03 June 2011

Hadrian's Wall Path: Day 5

While we were staying at Greencarts Farm, we shared the bunkhouse with a mother and her two daughters from Cornwall (originally from Birmingham) who were walking the Hadrian's Wall Path for charity, the Birmingham Children's Hospital, specifically. Because they had trouble finding accommodation along the way, they had to squeeze it in to 5 days, and they were doing it for charity so they felt really motivated to finish it.  These were seriously three of the sweetest people I've met in a long time, and while I would've probably been horribly whiny after doing 20 mile days, and getting in at 9PM or after dark, and eating toast for dinner, these girls were smiling and sweet and good and lovely.  I passed them on Quayside in Newcastle on Day 6, and had snacks in my pannier for them, and then mom saw them again at Segedunum.  Seriously excellent people.

Leaving Greencarts Farm
We left Greencarts farm, and walked down the hill to Chesters Fort - Cilurnum - apparently the best preserved calvary fort in Britain.  There's lots of superlatives involved in the Hadrian's Wall Path - the longest, largest UNESCO World Heritage site, best preserved this and that, etc...  While we originally went just to stamp our passports, it was well worth it for the baths preserved there.  Absolutely amazing that you can walk through the baths more or less as the Roman soldiers did, and see the heating structures and sophisticated drainage systems under the floors.  Then, they rebuilt it at Segedunum, so it's easy to overlay the excavation in your head with the actual building you can walk through at Wallsend.
Latrines in the baths with flowing water system from the nearby River North Tyne

While we were visiting Chesters Fort, parts of the excavations were actually closed off because there were nesting oystercatchers in the ruins, and they're a protected species:
Oystercatcher in the ruins at Chesters Fort

From there, we took the AD122 bus to Hexham, poked around there a bit, and then took the train to Wylam, where we would walk to our B&B, Houghton North Farm in Heddon-on-the-Wall.  Near Wylam, we passed George Stephenson's Cottage on the footpath, which is critically important and notable to English history and Industrial Revolution history because George Stephenson invented the steam engine.  The path from Wylam to Heddon, and the shortcut we took, was a bit disorienting.

That night, we ordered in delivery carryout, and had so many french fries left over I traded them with some Aussies for a beer - and it was really cool to talk to them.  They'd been camping along the way as we'd been B&Bing.

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