Hadrian’s Wall – Day Three – more steepy steep bits and more boggy bogs

As you may remember dear reader we ended our last instalment on a bit of a cliff-hanger….

Would Our Heroes be rescued from the delightfully charming and welcoming embrace of the Twice Brewed Inn? Would they like the third set of extra boarders that had the pleasure of sharing their digs tonight? Would the dream of a nice hot shower be enough to rouse them from the temptation of another pint? Would Our Hero like his new coat? Would it fit? What am I doing here reading this when I could be doing something infinitely more rewarding? Like sexing carrots? Or seeing how many times I can play frisbee with a plate from a display in Debenhams before they call the police? Or plotting a way to ensure that the pieces of tin-foil and glass that you just happened to coat in chocolate are sat in just the right, the most perfectly enticing place in the office from where your boss just can’t help grabbing a couple as they walk past?

Thank you for your forbearance, gentle reader, your patience is about to be rewarded (if you can call trawling through all this turgid prose and limp wit a reward…)

Ok read on But I must warn you that a combination of the pain endured and the fact that I’ve slept since may mean that some of my recollections may be a bit fuzzy….

We didn't hear this happening
(c) Tina Price-Johnson 13/9/11

As this photo hopefully illustrates, I don’t have much of a memory (or hearing apparently) because this happened on the night we arrived at our bunk-house… The tree was standing when we sat down to our evening meal but in its current position when we awoke on Day One… Our common room and bedroom were less than twenty feet away, facing it… I mention these lapses in memory and complete lack of awareness of surroundings in the hope that you will forgive any clashes and/or discrepancies of  recollections between Our Hero’s and his Side-kick’s Blogs 

As you may have guessed our (Lone) Support Angel did remove us from the clutches of the brewers craft and with much limping, groaning and general “FeelingOurAgeness” did we find ourselves back at our bunk-house… Truth to tell, I don’t remember much of that evening… I do remember the delicious Spag Bol (or was it an omlette) made by Dom… Actually, I have just been reminded by Her Long-suffering-ness that it was actually Pizza on this night… Spag Bol was the previous night and Omelette the following…{What would you do without her? Ed.}  I remember Dom speaking German with the nice Swiss lady (and her husband) that were sharing our common room that eve… I remember sharing Cake with these lovely people (and the lovely Swiss lady leaving the place even cleaner than it was when we arrived)… I remember a stolen Hippy moment in a laundry room that had just a bit too much petroleum vapour in the air to feel entirely safe… I don’t remember going to bed but I know I must’ve done because I remember feeling just as bad waking the next morning as I had getting back last night…

So here we have it: Day Three…

A slight change of pace for day three… Starting with how we broke our fast… On the two previous mornings we had entered the kitchen to find three partially prepared Full English’s waiting for us, today we awake to find two fully prepared dishes of same… With only minimal grumbling and a further lowering of spirits (Lone) Angel displays another of her many fantastic qualities and announces that as “the Boys” will be walking today, they can devour the protein filled repast set before them, while she will content herself with a bowl of cereal and a bananananananananananananana…

Soon (after we have ensured that flasks are fully stocked, cake evenly distributed and relevant areas of Our Heroes anatomies  liberally covered in Deep Heat) we are all packed and back on the road towards one of the high-lights of the trip, Vindolanda. As we rocket along the tarmac at speeds often in excess of 50 mph we can’t help but wonder at the terrain and distance we had covered the day before… Before long we are turning off the arrow straight Roman Road and onto a series of medieval successors – twisty turny things that lead us (within about 20 minutes of opening) to Vindolanda. Optimistically we purchase tickets that will allow us entry into both Vindolanda and the Roman Army Museum further along The Wall. Now confirmed as our destination for that day.

Isn't She Beautiful xx
(c) Simon Price-Johnson 15.9.11

I can tell you now, patient reader, we were not unimpressed by this fantastic site. So entranced were we with this place we probably spent longer there than we had allowed for. Not that we couldn’t have spent longer there but we did have a Wall to walk. But that was for later, for now we had a Roman Fort and all its associated archeology to explore… Oh and how we explored it… Climbing the reconstructed Roman Fortifications… Photographing Latrines… Walking along the roads laid by the Invaders… Finding the hidden sculptures in the Roman Gardens… Our trusty Side-kick making an impassioned plea within the Temple of Nymphs… Reading letters sent nearly 2000 years ago (not just copies but the actual letters!!!) Generally soaking up the atmosphere to such an extent that Our Hero (probably as a result of pain filled hallucinations) could almost hear the sounds of life on the Frontier. the Horses, the Hawkers, the Soldiers, the Bakers, the Barked Orders, the Drunken Tavern Patrons… All the life and sounds that make up a thriving community…

After a quick Brunch and obligatory trip to the gift shop we are ready to leave (Just after Dom gets a couple of shots of the rather pretty archeologists)…

Another quick round of photographs and a nicotine top-up and we are off to our starting point for today… Ok, I’m sorry, it should’ve been right then left, not left then right…  quick turn around in this car park… Ah yes, up this hill and we will get going from the car-park…

