Day 1 Bowness= On= Solway to Carlisle 14 miles
We left the Swallow Hilltop at 9.00 to catch the bus to Bowness On Solway to start the walk. After a slight misunderstanding by the local bus driver involving being dropped off at a bus sop instead of the bus station, we were rescued by another local bus driver who drove us to the bus station to catch the Hadrian's Wall bus. While we were waiting, another couple turned up to also do the walk- an Australian guy, originally from Broken Hill, then from Darwin, living in Edinburgh, and a German lady living in Vienna!!! When we arrived in Bowness, we went to the Official Start which is a Gazebo with a sign above the gate welcoming you to the start on 1 side , and congratulating you on finishing it on the other. There was also some information about the wall and walk. We set off very enthusiastically. The previous day, we had enquired about the high tide times as the first section warns about high tides that can cut off the walk, but had been reassured that we would be fine. We had also checked out the signs that told you how far under water the road was at certain points. As we walked that day, we were amused by how low the tide was - we could hardly see the water as it was so far out!!! There was a lot of walking on the actual road that day, some walking through muddy fields, and a long section along the river where we were walking along narrow muddy paths above the river. That day, apart from our new friends, we saw more people walking the walk the other way. The walk finished up that day in Carlisle, walking through parklands with grazing sheep. Sam talked to everyone we met as we were walking, much to the amusement of Rosa and Phil. That evening we drove to our next accommodation - Brookside Villa B&B in Gilsland, where we were booked in for 3 nights on a package that included all meals, as well as pick up and drop off each day for the walk. When I say meals, that is an understatement!!! 3 course gourmet meals for tea, full English breakfast, and magnificent rolls and fruit for packed lunch.!!
Day 2 Carlisle to Walton 11 miles
Denise dropped us off in Carlisle in the park where we had finished the previous day, The walk continued through the river park. Sam continued talking to everyone he met. A school group were walking along the path, and as a group of girls approached Rosa and I, a girl was repeating what Sam had said to her in a copy of Australian accent to her friends - "G'day girls, how are ya?" - we knew who had spoken to them!!! The path then returned to walking through fields- some of it a path mown by volunteers.
At lunchtime we found our first self service food stop at High Crosby Farm. There was a small cabin with a selection of snacks, coffee and tea on an honesty payment basis. After we had eaten our lunch and bought a few snacks, we discovered a hotel that welcomed walkers, but was like To The Manor Born!! - even had ladies in blue linen suits on reception and offered high tea!!! Would have loved to have participated, but needed to move on and get the walk done. Later we found another self service centre - this time just a box. At one stage, we walked past a house, chatted with the lady out front, and then ended up walking through her back yard, where we met her again, taking the washing in!!!
As we walked through our last field before being picked up by Denise, we met a farmer with a Jack Russell terrier, improving his hedge - Europe pays him 2000 pounds to keep it thick for the wildlife preservation.
Back to Brookside Villa for another gourmet meal.
Day 3 Walton to Caulfields Quarry 14 miles
After a breakfast of whiskey porridge we set off enthusiastically once again. We saw a lot more people walking the Walk today, both ways. The middle section of the walk has the most Roman remains so is the most popular for people who are doing sections. It began to rain so we stopped at Birdoswald Fort Museum for a coffee and to eat our packed lunch. Sam and I wandered around the Fort and went inside to check out the museum - we found out later that we were supposed to pay!!! After it stopped raining, we continued on until, just after crossing a railway line between trains, Rosa slipped and hurt her knee and ankle. As we were just ½ mile away from lour B&B, she and Phil went back to the villa and Sam and I continued. The track was really slippery and muddy, and at one stage went through someone's manicured front garden, then we climbed a really steep hill next to a ruined castle in the rain and poor light before arriving in Wallburn where the walk turned into a hellish trip!!! It was already 4.30 and Sam decided we were going to walk another 3 ½ miles up and down steep, muddy, rocky crags. The view was amazing and there was a lot of "Wall activity", but it was slow, hard work, getting dark, and not much fun for a vertigo sufferer, or for our marriage - I didn't talk to Sam for 1 ½ hours!!!!!! Phil picked us up at the quarry in the dark and we returned to yet another amazing meal produced by Denise. Rosa and Phil decided to continue travelling with us but not walk, due to Rosa's ankle, but were happy to be out taxi. We were disappointed that we were not going to be able to walk with them - particularly at that stage as I realised that I was now completely at Sam's mercy on the walk!!! But it ended up working out really well for us as they were able to drop and pick us up wherever we wanted each day, and also go ahead and book us all in to our accommodation each night, which we booked each night on my laptop. Often, They would meet us along the way and have lunch with us.
Day 4 Day off
We spent the day around the Hexham / Corbridge are where we were booked in to accommodation for the next 4 days. We had difficulty getting rooms for the Saturday night as it was mid term break and everyone was full. We eventually booked into the Station Inn at Hexham for 1 night, and 2 places in Corbridge - a really cute village nearby - for the next 3 nights. The Station Inn was run by a really friendly chap, but was a dive!! We had pigeons in the ceiling, peeling paper on the walls, the room stank of off water. Rosa and I quickly decided that we were not going to have a shower there at all!!! Sam and I wandered into Hexham city centre and bought some game meat pies fro our lunch the next day, and we all went to the movies that night, saw "UP", and had our first meal at at Witherspoons Pub - a chain of pubs thought UK.
