As a child I loved walking and aged ten I walked 20 miles from Ely, Cardiff to visit an auntie who lived in Pencoed. I walk most days alone and I have walked many paths, meadows, hills and mountains. Brecon Beacons, Black mountains, Sugar Loaf, Blorange. With friends, part of Offers dyke, Snowden. Walked Cornish coast, Somerset, Devon, West Wales coast and many other walks. Was a member of Gelligaer ramblers for many years and was foot path officer for two years and led walks for Gelligaer ramblers. I have led literature poetry walks for Fair Trade, Stroke Association, Groundwork Wales, Gofal. Most of all I like lone walks and I believe every now and again adults should spend time alone, listening to your breath, bird song, feel the wind caress your hair, just letting your footsteps mirror your breathing. Just being in the now.
September 2017 I walked 85 miles of Hadrian’s wall over 5 days alone
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 I received lovely greeting from the landlady. I ordered some food, four Dutch ladies looking slightly flushed came in wearing huge back packs. I felt sorry for them, then I 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, I gingerly walked down a very busy lane and this 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 I changed into my trousers behind a large oak tree. 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 clouds 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 and made my way to the very busy Mile Castle pub busy with walkers, tourists and locals. Nice young waitress named Jasmin served me. 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?”
“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 replied “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 and told her she was rude, 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 looked towards their table and said “I can hear you”
“Well I am ex army and I think it is wrong”
“I disagree with you”
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 Birds Oswald 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 constantly on my mind 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 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 at 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 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 that led to the busy center of Carlisle, onto 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. Suddenly 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 and I would never have caught up with him. I carried on, but my shoulders were hurting very badly. I took two pain killers and 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 because of the 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, and the seabirds 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 signs 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. Roger told me, all proceeds go to Cancer research. I told Roger for the past 18 years I have given monthly standing orders 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 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 inside them. 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 heard a man’s voice saying 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 and Maureen told me the lights have been sighted. I looked towards Scotland and Ireland AND look what I captured!! Yes the Northern lights!!!! I cried tears of joy.
The following morning I went out and captured the sun rise over the Solway. Breakfast eaten goodbyes to Maureen. Deric, Barry and I walked to the bus stop and there was road runner again, strange.Chapel House cost me £35.
The walk was 85 miles and it was hard very hard, cried twice but they were tears of joy. Swore many times and sang folk songs along the way. 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 please train and become fit before you go. Know your song before you sing it and my fitness and stamina kept me strong.
A good sign
My Camino shell
Day 6 walk to Cizu Menor
My Camino shell attached to my back pack, to show that you are a pilgrim.
Said by goodbyes and shared best wishes, to my new friends I had plenty of hugs in return.Left the Jesus Y Mary Albergue while my new friends got ready for their next long walk. This is where my Camino ends, I do not want it to end, I want to follow the sea of humanity, but I have John and work commitments back home. I called in the pilgrim cafe for an orange juice, coffee and toast. It was raining as I made my way to Cizu Menor.It was cold and I felt sad. Reached Cizu Menor retraced my steps to the Collage then I asked for directions to Pamplona Train Station. I will be leaving early in the morning for Barcelona and I want to book accommodation near the station. A bus driver gave me directions either he was wrong or I misunderstood him but it took me two hours walking before I found the train station.I now looked for somewhere to stay. I asked four hotels they were all booked because it was holiday time in Spain. I stood outside a large housing estate I was cold tired and scared, because I was lost and had nowhere to stay. I saw a young Spanish woman and asked her for directions to the old part of Pamplona. She saw I was distressed and I explained why. This woman I had never met before offered to put me up for the night in her apartment. This touched me deeply and I was humbled. I thanked her for the offer but declined. She gave me directions to the old part of Pamplona, I was 10 minutes away from there but when you are alone and lost and do not speak the language is liken to being the middle of the Gobi desert. This woman was an angel on earth, we hugged and said adios. I remember there was an Albergue called Municipal Casa Paderborn, it was situated by the river. I made my way despite being cold my heart was warmed by the Spanish lady’s humanity. There was queue waiting to book in. This was where I met Antonio from Canada, we got on very well he was a photographer me a poet.The albergue was German owned and run the people who ran this beautiful house were all volunteers. Ursula and Franz were lovely. I shared my room with Antonio from Canada, Ben and Chris from Germany and Julie from Gloucester, England. While I was lost, I thought to myself, this was for a reason I look upon experiences as a teacher and what can I learn from the experience. When I met Antonio, Ben, Chris and Julie I felt very comfortable and I knew this was why I got lost I was meant to meet these wonderful honest people. I wished I had met them at the beginning of my pilgrim. They invited me out because it was my last night. We had a pilgrim meal at the Cafeteria Palace, where we were waited on by Julio he was amazing character. We had 7 starters and 7 main courses to choose from plus dessert, bread, water and wine all for 9,95 euros
We all had a great time the conversation I will never forget. We all made our way back. Teeth brushed, after much giggling, heads down,then fast asleep. Woke to a lovely breakfast after breakfast Ben from Germany took me outside and asked me to pick a stone which I did, he then asked me why I did part of the Camino and what did I want to get rid off inside of me. I told him what I wanted to get rid off. He turned to me and said “I will place this stone for you at Santiago”. We hugged, I had several hugs that morning. Some people you forget Ben and Antonio I will remember for ever. Made my way to Pamplona Train Station and my 4 hour journey to Barcelona. Where I shared my train ride with a wonderful gentleman named Inaki we talked and discussed many topics and subjects he is a climber of mountains I am a walker of paths. He touched my mind and I liked that. We are now corresponding friends.
