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Archive for September, 2021

Midway through my walk along Hadrian’s Wall I got a message from my brother-in-law to say that he was treating my sister to a trip to Ireland for her 50th birthday πŸŽ‚ πŸ₯³ Hoorah! And would I be able to join them? Would I just!!! ☺☺

This is a significant birthday and definitely needs to be celebrated in outstanding fashion.

25 x 2!!

It’s kind of a circle too; it will be 20 years since I flew to Ireland from South Africa to celebrate her 30th birthday …. a journey that changed the course of my life and ultimately my daughter’s life too.

Now they’re flying over from South Africa and I’m flying from the UK.

Isn’t it interesting, the many twists and turns of life, and how an action you take one day/month/year can have unexpected consequences.

I’m delighted and really excited to see them again – it’s been 5 years since I was last in SA, and with Covid-19 I had no plans to travel there for the foreseeable future…mostly because SA is still on the UK’s ‘red list’ and I would have had to quarantine for 2 weeks on my return at an extortionate cost in a hotel room.

But it seems that Ireland has less draconian and inwardlooking rules than the UK and you can visit as long as you’re vaccinated.

So it was with much excitement that I booked my flight to Ireland and on 7th October we will be meeting in Dublin, along with my daughter, son-in-law and grandson to celebrate my sister’s 50th and tag on the 20th anniversary πŸ˜€ of my new life in the northern hemisphere. Although 50 beats 20 any day 😁😁

It’s with much excitement that I’m counting the days. ☺ πŸ—“

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Hello πŸ‘‹πŸ‘‹ I’m back. And it done. Yes, I reached Banks at Fort Maia (aka Bowness on Solway) at 15:14 yesterday 21.09.21 πŸ˜€

Banks at Fort Maia

The first thing I did was phone my daughter and sob πŸ˜„πŸ˜„ We had a lovely long chat and she did a photo of me at the hut via WhatsApp video. Technology eh!!

Crazy lady via WhatsApp video 😁😁 it looks like I’m holding the hut up!! πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ

So I guess this post is jumping the gun a wee bit since I haven’t really posted much about my journey since 1st September when I started my journey at the Scottish border near Berwick Upon Tweed…but I really wanted to share this with you now, and later I’ll jump back in time and update you on my adventures.

In summary it’s been an amazing experience. Hard at times with days when I hit a wall of exhaustion, but other days that were a sheer joy.

Oh the things I have seen and the places I have been….every day a new door to open on vistas and adventure. And have I had some amazing adventures….but all will be told in time.

Meanwhile, here I am at Banks at the end of the 84 miles National Trail of Hadrian’sWay, and finally I can legitimately wear my cap 😁😁 ‘I’ve Walked Hadrians Wall’.

πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ

I have to give a shout out to Gemini, my walking poles.Β  Without them I would not have been able to complete the walk. They saved me from stumbling (many times), helped me haul myself up inclines, and steadied me going down vertiginous descents. They kept my balance on rough paths and helped me jump over muddy puddles. They are invaluable and I am so grateful for their constant presence…they are like an extension of my body now, and we’ve been walking together for 5 years. Unlike me, they’ve had 3 sets of new feet and still going strong.

I’ll get onto my laptop soon and catch up….from the Scottish Border near Berwick Upon Tweed on the east coast of Northumberland, to the west coast of Cumbria; Bowness on Solway – 421 kms (263 miles) North to South along the Northumberland Coast Path and East to West along Hadrian’s Way.

Done and dusted (except for 12kms between Craster Harbour and Alnwick…but more about that later πŸ˜„πŸ˜„

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Yes, unbelievably it’s Day 17 of my walking adventure and Day 8 of my jaunt along Hadrian’s Wall, so I thought I’d pop in and give a quick update.

I had hoped to update you on a daily basis as mentioned before, but oh my gosh, the most I could manage was to eat (not even every night), shower, repack Pepe, and then bed. And repeat.

As per the title, I’m now starting Day 17 of my adventure, and Day 8 of my walk across country from North Shields; Segedunum Fort to Bowness-On-Solway, along Hadrian’s Wall. What an experience it has been. I’ve taken hundreds of photos and will share some of them in due course when I get the time, and energy to write ✍ 😁😁….so….here I am

Relaxing in bed in Brampton, watching a stunning sunrise and thinking back over the last 16 days.. it’s been a truly epic journey.

