14 Jun 2008 - Hadrians Wall (Bowness to Bleartarn 20.6 miles), England

8AM and a beautiful morning with a great view over the Solway Firth. We packed up and worked out where the beginning of the path started, began the walk and then settled down for a spot of breakfast which was a pot of pasta and pesto. Hadrian's Wall Path is a well marked out route and is a Long Distance National Trail. At the time of writing there are 15 of these trails, many of them far longer than this.

The walking is easy, though can be muddy in places but at this relatively dry time of the year the path was baked hard. The highest point on the path is only 345m, and for most of its length is more or less flat. Though most of the Wall is in remote countryside, lengthy sections pass through the cities of Newcastle and Carlisle.

The first 14 miles or so took us through countryside but end up in Carlisle. At this point my feet were hurting badly and I realised that I had the wrong boots. These were about a half size too small and they didn't have an insole either! Luckily, being back in Carlisle I was able to buy some insoles but unfortunately there was nothing that I could do about the boots. By now it was about 4pm and we shamefully settled for a MacDonalds before heading back out onto the trail which took us through the North of the city and across the River Eden.

Upon leaving Carlisle behind we again hit the country trails and village roads, passed Crosby and ended somewhere near Newtown. This was a good time to stop because at this point our rest breaks were coming more regular and our pace was slowing because of the pain in our feet. My shoulders were aching from carrying my bergen but this pain kicked in hours back. We made 'home', had scoff and were asleep by 22:00.

All in all, this was a good first day despite the slackened pace at the end and the pain contributed by my inappropriate footwear. Distances covered:15 miles from Bowness On Solway - Carlisle, about 7 miles from Carlisle - Bleartarn including the walk into Carlisle for footwear and a calory rich MacDonalds meal - 22 miles.
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Hadrian's Wall Path - Ernies back garden

Hadrian's Wall Path - Ernies back garden

Unable to put up a shelter, I spent the night in the tent with Adam which was a bit of a squeeze.

This was a glorious morning, cool and sunny. Ernie's back garden looks onto the Solway Firth and is shown in the next photo.
Hadrian's Wall Path - The Solway Firth

Hadrian's Wall Path - The Solway Firth

Bowness on Solway, the western end of Hadrian's Wall. The site was originally occupied by the eightieth milecastle and was built of turf and timber. When the Wall was replaced in stone, the milecastle was demolished and replaced by a timber-built fort, which was itself then rebuilt in stone. The fort was the second largest on the Wall, and it was for this reason named Maia ('The Larger'), as it was the largest of the forts to the west of Stanwix, where was the military administrative centre of the Wall.
Hadrian's Wall Path - Statue of Edward I, Burgh by Sands

Hadrian's Wall Path - Statue of Edward I, Burgh by Sands

King Edward I, Edward 'Longshanks', died in Burgh By Sands on 7th July 1307 whilst leading a campaign against Robert the Bruce. He was laid in St Michaels Church in the village until its eventual removal to Westminster Abbey.

On 7th July 2007, this stutue was installed to mark the 700th Anniversary of Kind Edward's death.
Hadrian's Wall Path - Brewing up on the River Eden

Hadrian's Wall Path - Brewing up on the River Eden

Time for a rest, sock change and refreshing cuppa. No time to eat but that was put right in Carlisle with a MacDonalds. Judging by the last time I saw him, it seems that Adam has been eating nothing but. Definitely not the Adam from Patagonia 2001.
Hadrian's Wall Path - On to Carlisle

Hadrian's Wall Path - On to Carlisle

It has been lovely sitting in the sun on the banks of the river but now it's time to move on and follow the course of the river towards Carlisle which is now only a mile or two away. My feet were beginning to hurt by now and it wasn't just the normal pain from walking a long distance. It was at this point that I realised I had the wrong boots and no inner soles to cushion each step.
Hadrian's Wall Path - The end of a day's tabbing

Hadrian's Wall Path - The end of a day's tabbing

22 miles of tabbing and now it was time to rest those weary feet and shoulders. I have constructed a poncho shelter. Underneath is my sleeping bag inside a gortex bivvi bag on top of a roll mat. The poncho keeps most of the rain off whilst the bivvi bag ensures that no drops of rain get onto the sleeping bag. The bivvi bag can be tightened to leave a small air hole at the top ensuring that the occupant stays warm and dry.
Hadrian's Wall Path - Pasta and green pesto for supper

Hadrian's Wall Path - Pasta and green pesto for supper

All I had to eat today was past for breakfast and supper with a MacDonalds meal in between. Reduced calories, complex carbs and hard tabbing is a sure way to lose weight.

I normally only spend nights out like this with the Army. It rained during the night but being in my waterproof bivvi bag, warm and dry, was cosy and the raindrops all around me was relaxing and soothing, doubly so as there was no one to call me to do stag (guard duty) at stupid o'clock.

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