Monday, July 19, 2010

"Veni, vidi, pustuli!"

# "If you believe that there's a bond between our future and our past, try to hold on to what we had, we build them strong, we built to last..." # - Jimmy Nail

In AD 122, so the history books tell us, Emperor Hadrian of the Roman Empire ordered a grand structure to be built to cut through the British Isles from east to west and isolate Scotland... This "Roman Wall" has been on the doorstop of where we've lived all of our lives, so this summer, my wife and I planned (and I'm happy to report completed!) our own Hadrian's Wall walk. We were walking it to raise money for the Alzheimer's Society and I thought I'd write up a report for the blog on our whole adventure, because by this walking week's end I'd come up with a brand new series of stories to begin working on in the near future...

Day 1: "Urban Jungle" - our first day was a leisurely start but would be one of our longest at 15 miles, from our home, to Wallsend, to beginning the walk proper and then on to Heddon-on-the-Wall for our first night's welcome rest. After getting our first official trail "stamp" for our Wall passports at Segedunum in Wallsend, we were off! This first section of the National Trail follows the riverside for the most part and not the true line of the Wall - we think it's probably to avoid the major roads that have cropped up in the 1600 years since the Romans were here but whatever the reason, we'll have to do a "fill-in" walk for ourselves at some point in the future to trod that real route from Wallsend, through Byker and Westgate Road, up and over West Road, down to Denton Burn and then Heddon itself... The path we did follow though was pleasant enough, although quite built up in parts of Wallsend and Scotswood, and was mainly on Tarmac - wearing my newish boots for this was probably not the brightest idea I ever had because by day's end I had developed and popped at least two blisters... But this first day did get us going and was mainly on the flat, except of course once we'd passed the Newburn Country Park and were then faced with a near-vertical climb to Heddon - we saw the collection of houses on the hillside from afar but kept telling ourselves they couldn't be the ones we'd eventually end up at - of course, they were! So when we got to our B&B for the night, it was definitely well-earned...