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Friday, June 12, 2015

June 10 Day 2 Burnhead

Up at 7:00. Sunny and 10 c. I have definitely brought the good weather. This is a shorts and t-shirt day. I booked my ticket to Carlisle and since their is only one rail line that services that route I shouldn't make a mistake. Yesterday David had mentioned that his favourite part of the wall is the walk to Walltown about 3 miles away. His advice was to keep the wall on your right, so at 9:00 armed with his map I crossed the stile out of their backyard and proceeded to hike once again on Hadrian's Wall. At this point I am walking through pastures with sheep and lambs all around. The wall stands about 5 feet tall and what I come to realize is that in some places it is fully exposed as a boundary fence and in other areas it is only partly showing because the bulk of it is under 1700 years of deposition. Shortly I arrive at a wooden stile leading into a farmyard. Crossing over I immediately come to the ruins of an old fort called Aesica. This is right in the middle of the farm with barns, horses and equipment all around.


Aesica, barn in the background

Continuing along the wall I pass Turret 42A and Great Chesters before taking a trail through a small wood. Walking beside a raised berm I realize that the unexposed wall is right beside me. Continuing on I pass Turrets 43A and B, the latter being pretty impressive. What does become apparent is that the north side of the wall (facing the invaders) is generally always exposed as a clearly defined wall face and the south side is the one where stones have been removed to make fences and the pasture just rolls right up to it. Where the foundations are showing it shows just how much precision went into the construction.

Turret 43B
Restored Section

Large ditches have also been dug on the outside of the wall to provide a clear field of view. In most places the wall has been built on the crest of a hill so no ditch is required. I sat down at Mile Castle 44 and wrote up my diary. It is pretty much a pile of rocks at this stage so no photos but a very comfortable place to sit. I saw quite a few hikers come through and one guy was even running it. Continuing on to Walltown I saw some spectacular sections of the wall. Some were still intact. Others ran right to the edge of a cliff and ended at a quarry. You can see in the picture on the left that the wall continues on the opposite side of the quarry. It turns out that the area that the wall was built on often contain some of the best road building materials and it wasn't until the mid 1900s that parliament passed a bill forbidding any further destruction or removal of the wall.

The left view shows how the quarry dissects the wall. The right view shows a long continuous section of the wall near Walltown

I arrived at the car park in Walltown and checked out the bus schedule for the A122 that travels along the wall. David had mentioned that it might not run as regularly as the schedule indicated. I saw there was one leaving in an hour so proceeded into the Roman Army Museum and bought a joint pass to here and Vindolanda (my next destination) and a guidebook all for 13.50 pounds. There was a very informative 20 minute video on what it would have been like to be a soldier on Hadrian's Wall.

The bus was running quite late but it was approaching as I walked to the car park. Several people had been waiting some time so David's advice about it being irregular was correct. I rode east to Once Brewed and got off at the crossroads to Vindolanada. Since it was 1:00 I walked back a ways to the Twice Brewed Pub (something about a king travelling through who thought once brewed tea wasn't good enough). They had a nice ale on tap - Twice Brewed Bitter but not much on offering for meals so I sat outside and drank my beer and wrote up my journal.
Chaffinch for Carol

Then I set off to walk to Vindolanada about a mile and a bit away. I stopped at the Once Brewed Information centre and bought a delicious turkey and dressing sandwich that I ate along the way. It was a lovely afternoon and I arrived at the site of one of the oldest and largest Roman forts about 2:00. This was a very impressive site. There was a large fort and outside its walls were the remains of a support village or vicus. There were a succession of four forts starting back in 74 AD. The largest number of soldiers was likely in the range of 1000 and the supporting village would have been of equal or larger numbers. There is an excellent guidebook and signposts illustrating what the various buildings were. What I found interesting was that what is seen on the surface is a filled in excavation that was likely eight feet deep and back filled after excavation to preserve the integrity of the walls.

Heating pillars inside a building
Overview of Vindolanda

There were lots of volunteers working in four different sections of the site. I had a couple of conversations with the coordinators and they were very helpful with details of the work they were doing.
This will be me in a few days

The hit or miss 3:48 bus was right on time though the driver was having a rather heated argument with a would be passenger who was complaining about the lack of schedule adherence. No matter in 10 minutes I was dropped off at the ||Mile Castle Pub. I really don't know how this driver could ever have been late because he drove both times I was with him like a bat out of H... 

I stopped in and ordered a pint of Summer Daze for 2 pounds, the best deal I have had yet. It is now 4:25 and 19 c and sunny. I have been on the go since 9:00 and it was 10 c when I left dressed in a t-shirt and shorts. Sure glad I did that. You learn something new every day. I had been wanting lamb and there is lots of it being grown locally. I asked the publican if I could have lamb chops for supper tonight even though it is not on their menu. He said "If only you had asked me this morning. The butcher closes at noon on Wednesday." I have to say that even though it cost me a lamb chop dinner I do admire the English traditions.

I started off for back home which by the way is 8 min. 52 seconds at a leisurely pace. David and Christine are going to the pub for drinks at 6 so I took a shower and changed and joined them for the walk. We had several drinks together and were joined by their friends Davey and Susan. We shared a lot of laughs and probably some tall tales. At 8 they left and I had a terrific roast pork dinner with new potatoes and salad and a half pint of bitter. 

In the dining room I spoke with a couple from Holland. The gentleman had actually spent time in Stewiacke helping his nephew who left farming to become a preacher in the mid 60s. I think he said his name was deJaegger. They were continuing on to Scotland on their first trip to the UK.

Back home by 9:00 and wrote up my diary in the absence of a blog. All packed (or so I thought) and ready to go in the morning. Watched an Inspector Lewis show on BBC3 and off to bed at 11:00.


  1. Love the Chaffinch photo! Thanks. :)

  2. I am impressed with how much you can pack into each day! Reassures my idea that I am more of a "vacation" girl, and less of a "travel" girl.

    I love reading your blog and seeing the amazing photos! I hope your back is okay once you start working.