Hadrian’s Wall Path- Day 1

Flushed with success from my Coast to Coast walk, I decided I’d got the bug and wanted to do another one. But which? My target is the Pennine Way, but that’s another long walk (and a lot of time off work!) so it’ll have to wait til next year. But I like a challenge- so if I didn’t have time to do a walk longer than the Coast to Coast (the Pennine Way is almost 270 miles, compared to around 200 for the Coast to Coast), maybe I could do a shorter one but at a quicker pace….

I’ve come to realise just how many long distance walks (LDWs) there are out there! I’d toyed with the West Highland Way, but couldn’t quite spare the time even to do that one… So I settled on the more modest Hadrian’s Wall Path (HWP).

This one is only 84 miles, and is considered one of (if not the) easiest national trail. So how to spice it up? Apparently somebody has walked the whole path in 30 hours- but i’m not that mad! Besides, I still want to enjoy the walk, and want at least a bit of time to stop and look at things.

So I went for 84 miles in 4 days. This is quite an ask (it normally takes around 6) but I want to be out as much as possible, and reckon I can still take it slow enough to look around (if I commit to long but relatively slow days). Well, we’ll see…

I have two big worries. One is the last day walking- it’ll be 30 miles. That’s a big ask, even allowing for the fact that I found the relative short days of the Coast to Coast a bit frustrating. The other worry is that I’m doing this on my own, which kinda feels funny… but it’s been a tough last twelve months for me, for all kinds of reasons, and I think the solitude might do me good.  I’ve got some thinking to do, about lots of things.

So, here I am. Day one. I left Worcester this morning, taking the train to Carlisle before a bus journey to Bowness on Solway and the start of the walk.

Carlisle seems a pleasant place- at least the bit I saw.


And I spent most of the hour or so I had in Carlisle looking round the cathedral


It’s tiny- one of the smallest cathedrals in the country.  Mind you, it used to be much larger, til time got its hands on it…


Note the wonky arch in the background! Don’t make the mistake of forgetting to look up, if ever you go:



It’s quite a treasure. There’s lovely medieval paintings too:


And a lovely air of stillness:


Then it was a bus journey to the start of the walk- Bowness on Solway.  It’s a sleepy sort of place…


And, of course, right on the coast:


Or at least, the Solway.

The guest house is lovely, as is the village. I had a quick look round the village church:



The bells have a rather interesting history- basically they were pinched (literally – this was bandit country back then) from a parish across the Solway in the seventeenth century and never returned. Apparently the tradition is that every new vicar of the aggrieved parish writes to the vicar to ask for his bells back… To no avail…



And so to the pub for a beer, dinner and then back home to bed (via a quick recce of the starting point). Big day tomorrow- though the shortest in terms of miles (14).

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