Our Heroes start on Day Three
(c) Tina Price-Johnson 15/9/11

You may not be able to see it in the accompanying photo but Our Hero is currently striding forth from the car park at Steel Riggdressed (rather nattily) in his brand new and snuggly warm coat. Another example of (Lone) Support Angel going above and beyond ❤ {And if that doesn’t work you are going to look a completeNerk. Ed [Don’t care, they will all know what I mean.]} 

Striding forth was quite easy at this point… buoyed by our morning soaked in the lives of those that lived along the wall, we were renewed in our vigour to walk again in the footsteps of those that worked The Wall (or maybe that was just the memories of the painted nymphs in the temple). Besides it couldn’t be any worse than Day Two. Could it? Well, of course you are now expecting me to say that it was hell man… like real torture… I’m sure if my knees could talk they would probably say just that but as I did back on The Wall, I’m ignoring my knees. Back then because I had just had some rather welcome pain relief and now – well for pretty much the same reason 🙂

It’s almost two o’clock. Our Heroes have lost almost four hours already but they are not deterred. Oh no, Just look at the determined length of those strides, those strides will last for many miles yet. The wall has thrown its worst at us. We know this instinctively.

The more observant among you will have noticed that I refer to myself as a City Boy. City Boy – Instincts?. Like Feck!!!!

“But we did the hilly bits yesterdayyyyy?!!!” I can hear the five-year old inside of me crying. Hadrian’s Wall Path, the trek that keeps on giving.  Through the bright sunny day (yeah I know, oh the irony) do Our Heroes push on. We are to meet her most radiant (Lone) Support Angel at four of the post meridian clock at the Roman Army Museum just seven miles hence (by the road signs). Two hours that will just fly past. “But We Did The Hilly Bits Yesterday!!!” I can hear the five-yearold within me getting louder as the Crags get steeper. And Boggier. I mean, how does that work? We are on top of the crags and the ground is boggier than the lowlands near the road? I mean seriously, we really should have a word with whoever is meant to be maintaining this poor benighted planet. I’ve read (well chewed) science books. I Know water is meant to run down hills. Not sit at the top conspiring with the mud to steal shoes. That’s just bad management that is. I bet the problem was just handed over to a bunch of consultants that took the fee and ran. No-one’s to blame because no-one was responsable…. These frequent and persistent area’s of Mother Earth with an almost fetish-like desire for footwear did give rise to an important observation. Whenever Our Hero and his Side-kick reached these noisome boils Our Hero would go around towards the left whilst Side-kick (Must think up a Proper Side-kick name…. ummm Suggestions please?) would move right… You can imagine the response when Our Hero raised this point…

Bizarrely enough, it is through this most frustrating and stupefying section of terrain that Our Hero finds his spirits most lifted. Banter is frequent and diverting. Don’t believe any-one that may claim we grumbled from start to finish 😉 especially not me 🙂 We laughed quite a bit on this journey (and not all of it had a manic edge)…

Blimey, we did all that?
(c) Simon Price-Johnson 15.9.11

As we approach the summits of these Crags (Never did quite get their local name) we can look back and pretend to ourselves we covered worse ground yesterday. What our gallant heroes have failed to appreciate is that they were already near the highest point when we started today and that the descents will be hellish. Even when we spot a Microlite flying along below us does their altitude not  intrude upon Our Hero’s perception of the path ahead. Like I said; CityBoy Instincts (yes i could probably spot a mugger at 100 yards [or 18 inches whichever is the lesser] but take me away from street lighting and flushing toilets for more than twenty minutes and I become the bloke that you want to smack senseless for most of the film who then has the moist pointless, but actually rather amusing death – probably involving running through a door that now leads to the outside world 60 stories up – five minutes before the real hero leads the rest of the survivors to safety).

The landscape around us and the thought of all those legionnaires building this thing with only hand tools and string inspire us to continue on though. Even when we are offered the choice of an easier path we opt for reaching the peaks. We were men! We drank beer and had facial hair… we were going to do this properly… Nothing was going to stop us…

Brown 833!!!!! even now does his demonic countenance fill my few uneasy hours of restless sleep….

Picture the scene:- Our two brave and adventuresome heroes, armed with only a camera each and a thermos are reaching yet another ladder after quite a long climb through some particularly persistent brown and green, first they negotiate thedepthless pool of  extra soft brown and with a quip and a hurried search for somewhere to put a foot without it disappearing up to the knee, they are over. “My, those cows look Big”… Now we had encountered many forms of wildlife on our journey so far. Well, cows and sheep. But we had faced them and survived. We had caused ewes to wet themselves. Negotiated safe passage through the territory of frankly gangland bovines. I tell you folks, those things looked like they regretted not wearing hoodies. We had even stared down rams from a distance of no more than twenty feet. We were hardened. And desperate (two litres of builders tea and no flushing toilets remember). But these cows, no These Bulls looked BIG. And not entirely differential. Now I’ve read my ladybird book of bible stories. I know that all of the animals were put on this earth to do mans bidding, but I don’t think Brown 833 has got that far yet.