Day 5 - 4th day of walk - Caulfields to Chollerford 14 miles
This was probably our worst day on the Walk. The whole day involved climbing up and down slippery, high crags, where we were walking along the edge of cliffs, very high up, and with an extremely ferocious wind (fortunately behind us) which pushed us along at a faster pace than was comfortable to walk, but also made it difficult to put your feet where you wanted to put them!!!. It also rained fairly heavily for most of the day, but was probably the most interesting part of the walk as well. We had to have out photo taken at the Robin Hood tree - Kevin Costner scene from the movie - before continuing along the wall, forts, turrets, milecastles etc. I spent most of the day being exhausted, aching all over and just wanting to get it over with - by that stage I was pretty much over the whole Roman history / wall thing!!! We planned to sit down and have a relaxed coffee at the Housesteads Roman Museum, but when we arrived, we discovered that there was not only no toilet, but also, only take away coffee to stand out in the rain enjoying unless we walked another ½ mile down to the visitor centre - which we decided eventually would be worth it - and it was. We sat inside while it pelted down with rain outside and semi dried ourselves by the single radiator, for about an hour before reluctantly braving the elements again. We seemed to have been walking forever when we found Phil and Rosa parked on the road next to the path with sandwiches, juice and chubba chubs for us. Hallelujah. We sat in the warm car to eat before unenthusiastically continuing the journey on foot. It was nearly dark again when Phil and Rosa picked us up in a car park out of Chollerford. Our room at the Lion Hotel Corbridge was lovely, as was the Black Bell pub where we had tea that night. It was a really hard day, but I felt a real sense of achievement, and was glad we did it, after I had recovered!!!
Day 6 - 5th day of walk - Chollerford to Robin Hood Hotel. 11 miles
It was hard work to get motivated about walking again today, but the weather was much better, and most of the track was near a road. There were quite a few hills to climb, but no horrible steep crags. The track went through woods, fields and paths below the road, and we crossed many more stiles. At the risk of sounding like a real whinger, I am soooo over stiles as well!!! When you are aching all over, having to climb slippery ladders and swing your leg over a wall, can just be he final straw!!! I much prefer the "kissing gates" that were more of a feature earlier in the walk and became less frequent east. We planned to stop at a tea room, but it was closed on Mondays!!! So continued on to Portgate (a Pub) where we had arranged to meet Phil and Rosa for lunch. We all arrived ½ hour earlier than planned to discover that it was also closed on Mondays - not our day - so They drove us to the Robin Hood Hotel for lunch and then back again to continue our walk. That day we finished back at the Robin Hood at 3.30 so had a coffee while waiting to be picked up. Our room at the Wheatsheaf Hotel, Corbridge had a huge bath and a 4 poster bed - what a luxury for the same price as the room a few nights ago!!!!
Day 7 - 2nd rest day - Rosa's birthday - 1 mile of Hadrian's walk
Today was all about Rosa!! We had a lovely day - went to a local Brewery Farm for a tour, lunch and a 3 mile walk (which included the next 1 mile of the walk), around the farm and woods looking for wildlife, and testing Rosa's ankle out, back for a bath, and then out to the amazing Valley Indian Restaurant in a Train Station - you could actually catch the train there and back if you wanted to. Phil and I shared a really hot vindaloo!!!
Day 8 - 6th day of walk - Reservoir to Newcastle -On -Tyne 10 miles
It was so much easier to get motivated to walk now that the end is nigh! The rest of the walk was mainly alongside the road with a few detours. Today we met Rosa and Phil at Heddon On the Wall for lunch, walked through a golf course, past a University league rugger and football event, along the River Tyne, Old Colliery Information Areas, and met Phil near the Motorway to be driven to our home away from home for the next 2 nights - the Kensington House Apartments. You have got to love laterooms.com- a 2 bedroom LUXURY apartment- 2 bathrooms, kitchen, dishwasher, lounge, large flatscreen TV with SKY etc , which usually costs $800 per night for about $100 per couple - less than the Station Inn Pigeon infested hotel!!!!! We spent the evening in, just loving it.
Day 9 - 7th and Final Day of Walk 9 miles - a stroll in the park
We got a late start - didn't want to leave the luxury!!, and followed the path along the river through Newcastle. The Quayside area is fantastic, and we stopped for a coffee at a window seat in the Quayside Café - another Witherspoons. (We found out later, that Phil and Rosa also stopped there for a coffee an hour later and sat in the same seat!!!) We asked a man walking past us about one of the many bridges we were walking under and he walked with us for a while and was a tour guide for the quayside area for us. We finally reached the end of the walk at Segenendum Roman Baths and Museum - a slight anticlimax as there is not ending point or sign to say you have arrived, or finished the walk, but we got a certificate from the Museum.
We celebrated the finish with a drink at the Billabong Aussie Pub and dinner at the Valley Indian sister Restaurant which was in a Signal Box / Train Carriage.