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Thursday, June 11, 2015

June 9 Burnhead Day 1

Up early and it looks like another nice day. Had my breakfast, paid for my lodgings and took a 15 minute taxi ride to the train station. Collected my tickets for 8:40 to Carlisle. Checked the boards for my train and thought it was odd that it was 3 minutes early but that was okay. I walked through the gate, put my luggage on board and settled into a comfortable seat. Shortly after we departed the conductor came through to collect the tickets and advised me that I was on the wrong train. I had boarded the 8:37 operated by Northern Rail instead of the 8:40 operated by Virgin Rail. He was excellent about it. He said I could take a train at the next stop and go back to the station but my ticket was only good for the 8:40 which had left by now so that didn't help me. If I stayed on this train it would get in too late to catch the next leg of the trip to Haltwhistle so that ticket wouldn't be any good either. In the end he found out what the connection would be if I continued to Carlisle and let me stay on the train. He didn't even charge me for the trip hich was very nice of him since it was the other railway that had been paid. I sat back and relaxed for the next 2 and 1/2 hours while we stopped at every little station on the way. My original train while not direct was only scheduled to be 1 and 1/2 hours long. I saw some lovely countryside generally travelling through farming country with sheep cattle and windmills and some industrial areas as we came into towns and villages.

Dumfries Train Station
I put this in because my friends Sandra and Greg were there last year for the World Curling Championships

I arrived in Carlisle at 11:05 and bought a new ticket to Haltwhistle for 11:35. I checked 3 times before getting on the train which was a two car unit direct to Haltwhistle. It was a 28 minute ride through some of the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen and I've seen a lot in England. There were fields, sheep, farms and ruined homes all in a lush green setting. Haltwhistle is an unmanned station but just outside a lovely streetscape. Here is a picture of the train I arrived on and the station.


I walked up to the Main Street and called through to my landlords. Christine said she would be in to pick me up in about an hour. She made two suggestions for lunch, a nice sandwich shop or the Black Bull Pub both on the Market Square. I chose the (wait for it) Black Bull Pub which proved to be a lovely choice. I ordered Caesar salad sandwich and a 1/2 pint of Allendale Golden Plover, a local ale. These I consumed by a wood fire that took off any dampness that might have been in the air. It was currently 13c and cloudy.
One of the prettiest pubs I have been in

After lunch I walked to the square and shortly Christine arrived. Her husband David is just recovering from a hip replacement operation so he couldn't drive yet (but that changed two days later.) They have owned the Burnhead B&B for several years and are ideally suited to this vocation. They are a retired nurse and child advocate and were totally enjoyable to stay with. The house has 4 bedrooms of which 2 are used for the B&B. Usually they are very busy this time of year but had a bit of a schedule change due to David's operation and I am the only guest for the next two days. It is very nice for me. The house was built using stones from Hadrian's Wall, the foundation of which runs under the house and extends up the field behind them. My room has two twin beds and an en-suite bathroom. The d├ęcor is lovely and the finishing touches are well received. I really like this place. They have a lovely back yard that is kept cleanly mowed and also has beautiful plantings.

My hosts
After I got unpacked I went for a walk to part of Hadrian's Wall using a topographical map and instructions both given to me by David. Shortly after turning left out of the road at the bottom of their driveway I came to Mile Castle 42 which was a fort at one time. I first saw it when driving down the road with Christine and it is certainly impressive. This would be the geographic centre of the wall which runs roughly from Newcastle on the East to Maryport on the West. The walls currently appear to be 6 feet thick and vary in height from 3-6 feet. Originally when they were built around 100 AD they would have been 18 feet high, a forbidding impediment to the invaders. The walls have been in many places pillaged and used by local people over the years as a natural supply of building materials for homes, barns and fences. Their are certainly a lot of them around.
 This is Mile Fort 42. These forts would be spaced every mile along the wall and in between would be equally spaced two turrets. These were all used for look out positions. A fort would usually have 10 soldiers and a turret maybe only 2.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

The portion of the wall on the left shows how many of the stones have been removed while the section on the right shows an intact portion. I walked for about a mile today ending up at turret 41B. This was at quite an elevation and gave some great views. I saw lots of people walking and it is customary for hikers to walk sections of the wall either all at once or in well established blocks. They will often walk until they are close to a location with accommodations such as hostels and B&Bs. These are in high demand at this time of the year.
I got back to Burnhead at 4:00 and was invited to have tea with Christine and David out on the patio. Many walkers passed us by as they would be looking to get off the wall and secure their place for the night. 
I myself got cleaned up and took care of some details such as charging my phone and sending off emails to family and friends telling them about the problem with my computer. Then I set off for the Mile Castle Pub the only place to have supper in the area without going to Haltwhistle 3 miles away. The walk only took 10 minutes and when I walked out of the end of the road and up an incline one of the patrons sitting outside said that it looked like I came out of nowhere. 
I went inside and ordered a 1/2 pint of their bitter and a scampi dinner. It came deep fried-but not bad, with new potatoes and a salad. It was quite a nice meal. I ordered another 1/2 pint and went outside to drink it on a bench. I had a nice chat with the landlady who was busy potting plants.  It was a beautiful view across the fields and I have a nice shot of a rock wall beside the road on my way home.

Countryside View
Look at the detail in this wall section

That's all for tonight.


1 comment:

  1. " one of the patrons sitting outside said that it looked like I came out of nowhere." I knew you were fast and now I have witnesses! :)