When thinking of people walking Hadrian’s wall path we often think of visitors coming into the area to walk the wall over a week, however as local residents we decided to walk the wall over the summer (Also because the coffee shop is so busy in the summer we cant take a week off) on our day off walking one section at a time.
We, my wife Barbara and I, had done the walk six years previously going from east to west, this time we would walk the other way, west to east. So parking our car in Carlisle we caught the number 93 bus to Bowness on Solway, we got off outside the pub in Bowness and stamped our walking passports in the hall next door, we walked down through this delightful village, (if you have some spare time on an evening its well worth coming out for a walk round this village the views of the Solway are fantastic, plus a good pub for some refreshment, cant beat it!).
The proper starting point is down by the Edwardian promenade recently refurbished for the millennium, we stepped down on to the sand to start properly, unfortunately the tide was out, so after a couple of photos and with a send off by a local tabby cat we set off. (It was later on that I realised I had lost my sunglasses at the start) Quickly reaching Port Carlisle with the ruins of the old harbour, once called Fishers Cross, named after the crossing over the Solway here, the path then followed the line of the old railway/canal.
In the 19th century a canal was built connecting Carlisle to the sea its history was short only lasting some thirty years, when the railways came the canal was filled in and the rail line from Carlisle to Silloth used this part to Drumbrugh, where it branched off to Port Carlisle using a horse drawn carriage called a Dandy till the early part of the 20th century (You can see the dandy coach at the national railway museum in York).
Following the path you can still see the last part of the canal left with water in, full of rushes and birdlife, a rather strange sight to see is a full patio set in the middle of the wood along side the canal, totally overgrown a table and chairs positioned for a meal all green and covered in weeds and bushes (See photo).
We moved on along the edge of the Solway passing some haaf nets used by locals to fish in the Solway since Viking times, walking on we reached the small village of Glasson and dropped into the local pub called The Highland Laddie, supposedly named after Bonnie Prince Charlie who slept the night there. Sitting down in this cosy pub we ordered a bowl of chips each with a pint of beer for me and a coke for Babs, the chips were as we like them proper home made, as the rain had come on we settled down for an hour ‘reluctantly’, well worth a visit. Setting off we spent the journey to burgh by sands dodging showers, stopping for a refreshment break at the Greyhound inn, where we changed our socks to freshen our feet (a good tip for when you are walking a good distance) we set off on the final leg to Carlisle following the river Eden along the way, we reached the Sheepmount athletics track where we got our passport stamped and celebrated with an ice pop our first section done, 16 miles under our belts.
It was 3 weeks before we could do the next section Carlisle to Walton, taking the bus from Brampton to Carlisle we set off again from the Sands centre again following the Eden as far as Crosby, where we stopped at the Stag inn for our usual plate of chips and pint of beer, and again we got a good plate of home made chips. Setting off we left the Eden behind moving back on to the line of the wall which for the first time you could begin to actually see the line of the wall, as along the first section you could see virtually nothing of the wall or its vallum or ditch, this section was to be seen as a raised earthwork with all of the stone being robbed out by local landowners for the construction of their buildings in the 16th and 17th centuries, the ditch and vallum just being seen in the fields either side of the wall, we reached Walton about 4pm and got a lift back into Brampton for tea, another 10 miles done. Section 3 Walton to Greenhead we did the following Tuesday, getting a lift to Walton we took our photos outside of the now closed Centurion inn (a huge miss not only for walkers but also for the locals, a pub can be the hub of a village) the walk along here is delightful with the hedgerows full of wildflowers, with berries and nuts just forming to be ready for the autumn, passing through fields and quiet country lanes can remind you how lucky we are to live in this most beautiful county.
Reaching the lovely hamlet of Banks we at last seen the first section of Roman wall with its turret and watchtower, the watchtower being used by the Romans to communicate with the fort at Bewcastle, we made good speed to Birdoswald fort, along the way I took some photos of one of the most fascinating parts of the wall where you can see where the original turf wall lay as the new stone wall deviated along the road, (Noticed again I had lost my second pair of sunglasses, I have this habit of putting them on top of my bush hat so never notice loosing them), stopped at the tea shop in the fort for a well earned cuppa and had our passports stamped. Suitably refreshed we moved along to the milecastle overlooking the river Irthing a stunning view, dropping down and over the footbridge we looked at the section of wall with the old bridge abutments at Willowford then walked into Gilsland stopping briefly at the Poltross burn milecastle famous for the short flight of steps from which Archaeologists were able to determine the height approximately of the wall some 15 feet high, we did not stop in Gilsland with its tea shop and pubs as we wanted to push on to Greenhead to give us time for a refreshment break at the hotel there before catching the ad122 bus back to Brampton, again the hotel did not disappoint with a good real ale on tap and home made chips, suitably refreshed we climbed aboard the bus home with our thoughts on the next section Greenhead to Twicebrewed, cant wait!
Will report how we got on along the next sections in the next edition of BIG magazine, will also report on how well the refreshment stops (pubs) along the way fared especially how the chips are done, cheers from Mike and Babs at Off the Wall.