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Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Walking the Hadrian Way / Hadrian Wall Trail - Tranche 1 / Day 2 - Heddon on the Wall - Corbridge

Sun 4.5.14 - Tranche 1 - day 2 – Heddon on the Wall - Port Gate (A68).
(Walked from 10.00-16.00 incl. 1hr stops)

After spending the night in Wylam, in the morning I had a very filling breakfast with all you can ask and dream of.  Had a lift from Dad Craven to Heddon on the Wall and here had my first view of the wall's remains.

Remains of Hadrian Wall at Heddon on the Wall

Not long after starting the day’s walk I crossed paths with the other guests from the B&B – they were walking West to East.  The day’s walk was really nice, with spectacular views. 

The path is very well signposted and I had a read from my guide book (Hadrian's Wall Path, Anthony Burton) here and then to make sure I missed nothing from the point of view of sightseeing. Today the path started being dotted by stonewalls which you have to climb (over steps made of stone sticking out the wall itself) sometimes hard to negotiate if you have to balance it with a backpack on your shoulders. There were also some ‘deer stiles’ as I call them. These are tall wooden steps (like step ladders) going over the stonewalls and stepping down on the other side. Again a little giggling act when negotiating them with a backpack on your back. Also slowing you down considerably in your progress.

After reaching the Robin Hood (nice to know that they also have rooms to sleep and serve food every day till 9pm!*) the path turns quite hard underfoot with some crashed stones which feel hard and pointy under the boots soles!

I crossed the reservoir, popped in the hide but there was no sign of any birds. Kept on walking and lots of fishermen on the other side of the road.  From now on the path is on the ditch of the wall. Effectively you are walking below the road level and the view is not always there. Back in the old day’s ca.1700 or before, the old roman wall (Hadrian wall) was used as a base foundation for the military road as the wall was so straight it provided a perfect path. Therefore even though you cannot really see the wall you are walking next to it, in the ditch! Here the path was rather wet and fortunately on some stretches you are walking on some flagstones which make it easier and less wet to walk. One of the benefits was that the vegetation was sheltered and provided a good habitat for what I believe being the Early-purple Orchid (see picture below and feel free to correct me if you know better). Once you emerge from the ditch the views open up again and they are fantastic. 

Early-purple Orchid
Walking on flagstones
Once you get to Maften Piers nr B6321 you walk mostly on soft ground, close to sheet and newly born lambs and you have the most spectaculars views down south towards Corbridge and Hexham.

You also get the opportunity to ‘see’ where the old wall (Vallum) was. You go by some large boulders/stones and b4/ after you see fields all knobbly that clearly are covering something larger once underneath.

Here you can see the long wide line of what once was Hadrian Wall. From Wall Houses the path is also filled with kissing gates and then later there become stone steps over the stone walls. Some are pretty steep and hard to negotiate if you are carrying a backpack and are short-ish.  They also make the walking slower and a bit harder. [I’m told after Chollerford/Chester Fort the walking really becomes harder and full of ups/downs!]. Something to look forward for the next tranche!!

I got to Port Gate and the Ellington Arms and decided I had enough of walking for the day. This was my end of day walking on the wall, but I still had to get to Corbridge. Did not fancy the walk, so after entering the pub and being advised there was no public transport on the Sunday (not sure there are any day…!) I was offered a phone and telephone number for a friendly cab company. (Barrasford Taxis - 01434 689 399 or 07760 625 488). The Taxi came and delivered me and backpack to my B&B for the night.

I will avoid talking about the B&B in Corbridge. Just avoid the Hayes (see Travel Advisor for comments and make your mind up). Retrospectively I really regretted not taking the train from Corbridge to Wylam and stay an extra night at the (Wormald House) that way I could have also left my backpack and spent the night in a lovely B&B. Never mind.

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