Friday, 30 May 2014

O sweet and lovely wall...............May 30
                                                       A Midsummer Night's Dream. William Shakespeare
Mikes World War One Walk.
                                        Brian Algar
                   The quote from the bard is spoken by Pyramus, one of the clowns in the play. In our school production I, as a skinny 15 year old played Francis Flute the bellows mender, aka Thisbe. I died well.
After the play Miss Buck our English teacher and play producer told us she had picked out the school eccentrics to play those parts. Was this a compliment I still ask?
   Today four of us, Ben, Brian,John and  I are going for a walk on Hadrian's Wall, that relic of the Roman rule of Britain that was built in 122AD and the following few years. We are starting from the car park at Steel Rigg. To get there from base take the A69 west, at some point turn north to find the B6318 known as the Military Road, continue west to Once Brewed Information Centre, YHA and pub. Turn right and after a half mile find the car park. It cost £4 for the day. A map could prove useful, OL43 Hadrian's Wall covers the walk and the car park is at GR751677. Of course there is a picture.
                                                        Steel Rigg car park, classy. You can 
                                                                  pay with a credit card. 
    Leaving the car park we turned right on the road and went downhill for a few hundred yards before turning right onto the marked footpath. The footpath is well signed, most of the way although at times it vanishes into the mud. The weather for the last few days has been extremely wet, the ruts made by tractors were full of water, the areas around field gates that always get churned up by the animals were worse than usual, definitely a day for gaiters. So much mud Brian decided it was the western front, without the horror and hence the title.
   But the mud fails to detract from the views. North over fields to plantations and gentle hills, Greenlee Lough, a nature reserve, Broomlee Lough, just a lough.  South to the Whin Sill that this section of the wall is built on.. Highfield Crags overlook Crag Lough, Hotbank Crag and the wonderfully named Cuddy's Crags. Just before this crag the footpath crosses the Pennine Way, the longest UK footpath that stretches from Derbyshire to just over the Scottish Border.
                                                      Crag Lough, the wall is on the ridge in the trees
                                       Brownlee Lough
                                    There are more sheep than people in Northumberland.
                                          These lambs are on an old limekiln, not the wall.
   At Sewingshields the path joins a metalled road that climbs for a few hundred yards to join the official, well marked Hadrian's Wall Path. Here we turned and headed east through a Sewingshields Wood behind the farm of the same name. (Sewingshields has nothing to do with stitching it comes from the Old English Sigewine's Shiels,and a shiel is a summer hut or shelter used by shepherds.)
    Through the wood we declared a Herbie Spot, sitting on the stones of the wall.
                                      Herbie Spot. Note that at his point the remains of the wall
                                       sit on a wide base. The wall is built in two widths in different 
                                        places.  I reckon the Romans ran short of cash here.
    Treats today included Cadburys Chocolate, Orange Golf biscuits, Ben's ginger biscuits and Mrs.A's Apple cake. Lunch break also allowed Brian to come out with a good if naughty pun.
"Which Dickens character painted with his willy? The Artful Todger of course"
As we ate we were passed by several groups of people who were doing the full length of the wall, about 86 miles, not in one day of course. Two of these were an American father and son partnership, Little John and Big John. They came from Kansas and, as Ben said, were probably tired of following the yellow brick road. They were impressed with the section of the wall we were on which is, I think, the best stretch.
                                           Big John and Little John from Kansas.
  On the wall again we soon came to Vercovicium Fort, usually called Housesteads and one of the best sites on the wall. We didn't go in, been there, done that.

                                      Two views of the wall
                           A join, where sections built by two gangs join. This is not the
                            real height of the wall, it was more like nine feet.
               Beyond Housesteads the wall follows a roller coaster path as it goes along the ridge of the Whin Sill. My favourite bit is Highshield Crag where the wall is high above Crag Lough.
                               Crag Lough. The path is in the trees above the lough.
Near here we spotted the latest  wheeze from Michael Gough, the Minister of State for Education:
                                        Leave your computers kids, get out there and do something.
And beyond the Lough we came at last to the sacred sycamore that appeared in the film " Robin Hood , Prince of Thieves"
                                                 Kev's tree from the south,,,,,,

                                                        ....and the north.
                                                  I've seen this tree from both sides now,
                                                 From North and South, but still somehow
                                                 I can't see Kevin or Robin anyhow.

                                            The Pennine Way crosses the wall
                                              Remains of a milecastle
                 There are three climbers on this crag Can you spot them?

                           An over designed gate fastening. What's wrong with a chain and hook?
   Not far from this gate we were back at the car park just in time to meet more Americans. I asked one if he was going far and got the direct answer, "Nope" That was it, one word, nothing more, most walkers stop to chat, like the couple who were walking to the tree because they got engaged there 11 years ago! Sweet.
Debooted we headed for Wylam and the Boathouse pub which boasts 14 hand pulled beers and several others too.
                                    The Boathouse.

The Matrix MMXIVR
                                                        steps                                 miles

LIDL3D                                             23015                              10.35
No Dave today
My GPS                                                                                     9.7
Brian's GPS                                                                                9.65
Ben's bragometer                                                                         9.7

Good results.

               Contains OS Data copyright. Crown Copyright database-right 2014

Total gadgie distance 230 miles