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Hadrians Wall Path

By Carmel Limpus, Registered Nurse, Ipswich TMA

Finally after two years of being confined to Australia, I’m off to the UK to get my hiking on! It’s very freeing to the spirit when boarding the plane on the outbound journey (although no one looks forward to the 24 hrs of sitting), all the potential adventures to be had. My adult children come along for the ride and to be my Uber service should I need it. Where to this time? Destination – Hadrians Wall Path in the North of England.

The Roman history, artefacts and museums are fascinating, and this hike is just so accessible with regards to accommodation and transport. Unfortunately I have chosen the week that the buses are on strike to start my walk, thank goodness for the Uber children! Plus I don’t have to learn another language!

First stop is Carlisle. This is my staging post for the first 2 days of walking. The Hadrians Wall Path (HWP) can be walked in any direction, but I have chosen to walk west to east and have the wind at my back. Walking in October can be very variable with the weather, obviously I’m hoping for clear, cool days, as for me this is the perfect hiking weather and the miles go quickly. There is nothing difficult about walking the HWP, it’s just, choose the amount of miles to walk per day and keep the wall on your left! I’m only hiking with a day pack containing the necessities – wet weather gear, water, snacks and emergency first aid kit and spare long sleeved pullover. I never leave home without the basics, which also includes my trusty gastro kit.

The first day is from Bowness on Solway, walking towards Carlisle. My end point will be Newcastle on Tyne 73miles later. I find it easier to think in miles in England as my map is written that way. The path is a variety of flat walking over tidal plains, through villages, private working farms, up rocky crags and bluffs and along the Vellam beside the Roman road.

I was lucky that my first couple of days were relatively clear besides the odd drizzle of rain, unfortunately that didn’t last! The views are stunning and the process of putting one foot in front of the other soothing. I find it almost a kind of meditation. Much needed post Covid Pandemic.

So many photos to choose from but I can only include a few to whet your imaginations! We explored the surrounding towns of Hexham, Haltwhistle, Walton. Visited Vindolana excavation and museum, The Roman army museum and Housesteads Roman fort. So many interesting sites to visit. My quest to find Roman graffiti was fruitless, I searched every piece of wall I walked beside before I found it in the museum at Vindolanda.

It’s truly amazing the history that I was walking beside. The footsteps I was walking in! The engineering feat that building the wall was.

The weather did turn quite bad halfway through and I found myself walking in ankle deep mud, mixed with the manure of cow and sheep and thinking how lucky I was that my Tetanus was up to date! I was in very real danger of falling flat on my face as my boots were sucked into the mire. I walk on my own but met many people on the way. Struck up plenty of conversations whilst staying in Youth Hostels or having a welcome rest in a coffee shop. Travelling on foot gives a new perspective to the surrounds. I always make a habit to look up to see the view unless I’m traversing a tricky path in which case my eyes are down as I don’t want to trip in a rabbit hole!

There was a lot of controversy surrounding the felling of the tree at Sycamore Gap. I walked past it and gave it a little nod of respect.

It is strange to walk into a major city after being in rural areas crossing paddocks and climbing up hills, sleeping in bunk houses, but a rewarding end to a journey no less! I did reward myself with a nice pint of cider whilst resting my weary feet beside the River Tyne. Until next time!

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