Sunday, October 28, 2007

Hadrian's wall 22-27 October 2007

Roman emperor Hadrian ordered this 73 mile long, 10 ft wide wall to built across northern Britain more than 18 centuries ago (122-130AD) at the decline of the Roman empire. In hilly places it is remarkably well preserved, with linking forts and milecastles along the wall. In the valleys, the stones have migrated into farm building foundations and the only trace is a grassy lump. We enjoyed a glorious autumn day exploring after a sleepless night in a farm courtyard (right next to the dog's kennel, we discovered, who barked at a badger on the prowl all night).

The early morning mist burned off slowly as we made our way along the wall, carrying far too many warm clothes!

The next night we moved north of the tourist trail into the Northumberland National Park to the north and found a lovely campsite with a wind turbine powered hot bath - and we were the only campers there! Working out a circular walk for the next day on the computer, we printed out a map in black and white as an aide memoire, anticipating that the trails would be as well-marked as they were near Hadrian's wall.
However, the trail dissapeared in "Black Bog" and was not to be found even as we located ourselves with GPS on the suposed trail numerous times - finally we just gave up and bush-whacked on a 60 degree compass heading for miles, through bog, spongy mossy woods and recently harvested (destroyed!) forests finally coming to intersect the Pennine Way regional trail. Hard work for not much mileage - and then we still had the 5 miles to walk back to camp. We slept late the next morning in the gloriously quiet site with soft rain on the roof.

As the weather was changing, we decided to head south toward the Yorkshire Dales, which we've not yet explored, and stopped at Fountains Abbey, which has recently been made a World Heritage site. The Georgian grounds with lakes, canals, temples and formal gardens are huge and there is a spectacular ruin of a 13-century Cistercian (Benedictine offshoot) abbey, which was raided for sandstone to build the Elizabethan Fountains Hall. During the Second World War, the Hall and other estate buildings were used to house evacuee children, but, after the war, fell estate into a state of serious dilapidation and has only recently been restored.

To our suprise, dogs were allowed! We cut back to the car park skirting the deer park and watched as two magnificent stags faced off in the meadow - making really loud threatening noises at each other. One finally backed up and made his way away from the rest of the deer, complaining loudly.

My heel injury is much better and I'm back running again. Hurrah! Nick is enjoying bragging about his 10 mile runs when I'm back to cautious 2 mile runs, but slow and steady I'll be back running 10 again... someday.


Petraruns said...

Hi Drusy - I went to university at Durham and loved going to Northumberland to walk and explore so your photos really bring it back. It looks lovely. So happy to hear you're also recovering from your injury - you will be back in the saddle soon enough, I'm sure. Take care!

Gordon said...

Awesome pics. I've always wanted to see Hadrian's Wall. The prospect of running alongside all that history (I'm a history prof) thrills me