First glimpse of actual Roman wall, between Walton and Banks
Day 1 – Thursday – Bowness-on-Solway to Stanwick (
– 12 miles
No pictures today. Incessant rain and deep mud (I sank almost to my knees in a harmless looking field – Cumbrian mud is special) made this day rather heavy going – not helped by the fact that we made an ill-judged detour of about 3 miles to get a distant view of a monument to Edward I on the marshes – he died there, of dysentery. No visible trace of Roman walls thus far – at one point we travelled along an interestingly straight road which we thought might well follow the line of the wall, but in fact it was built on an old railway! A few herons on the tidal flats of the Solway, but mostly the day was a bit grim.
Bright spots in the evening were an excellent Indian meal in a Tandoori restaurant in Carlisle, catching part of a rare Liverpool FC win on TV in the pub and – best of all – heroic efforts by our host at the B&B to help us clean and dry our boots and wash some very dirty clothes. Most kind and much appreciated.
Day 2 – Friday – Stanwick to Banks (near Walton) – 14 miles
Much better day – little or no rain, but still a lot of slow progress through muddy areas. We got our first sighting of a recognisable piece of wall near the end of the day. This is a very rural area – villages well spaced out, and most of the pubs have shut down, apparently. The recession is here.
Despite the lack of authentic wall thus far, there is an abundance of rectangular blocks of dressed stone in the dry-stone dykes and the barns, and it’s pretty obvious where it came from…
Because refreshment sites are thin on the ground, there are a number of honesty bars along the way offering cold drinks and snacks – something I’ve not seen on other walking trails. Tomorrow we should get into the sections where the wall is much more continuous – with luck the mud should be better, though there will be more climbing to do. Beautiful countryside - as we climbed up towards Banks, there were fine views to the South West to Skiddaw and the Lake District.
Main problem to date - the mud seems almost bottomless at times
Hadrian's personal honesty bar service - a classy touch - a
Coke or a Mars bar from the Emperor's personal stocks