I finished my second day on the Hadrian’s Wall path this afternoon, though it was a bit abbreviated due to that ankle I rolled the other day. Taking it slowly has its benefits, though. You literally smell the flowers, in addition to sucking in every pollen known to humankind. Went through a little pack of tissues.
The author is back along Hadrian’s Wall after four years.
I had made a vow to return to the wall path after returning from my hike across in 2019. I actually made reservations for another July hike. Then Covid struck and the entire world was postponed. so finally, here I am.
The day started off in Newcastle, where I hitched a ride along the original wall course that passes through the urban area, where many of the more venerable structures along the road were fashioned from stone first quarried by Roman legionaries.
The Denton turret
My driver Jeannie, a 69-year-old retired banker, was raised in such a place, and she took delight in pointing out several others along the way, including one that is an Indian curry restaurant. Off to the left was the Denton Hall turret and a modest stretch of wall surrounded by lawn and further on another length pushed up through the highway median. I missed these ruins in 2019 having taken the more bucolic, and no less pleasing, Tyne River trail.
Jeannie dropped me at the Swan Public House for their signature Shepherds Pie and a Black Sheep Ale, then I sloshed my way down to the first significant (or last depending whether you’re heading east or west) stretch of wall. I made it just in time, as a tour bus arrived, brakes hissing. The doors snapped open and on they came, name tags swinging. I stepped off the trail on my way out so they could file by, then wound my way through a neighborhood, down the hill to the Three Tuns pub and off toward the B6418, a road that not only follows the course of the Roman Wall, but is also built atop it. This was the brainchild of an English general, who wanted to ensure an army could be moved quickly across the country to interdict another invasion by Bonnie Prince Charlie and his ilk. All that is left is the ditch that fronted the north side of the wall and a scatter of stones bleeding from the roadbed above.
The Vindobala fort ruins remained buried.
I walked slowly along the periphery of the farm fields, sheep and cattle grazing off in the distance, or in the case of the unexcavated fort at Vindobala, a flock of freshly sheared (say it as fast as you can 10 times) sheep not 10 feet away. Obviously they’re used to hikers as only one raised her head and regarded me for a minute.
The trail moves along the periphery of farm fields.
This trail went on to trace two gentle hills, from the top of which I could look out over the Tyne Valley and the butterscotch and multi-shaded green patchwork of fields that roll into the draws that give onto the river. All the while the traffic whooshed by on the far side of the hedgerow that shields the fields from the B6318. I crossed a shady creek and negotiated the diversion that enfolds the Iron Sign Farm BNB where I am taking my rest.
Sure is great to be in the countryside. As I’ve written before, there will be times when I walk this trail that I think of the island trails and vistas. I flashed on it a couple of times today. When I’m there I long to be here; and when here I want to be there.