Hadrian’s Wall Day 2
Greenhead to Twice Brewed 10 miles (7 Wall miles)
We woke up to a light but steady rain. The sheep and cattle were bunched up together under the few trees in their pasture, which didn’t give me great hopes for the day. The night before, we had gotten some local tourist brochures and had decided to detour down a nearby path for an hour or so, but the rain put the kibosh on that idea.
We headed straight for the Roman Army Museum which was only half a mile away and didn’t open until 10:00. So, once again we were hanging around outside like sale shoppers. Since it was still drizzling, we stopped at the quarry up the road for coffee and picked up some homemade chocolate orange cake to go with our lunch. By this point, I had accepted the fact that I don’t much care for English coffee, so I had milk tea, which you can’t really get wrong.
While enjoying our post-breakfast snack, we overheard the rangers (or whatever they are called in England) being told to expect a bus of 40 Chinese tourists, which gave us a bit of a giggle. Their reaction must surely be something akin to how the Nepali migrant workers in Korea must feel when they go “mountain climbing.” We didn’t get the chance to ask them, but we did see that they were VERY impressed with the size of the slugs. One woman stopped dead in her tracks and had to take photos.
At the museum, we saw a few films, some of which were 3D, which didn’t really add anything to the experience. Overall, it seemed more like the entire place was an ad for Vindolanda (our final destination of the day). So, we were glad we saw the museum first and that it wasn’t out of the way. Despite waiting for a couple of the videos to start, we spent less than an hour there. I think the highlight of the museum for both of us was the family of four riding a tandem bike with four seats. We weren’t able to get a photo, but we actually stopped to watch them ride by and then checked out the bike up close while they were in the museum. it looked like a cooler, racier version of this. The cool, sporty, Nordic family riding it might have been part of what made it look cooler, though.
It was still alternating between light rain and gusty wind as we continued along on one of the hillier sections of the path and the rain from previous days had turned the pastures into mud pits in high-traffic (by cattle) areas. Luck was with us, though, and it seemed like the weather cleared up when we had more strenuous bits of walking to do. This is relatively speaking. Of all the path that we covered over the four days, none of it was overly hilly, although there were some spots that I was glad to see the back of.
We stopped at some point to eat the delicious chocolate orange cake, but we still managed to get to Vindolanda by 4:00. It was well off the path, but it was a definite highlight. No one should walk the Wall without spending a few hours there. There were archaeologists and vacationers spending their holidays as pretend archaeologists excavating several areas as well as the results of several decades of excavation work. It was the size of a small village, with many buildings visible enough to get a good idea of what they would have looked like when they were complete. There were also numerous informational signs, explaining each building in detail, complete with schematics and “artistic renderings” of the original buildings. There was even a full-scale replica of a milecastle, so you could see where the soldiers lived and worked in them.
We worked our way around with much more interest than we had at the museum before walking back a mile and a half to the Vallum Lodge, our accommodation for the night. About this time, the weather finally cleared, and a full rainbow formed. We decided we didn’t have the energy to look for a pot of gold, though. Along the way, we passed the Twice Brewed Inn, and the two couples we had met at breakfast banged on the windows and waved as we passed. At dinner, Craig found out they had arrived about four hours before us.
Anyway, we waved but kept on walking a few minutes up the road to the B&B. We checked in, showered, and headed over to the Twice Brewed Inn to meet Craig’s friend, Paul, who was joining us for Day 3 of the walk. We arrived a bit earlier than Paul, and the place was already full. We were able to grab a table for two and I was able to avoid the two couples from breakfast. My daily dose of small talk with strangers had already been filled, and Paul hadn’t even gotten there yet. Craig was feeling more sociable and went over for a brief chat, and confirmed my suspicions that they had not only arrived four hours before us, but had headed straight for the pub and hadn’t moved since.
When Paul arrived, we made three grown people fit in a space meant at best for two, preferably a thin couple on a romantic date. The table next to us was trying to do the same thing, but their third party arrived after Paul, so one of them held their plate in their lap to eat, because they couldn’t get close enough to the table. Note to the Twice Brewed Inn: your food is amazing, but a few more tables larger than a TV tray would be nice.
Despite the lack of space, we ate, drank, were merry, and still ended up in bed before dark. Again.
Day 0: Low Row
Day 1: Low Row to Greenhead
Day 3: Twice Brewed to Chollerford
Day 4 Chollerford… to Chollerford