We took an extra day on our walk in the middle of our trip, an area which is remote and therefore more intact sections of the wall and forts. If you ever do the walk think about it. It give you lots of time to enjoy the area, and to take a break during the storms.
In this area the wall is built along the edge of cliffs. It is fairly vigorous walking, and some of the steep, rocky areas are a bit treacherous when wet.
This section contains a lot of lovely scenery, even on a cloudy day, including the most photographed tree in England: the sycamore of sycamore gap. It is a striking site: a large healthy sycamore tucked into a gap in the cliffs.
The walking part, for us, was from the Steel Rigg visitor center to Housesteads Fort.
Turret on Steel Rigg.
We took the bus from Housesteads past Steel Rigg to Vindolanda. Vindolanda is not to be missed. If I had it to do over I would have opted for 3 nights at Henshaw Barn so we had a full day there.
Vindolanda is a very large fort and the civilian settlement that built up around it, still under excavation, along with a well done museum of the finds. Including personal letters, miraculously preserved and located that give insight into daily life.
Our fifth day going east from Bowness-on-Solway took us from Lanercost Priory to Gilsland, the county line between Cumbria and Northumberland.
It felt a bit like the real wall walk started as we headed east from Lanercost. Before that it was a lovely walk through English countryside. We finally got to see Hadrian’s wall, not just stones from the wall used in other buildings. That is because we were moving into less populated, more rugged terrain: Fewer buildings that needed stone (like the Priory) and harder to take the stones far.
Path, wall reamins and road running arrow straight.
Stile built into a stone wall.
Straight path forward.
Pedestrian bridge over the Irthing River at Willowford.
Remains of the Roman abutment at Willowford, the river shifted away from the bridge over the past 1500 or so years.
Most people “do” this 14 or so mile stretch in one day. The walking is pretty easy and even I could have done that (although it would have been a stretch), but we took two: Carlisle to Crosby-on-Eden, then Crosby-on_Eden to Lanercost Abbey.
We did this in order to backtrack a bit and spend the morning at the Tullie House Museum in Carlisle. This was a very worthwhile stop because we learned quite a bit about how to recognize the wall and the earthworks near it when un-excavated-which is most of the way. It made the walk into a sort of scavenger’s hunt.
On this stretch you start out walking along the Eden River in Carlisle, the main charm of this stretch is the wildflowers along the way.
It is a nice walk through Cumbrian countryside. The tower in the picture below is a folly, not an ancient fort.
The weather was okay until we got to Crosby-on-Eden, then the wind came up. Overnight it really blew, and the next day was blustery–good English weather with lots of atmosphere. It was in the stretch between Crosby-on-Eden and Lanercost that you start to see the signs of the earthworks and un-excavated wall. The only parts of the wall itself that you see are the stones re-purposed in churches, manor houses, etc along the way.
Hadrian’s Wall Path.
In this stretch you are walking on un-excavated wall with the defensive ditch running by your side.
Passing though farms and fields of buttercups.
As you leave the river the terrain is no longer flat, but sometimes that is because of human activity.
These young bullocks seemed to be saying “and don’t come back” to me. They had followed me across their field.
The sun came out at the end of the second day.
The end of that section, Lanercost Abbey, a lot of the stones for the Abbey were initially part of Hadrian’s wall.
The pups and I walk the same route most mornings, except when it is slicker weather. There is a spot along the way that we refer to as the “hump on 47th” where there are views out to the Olympic Mountains, when they are “out”. It is steep, a bit over grown and slippery on all but the driest days. Here is the path to our viewpoint from different directions (and different weather):
The view varies from mildly spectacular to non-existent:
These were taken on a path through the lush gardens of Garinish, in Ireland.
Garinish is an island near the Ring of Kerry. For some reason (maybe because so many of the same plants we saw there are blooming right now) I’ve been thinking about it lately. It was a driving challenge to get there from where we were staying in Killarney, but the travel was through beautiful country and well worth the white knuckles through a few stretches. It’s not super well known.