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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Walking Hadrian's Wall

For many years I'd wanted to visit Hadrian's Wall that stretches from the North Sea about 80 miles to the Irish Sea through Northumberland and Cumbria, England. The Romans began building it in 122 A.D. to demarcate the northern edge of the Roman Empire. Built in six years, it really was a sort of status symbol to show the might of the Roman Empire. 
The Roman Wall at Steel Rigg
 At age 71 I figured I'd better do it soon, and so Jay and I flew into the Glasgow, Scotland, early one April morning, checked into a hotel, and the next morning drove a rental car a couple hours south into Northumberland.  I'd  studied the wall's  route on the Internet, zooming in for close ups, and decided we should walk the three miles from Steel Rigg to the ancient fort of Halsteads. This route was supposed to have the best views.

Jay starting the first climb
This trek isn't for the faint of heart.  The wall in this section goes up  a steep crag with a stiff breeze blowing.

I climb. A part of the wall is far below.

I'm nearly to the top, grabbing a rock in one hand, my cell phone in the other., my head band protecting me from the wind.

Jay and I at the top

Looking north from the wall
 And then we descended the other side of the crag to one of the small garrison forts the Romans built every three miles.  Rock steps without hand rails, what was I thinking.

The mile fort at Crag Lough

At least I didn't have to tote a backpack. Met these kids on my way down
I wear sandals so I can loosen their straps when my feet swell with walking.  Didn't the Romans wear sandals, too, marching along the Military Road near the foot of the Wall? And mine have treads.

Originally the wall was carefully built with dressed stones reaching about 9 feet high and three feet wide.
 We climbed another crag, following the wall, and got a nice view of Sycamore Gap, where Kevin Costner met Morgan Freeman in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves.
Sycamore Gap from above

Sycamore Gap from the below
 After the Romans abandoned Britain in the 5th century, through the next sixteen hundred years the wall's rocks were looted to build abbeys, churches, castles, and farm houses.

Very old farmhouse as viewed from what's left of the wall in its yard
 Jay and I were pretty tired when we finally reached Halsteads.

Foundation of a Roman building at Halsteads

Remains of Roman bath house. They always elevated the floor on pilings so its sauna could be heated with warm air from below.
We took a few photos and then waited for the bus at the road for a ride back to where our car was parked. The driver dropped us off and we slowly plodded another mile up a lane to the parking area.  We treated ourselves to a fine meal at a nearby old inn and a soft bed in one of their rooms above.  And the next day, our feet feeling fine again, we tramped about a Roman Army museum. And so began our visit to north Britain.

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely inspiring! Thanks you for this wonderful post. I want to do exactly this some day.