So the wanderers return from the day’s endeavours, not humbled by their experience but perhaps with a new found respect for those roman legionaries that might have had to walk miles with 80lbs of kit only to have to then build camp when they arrived.

We walked a total of around 14 miles today , the vast majority of which was spent not in the abject pain that we ended the day in. The weather was changeable, we didn’t see much of the actual wall but still managed to entertain ourselves and take copious quantities of pictures of the beautiful scenery, ramparts, vallum, settlements and signs that proved we were actually here and the odd natural phenomena like the rainbow we saw as we rounded the corner and glipsed our destination.  We had greeted the local fauna, many sheep, cows, bulls and a scooby doo in a hedge.  We had only marginally destroyed the landscape by taking with us a couple of stones that we believed may at one point have been part of the wall and were lying broken at the side of the path.  (Later inspection revealed some of them to be slate and of no further interest.)  However if the Berlin wall which only stood for nearly 30 years had quadrupled in size according to the amount of pieces now attributed to be from it then heaven knows how many alleged pieces of Hadrians Wall must have made it to the far-flung corners of the globe.

It had not started well when we strode off down the wrong path and realised we were heading in the direction of Scotland which was unlikely to be right.  We did not know at that stage of the little Acorn signs that were to be our saviour on many subsequent occasions.  Our first scheduled stop was due to be a pub called “something with a fox in” as the people we’d shared with last night had said.  They had taken 3 hours to get there from Heddon so we were hopeful of making it in time for lunch.  When we found the ‘Robin Hood’ (go figure!) we had made good time and tucked into their gourmet burgers with relish, I think I only had a single pint which would have shown remarkable restraint given our hung ho attitude to the progress we had made over the course of the morning! We now had an idea that we were ahead of the game somewhat and would make The George Hotel in Chollerford before dinnertime.

En route we saw the odd person, though not many, there were 3 blokes slightly younger than us who did seem to be following us much of the time though. We walked up hills, ran headlong down a few and saw a stunning Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost at the Errington Arms, a pub we sadly did not stop at.  The car was taking part in a centenary celebration of the 1911 rally from Edinburgh to London and happened to have stopped here due to a puncture.  By this time it was well after lunch and we felt we’d done some serious miles and were not in any major discomfort which was a bonus not to be underestimated given the number of long-term muscle complaints between the two of us.  Things were to change.

The weather had largely been kind up to now, it was blowing a gale a large proportion of the time, particularly when up on high ground, and at times the headwind was more than a little bracing but there had also been some blue sky and even some sun.  For the last part of the afternoon run it turned on us as if to mirror the mood of our sinews which were beginning to strain.  The first signs of general walking fatigue had happened a little while ago, tensing up of the muscles behind the knees and a little aching in the feet on the heavier parts of the terrain, this was to be expected and very much the rigours of the trip, we were big men, we could cope with this.  At the point though that the usual suspects of a longer term type of pain kicked in the task ahead seemed a great deal more sizeable then it had appeared on the map.  Both of us had been pretty stoic about the discomfort, save for the occasional mention of new ailments as and when they occurred, it was a sort of top trumps of conditions and degrees of pain.  With the benefit of hindsight my assertion that as I walked 1 1/2 miles to the pub and back and occasionally 2 miles and back to catch the bus to work and that therefore I was ready for such a challenge was no more than lunacy.

Planetrees was a lot more what we had come for, a large section of about 30ft of wall still in extremely good condition.  This gave more of a sense of the whole structure though it was not the full 10ft high that it would have been in it’s pomp it was nevertheless a small piece of magnificence and a great deal of photos were taken from all sorts of angles to best appreciate it in the comfort of our own home.  These bits of wall were important, there had been precious few on this first day and we knew this was likely to be the case but they were a certain spur when we did find them, little beacons and times to stop and marvel and enjoy the steeping of history.

Shortly theafter the path deviates majorly from where the wall is and you descend a hill on a small road until you reach the aptly if not especially imaginatively named village of Wall.  The scenery was still enjoyable though it’s lustre had slightly dulled by the desire to be somewhere with feet up and a glass in ones hand.  As we walked along beside the road being buffeted by the wind and slapped in the face by the horizontal rain it seemed for the first time that whilst this might still have been a fun idea over a pint it might not perhaps have been the most prudent of one to put into practice.

As if sent by mother nature to reward our fortitude a full-arced rainbow appeared and we rounded the corner to see the bridge over the Tyne that we knew heralded the location of The George and discomfort was held in check by the psychological knowledge that fame and glory (at least between the two of us) lay in wait a tantalising distance away.  Throughout the day pain had presented itself all the stronger when we were not actually moving and the inventory of mutinous parts of the body when we slumped into the chairs was a litany of middle-aged evidence.

I had a singularly unpleasant cold shower upon return to the bunkhouse whilst simon had a hot one, time will tell which one of us may have made the wise decision, though maybe based on the joints hangover we are both likely to have tomorrow that question may have been answered the moment we set out on this foolhardy endeavour.

At home we were joined again in the evening by more impromptu squatters in the next door bedroom and spent a pleasant few hours chatting to the 3 even more idiotic men from Felixstowe who had been planning to camp in the middle of the current hurricane and whom the landlady had taken pity on.  They at 49, 60 and 60 were performing a similar sort of age milestone to us  Our amenable acquiescence to their companionship was strained a little when woken at stupid o’clock in the morning by heavy chatting in cheerful tones amongst themselves next door.  Still we would be on our own the next two nights and could catch on our sleep then.  At least we think that’s the plan.

For an alternative viewpoint of this whole affair, keep up with my compadre here.  For this of a more caustic bent the views of the sarcastic mare support team can be found here.

Songs Of The Day ~ Janes Addiction – Three Days; Stagecoach – Break

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