Last year I did a sponsored 13 mile walk along Hadrian’s Wall in just under seven hours. Wondering how my weight loss and increased general fitness (outweighed by the fact that I am a year older?) would play out, I quite fancied repeating the walk and, this week, we returned to Haltwhistle, Northumberland.
I managed to finish in about the same time, despite getting lost a couple of times.
We started from our guesthouse in the centre of Haltwhistle and followed the same route up Haltwhistle Burn, across the fields towards Vindolanda. Here we followed the map exactly (while last year the sponsored route went directly to Vindolanda) past Layside farm, through woodlands and along a country track to meet up with last year’s route. I imagine the organisers must have diverted last year’s route because it was impractical to have 300+ sponsored trekkers tramping through here, especially the part with the fallen tree and the muddy climb up the bank!
At Vindolanda I was informed that the toilets I had relied upon at this five mile point, were not available at all, only opened specially for sponsored walks and the like. Although the volunteer on the desk was very helpful and allowed me to use the toilets just this once, she stressed they weren’t normally available. Lesson learnt; in future make good use of those woods!
From Vindolanda we continued across and along a main road (very fast traffic on this stretch of the B6318 made this the most unpleasant stretch of the walk) until we reached Hadrian’s Wall itself.Another five miles along the wall took us past the famous (but don’t let that put you off) Sycamore Gap, Winshields and Caw Gap, leaving the wall at Cawfields Quarry. NB: the toilets at Cawfields car park were open, unlike Vindolanda.
From here we followed the road up to the Milecastle Inn (where we later ate a very tasty evening meal) and, further up, followed the path along Haltwhistle Burn back to the centre of Haltwhistle.
The following day we returned to Vindolanda, an amazing site framed by the most beautiful landscape and well worth the admittance fee. Very interestingly, the site is still managed by the same family who bought it in 1929 and who have ensured continued archeological research ever since.
We stayed in Haltwhistle, at Belford House, (http://belfordhouserooms.co.uk) a clean, comfortable, welcoming guest house which, while it doesn’t do breakfast, is right opposite a cafe which opens at 8:30am, Jethro’s. There are other cafes but most don’t open till 9:30. I can recommend Jethro’s salad boxes, very cheap and stuffed full of lovely fresh ingredients, the ideal lunch for a long walk.