Hadrian’s Wall Day 3

Last night was the first night I’d had any company – the first night I was in an empty camp site and the next night I was in an empty bunk house. The camp site in Greenhead, Roam ‘n’ Rest, had filled up a bit after I returned from the pub. A couple of caravans, a couple of camper vans and a car with a tent had all pitched up around me.

It had rained quite a lot while I was in the pub and although it stopped before I left, I got back to a wet camp. The tent at least is waterproof, unlike my jacket. The midgies forced me into the tent and also forced me to zip up the inner to prevent ingress of wee beasties. This meant I was rather warm for a while, until the temperature dropped outside.

The noise from the site gradually dropped as people settled down and just as I was dropping off a car alarm went off. It stopped fairly quickly after a muffled curse from the camper van opposite me. 10 minutes later it went off again, stopping almost immediately this time. This continued for about another 30 minutes, until a rather pissed off female voice was clearly heard to shout, “Are you just going to lie there, or are you going to fix this bloody thing?”. A door opened and closed a couple of times and then silence, until about 10 minutes later I heard a satisfied but rather sarcastic “thank you” from the same female voice.

I was awake early, planning to get an early start, but then fell asleep again, so didn’t. The gentle sound of rain on tent awoke me again, so I got the stove on and had some hot chocolate and flapjacks for breakfast. It soon stopped raining and I dashed to the toilet block for a pee and a scrub and then started packing away. I had to pause and take cover from another brief rain shower and hoped this wasn’t going to be the pattern for the day – rain on, rain off. There’s nothing worse than walking in intermittent showers, especially on a warm day.

Once packed I set out down the road, my feet were already feeling sore and my back, from where the pack had rubbed it raw the previous day was also very painful. I was alternating my painkillers; 400mg of Ibuprofen and 1000mg of Paracetamol every 2 hours, it was helping… a little.

As soon as I passed the gate of the camp site, the rain cam down again. I stopped and donned my ‘waterproof’ coat. 10 minutes later it had stopped, so I stopped and took off the coat as it was too hot to leave it on over my fleece. I followed the path up to Thirlwall Castle, where I dropped the pack and climbed the steep grassy path to have a closer look. It started raining again. I felt wretched. This rain shower just about broke my will. I scrambled back down the grassy bank to my pack and my coat and found shelter under a tree.

It was only 08:30 and I’d already had the coat on and off three times. The weather forecast for today and tomorrow was showers – getting heavier and more persistent the closer I got to Newcastle. The blisters on my heels were sore already and my back felt raw and tender under my pack. The iPhone told me I could get a bus from Greenhead to Carlisle at 10:10 and there I could catch a train that would get me home for 14:30. The prospect sounded wonderful in comparison to 18 miles of “rain on, rain off” today and another 16 miles of possibly the same on Monday.

I hate quitting things, but it’s getting to be a habit for me. I sacked the Lyke Wake Walk recently as I was exhausted and although I could have pushed on for a while I was fairly sure I wouldn’t be able to finish, but I still quit before I needed to. Two years ago I abandoned my Offa’s Dyke walk, due simply to the fact that I’d come to hate the walk, the stiles, the endless cow pastures. Now I was contemplating kicking this long weekend into touch as well.

I realised though, that if I continued it would be down to simple bloody-mindedness, rather than any desire to see the Roman wall remains – that had always been a by-product, the icing on the cake if you like, to the four day walk. Now the joys of the walk were fading and my sole focus was on my feet and my back and how much discomfort they were giving me.

I took the easy way out and walked slowly down the path, back to Greenhead. I sat at the bus stop for an hour or so until the bus arrived and then waited at Carlisle station for another 50 minutes for the train, which became more and more packed at every station. By the time I got off at Crewe there were folk standing all over the place. My son picked me up from the station and I got home about 14:30, as predicted.

Apologies to those readers who were following me. I will probably write up the walk in more detail at some point. With pictures too.

lonewalker

Fell-walker, trig-pointer, peak-bagger, Wainwright-er & Pennine Way author, with a passion for long paths, malt whisky, fast cars & Man City

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10 Responses

  1. spoony says:

    I did it in 2010 in March only saw about 15 on the wall the whole trip ( apart from villages) ..
    Started in the west and finished in Wallsend.
    Like you first day feet were killing me.
    I think the prob is the first day is a lot of tarmac, hiking boots aren’t made for tarmac.
    After that it’s fine but th he damage to your feet is done by then.
    Greenhead to Heddon is nice kinda goes down hill after that.
    It’s nice to complete it, but trust me the last section ain’t pretty.
    In fact if I do it again I’ll finish at Heddon.
    Nothing wrong with bailing out.
    I’m now living with a irreparably tear to my lateral cartilage in my left knee, . Due to pushing it when I should have probably bailed.
    All the best Al

    • lonewalker says:

      Al, sorry to hear about your knee – mine are my biggest cause of concern too. HW has some great sectons, but too few and mostly in the middle, not sure I’ll be revisiting anything other than the bits that coincide with the Pennine Way in future

      • spoony says:

        I was covering about 25 miles a day, I enjoyed first day, until Carlisle, there was some really nice picturesque parts, some boring, the crags were nice, . And I think the lack of people made it nice to.
        Being localism to the wall I go and do mini bits as much as I can. It’s very nice in winter.
        And Hadrians wall campsite is nice and only closes Christmas day boxing day and new years day a believe maybe even less

  2. lonewalker says:

    Scott, sounds like the exact same problems I was having, blisters on the feet and pack rash on my back. Hope you enjoyed the walk despite the discomfort. I will be back in the near future to walk it again, after I’ve figured out what I did wrong 🙂

  3. Scott Duncan says:

    Sorry to read you had to bail out of the walk, Me and two of my friends walked West to East starting 1st August… Was alot harder than i imagined it to be, blisters galore, pack rubbing on the backs and general sore muscles.

  4. lonewalker says:

    Vera, thanks for taking the time to send your encouragement, it’s always great to hear that people enjoy the diary. I hope the Lakes weekend is a success and that you have good weather. Unfortunately I’ll be there on Saturday – probably Haystacks or Pillar – so that means it will be raining and lousy on that day 😉

  5. Vera says:

    Hi – Just wanted to say I am enjoying your website enormously. I chanced upon it the other day and I keep dipping in and out of when I can – there is so much so read and it is so interesting. I should have been packing because I am going over to the Lake District at the weekend but I’m afraid that got hit on the head tonight – the packing I mean. You have certainly put a lot of effort in and I just want you to know it is very much appreciated. The word vicarious has already been used but it is most appropriate. I use the ‘Mad about Mountains’ website in the very same fashion – it is my lunchtime treat at work. Wonder would my bosses give me a longer lunch to enjoy your site as well…
    Anyway, keep up the good work and may you enjoy many more walks.
    PS Sorry to hear about your Hadrian’s Wall expedition. I was all settled today to catch up with your exploits and well, you just knocked me for six!

  6. PhilW says:

    Sorry to read about your problems. Never mind, probably better to call it a day and try again later rather than carry on and suffer. Do you think it was just bad luck or are there lessons you can learn from?

  7. lonewalker says:

    I’m sort of pleased that I didn’t experience the best bits of the wall in a negative frame of mind, which is certainly what I would have been carrying with me if I’d carried on yesterday. It means I have an incentive to return and walk those two days (Greenhead to Heddon) in the future.

  8. baz carter says:

    It’s a shame that you had to bail out but if it’s not fun it’s not worth doing. The next bit from Greenhead onwards is the best bit too. Like you I walked west to east and missed the last fifteen miles due to not wanting to walk through the city…

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