26 Jul 2009 - Hadrians Wall (Bowness to Grinsdale 10.6 miles), England

Last year I attempted the 84 mile long Hadrian's Wall trail carrying 25kg+ of kit but had to admit defeat after 45 miles because of ill fitting boots and severe blisters. This year I was determined to complete the trail not just for a sense of personnel achievement but also to pursue my deep interest in history and the Roman Empire. Though a lot of the stone used to build the wall and other structures has been carted off by later generations for use in their own building projects, there is still plenty of evidence to allow one to marvel at what must have been an astonishing structure and symbol of Roman power on the doorstep of the local tribes.

I took a wrong turn last year, missed Thirlwall Castle, and continued off the trail for about 6 miles thus missing some of the most dramatic scenery to be seen on the wall. This year I did not make the same mistake and faithfully followed the wall as far as possible. I left Bowness on Solway at 08:30 last year but this year didn't begin the walk until15:30 thus only getting in half a day of walking.
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Hadrian's Wall - Burgh by Sands

Hadrian's Wall - Burgh by Sands

Burgh by Sands stands on the site of the Roman fort of Aballava. Very little trace of this or wall remains.
Hadrian's Wall - Sanctuary in Burgh by Sands

Hadrian's Wall - Sanctuary in Burgh by Sands

We took refuge in this pub waiting for the weather to clear and to dry off. After about an hour the weather had cleared sufficiently for us to resume the walk. Last year I carried between 25-28kg but this year I managed to cut it down to about 22kg which is still too much to carry. Unlike last year, the weather switched between showers and torrential rain that turned the roads into rivers. The sheet rain did not make an appearance until we entered Burgh by Sands.
Hadrian's Wall - St Michaels's Church, Burgh by Sands

Hadrian's Wall - St Michaels's Church, Burgh by Sands

The church lies within the boundary of the old fort. Even when the church was completed in the 12th century there was still plenty of Roman stone left in the area for Roman stones to be incorporated into the tower. The tower was built in the 14th century.
Hadrian's Wall - Bivouac outside Grinsdale village

Hadrian's Wall - Bivouac outside Grinsdale village

With the sodden ground and night approaching it was a challenge to find a suitable area to set up camp for the night. In the end, this site was chosen because the fence provided plenty of attachment points for the poncho and the ground consisted of a lot of stone rather than just sodden earth.

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