Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hadrian's Wall from Acomb 2

Between Bowness-on-Solway and Carlisle (again)
At the end of one of our attempts to complete the walk from Carlisle to Bowness on Solway, we disembarked from the bus on the way back to Acomb to visit the Roman Fort, which had an interesting film on every half hour and then Vindolanda. Give yourself plenty of time to visit Vindolanda, while an hour is probably enough for the Roman Fort, including the film.
By the middle of that week, there remained only two legs of the Hadrian's Wall route that we had not yet completed: Once Brewed - Gilsland and then Gilsland - Lancercost Priory. For both these sections, the weather set in and much was undertaken in the mist and  rain. It was comforting to see that so many others were as insane as ourselves on those days. We  hailed the Hadrians Wall bus as it came up from Hexham and  disembarked at Once Brewed to walk back up onto Hadrians Wall where we had left it three days earlier and continued on our way.  

The tree at Sycamore Gap is a much loved and photographed tree but when you are walking along the route, it is not so apparent as being THE tree. It appears as you come from Highshields Crag heading west towards Peel Crags and Steel Rigg.

Its best known view is one which we took from the moving bus on the Military Road. I seem to think it was used as a backdrop in the Robin Hood movie, starring Kevin Costner. 

Craglough Milecastle
Cawfield Milecastle

The highest peak of the entire route is Winshields Crag. From here on, it was downhill (theoretically).

Winshields Crag's Peak
It still took us ages to regain the relative lower ground in the mist and rains, as ever, passing ruins of turrets and mile castles.

Cawfields Quarry

Backward glance at the "heavy" bits of the last two days
Aesica Altar, the only altar along the Wall still in place, at Aesica Fort ruins. The altar is always topped with coins from all countries of the World, as walkers give thanks.

When we arrived along the route behind Gilsland, we had to be on the alert  near the end of the village for a road to the right which runs down to the main road from the walk….its about 100 metres from the walk to the main road and the pub under the bridge. It is a very unassuming road but I do seem to remember that signs to the pub from the walk were in abundance!!!!

Gilsland – Lanercost Priory

We caught the bus from Acomb back to the bridge at Gilsland and rejoined the walk behind the pub. I recall puffing and panting up one particularly steep part soon after this and at the same time, talking to my brother who had telephoned for a chat from High Wycombe. At that time, I think I was fitter than I had ever been in my entire life.   
Gilsland railway bridge
Poltross Burn Milecastle, or Milecastle 48, one of the best preserved mile castles on the entire length of Hadrian's Wall. Also knowns as the Kings Stables.

We collected our last passport stamp at Birdoswald

After we had passed Banks and then crossed over Hares Hill (about 3 km) , 

One of the last gates of our journey, on Hare's Hill

we come apon a little tarred road which runs down to Lanercost Priory (we were careful not to go down to the Priory before we crossed Hare Hill). This is the little tarred road  we had used at the beginning of our walk from Lanercost to Carlisle almost a week previously. By rejoining this path, we had finally completed the full route of Hadrian's Wall. 
Veni, Vidi, Vici!! 
Lanercost Priory

Now that our passports had all six stamps, on our final day, we went down to the Info center in Hexham handed it in and paid to have a certificate in beautiful calligraphy posted on to us. We returned to Fallowfield Dene at midday to start packing up. The taxi was booked to pick us up at 5 am the following day, to return us to Newcastle Airport en-route to further family adventures in Portsmouth.

Should you ever decide to follow in our footsteps and use a single place as a base, I recommend you stay at a base like Fallowfield Dene for a full two weeks. Seven days for walking with rest days in between for visiting the rich historical and local sites in the surrounding areas. There are hundreds of blogs and sites which are available these days which could contribute far more background and planning info to your walking trip than my blog. 

You could also check out this blog and prepare yourself to run the entire route in one day:

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