Hadrian’s Wall – Day Four – heads down and just keep going…

Before we begin this fascinating foray into Day Four (and I do hope you have been saying that in your best “Big Brother” stylee :}) I would like to apologise… I didn’t actually make any notes for Day Four… The reasons for this are many and varied but I am sure that when you get to the end of this fascinating and remarkably erudite episode you will understand why….

Ok, let’s get this over with… Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you: Day Four…

Day Four began much like each of the others on The Wall…  With a soft whimpering as Our Hero tries to find a dignified way to exit a top bunk with a knee that will not take his weight and a general feeling of fatigue that would’ve felled a lesser man…

That’s right, gentle reader, Our Hero was feeling his age this grey and murky morning… “Oh how can it be?” I hear you cry… “How can this perfect specimen of earlobe and baby toes be feeling so bad?” I know, my darlings, I know… but we’ve got to face it, I am getting a few months past thirty now and even us paragons of laziness can only hold out so long… But despair not, Our Hero has still got “it” in him… Praise Him…

Ok so, breakfast was a little different this morning, not only were we trying gallantly to work our way through a cold full English each (Our hostess explaining all the while that she had forgotten one of our breakfasts yesterday, having left it in the oven… Our Hero nods amiably as he tries to masticate through what he firmly believes to be that self-same breakfast) but between each mouth full we are all engaged in the intricate dance that was readying our lunches and Tea for the day, ensuring we have back-packs and tissues whilst trying to pack up all of our belongings (keeping a ready eye out for that elusive charger), load the car, clean the common room and pay the bill… All in less than half the time it has taken us to do less than half of the things we are doing on previous days… It’s all change today folks, for after dropping Our Hero and his …. Oh com’n man, you gotta though’ of a name by now righ’?… I’ve been trying… I really have… and the only one that has come to mind is… The Matador.

Yeah, That works. That conjures up images of Strong, Virile young men with hundreds of drooling admirers, welcomed in every tavern, dreamed of by maidens and matrons alike, looks good is skin-tight pink pants, able to face certain death in the face, face to face so to speak, with a sneer and twist of moustache…

Yeah, yeah ok, let’s get back to it yeah? {Pink Pants? Ed.} Yeah, alright… get over it yeah? Ok… So… er… yeah… Ohyeah, so today the Magical Mystery Trio are upping sticks and setting up their bivouac at the other end of The Wall… That’s right folks, today we are going for it, push on to the end…

At least, I think that’s the plan… We did all discuss it last night, but discussions that are had post dinner look a bit different pre breakfast… I know that at the time of discussion we were all stood in clouds of petrol vapour, having a quick hippy moment and measuring distances out on an old map with our fingers… (I did mention I am a complete novice at this walking in the countryside thing didn’t I?) I know that I for one was in that state of being only achievable whilst experiencing a full stomach, your hair still damp from a warm and welcoming shower and an evening in good company… Yesterday had been hard going  for all of us… Lack of Prep was most definitely making its neglect felt on Our Hero and I’m sure that The Matador was feeling more than he was letting on but like all the best Side-kicks  (The Tick, Night-Owl, Batman, Tech-Knight, Sgt Colon, Dan Dare, Asterix.. You get what I mean) he was probably holding it all stoically inside so as not to embarrass Our Hero… I know that our (Lone) Angel was feeling the absence of Our Entertainments Officer and Our Co-Pilot quite deeply… And truth to tell, So was Our Hero… Although considering the terrain our Diabolic Duo had been traversing over the past few days we wouldn’t have been able to have our entertainments officer along without a fifteen man medical team on constant stand-by and having installed stair-lifts on some of the trickier slopes…

And sorely as her presence was missed during our various Bovine encounters (no Brown 833 would’ve stood in her way, not with the whole herd behind him) we all knew that Our Co-Pilot was better off where she was and not rescuing grown men from amorous and/or belligerent  Bovines 🙂 ❤

Please bear (bare? well maybe… it depends on who’s asking really) with me… This one is not as easy to write as previous instalments…. I’ll tell you what… Have a look at a nice picture for a few seconds while I make Tea and collect my thoughts… BRB…

RUUUUUNNNNNN!!!!

