deciding to walk the length of Hadrian's Wall. It got a little wet, a little cold and a little painful with the blisters, but our worst day walking was still far superior to our best day working in the office.

Disclaimer: That was before I worked at World Nomads - a truly great office environment with an incredibly enlightened boss! ;P

After day three, the rest of the walk actually picked up. There were the Crags which are a lot of fun to walk along. In this section of the wall, we were lucky enough to see a RAF jet pass below us when climbing up the side of one of the hills. We were even close enough to see the pilot's face (or rather helmet) and he did a barrel roll as he passed away from the hills and headed north towards Scotland. Show-pony!

There were also the various forts and historic sites that are all great!

We seemed to spend a lot of time camping in farmer's fields, running from famer's dogs and waving to friendly farmers. There are even one or two free campsites along the way if you know where to find them.

The last day, in Newcastle, is pretty uneventful as most of it is spent walking through the suburbs. Even so, touching the water at either side of England after traversing the length of the wall is quite a satisfying experience and well worth the effort.

Now, we did it in a pretty haphazard way - no preparation - just pack a tent, a watter bottle a few cans of baked beans and start walking.

And if I ever do it again, that is exactly how I will do it.

Tags: Adventures

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