Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Hadrian's Wall Path

Chollerford → Steel Rigg

whin-sill.jpg Distance: 12.84 miles
Ascent: 771 metres
Duration: 4 hours 36 minutes

The craggy days
« Not walked | Not walked »

That's more like it! We always knew today's walk (and most likely tomorrow's) would be a highlight of the week, but that it would also be difficult. Welcome to the middle third of Hadrian's Wall Path, otherwise known as "the craggy days".

mithras-temple.jpgThe first part of the day was similar to yesterday, marching alongside the Military Road. There were more wall fragments to look at including a particularly fine temple to Mithras at Brocolitia Fort. Once we reached Sewingshields the character changed completely as Hadrian's soldiers hammered on across the rocky crags but General Wade — intimidated by the Whin Sill — took his road slightly further south. Even the Romans gave up eventually though: at Limestone Corner the quality of workmanship takes a sudden decline as the soldiers passed the construction baton to geological forces. This section is frequented more by cattle than humans, and it's fascinating to see them milling around the Roman remains.

cattle.jpgBefore long we were at Houseteads Fort, and completed the day by re-walking a stretch that we'd traversed earlier in the year on the Pennine Way as far as Steel Rigg. It's a fine section to repeat, with highlights including the only section of wall which has a public footpath running along its top, Castle Nick and Sycamore Gap. The switchback of the path was well worth the effort as it clung to the rippling landscape.

sycamore-gap.jpgOur fast pace today meant that we reached the end of this leg with sufficient time in the bag to spend most of the afternoon exploring the extensive remains at Vindolanda, a Roman settlement that pre-dates the wall just a few miles to its south.

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