(c) Dom Kingsmill-Stocker 16/9/11

Ok so here we go… Did you like that picture by the way?  Takes a good photo does our Dom (even when he’s not supposed to :)) So yeah, where were we? Yeah, so… so today we started (as we had done on the other days) at the point where we had stopped the evening previous… This time at the Roman Army Museum, a place that left us agog, agape and amazed…

In approximately 2 hours we have taken a “3D” flight over the length of the wall, Been recruited into the Roman Army – though I did have my fingers crossed when we took the oath, Relaxed with an Auxiliary unit, and seen some of the rarest Roman finds anywhere in the world… and negotiated the smallest Gents door outside of Barbie’s Night Club… But much as Our Hero’s body complains, we have to be back on The Wall. It’s about one pm and Carlisle is a Long way off yet….

Day 4

(c) Simon Price-Johnson 16.9.11

The low cloud cover and constant drizzle are a match to Our Hero’s mood as he returns to the Hadrian’s Wall Path…

Heavy of heart and limb is Our Hero on this day, dear reader… He know’s the plan… he know’s this was all his idea… he know’s that to fail would eat at him more than a stoner with a crate of Jaffa Cakes… But. But he also knows that to actually make it to Carlisle in his present state was practically impossible.

Also playing on his mind is that underneath all the brilliantness, Beyond-the-Callness and general all-round amzingness of (Lone) Support Angel, the days spent alone and tired are getting to her. This vacation has not turned out as planned and Our Hero can feel some cracks beginning to form…

The Wall is beside us almost constantly again but this time it just passes in a blur… Oh how I wish I could say from the speed we were covering the trail but it was more the desire to get to the end… Heads down, feet pumping we pushed on… Snatching photos in those brief moments when we stopped for breath or passed a mile marker or something other than The Wall caught our attention… Today there would be no messing about with Bulls, we were to push on through them and woe betide any that did not stand aside… Though conversation was intermittent, it wasn’t so absent as to lower our morale to politician levels of blame-throwing… Actually dearest reader, maybe you could answer me a question (and please don’t tell me to google it because then I would know and you would not and that is just knowledge wasted), so can you tell me – If a Cow is Bovine and a Sheep is Ovine, What is a Goat?

Ok, so that was one of the questions raised on this day of questions and contradictions… Another was: How could we cross the same railway track twice when we have both been going in a fairly straight path? Or how about; What was it about our Victorian forebears that made them think being cold, damp and in the middle of nowhere was a good basis for where to build a Spa?

This is not to say that The Wall cannot still throw up some surprises…  At Poltross Burn Mile Castle 48 we find the last few original in-situ steps in any Castle or Fort along the wall – also still visible is the bottom of the oven upon which the troops stationed there would’ve cooked their meals…

Another Mile Castle

(c) Simon Price-Johnson 16.9.11

As well as some sections that still stand taller than Our Heroes…

No, please don't start nibbling there...

(c) Simon Price-Johnson 16.9.11

A few sheep that didn’t soil themselves as soon as they saw us but were actually quite friendly…

The chance to walk through not one but two private gardens (which must be a real Joy during the summer months)…

and as if that wasn’t enough to slow us down and keep us engaged with the experience we found this…

A Bridge, believe it or not

(c) Simon Price-Johnson 16.9.11

The remnants of the Roman Bridge over the River Irthing… A sight that was both awe-inspiring and a little sphincter puckering… I say that because the notice board that accompanied this 18 centuries old structure informed us that we would be able to follow this section of The Wall/Bridge down to the water’s edge but that we would then have to double back as the Bridge had collapsed many years ago and never been replaced.. well all I can say, the people who write these things should go out and inspect their sites occasionally… Because just around the corner was this…

The millenium bridge

(c) Simon Price-Johnson 16.9.11

Put in place in 1999 to celebrate something or other….

