I had an emotional breakdown August 2016. I decided to walk the whole of Hadrian’s wall over 5 days to challenge myself mentally and physically. Also to raise money for Beresford Centre Newport. Beresford Center encouraged me to talk my past out of me.
Monday 11th September at 7 15am I flew from a very stormy wet Bristol airport and at 7 50am I arrived in sunny Newcastle. Where I began my walk on Hadrian’s Wall.
Wearing walking trousers, fleecy hoody, blue beeny, coat wrapped round my waist. On my back my old faithful back pack.
Inside the back pack
Two Books titled Hadrian’s wall” by Henry Steadman, “Notes from Walnut Farm” by Roger Deaking and my journal
Two tops, 1 pair of leggings, 1 trousers and waterproof trousers
underwear for 5 days, 2 pairs of socks and a nighty,
Pair of fat face sandals,
Small first aid kit, compass, torch and my water bottle.
For the first leg of my walk I have no photos the Luddite in me accidentally deleted the photos. I was devastated then I got a grip and thought of when I walked. Exmoor, Snowden North Cornwall, Somerset coast and part of Offa’s Dyke without a camara or phone.
Monday September 11th 10am
The real walk starts at Heddon on the Wall, behind the Three Tun pub. Changed into my shorts at the petrol station toilet. The roaring B6528 brought me to farm fields. Where I saw a dead Hare. I have only ever seen one live Hare, off Lavernock point 1991. Through a wooded glade and unusual sheep. I had not eaten since 3 30am I stopped at the Robin Hood pub where there was lovely greeting from the landlady. I ordered some food, four Dutch ladies looking slightly flushed came in wearing huge back packs. I felt for them then realised they were young and fit. I chatted with an elderly punter named Ian. Ian was riddled with arthritis. He shook my hand and I made my way. Between Robin Hood pub and Halton Chesters I came across a trig point built into the wall surrounded by brambles. onto an open space beauty with stunning views. I saw four walkers picnicking. I took their photo and they took mine. They also asked me to join them. I declined and made way towards Chollerford. Following the military road. Reaching St Oswald church I made a mistake. I followed two walkers and not the sign. The two walkers were ahead of me so I followed but unbeknown to me they were inside the church. I do not do churches or religion. After walking quarter of a mile I saw the two coming from the church. I sighed in frustration and retraced my steps. I saw the sign post. Down through a very busy lane brought me to Cholloerford and The George Hotel.
My room had a bath, pour luxury. After a good soak I cat napped. Went down stairs for my meal while waiting I looked at the days photos and deleted them. I was horrified the lovely bar man named Lewis tried to retrieve my photos alas all 18 photos had gone. Lovely meal went out to look at the North Tyne River what a beaut.
The view from my room.
George Hotel is a fairly posh hotel, expensive £80 but it was the only place I could book at the time. Penny, Barnupus and Lewis were a credit to the owners of the George hotel.
Tuesday 12th September
Slept well up with sunshine fed and watered I left Chollerford at 7 40am wearing shorts. 4 miles later autumn nipped at me calf’s. Changed into my trousers. Came across many of these stair stiles that I was not keen on. Reason being I am built like a Welsh mountain goat sturdy, strong, little arms and short legs.
Brocolitia Fort and the stiles I liked.
The views took my breath away physically and mentally. Now the real walk starts.
Met three women from Bowness they had never walked Hadrian’s wall before. I took their photo they took mine. They were really impressed by my pink walking coat. In the back ground of the photo is Bromlee Lough. The weather was cold with showers in between. My eyes and nose were streaming but my man’s size hankie was always at hand.
Amazing views I now I had to walk the back of the wall. It was like walking the equivalent of the wild Cornish coast and West Wales. Up down in out, a Jezebel of a walk. I stopped to eat and drink watched bull finches catch flies and cloud sheep shaving the earth then dance with the sun. Walking up the steep path, head down backside up load of Scottish children were coming the other way. They stopped to let the stooping Welsh mountain goat through.
I turned off at Cawfield Quarry and my mile walk up a tarmac lane with drizzle trickling my face. Pass the Mile Castle pub and the Bridgehouse B & B. I am a very keen walker with tremendous stamina, the walk hurt me, right to the marrow. Very clean and clinical B& B run by Angie and Norman. Nice ornaments with sayings on. I had a large room with shower en suite. Showered and cat napped. Made my way to the very busy Mile Castle pub busy with walkers, tourists and locals. Nice young waitress named Jasmin. The woman in charge of the pub was rude and aggressive. I ordered starter pate and a curry, assuming it was an Indian curry. The curry was not Indian. It was Chinese I am allergic to oyster and soy sauce that is used in Chines curry. I told the aggressive woman who proceeded to ignore me. I spoke to her again explaining why. She stood there hands on hips and said it’s not chinese. I replied “I think it is”. She snatched the food and stormed off into the kitchen. Then came out with smug look and said it is not Chinese it is Malaysia. I just looked at her and said I cannot eat it.
