Hadrians Wall Hinterlands Walk Blog
Tue 21st April 2015
Sunday 19th April 2015
This walk evolved following the success of this January’s urban walk incorporating the Tyne Bridges and the Ouseburn Tunnel. The idea of including a paid attraction within the body of the walk proved attractive to both the regulars and new clients alike and the visit to Vindolanda was a real success.
Starting from Once Brewed we warmed-up on the ascent to Windshields Crags, the highest point on Hadrian’s Wall at 345 metres. We could equally have gone east along the Pennine Way from Steel Rigg but the wind would have been in our face and it was really chilly and overcast all morning. The two and a half kilometre walk along the crest of the Whin Sill as far as Caw Gap with morning coffee taken adjacent to the Bogle Hole quarry gave plenty of opportunity to appreciate the value of walking downwind and to view the results of the last (Pleistocene) glaciation.
The walk down the dip slope past Shield on the Wall and over the Military Road towards Hill Top had a completely different “feel” to walking along the Wall itself. We crossed Hill Top’s immaculately mowed lawn, even if it was on the right-of-way, to exit by what must be one of the longest genuine drive up to a house that isn’t part of a stately home. Moving east along the lonnen past Cranberry Brow we were at least partly protected from the headwind by the drystone walls and occasional trees and hedges lining the two kilometres long straight. We consciously avoided the footpath via Layside and the steep and boggy section just after it where it crosses both the Bean and Kingcairn Burns to access Vindolanda from the south.
The ticket office at Vindolanda was positively warm as we booked-in but the two girls working behind the counter wearing thick fleeces didn’t think so. We had lunch under cover and out of the wind in the quad with access to “facilities,” luxury, but still distinctly chilly. A quick walk around the site to get our bearings was followed by a guided tour for an hour or so which proved very informative. The sky was beginning to clear and the sun was coming out. Some of the viewpoints and stopping points around the site were exposed and didn’t lend themselves to lengthy explanations despite the knowledge and enthusiasm of the guide. The tour ended at the museum where the displays, and in particular the interpretation, was outstanding, particularly the material relating to the Vindolanda Tablets. Most of the party took the opportunity to have a hot drink in the cafe before the walk back to the cars just over two kilometres away. An advantage of ending the official walk at Vindolanda meant that participants could spend as little or as long as they wished at this valuable and unique location.
Incidentally Ian and I were at Walltown the following day (Monday 20th April) where we had lunch sitting up on the crags at Turret 44B in out shirt sleeves in really balmy weather, what a difference a day makes. Or next walk is on Sunday 17th May centred around St Cuthbert’s Cave so we are hoping for more consistent and seasonal weather and hope to see you there.
Richard & Ian
Tuesday, 21 April 2015