If you were wanting to walk across England then wouldn’t you choose the shortest path? If you were a Roman emperor wanting to build a wall to defend your English territory against the Scots then wouldn’t you choose the shortest cross-island route? Well, Emperor Hadrian built such a wall from Bowness-to-Newcastle in the far north of England and we walked along its length. We walked Hadrian’s Wall.
Please don’t think that my cousin Dallas and I walked 84 miles atop a wall. We didn’t. There are only a few miles remaining of the original wall. While pieces are scattered along it’s length the bulk of what remains is in the middle. There are many turrets and milecastles and forts and castles to see along the way but by far the best portions lie along the middle two days’ walk of our six day adventure.
Bucking the trend encouraged by the structure of the official National Trail Guide, we chose to walk from west-to-east. So that we could travel light and travel quickly, we used a sherpa service to move our bags from one night’s accommodations to the next. This service also took care of booking our nights at places ranging from a few B&Bs to a Microbrewery Inn to a Traditional English Pub. They were a great variety of comfortable, clean places where each morning we were provided a large English breakfast. Quite memorable.
Much of the walk was a simple pastoral stroll along fences and roads. Guiding us were markers of the National Trail, small plaques with an insignia of an acorn. These became our visual fixation as we could veer off course if we weren’t attentive but by following their lead we made progress. Our daily distance was predetermined by where we had our next night’s reservation. We hunkered down, dropped into a rhythm, and got to know each other.
The best of the walk was during the middle two days. This stretch is through a national park and has the most concentration of visible wall. Of the original 84 miles of wall, only 12 miles remain and the vast majority of this is found along this middle length of 30 miles. Add to the mix that our weather was perfect for walking, for viewing the wall and the park and for taking pictures. These two days are the memories I’ll treasure the most.
After six days and 84 miles we found ourselves at the aptly named Wallsend. There, with sore feet but a swelled sense of accomplishment, we had our picture taken with a remnant of the end of Hadrian’s Wall. Was it worth it? Absolutely! Not only did we do something very memorable but we built a friendship. Both I value highly.
Below are pictures from our walk.