DATE                                    19.02.06

DISTANCE                          ABOUT 5.2 MILES

WEATHER                          COLD BUT DRY

START / FINISH                  CAR PARK NEAR STELL RIG

Mooching around on the wall

Today we (That’s Yvonne & I) would be doing a small section of Hadrian ’s Wall, and if all went well we would pay the old roman fort of Vindolanda a quick visit . as strange as it might seem neither of us had seen a great deal of the wall or any of the ruins so it would be a first for us, a sorry state of affairs when you think of it a world heritage site right on our doorsteps and we hadn’t bothered to go see it, well that would all change today.

Once again we would be using our free downloaded walking booklet as our guild, but would be added a little bit of our own to the walk, after looking at our planned route I did have the nagging feeling that it might be a bit much for me to cope with, but seeing as I hadn’t been having any real problems with arty leg I figured why not give it a try, there was by the nature of the route several wimp out points where we could cut the walk shorter but something nagging away in my brain kept telling me it’s time to start pushing things a bit harder and so with a mental shrug that was it sorted .

I took a bit longer than normal with my preparation, took that extra bit of care  when putting on my seal in liner and was very carful with the amount of cream that I wiped along the top of the seal , to little and I would develop a hot spot (dry friction burn) that would go on and break the skin and cause all sorts of problems , too much cream and it would melt and run down the inside of the seal causing it to start sliding off my stump and cause the arty leg to literally drop off , so a bit of extra care was needed , naturally I had extra cream in my first aid kit just in case I needed it likewise I had an assortment of wipes and small towels just in case I had to take the leg off and wipe or clean the inside of my seal . In fact my first aid kit was something that I always checked before setting off and had pride of place in my rucksack, over the years there would be quite a few extra things added as I found that I needed them but at this stage it was more or less the standard first aid kit .

Yvonne had packed the rucksack with food and water but we where both hoping that we could get a welcome drink when we visited Vindolanda , after all its open to the public  with a small payment so surly they would have a small café etc. But seeing as it was February we wasn’t sure that it would be open , like most things it could be seasonal and it didn’t even enter our heads to find out till we started the walk ……another lesson learnt check before you set off as it was we needed have worried as the place was open .

Our gear was thrown into the car and off we went, driving up to the small car park at car park at Tower Pell near Steel Rig I couldn’t help but think wow ………..why we hadn’t been here before .The view of the wall from the car park was certainly impressive . the only down side was the amount of walkers  along the trail ,after a few minutes of looking around  gear was sorted and off we went , a small wander down the hill till we linked up with the Hadrian’s wall trail and by pure luck we noted that the Pennine way also run alongside this section of the wall for a while , Looking up at the base of the first climb I did think what the hell have I let myself in for , the rangers had done a lot of work along this section of the wall , A path way of stone slabs and rocks had been laid and stone steps had been set to aid the up hill and down hill sections , I found that it was a lot steeper than what it looked , but with the aid of my hiking poles I didn’t expect any real problems other than the normal ……………Big mistake the first thing I found was the carbon tips on my walking pole would suddenly skid on the rock causing me to lurch totally off balance , naturally I didn’t have any rubber tips on me (another lesson learnt and from this day onwards I always carry a set of rubber tips in my rucksack) so I decided to put the poles away and just struggle up , not a problem it just took me longer , by this time I had quit a few other walkers that where  patiently waiting to pass and so at every possible passing place I would pull over and let them pass, naturally I used these passing places to get my breath back , it was proving to be a lot more knackering than what I thought . However that was nothing compared to how good I felt, there was easy sections along the wall and some harder bits, I was pleased to note that there was a few other people stopping to let the faster ones past, or where they just enjoying the view and didn’t want to rush the experience, something to think about ! however after a while our route took us down off the wall and down towards the old roman fort of Vindolanda there was a bit of confusion as to where the main entrance was , the route we cut down wasn’t the route shown on the map(last time I let Yvonne navigate )  but that didn’t matter and once away from the wall and the stone paths I got out my hiking poles again  and things got much easer and faster for me , I did make a mental note its not about speed to myself but it took many years before I was happy with my slower walking rate .

Once inside Vindolanda we made straight for the tea room , and treated ourselves to tea , coffee and cake , very tasty but a bit on the pricey side still beggars cant be to fussy .

After we had stuffed our faces it was time for a mooch around, there is loads of old roman stuff to see and we spent a fair bit of time looking around. (Note from today 10 years on over the years there has been a huge amount of work done on this site and there is so much more to see nowadays)

Then with one eye on the time we decided its time to start heading back before it got dark as we where still a fair way from the car and had a bit of rough ground to cover and the last thing we wanted to do was get caught out in a strange place in the dark, as it was we just got back to the car park as the light finally went, so all in all a good day.

A few photos

The view from the car park

 

Looking along the wall

 

Looks like lots of folk are up on the crags

 

Yvonne at the base

 

Linking up with the footpath, look at the amount of people

 

Looking towards the top

 

Part way up

Looking back towards the hidden car park

 

Looking back down at our starting point

 

A bit further along looking at one of the mile castles

 

Yvonne at sycamore gap (the Robin Hood tree)

 

Looking back at the tree

 

Looking back along the wall

Looking down at Crag Lough

 

Yvonne getting her face in the photo again

 

Looking down

 

Me leading the way, very easy walking along this section

 

We have now left the wall and heading towards Vindolanda

 

Getting closer

Yvonne posing by some sort of stone object (haven’t a clue what it is)

 

A few photos as we mooch around

 

Time to head back before it gets dark, crossing the Brackies Burn

 

Made it to the top of the other bank (it was a bit muddy)

 

Yvonne pretending she knows where we are

 

Me showing Yvonne that we are not lost

 

Looking up towards sycamore gap

 

Last bit to the car park along a quite road

 

Made it just as the sun starts to set.

Day after thoughts

We both really enjoyed our visit today and agreed that we will return to the wall and do several other walks, pre haps when its not so busy, over the years we have returned in all types of weather and always had a good day out, it was just a dream at this stage but I often though about walking the whole length of Hadrian’s wall …..Something that I though would be impossible for an above knee amputee, happily some years later that wish was fulfilled see: - http://www.onefootinnorthumberland.co.uk/HADRIAN_S_WALL.htm

As for my stump and arty leg I had no problems after todays wander which was good news all round

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