When I first planned on adding the Northumberland Coast Path to my Hadrian’s Wall adventure, I never for one minute doubted I’d be able to do it. But I also had no idea of what lay ahead. If I had, I might not have been quite so confident. But now that I’m near the end, and with the easy stretches ahead, I’m astounded I managed to get this far, and certainly amazed I’m still standing…well at the moment I’m lying down 😁😁😁

But, geez, I never imagined I would do quite as much walking as what I have. It’s been epic. Every day has brought its own joy, and pain, and laughter, and lots of “OMG that’s amazing” moments; reaching the border with Scotland, the dolphins off Farne Islands, seeing that bridge in Berwick Upon Tweed, traversing the bloody Blythe River estuary πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ, visiting St Mary’s Lighthouse, the wonderful beaches of Northumberland, the many castles – all different and unique in their own way, reaching Tynemouth, the bridges of Newcastle, visiting Arbeia Roman Fort, discovering the first section of the Wall at Heddon on the Wall, seeing the ascent and then descent as I climbed the first ridge on Hadrian’s Wall (I truly do not know how I did all those), seeing the tree at Sycamore Gap from the top of the ridge and suddenly realising what it was πŸ˜„πŸ˜„, exploring the forts and carrying my backpack for 32kms on what was the hottest day of my whole journey…unreal.

I just wish I hadn’t been so tired at the end of each day, I’d have liked to write down the daily experiences…but it was all I could do just to upload some photos before crashing. I’m looking forward to calculating my distances. But one of the best aspects of this journey has been the many, many lovely people I have met along the way, especially on Hadrian’s Way…truly epic.

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Hi everyone, I’m still alive. Just such long days and soooo tired I just couldn’t face anything except bed.

But I wanted to pop in and say that all is well, I’m having a thoroughly good time. This country is amazing and I will have to share it all when I am not totally exhausted.

However I have to share today’s adventure which was totally unexpected…after I had visited Bamburgh Castle and Seahouses, I went back to Belford…

And then I set off along the next stage of the Northumberland Coast Path, from Belford to Fenwick… and enroute I ended up on a completely different adventure… All went well up until that pic with the gate…a sign that was meant to be there wasn’t and after a good 90 minutes of walking, and walking and wondering when I was going to see the next signpost, I ended up at a farm. I spotted a gentleman working on some machinery, so meandered over and said “excuse me, I’m so sorry to bother you  but am I on the Northumberland Coast Path?”….the answer was short and to the point “no”. Oh geez. Anyway after much discussion, he offered to drive me back to the gate where I was meant to turn off….and a teeny tiny plea from me “I don’t suppose you’d consider taking me all the way to Fenwick..only the last bus is at 6.45 ,and if I walk back, I’m going to miss it”. So blow me down if he didn’t actually drive me all the way!! It was quite thrilling actually, racing along the tracks at 60 kms per hour in a farm cart of sorts, scattering deer, and rabbits and pheasants as we went in my defence, he said that a signboard wasn’t where it was meant to be. So he took me all the way to the bus stop and we got there 5 minutes before my bus was due. The map shows where I ended up. In Holborn, and I should have been in Fenwick…which was miles away. When he dropped me off, I said “you Sir, are a true gentleman” to which he replied “I’ve been called many things, but never a gentleman “.

He also said I wasn’t the first, and probably wouldn’t be the last!! Clearly he’s had people ending up at his farm before!

Where I ended up…Holburn. where I was meant to be…Fenwick

Other than that, I’ve been to Lindisfarne (yesterday) absolutely fantastic. Didn’t get lost walking back πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

And today I visited Bamburgh Castle – stunning place!! And the seaside town of Seahouses…so cute!!

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Day 1 done and dusted 😁😁 I had a completely uneventful journey, ever so quick from King’s Cross to Berwick…and boy are those trains fast!!