First of all, him and a couple of his cronies decide to nonchalantly move onto the slightly browner stripe through the field that is the path. All facing us. As I said, we were old hand at this “dealing with wildlife” thing now and we know that when a member of the bovine quadruped group wants to move away from you fast (for a given value of fast) they make a jump towards you before turning tail and lumbering away. Ensuring we are ready for this we both take a step or two back. Brown 833 seizes his chance and saunters into the space we have just vacated. Honestly folks, I don’t know how Dom got back over that ladder so fast with me practically climbing his back. And here we now stand, doubled up with laughter and unwilling to even attempt the ladder. Brown 833 moves closer. Our mind turn to emergency flares and rescue helicopters. An ignoble end to our proud endeavour. But wait, Dom had made promises to the Nymphs of the Temple. And now our benefactors were smiling upon us. Yes, alright we did at first attempt to distract Brown 833 and his fellow field tuffs bypromising that we wouldn’t make a fuss if they savaged the two women coming across the field behind them. We did agree not to say anything to the polis or anyone… Whether they were sent from Mt Olympus or come from the antipodes (much more likely considering their accents) these two marvelous apparitions saved our lives that day. And we didn’t even get their names or find where to send flowers… Heads down we limped across that field with our nemesis’ face imprinted forever on our psyches…

About to almost to go arse over tit
(c) Dom Kingsmill-Stocker 15/9/11

With our path now heading in a generally downward direction we sometimes found it easier to walk along the wall itself. Or at least a lot more satisfying. We will have to rearrange our ETA with (Lone) Angel though, having just checked my watch and found that at 3.45 we won’t be meeting her at our rendezvous point at 4. We can’t even see the place from where we are. More slopes and steps pass. Our hero struggles on through the pain, slower now but not yet prepared to admit defeat.

At Mile Castle 42 – I think, or that may be the place where the grumpy sod at the top of the hill begrudged my fellow venturer and I having another cup of tea just because he wanted to get a photo without people in it. Anyway, wherever it was, nature’s various demands could no longer be denied… Tea, Cake and the release of pressure followed… Our Side-kick’s suggestion that I should show more respect quite obviously led to various Monty Python quotes… Oh go on, I dare you to walk The Wall and not make one or two…

A quick glance at my watch shows we are making great time, despite the increasingly vertigo inducing angle of the downward path… steps are both welcome and hazardous… The journey begins to take on a timeless quality… just one teeth-clenching step down after another… another treacherous change of footing after another… mud, rock, grass to rock to mud to rock to bog to grass to mud…

Before us we can see water…

So peacefull
(c) Simon Price-Johnson 15/9/11

And Buildings?… Yes, they are buildings… We have done it… We are down… we have done it.. we have reached the end of the Crags and it’s only 3.45 we’ve still time to….. Hold on!! Did you say 3.45? Damn!! How long has my watched been stopped?  Well, whats the time now? Ten past Five? Oh hell, Guess I had better call Tina… “Hello Darling, you’ll never guess what happened…. No Darling, no I don’t think we are going to get to see the museum today… Yes Darling, I can appreciate you have been sitting there for nearly two hours… We’re not far now, we should be just around the corn..OhShit!!!

fuck me not more
(c) Simon Price-Johnson 15/9/11

Yeah, er Darling, we may have one or two more hills to go but we will be with you soon… Love you”

Thankfully this pretty much was our last hill… Descending from the final was almost an anticlimax… Over the past few hours each previous descent had been excruciating, unpredictable and quite {read very. Ed} steep… It was almost a stroll down to the notice board at Walltown Crag Turret… As we reached the bottom and voted to stop for a much-needed Rosie, Our Heroes watched as a group of casually dressed twonks got out of a Jag and strolled up to the turret… As we tucked into Our James’ Cake ™ we smugly watched them saunter around for a while before one of them trotted down to said Jag… The other three, with hands in pockets and surely no idea of the hell awaiting them begin to saunter away over the hills… Chuckling to themselves Our Heroes returned to the path… Less than ten minutes later… “Yes. That’s definitely Tina, I recognise our car…” I think at 5.50 pm the museum might just be closed… Oh well, there’s always tomorrow…

If you would like to read Our Stalwart Side-kick’s thoughts on this epic journey click: Here.

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2 comments on “Hadrian’s Wall – Day Three – more steepy steep bits and more boggy bogs

  1. Yet another brilliant entry. Food, for clarification was:
    Day 1 – Lasagne, delivered from “the bloke 2 miles away who might do deliveries, but you’d better call before 6.30; good luck with the mobile reception”
    Day 2 – Dom’s delish Spag Bol
    Day 3 – Pizza (which we didn’t get charged for, despite threats to do so, us having thought it was abandoned by previous Bunkhousers as per my previous experience in hostels when in fact it was left by Sandra Part 1, the Landlady)
    Day 4 – Omelette (a team effort)
    Day 5 – Dom’s delish Spag Bol, the sequel
    Day 6 – Best pub food in the land ever, ever, ever at the Salutation Inn (home of Dom’s dream woman) ((well, one of them))

  2. Pingback: Hadrian’s Wall – 4th Night – Twice Brewed Inn to Walltown Quarry « RED BARON'S WORDS

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