I think that by this point the pace of today and the trials of the last few were really beginning to tell upon both of us…

Hills and fields, Bullocks and Bogs, Rain and exhaustion were beginning to lose their appeal…

Even the delicious Tea (and sneakily eaten James’ Cake ™) at Birdowald Fort only revived us enough to reach the last vestiges of the visible Wall just a mile or two down the road at Banks East turret 52…

Having received the call he had been dreading way back before the river, Our Hero had made his decision… Today would be his last day Walking the Wall… Whether the Dynamic Duo reached Carlisle or not… I would not be doing another step along it after we finish tonight… It was not an easy decision to make and telling The Matador almost took more strength than Our Hero felt he had in him but His Lady Love had hit her own wall and needed him to help get her over it…

Much as he berated himself for it, feeling the growing conviction that he had wimped out, let his friend down and generally made a mess out of the whole thing, Our Hero knew he had made the right choice… Even as the physical distance between the two increased (so that they were no longer two compadre side by side against the Wall but were more lowly foot soldier tramping after his staff Sargeant) the knowledge that tomorrow would not be like today both relieved and hurt…

With the path now on tarmac almost as much as across grass, blisters that had been silent for most of the past two days again began to make themselves known… As a CityBoy I never thought I’d hear myself say it but I actually began to physically dislike tarmac… It’s hard and unforgiving,  it hints at towns and crossings, buildings and noise, glimpses of sky and ringing phones… These roads told us (whether they passed country cottages or hedgerows) that soon our journey would be at an end… Oh How I hated that tarmac!!!

Climbing the last hill into Newtown was the hardest stretch of the entire four days… As the heavens opened and the gloom of a wet September evening settled in Our Heroes raised our noses to the wind and tried catching a hint of the brewers art… Alas we were to be denied the pleasures of the tap-room while still reasonably dry enough to enjoy to its fullest extent… A passing local kindly informs us that a hostelry is to be had but that it is about a mile and a half out of our way… Down the hill and turn right… And as we stand there beside the way marker that points across the fields, promising more fields, bogs, tarmac, stiles, cows and aching muscles before finally reaching Carlisle – our clothes becoming nothing more than clammy and uncomfortable extra weight I feel an even bigger heal than I have for the past few hours when I tell my stalwart and seemingly indefatigable companion that I would rather take the certainly of the pub down the hill over the possibility of one in the next village over… I am done. Finished. I don’t know how far away Carlisle is – the last sign-post I’d seen had said 12 miles but that could’ve been ten miles back or just two hundred yards… I just didn’t know, but in truth it didn’t matter… Just down that hill was a pub and all that entailed… All I had to do was make it down that hill without covering at least half its length on my face…

See Our Heroes shivering under the smokers awning outside the Salutation Inn, trying to stave off the worst of the horizontal rain by hunching shoulders and cursing. It’s twenty past five on a Friday night and the pub is locked up tighter than a crusader’s virginal sister… But what’s this? A pretty lady pulling into the car park… Dashing from her car to the door, miming opening up… and as the clock strikes half past we squelch dejectedly into the bar…

Time to call Tina… and arrange what’s going to happen tomorrow…

The Salli Inn

(c) Dom Kinsmill-Stocker 17.9.11

Ok, that’s it… That’s all you are getting for now… I know we’ve got to finish but I just can’t right now… I will write the final part… if not tomorrow then the day after…

As always, if you wish to relive this journey through the eyes of our Side-kick The Matador then please click:…er...Here.

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2 comments on “Hadrian’s Wall – Day Four – heads down and just keep going…

  1. Pingback: Hadrian’s Wall – 5th Night – Walltown Quarry to Salutation Inn, Irthington « RED BARON'S WORDS

  2. “conjures up images of Strong, Virile young men with hundreds of drooling admirers, welcomed in every tavern, dreamed of by maidens and matrons alike, looks good is skin-tight pink pants, able to face certain death in the face, face to face so to speak, with a sneer and twist of moustache…”

    I am hoping this is how people will see it, and not as some Spanish dick who irritates bulls for a living before callously killing them for their understandable rage. However even for me the merest thought of me in skintight pink pants has the gag reflex called into action.

    For someone who didn’t make notes you have a great deal more detail and accuracy than the person who wrote his the same night. I’m going to blame that on the somewhat befuddled state I was in on that occasion. You should see what I had to delete! The only area of detail where I think I was more comprehensive than you was the referrals to the lovely Vicky. I think your description was florid and poetic, mine was of far greater lustiness and more than a little sinister!

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