Antrim, Rathlin Island, Donegal August 2013
I flew from Cardiff to Belfast airport just under an hours flight. Traveled by coach to County Antrim, County Antrim was stunning breathtaking scenery and a wonderful B&B at Cushendon. I read poetry at a pub cannot remember the name only the people and they were beautiful and welcoming.
Glenveagh National Park, County Donagal, and where I saw my first pair of Eagles, the pair was introduced from Scotland. I spied them circling, swaying to the tune of the wind on a metallic coloured sky, it was a truly remarkable moment.
Mist enticing you in on a mill-pond lake.
One of the many streams cascading
Giant’s Causeway Antrim, did not impress me at all, it was full of Japanese tourist who all owned square flat cameras ( It was 2013 I had never seen a tablets before and I found it an insult to the historic scenery and gave distance to the natural beauty) It was a steep path down to the Causeway but full of friendly people along the way, a great distraction you from the height. It was a very busy tourist place I would not like to visit again.
Following day took the boat over to Rathlin Island 6 miles long. Rathlin island, the most Northern inhabited island off the Northern coast of Ireland. I walked the whole of the island on a blue path lined with heather.
I noticed a very strong community spirit on the island, and I chatted with many locals. I came across the Bards chair with Seamus Heaney’s poem.
Stayed in Ramelton the beautiful the beautiful river Lennon. The following day I walked the Slieve League after walking 9 miles I went skinny dipping at Melinbeg beach. Sorry no photos.
I spent a day in Derry and walked over the bridge of Peace.
I went in to Derry, I visited the museum. I grew up with the (Troubles) I am Irish descent, all my schooling was catholic (I am of no faith now) In the early 1970’s and at the height of the troubles I attended Mostyn RC comprehensive and the school was the only Catholic comprehensive in Ely, Cardiff. My school uniform was bottle green and I stood out like a sore thumb and was an easy target for youngsters who were unaware of Irish history. I toured Derry and I felt extremely sad, yet, there was strength and the need to move forward.
Before I left Donegal I gave the bus driver, Michael McFadden my poem “Story Teller of Ireland” I enjoy performing this piece from memory. Off to Dublin where my grandmother was born and it was a long 4 hour journey but I had good company. (I have visited Dublin many times) The corner of Red Cow Lane, and where my Nan lived.
I stayed in a youth hostel in the centre of Dublin. Off loaded my back pack and made my way to Cobblestone pub, situated on the corner of Red Cow Lane. Where I was to read my poetry unannounced. The pub was small very busy and the open mic was run by a white-haired, friendly face, short elderly man. However, looks are deceiving. I asked could I read, he told me to Feck off four times. I did not give up. I spoke to the hosts friend and he told the man who looked like captain Findus that I was from South Wales. He shouted across the bar “Feck why did you not say you were from Wales? Give the girl the floor. What a night, Americans, Dutch, Spanish, and the Irish listened and bought me drinks. My belly was full of the black stuff called Guinness. My father sang in Cobblestones back in 1957, 59 years later I am reading my poetry, I felt my Irish ancestors in the room with me. The crack was one I will never forget.
Me looking refreshed from the end of my journey walking Ireland and before I read my poetry. The nerve of that girl!
Nov 2019 I am 14 months away from my 60th birthday and I am looking forward to another long lone walk.