What do you want?
I said a chilli.
“Are you sure that’s spicy you do not like spicy food”
Dear reader I had just walked 21 miles I was tired and hungry I replied.
“I am not allergic to spicy food”. She then said you ought to careful what you order in here in future. I sighed and said I have never been in this area or you pub before. The chef was by the bar she asked him did he have any Chilli he said no. The chilli was on the board and two people just ordered chilli. I felt sad inside and asked for the bill. I followed her to bar. Told her she was rude and aggressive and customers should come before money and I will put her in my blog. Walked out into the rain, cold and damp in bed 8pm with that stupid woman inside my head.
Wednesday 13th September
Slept okay weather was not good rain and low cloud. Down to breakfast and where I met Haji. Haji parents were from North India he was born in Britain. He was walking the wall with his in-laws and wife. They were not walking all but Haji was. The battery on my mobile was low and I had no charger with me. This lovely man loaned me his. We talked about walks when his family came into the room. Haji told them about me. His father in law loudly said to his wife and daughter. No women should not be allowed to walk alone. I said I can hear you. “Well I am ex army and I think it is wrong”. I disagreed with him. Ironic it is Haji culture which is supposed to be not fair to women. However, his father in law who was white, English and ex army was a misogynist. I shook Haji’s hand and thanked him for the use of his charger and told him he was a real gentleman.
Bridgehouse B&B cost me £60 very pricey I think I paid for the love sayings and the ornaments. Those who are walking the whole of Hadrian’s wall do not want a massive fry up. Ceral fruit, toast is sufficient. A price of a fry up in a lunch bag instead. That would be good.
Left Bridgehouse B&B at 8 40am the swifts were ducking diving and the sun came out and cast my shadow before me. A steep incline past Burnhead B&B. At great Chesters fort Aecisa. I met Deric and Barry from Exeter Devon. We chatted and I took their photo and they took mine.
The two were staying at Gilsland I was making for Walton. Just outside BirdsOswald I stopped to eat and was losing hope. I gave myself a telling off, fed and watered I carried on.
The path was boggy very boggy slippery and flooded. The accident I had on Boxing day 2014 where I was stuck waist deep in a bog. Was in my mind constantly and I became vocal and coloured the air blue. Saw walkers walking on the road so I did the same. Many American’s Canadians, Dutch and German. The wall was built at the time of the Roman Empire and the workers came from Europe, Africa, Syria The soldiers were British European, African and from the middle East. Today the wall was walked by others for leisure from all over the world. Through flooded farm fields that were guarded by cattle and calf’s. I changed my accent to Ruth Archer from the radio program “Archer’s”. “Wey up cow wey up”.
I could see a steeple in the distance this kept me focused. About 2 miles up a lane and I saw a blue metal bicycle advertising Florrie’s On the Wall Walton.
A wonderful bunk house run by two beautiful people Jos and Rebecca. Clean fresh and inviting. Florrie’s is named after Rebecca’s grandmother who lived in the house with her husband and would often greet walkers offering refreshments and encouragement. They left the house to Rebecca and the bunk house opposite was the chicken barn.
I had my four bedded bunk room en suite to my self. The community room was light and open. I met Florin he was with the four people I saw picnicking on Monday he remembered me. His wife was Sylvia their friends were Karen from Canada and her English husband Corin. Lovely intelligent people with a great sense of humor. Witnessed a dramatic sun set, peach orange and gold through the showers of rain.
Later Rebecca’s mother Rita joined us. A wonderful story-teller of her travels when younger. Also Francesco from Italy a Geology student working at Florrie’s. A warm-hearted clever gentleman. I read and performed my poetry that evening. Went to bed late 9 30pm.
Thursday September 14th
Sunshine warmed the dew away fed and watered said my goodbyes hugs and smiles were given. Rebecca gave me £10 towards my charity I was humbled. Florrie’s cost me £40.
Florrie’s is a wonderful peaceful place, run by two beautiful people I would recommend Florrie’s to anyone.
Out of Walton to Carlisle left 8am onto more squelching, soaking paths. One path was flooded so much I climbed round a huge beech tree. Peaceful sound of the river Eden.
