Thursday, June 29, 2017

Rest Day - Housesteads and Vindolanda

For our rest day, we decided after breakfast to catch the handy local bus to Housesteads. We would be walking past Housesteads on Day 5 of walking but knew we would probably not want to take the time to stop and look around properly. First thing to attend to on arrival was the WC. Not the old Roman one though ;)

The ruins of the Wall and the Milecastle at Housesteads are extensive.

Looking south 

 The Romans were very methodical and each Milecastle, where there was a manned gate between south and north, was organized in the same way, which must have made archaeological excavation just a bit easier than otherwise.

 Solid and lasting centuries. This used to be a granary.

 After our visit at Housesteads we took the bus back to Vindolanda, an active archaeological site. Vindolanda was a Roman fort that existed before Hadrian's Wall. It's especially known for the discovery of the Vindolanda tablets, early and well-preserved military and personal correspondence on wooden tablets.

Near the entry is this modern Roman fountain to set the mood. The horse on top is called a hyppocamp.

There's an excellent museum of artefacts as well as a lovely tea room and garden found in the dell below the excavations. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch.

 The volunteer crew was on lunch break when we arrived. This is one of the areas they are excavating. The second photo is the crew back on the job.

This was our Rest Day

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Hadrian's Wall Path - Gilsland to Once Brewed

13 km

This 4th day of walking was a real stunner! The weather was sunny, hot and beautiful and the scenery was unbelievable. We nearly ran out of water and here is where we wished for an honesty box along the way. The many other walkers and we congregated for rests and picnic lunches at the few wooded areas we encountered. Even a large bush that threw some shade was a welcome relief.

We arrived at this lovely spot early in the day.

We looked down the lane at this farm and decided the trail must go uphill the other way. We were quite a way up when we decided we hadn't seen a white acorn sign confirming that we were going the right way and turned around. We'd just turned around when we met a Dutch woman coming up the same way and advised her that she might be going the wrong way but she decided to continue upwards. We were right. The trail went down this lane and leftwards over a bridge. She caught up with us shortly afterwards.

How many stiles did we heave ourselves and our packs and water over anyway! It was entirely worth it for the amazing views.

There were some interesting tree habitats.

I couldn't stop taking photos.

Look for and follow the white acorn eastwards.

I took this photo as a nod to Don who was golfing in Scotland.

We crossed a railway track. All RR tracks in the UK are busy. Major way to get from here to there. 

There was some tarmac walking.

At some points on this hot day, we were feeling insubstantial ;)

Looking at the way ahead:

Marching along with the Wall

I'd never heard of whin sill before this walk so I had to look it up when I got home: 

Whin Sill is the term used to describe the unusual Northumberland geologic volcanic rock formation or layer that is found in the uplifted crags along which Hadrian's Wall was built. It dates from 295 million years ago when molten lava flowed across bedrock, cooled and then through the millennia was eroded by wind and water into the sharp ridges we see today. "Whin" is a local word for "black" and "sill" is used to describe a horizontal rock slab.

Then there's whin sill grass. Even the sheep leave it alone. The new discovery centre, to be named "The Sill", which is being built at Once Brewed will have a whin sill grass roof.

Walltown Crags

More crags in the distance

Yes....up that way.....

Breathtaking view on a fabulous day

Shortly after taking this photo and wondering about these windows in the wall, a sheep darted with her lamb through here. Question answered!

Sheep are everywhere.

Gorse is everywhere too!

Cawfields Quarry, one of the many sources for Hadrian's Wall rocks.

Going up

The top....or one of the tops. A surveying marker for triangulation.

Yikes! my right boot bit the dust today. It had been leaking and today the sole parted from the upper and had to be jerry-rigged together in order to finish the day's walk. This worked surprisingly well - a velcro armband and an extra boot lace. We were able to finish another 2 - 3 hours of walking and at Twice Brewed, our accommodation for the next two nights I "borrowed" some duct tape from the hotel to lash them together and they then lasted through another 3 and a half days of walking plus a day in Iceland the next week. 

I was a bit afraid that I would trip on this flap hanging down.

A bit better look

Hole in the heel too.

This is the boots after repair. I did both of them so they would look the same and also because I did not trust that the left boot would stay intact.

Lessons Learned:

1. Bring a pair of boots that is between 6 and 12 months old, no younger, no older.

2. Add a roll of duct tape to list of emergency supplies to carry in backpack. If I don't need it, somebody else might. 

This was Day 4