Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Hadrian, Day 4: Better than Expected, a nice walk to Corbridge

Our last day of hiking.  This day, we would hike about 7 miles along the Wall and then turn off and hike a few miles to Corbridge, were we would take the train back to Newcastle.  

Ok, so I hate to get all complainy but the English pub in the countryside really needs to step up their game as far as food is concerned.  I wanted to cry at breakfast when I was presented with deep-fried mushrooms, and I hadn't had anything crunchy or fresh in days.  The vegetables were doubtless from the freezer, and presented with no seasoning or ceremony: just a dish with steamed broccoli and carrots and peas, very wilted and mushy and discolored.  Very sad, as I am one of those people who NEEDS my vegetables and I don't feel right if I'm not eating enough of them.  Also, at this particular pub, I asked for small roasted potatoes as a side, and they came back with a plate of roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, and fried potatoes all on one plate.  Because I need more potatoes.  Also, a microwave and a fryalator does not a kitchen make.  

Anyway.  Aside from the grim foodie scene, I am in love with the countryside here.  

I continue to amaze myself with my body's ability to bounce back after 9 hours of napping.  I can be exhausted and achy and tired, but after a good sleep, I have no problem at all getting up and doing it all again.  Sleep.  It's Magic.

I didn't know quite what to expect with our hike this day; the OS map indicated that we would be following a busy road most of the day.

We got a couple miles down the road and realized that we never gave the key back to reception at the pub.  The thing was huge, too- it weighed about as much as a brick.  A frantic on-trail phone call later and we were told to drop the key by a teahouse a little further up the trail.  Bullet dodged!  People here, despite lacking culinary skills, are friendly.

True, the road was nearby, but it was a fairly pleasant countryside walk, with nice long downhills and very few uphills.  The handful of people we saw on the trail were walking from Newcastle, and they assured us red-faced and puffing that we had a very pleasant downhill walk ahead of us.

The wall, once again, was all but disappeared on us, but there was this interesting section:

You can see the indentation in the foundation where the builders decided that they had enough of the 3 meter wide wall, and suddenly changed it to a narrower structure.    And...that was the only bit of wall we saw that day.

We passed the tiny St Oswald's Church, on the spot where King Oswald of Wales battled the pagans to bring Christianity to the North.

Mostly, we were just following the defense ditch that the Romans dug, and the wall was no more.

It was really easy walking, and despite the road being about 30 feet away, it was peaceful.  Another day's walk and we would have been in New Castle, slightly bored.

The day was pleasant enough, and we turned down a lane to explore a tiny little chapel and a house that was built from a castle.

It seemed quite posh, and they had "Keep Out" signs and high walls all around their manicured grounds.

We decided to try for another English Heritage sight nearby, Aydon Castle, but it was closed on Mondays.  Still, we wove our way through the woods and started seeing signs of civilization.

We hoofed it into Corbridge with a few hours to spare before the train swung into the station, and set out to acquire ice cream and explore.

There was a Roman fort and town here as well, Coria, but I was kind of done with the Romans at this juncture.

It ended up being really charming and sweet town- I wouldn't mind to make this my base camp if I was to ever come back to the area.  Lots of cute shops and cafes and places to eat.  If I felt we smelled nice enough to crowd into a cafe, I would have spent an afternoon drinking tea and people-watching.

There was a beautiful old church of St Andrews, made from stone plundered from the nearby fort.   A very knowledgeable lady in the church gave us a quick history, and pointed out all sorts of interesting things.

Corbridge being a border town, there was a time when the Scots would come down and raid and terrorize from time to time.  She said the black marks on the front of the Norman doorway was from the time Robert Bruce came down to terrorize the townfolk and tried to burn them out of the church.

Town explored and fawned over, we grabbed a pint in a little pub that had a beer garden next to the train station before heading back to civilization.  We ended up doing about 10 miles on this day- the light walk I thought we would be doing was hardly that, and we boarded the train fragrant and sticky.

I'm not rushing back to finish the trail anytime soon, or ever.  I'm perfectly happy with the more wild and remote sections that we tackled, and I'd rather find a new trail to explore rather than walk along a roadside and through cities for a couple more days.

What made the trail totally worthwhile though were all the museums and places to stop along the Roman trail.  It seemed weird, but I did learn quite a lot on this hike.  

My feet were fine, with just a couple small blisters, and maybe just a little tender, but I'm just thrilled that we did this walk.  Even though it wasn't difficult, I felt blissfully exhausted.

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