June 14

Day 29 Newtown Farm to Gilsland

Yesterday’s stroll was quite enjoyable, in a mild and muted sort of way. The Hadrian’s Wall Way, in its early segment, is more of a notional Hadrian’s Wall Way. The wall’s presence is felt by the names of villages and the presence of small signs plus markings on an Ordnance Survey map. Today, however, all has changed.

One of the many pleasures of a trip like this is meeting complete strangers, people one is unlikely to meet ever again, people undertaking the same pleasurable pastime of strolling along in lovely countryside. I’m not sure which is the most fun, the scenery, the different local beers, the different nationalities of our fellow walkers, the villages through which we pass or the ridiculous silliness Janet and I seem to manage. We have enjoyed running around at kissing gates where there is a cattle grid and refusing to do the job properly.

Anyway, on with the trip. We ate a delicious, plentiful breakfast and learned about our fellow guests from DC and New York then made our way, unencumbered by heavy packs, through the farmyard and out to the grassy banks of the wall.

The signpost in the picture below is not significant in any way except that it was where we broke through the 300 miles barrier. We still have 300 miles more to do and, I expect, quite a few miles after that as well. Our course is erratic for a number of reasons, lack of accommodation, lack of footpaths and interesting detours. Nevertheless 300 miles is a good start.

A coffee shop after just 2 miles of strolling was too convenient so we stopped for a swig and the convenient convenience. wandering out of the convenience as I entered was a fellow stroller we had seen the day before, one of two female friends walking as their husbands moved baggage and set up camp.
Having left the coffee shop in the village hall we met a couple from Belgium the man of this couple asked us about our opinions on the burning political question of the day. We were all in complete agreement on this subject and that of the political dilemma facing the citizens of the US.



The wall has been the star turn today. This section started well with low walls stretching out into the distance. Then there are the various ruins of towers and mile forts. I have taken many many many photos of wall today. I have managed to restrain my mural exuberance and posted just one or two examples of Roman relicry.

We enjoyed prandium in open air splendour. What would this building have been like in the years after 122?

I have included the photo below not because it makes Janet and I look lovely, in fact our tightly cinched waist belts accentuate our mature forms in an alarming manner. No, the reason I have included the photo is to remind me of the lovely group of four from New Orleans the man of which had encountered a shoe failure the previous evening. Being an inventive and financially prudent man he had got hold of some duct tape and taped the upper and the sole together thus enabling him to continue in comfort.



A fellow stroller, a civil engineer by profession, reminded us with enthusiasm of the bridge in the photo below. He was astonished at the skills of the ancient Romans in building this bridge. The ruins do no justice to the majesty of the original structure. As we ate supper together in the pub we not only discused the beer but how the viaduct must have been built. It is fascinating to get the eye of an enthusiastic expert to bear on these ruins.

So there it is, a wonderful day. Perfect walking weather, lovely companions from time to time and a very comfortable bed in which to sleep.

For many many years we have intended to stroll among these walls, forts, signal towers and fortifications. They are as wonderful as I hoped that they would be. Birdoswald fort is magnificent but it is the wall, all 80 miles of it, that is the star and which steals the show.


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Posted June 14, 2016 by admin in category "Week 5 Newtown Farm to Melrose


  1. By Matt Clarke on

    Sheila and greatly enjoyed walking HW back in 1983, starting the day after the general election! Looks like you’re heading for ‘A South of Scotland Way’ to link up to the start of the WHW. I can recommend Rowarden YH on the shores of Loch Lomond when you get to the WHW. Bon voyage.

    1. By admin (Post author) on

      Spot on Matt, Housesteads today. A bit off route but worth it I hope.

  2. By SueJells on

    I so agree about the magnificence of the Wall, though my experience of it was some years ago andore mechanised. I am quite in envy of the intimate acquaintance you are experiencing and your weather also looks much more appealing tham ours just at present. I await tomorrow’s installment with eagerness!


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