At my daughters' school all prize givings and evening concerts were opened with a rousing rendition of "The Keel Row" by the senior choir. This has nothing to do with the day's walk, it's just that the first line of the song is "As I came through Sandgate, through Sandgate, through Sandgate"
For those of you from foreign places Sandgate leads down to the Tyne in Newcastle and Keelmen were the the crews who rowed Keel boats out to ships in the river with a load of coal. Must have been hard work, but they were well fed on salmon, long before pollution kept the fish away. They have returned, sure sign of a clean river.
The Stanegate is the Roman road across the north of England, south of Hadrian's Wall. It predates the wall itself and its line is visible in several places. Today Dave and I are having a walk on the wall, making use of the AD 122 bus that runs close to the wall in summer.
The best map for the walk is OS OL 43 Hadrian's Wall but there is an excellent map of the wall published by English Heritage which gives more detail of the mile castles, turrets and forts along the wall.
We drove to Hexham going west on the A69 and parking just across the bridge over the river on Tyne Green. It's a Yorkshire car park, the one in the town has a few all day spaces but they are usually taken. But don't go into the Hexham Mart by mistake, you might get clamped.
Park on Tyne Green by the river.
We walked to the new Hexham bus station to catch the 10.10am AD 122 bus that runs along the wall in summer and takes bus passes. We got off the bus at Twice Brewed, pub and soon to be opened new visitor centre and YHA.
From the centre we walked almost due south along the road to Vindolanda, it is well signposted. After about half a mile we turned left on the road that is built on top of the Stanegate, a nice straight section as you would expect. We passed Causeway House, one of the very few thatched cottages in Northumberland.
We also passed the stump of a genuine Roman milestone.
Just beyond the fort we went into a field to admire a complete Roman milestone, and its wonderful sign. At this point we left the Stanegate and walked south east.