Walked from: Carlisle
Walked to: Greenhead
Date: 29 August 2015
Distance: 21 miles
Stayed: Greenhead hostel
Weather: Kind! Showers early on, then dry and sometimes ‘even’ sunny
It’s been the sort of day where I’m writing this at eight in the evening and all I want to do is go to sleep… I’m knackered. And tomorrow I’ve got the same sort of distance to walk but over much tougher terrain: I know because less than three months ago I walked the first ten miles of tomorrow’s walk when I was on the Pennine Way! Glutton for punishment? Suffice to say, it’s going to be a pretty early start for me in the morning.
Today’s walk had a definite theme: and that theme was… honesty boxes. You do occasionally encounter them on walks, but today there were five different spots where you could leave cash in exchange for a variety of drinks or confectionary. I got over excited at the first place, near Crosby on Eden, and purchased a Mars Bar as a mid-morning snack despite not really liking them, and steadfastly ignored the next three for fear of a massive sugar rush, but by the time I encountered the (best) one near the top of the hill at Haytongate I was ready for that lovely cold bottle of water. Thank you farmers, your random collections of sugar-based treats hidden in the depths of the English countryside are ACE. Other people clearly think so too, cos’ they’ve left a lot of thank you notes (see photos).
I also encountered the wall for the first time on this trip; the tribes in the Carlisle area were so efficient at repurposing Hadrian’s Walk and its forts that not a trace of stone reminds, but as you start to head to the far east (of Cumbria – we’re not talking about the Great Wall of China all of a sudden) chunks of the wall start to appear. Not long, in fact, after the last honesty box… Would love to build a conspiracy theory out of that one, but life really is too short! By the time I reached Birdoswold, the first significant site of Roman ruins on the walk, the wall was really picking up – although ironically it gets much better after leaving the English Heritage site (you know, the bit that people pay to get in to).
The last part of the walk from Birdoswold (not to be confused with Bird World, which I believe is in Dorset) to Greenhead was mind over (foot) matter; my feet were screaming to be released from their walking boot captors while my head kept trying to distract me:
Isn’t that pretty / ah, look at the sheep /oh heck, that bit I’m headed right towards is seriously undulating… I think you get the picture re’ my internal conversation. No wonder I usually prefer to walk with other people – it’s nice this whole walking alone thing, but it’s so much easier for other people to distract me than it is for me to distract myself!
Photos: Near Crosby on Eden / outskirts of Walton / the favourite of my five ‘honesty boxes’ (this one was a hut) / first glimpse of the Wall, at Hare Hill / the Wall on approach to Gildland