Hadrian’s Wall Day 4
Chollerford to… Chollerford 13 miles (about 7 Wall miles)
We had planned for this to be a light and easy final day of our walk, but in the end, we racked up the most miles of the four days. In all honesty, they were the easiest miles– on the flat and either paved or packed dirt, no hills or boggy messes to wade through.
We had breakfast at the George Hotel at 8. I had a huge one: 2 sausages, hash brown, cherry yogurt with mandarin slices and muesli. I did not get eggs, because I had not specifically asked for them when I ordered my “full English breakfast.” The George’s restaurant fell a bit further in my view. Of all the places we stayed, it was far and away the worst food. Actually, it was the ONLY place that didn’t seem eager to stuff us full of all manner of deliciousness.
We headed out at about 9:00, but we weren’t in a rush, since this was our “bonus” day and we had only planned about 8 miles of walking. We went to St. Oswald’s Church first. It is an old church in the middle of a field that only holds services once a month, but is open all the time, for tourists. How nice is that? It is notable for being the end point of St. Oswald’s Way, which begins on Holy Island.
We stopped in for a look around the church, since they had been nice enough to leave it open for us. We couldn’t help but notice that some of the church decorations seemed decidedly Roman in appearance. Surely, The Church frowned upon such things, even back when it would have been legal to re-appropriate some discarded remnants of a distant era…
After having a good look around, we carried on… about fifteen minutes up the road. The Oswald Tea Shop had just opened for the day, so we decided to take a break. Craig had cream and jam scones with coffee, while I had lemon cake with tea. It was our holidays! Cake is an excellent mid-morning snack when on holiday. Really. Just ask Bill Cosby. He reckons it’s a good breakfast anytime.
The tea shop had two cats loitering out front for customers such as ourselves and Craig was quite happy to share his cream with them. I poured a little of my milk into my saucer for them, until they realized what was going on, and just tried to shove their faces into the little pitcher. About that time, another customer sat at the table next to us. It turned out she was waiting for her daughter, who was walking the Wall for charity with a friend. They had started at the coast. The same day we started at Low Row. They planned to get through Newcastle the next day.
They walked up just as we were leaving, and I couldn’t help but notice that we seemed to be having a lot more fun than they were. It was 10:45, and we had managed to walk about a mile. LOL I should mention that it’s been a while since we’ve seen any actual wall, since the road is built on top of it.
We walked on to the Roman Crossroads, which sounds cool and interesting and historical, but just looks like a small highway. We stopped at the crossroads for lunch at the Errington Arms. This was our first and only proper meal eaten during the day while walking. I had a ginormous sandwich and an order of fries so large, it came in a tureen. I shared the fries and got half of my sandwich wrapped up– apparently an odd thing to do in England. I’m glad I live in Korea, because I have no qualms about getting my leftovers packed up.
After lunch, we decided to change our plans, which had been to turn onto the Roman road. We continued along the Wall (now hidden under the road), which amounted to a pleasant walk through fields, since there was no wall to see. When we got to mile castle 21, we took a country lane to Corbridge.
Neither of us are particularly handy with directions, and somewhere between the turn-off and Corbridge, we took a wrong turn. Fortuitously, the road we were on took us past a modern-castle home along to the real, albeit ruined, Aydon Castle. Since we were there, we stopped to have a look around. The rooms seemed quite small for a castle. In fact, the home we had just passed seemed much larger and fancier. It even had a square tower.
After a short look around Aydon Castle, a local pointed us in the right direction: a bridleway. Yes, we took a horse path to town. It didn’t seem like a path I would have felt confident taking on horseback, but on foot, it was pretty good. We came to a fork with no signage, but a local woman was walking up just then, and she gave us directions all the way to town.
We walked straight through town to the tourist information center, where we got a map of a 2.5 mile walking circuit that included the museum. That sounded pretty good to us, so we followed the river to an abandoned mill, then went a short way down the highway to the museum.
The museum had some nice engraved stones, but after all the museums we had seen in the previous few days, it just seemed like more of the same, only less. The museum was, at best, the same size as the gift shop. Which, while I’m mentioning it, was something I didn’t really get. All of the museum gift shops seemed to have the same stuff: a few related items, costumes for kids, random stationery, even more random novels, and sweets/ honey that were neither famous brands nor locally made. Huh? Who was this stuff for? The person who needed a book to read on the ride home, some jam for the crackers they had brought with them, and some colors for the kids, perhaps…
The one thing noteworthy about the museum was that it was the only one to have large portions of the false floors in the granaries. The others’ had described them, but it was only when I saw that one that I really understood how it worked. Plus, it was a good place for the kids to stand on for a duel. You don’t have to yell, “Look at me!” when you’re standing in the very spot people came to see. These English kids are no fools.
The museum didn’t hold our attention for long, and soon enough, we were back on the road, completing the circuit back to Corbridge. We got within a block of the tourist information center, when a tea shop beckoned. We stopped in for a hot beverage and two of the largest slices of cake I’ve ever seen. If the cake had been cut in slices in the display, we would have shared one. But we are troupers, so we tried our best to finish them both off. (We couldn’t.) At any rate, we hung out, reading the paper until they closed (at 5:00, like most of the businesses seemed to). Full of cake and pretty much walked-out, we called a cab and rode back to the hotel.
We didn’t rest long, though. Within 45 minutes, we were on our way to Durham, hoping to get a quick look at the cathedral and castle before dark. We got to town just after 7:00, so there was still plenty of light, but the castle had closed at 6. By the time we got to the cathedral, it was 7:30, so we only had thirty minutes to look around there. It was dimly lit, but amazingly beautiful. We just wandered around, taking everything in. The front rows were marked for the bride’s and groom’s families, and I wondered how many marriages could live up to a beginning like that.
We had gotten there too late to climb the tower, but we were ready for dinner, anyway. After the overpriced disappointment of the night before, my standards were pretty low: something English. Durham hadn’t gotten the memo, though. Most of the shops and restaurants were closed. The pubs were open, but they weren’t serving cooked food, and we weren’t in the mood for loud music, anyway. We found an Italian place that was acceptable to both of us, but fifteen minutes later, our drink order still not taken and the waiter having obviously ignored Craig’s call twice, we left.
After walking around what seemed like the entire town, we found a “Mexican” restaurant that featured a LOT of French dressing on its menu. I had duck spring rolls (the Mexican classic) and homemade onion rings and Craig had a chorizo and jalepeno pizza. Everything was really good, if not at all Mexican, so, once again, I ate waaaaaay too much.
And that was the end of our Hadrian Wall trip, but not our English trip. The next day, we headed down to Stratford where we had tickets for MacBeth at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Day 0 Low Row
Day 1 Low Row to Greenhead
Day 2 Greenhead to Twice Brwed
Day 3 Twice Brewed to Chollerford