Sunday, 20 May 2018

Pennine Way

Greenhead → Rapishaw Gap

hadrians-wall.jpg Distance: 9.17 miles
Ascent: 681 metres
Duration: 3 hours 27 minutes

The Wall
« Not walked | Not walked »

thirlwall-castle.jpgWe made no progress north today. Instead we walked east along The Wall, you know: Hadrian's one. It really exists. Somehow we've lived on our island all this time without witnessing first hand its most famous archaeological site.

bhf-walkers.jpgFrom Greenhead to Rapishaw Gap (just shy of Cuddy's Crags) the Pennine Way follows the line of Hadrian's Wall as it relentlessly pursues its journey from coast to coast, rolling over hills and clefts without diversion. The best preserved sections of the wall are along this stretch, and were being enjoyed today by an eclectic mix of people: Pennine Way walkers like us, other long distance wayfarers on the coincident Hadrian's Wall Path, day trippers, foreign tourists, dog walkers, rock climbers and those participating in a British Heart Foundation charity walk.

Where the Pennine Way leaves the wall we bumped into a fellow walker who has been on the same schedule as us for the past three days. Unlike us though, she's pushing on to Bellingham tonight and will finish the trail a whole two days ahead of us. With so much to see we're glad to have a shorter day today, but we'll miss comparing notes with our occasional companion.

milecastle-39.jpgInstead of continuing on the Way we ended this knee-straining, undulating, historical pilgrimage with a visit to Housesteads Roman Fort, a small township built against the wall, which had been home to a garrison of 800 soldiers. It's well worth a visit to get a sense of how people lived and survived in this bleak frontier landscape. Then on the way to the new Youth Hostel at Twice Brewed we visited Vindolanda, another Roman settlement -- this one predating the wall. There's much to see at both sites and we didn't do either justice. We'll have to come back.

But the Wall is really the star today, in all its splendour. From the too-frequently photographed Sycamore Gap, to the little sections where the only hint of masonry was an unusually linear earthen mound, it's amazing that any of this 2,000 year-old structure survives at all.

Notes for future walkers:

  • If you're going to repeat our exact walk, we recommend stopping for lunch at Vindolanda (where there's a decent-looking café) rather than Housesteads (where the best you'll get is a pre-packed pasty).
  • To walk to Vindolanda from Housesteads, take the track running south-west from Housesteads museum. Where the track reaches the B6318, turn right briefly before picking up a bridleway on the opposite side of the road. Note that most maps show this bridleway to the east of the track, not west. Follow the bridleway to East Crindledykes farm, then take its access track to a minor road. Turn right on the road, then take the second road on the right which leads directly to Vindolanda's main museum.
  • From Vindolanda to The Sill, leave the site at the opposite end, follow the road to a t-junction then turn right.

Posted by pab at 17:52 | Comments will be back one day. Please email me instead!