Arrived in Berwick to the most glorious weather and scooted quickly over to the castle ruins. I didn’t go right into the keep coz it closes at 4pm and I got there at just on 3.54…but I had a good look around and then headed back up the million steps I’d just walked down πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ Google maps doesn’t show how steep some places are!!

The River Tweed
Tweed Castle
The Royal Bridge

The Airbnb is lovely and the host is amazing…there’s a gorgeous ginger cat and a beautiful golden labrador, so I have had lots of kisses and cuddles.

My bed for the next 3 nights

As soon as I had dropped off my backpack, I grabbed my day pack and headed north yo the Scottish border. OMG what a path!! The views were spectacular but the path was hell!! For the most part it ran right along the very edge of the cliffs with just a tuft of grass between the walker and the vertiginous cliffs that fall 100s of feet down to the sea. The North Sea in case you wondered.

Spectacular. The weather turned soon after and the clouds came in
Part of #notthecoastpath 🀣🀣

A local suggested I walk along the above ‘path’ because the real path “is a bit rough, and this is a lovely wee walk” – well he wasn’t wrong about the path, but this was no better and I crossed the edge of a potato field to the path as soon as I could. I’m thinking he’s never walked to the border before…

Now this was more like it…leading away from the Scottish border, it was a joy to see this…if only the whole route had been the same

However, despite the awful path and the daunting propect of a twisted ankle on a very narrow and uneven path, and the fading light, I’m so glad I made the effort to walk up to the border and back

Welcome to Scotland 😁😁
English border
It was so cool to cross through the gate into Scotland

The views are absolutely spectacular.

I’m standing on the path!!! A twisted ankle or a trip and you’d be in for a swim
Literally right on the edge

Once I got back to town I had a quick whizz around and walked a small section of the town ramparts, which are just amazing with awesome views of the river and estuary.

Town walls
Walking the ramparts
Fantastic views
Guarding the town

I got back to the b&b at just on 9pm and having missed the fish and chip shop, I had 2 cup a soup and a cup of tea.

In all a terrific start to my Northumberland Coast adventure. Just on 17kms covered.

My walk

I’ve added some of the history of Berwick in case you’re interested πŸ˜‰

Berwick is just four miles south of the Scottish Border, but during the last 300 years, control of the town swapped 13 times between England and Scotland. Berwick’s Elizabethan town walls are the most intact in England, and were Elizabeth I’s biggest and most expensive project during her reign to keep firm control of this key town.

https://www.visitnorthumberland.com/explore/destinations/towns-villages/berwick-upon-tweed

Situated at the mouth of the River Tweed near the border of two kingdoms, the town of Berwick suffered centuries of conflict, as control of the town passed back and forward between England and Scotland until the late 17th century. Each crisis brought repairs and improvements to the fortifications, culminating in the great artillery ramparts begun in 1558. These survive largely intact and make Berwick one of the most important fortified towns of Europe.

Berwick’s town walls are its most famous piece of architecture and still stand strong today, hundreds of years after they were built. Berwick actually has two sets of walls, the first set (of which only fragments now remain), commenced by Edward I, was two miles long. The later Elizabethan Walls (which are still complete) are a mile and a-quarter in length. The ramparts completely surround the town, with four gates through which entry to the town is enabled.

Berwick’s Elizabethan Walls are the only example of bastioned town walls in Britain and one of the best preserved examples in Europe. When built in 1558 – designed to keep out the marauding Scots who regularly laid claim to the town – it was the most expensive undertaking of England’s Golden Age.

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Andddd….breathe!!! πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ geez, I don’t remember being this tense when I set off for my Camino in 2017!! Probably coz I didn’t fully appreciate what was ahead.Β  But now I do. πŸ€”πŸ€”

My heart is racing and I’m on the edge of crying..copiously πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ But I’m as ready as I can be. I’ve trained, I’ve packed and repacked, taken stuff out, put other stuff in, researched just about every inch of both routes, noted all dates, times, accommodation, excursions, reference numbers, telephone numberset etc etc so nothing left to be done, but πŸšΆβ€β™€οΈπŸšΆβ€β™€οΈπŸšΆβ€β™€οΈπŸšΆβ€β™€οΈ Whewwww. Cor blimey!!

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