I stopped in Crosby on Eden and lost hope again. Told myself off in a reassuring way, fed and watered I made my way. A massive flock of starlings lifted my spirits. Following the river I missed my the sign post and was lost. Saw boot prints and I carried on. The roar of traffic and sirens told me the big city of Carlisle was not far. At Rickerby park following the river Eden there was a massive diversion. I followed the diversion. Into the busy center of Carlisle. to my abode Howard Lodge. Nice room, good shower, clean and tidy. Tony and Charlotte who run Howard Lodge were good down to earth people. showered cat napped. Out to dinner at Dempsey’s. 3 course meal £19 it was very good. Paul was a very efficient waiter. Bed 8pm. Early hours heard the rain and the eek eek sound of an owl.
Friday September 15th
Awoken by a blue tit sound “teacher teacher” and the “caw caw” sound of the Jackdaws and wall to wall sunshine. Breakfast eaten said my goodbyes to Charlotte. My room and breakfast cost me £40 which was very good.
8am on the road again. To another diversion that cost me 3 miles. Met a fellow walker told him about the diversion he was not happy and expressed this vocally. I suggested we walk and find the diversion. He was carrying a small back pack, his clothes and other belongings were in his friend’s car. He stopped turned to me and said “I cannot walk at you pace I have my own and it is faster than yours and I need to me Bowness on Solway to get the bus back”. I looked at him and said “No worries I have large back pack you carrying on”. He went storming off and missed the diversion. I could not shout to him because of the roar of the traffic. I would never have caught up with him. I carried on but my shoulders were hurting very badly I took two pain killers. Threw away trousers, a top and underwear. 5 miles later road runner turned up. “Oh you found the diversion okay then” I ignored him and walked at my pace. Paths were flooded from farm fields and tarmac it was cruel. 6 miles outside Bowness on Solway I met two lovely gentlemen Tommy Rickerby and Ed Miller both were 80. We chatted and used banter. They wished me well and I needed good wishes. I was tired and very weary. My boots were bogging my legs mud splattered. I found Edward “Oh flower of Scotland” Yes I sang the Scottish anthem.
Onto the long tarmac road that followed the Solway.
The song of the sea birds lifted my soul. A lady on a racing bike stopped to speak with me. Her name was Millie, Millie was 72. What a women. Millie was a tonic and lifted my spirits.
Sea of humanity was walking towards me. I wished them well and warned them of the diversion and to look out for the acorn sign on lamp posts. Round the corner from port Carlisle to Drumburgh I met Roger what a man!!! He made the signs himself and I saw Cardiff on the post, the city of my birth. He said a young man from Cardiff aged 19 was running Hadrian’s wall for charity. We chatted and laughed I told him I was walking for me and Beresford center he put the name Beresford on the sign. All proceeds go to Cancer research I told Roger for the past 18 years I have money taken monthly from my bank account to Cancer research. We hugged each other and said goodbye
Walking towards me was the young Cardiff lad I wished him well. He was thumbing a lift back to Carlisle to his train and home. Out of view I wiped a tear. There are such beautiful people in the world.
Bowness on Solway
The end of my walk a lovely man waiting for his son to finish his walk, took my photo.
Found my B & B Chapel house run by the beautiful and courageous Maureen. Boots were left by past walkers Maureen planted geraniums. I did the same to my old boots when I walked part of the Camino 2014.
Chapel House B & B was warm clean and homely. My room had a bath pour joy. After my bath, writing my hand written blog I heard voices down stairs. I head a man voice say Julie Pritchard I know her. It was only Barry and Deric my Exmoor friends I met on Wednesday. We chatted over tea and coffee. Later up to the busy Kings Head full of walkers, tourists and locals. I ate on my own, later Deric and Barry came in and bought me a glass of red wine. As I looked towards the bar, there was road runner he must have walked so fast he missed his bus back. I left my friends to catch the sun setting.
I know you can see the Northern lights sometimes from Bowness on Solway. Look at what I captured. Yes the Northern lights!!!! In the photo on the left. I cried tears of joy.
The following morning I went out and captured the sun rise over the Solway. Breakfast eaten goodbyes to Maureen. Chapel House cost me £35 what can I say. Bus ride and train journey home.
The walk was 83 miles and it was hard very hard. Cried twice but they were tears of joy. Swore many times and sang folk songs. I ached everywhere but I rested well. Basic B&B and places like Florrie’s on the wall are the best places to stay. I am near 57 I do not wish to camp.
The views on the real Hadrian’s wall will stay in my mind’s eye for ever. The people I met will remain in my heart. I would not like to walk Hadrian’s wall again. If others would like to walk this beautiful place. Train well and become fit before you go. Know your song before you sing it. My fitness and stamina kept me strong. I am not sure how much sponsorship I have raised when I do I will put it out on this blog.
All photo’s are mine all thoughts and words are my own.
Breathe deep and become beautiful.