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Report 1057: Newcastle and Hadrian's Wall

By PatrickLondon from London, England, Summer 2006

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Page 3 of 5: 20 June: Second day's walking - Housesteads to Greenhead

photo by Patrick Wallace

You see how the Romans utilised the natural barriers of the landscape

Once more the weather looked doubtful, but as Mrs Gibson drove me back to Housesteads, the sun started to come out and the sky to break up into "Simpsons clouds". Now the path was entirely along high crags with some steep ups and downs. I caught up with the Canadian couple I'd met the first night, and as we walked along together another RAF jet suddenly swept up over the crag in front of us and flew towards us, barely 20 feet above our heads and 50 yards to one side of the Wall: I couldn't get to my camera in time for that oh so symbolic photo.

I'd planned to come off the crags if the weather turned wet, and not long after the Canadians decided they wanted to catch the bus to Vindolanda fort and museum, I remembered I was running out of cash, and a very dark and chilly cloud came along. So I came off the path to catch the bus into Haltwhistle, which has the nearest cash machine. This, as it happens, is right beside the bus stop, and the next bus back came along in ten minutes or so. So I rejoined the walk only about a mile, and an hour and a half, further on from where I'd left it.

The wind was getting up but the rain still wasn't making an appearance, so I ploughed on under leaden skies, but still with spectacular views. I was starting to feel that, however spectacular the scenery, I could wish there weren't quite so much of it. The guide-book's chirpiness ("All the more splendid is the continuing switchback course of the Wall") was getting a bit wearing. But it was hard not to feel a certain eerie continuity with the soldiers who must have tramped up and down along here, stood in the same turrets looking down on the cattle coming in for cover, wondering when they would get into the warm.

Not a moment too soon, the path led down to level ground and the last half mile or so into the next night's stop at Greenhead: because here at last was some rain. Not a problem (if you have decent waterproofs) at ground level in grassy meadows and field paths: but I wouldn't want to be on the steep crag paths with alternate mud and stone steps.

This night's stop was at the Greenhead Hotel, Greenhead, Cumbria CA6 7HB. telephone: 016977 47411. A village pub with rooms and restaurant, under new management and newly re-decorated. Again, very comfortable, and an excellent evening meal (venison meatballs in a port and mushroom sauce, white chocolate and meringue roulade with raspberries and redcurrants - 15). The lady who served breakfast asked if I'd slept all right, because she'd been kept awake by the people singing and playing guitars and the piano in the bar. I hadn't heard a thing and slept right through it.

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