Hadrian’s Wall: Day 6 Heddon-on-the-Wall to Wallsend

IMG_2786

Hadrian’s Wall: Day 6 Heddon-on-the-Wall to Wallsend

14.5miles

Today is the final day of walking Hadrian’s Wall. The weather started off quite rainy but late morning cleared up into sunshine.

I took a bridle way back to the main path which took a route across a golf course. From the signs they had in place, they quite clearly do not like walkers.

The route was on tarmac the entire way with no relief provided by softer ground or changes in ascent or terrain. By mid morning it felt like my feet were on fire, and from then on it just became a battle to get to the final mark.

The route takes you along the quayside in the centre of Newcastle which looked lively and bustling. There was a large sign saying ‘Great North Run’, which I changed to the ‘Great North Hobble’.

The end of the walk was a sign post in a back alley footpath, with run down buildings opposite. No sign to say start or end (as there was in Bowness-on-Sands), and I ended up asking a dog walker to take a picture of me. I headed into a museum looking for a glass of celebratory lemonade but alas, their cafe had been shut down. So, definitely an anti-climax.

I understand now why people choose to finish in Bowness on Sands rather than Newcastle, although I would still choose to complete it the same way again: the views are much better and the rain is driven into your rucksack rather than your face.

Thoughts on Hadrian’s Wall Path:

– a good choice for somebody’s first long distance walk as there is plenty of accommodation along the route allowing for short or longer days as one wishes

– lovely views in Northumberland national park, although these views don’t last quite long enough in my humble opinion

– make time to visit the historical sites. I sadly didn’t which I am now slightly regretting.

– if you are not a purist, finish in Newcastle centre, and then cycle to Wallsend? Or even better, carry on 7 miles to the coast.

I’m staying in Newcastle this evening and then making the journey back to Bowness on Sands to collect my car.

Thanks for following this mini-adventure!

Does anybody have any ideas for another walk – which would fit into my annual leave allowance?

IMG_2793IMG_2789IMG_2787IMG_2776IMG_2772

Advertisements

Hadrian’s Wall: Day 6 Chollerford to Heddon-on-the-Wall

IMG_2759

Hadrian’s Wall: Day 6 Chollerford to Heddon-on-the-Wall

15 miles

This morning I woke with a slight dread of having to walk 15 miles (a longer day me for me) and this wasn’t helped when a fellow camper said that he was giving up after one day of walking due to blisters. I tried giving him a motivational talk (as I also have constant blisters) but it wasn’t to be.

Today’s weather was lovely, back to sunshine again. I invested in a travelling tube of suncream but it barely rubs in, so I’m whiter than I already am which is a hard thing to beat.

The route follows the main road again, passing through fields. The men brought out their toys today as they all whizzed by on their motorbikes.

I met a lovely lady called Zoe late morning. She was walking by herself (her husband had damaged his shin when they both finished the Pennine Way a few days) and we had a good chat, although I still had so many more questions to ask by the time we parted ways.

I stopped off in a pub for lunch and a lemonade, but by the last 2hr of walking, I was dreaming about a lemonade stand, cold, tart, sweet and refreshing. Alas, one never materialised, instead I got the lovely fumes of traffic instead. Mmmmm.

Staying at hostel tonight as there are no campsites in the area. I’ve also eaten all my food, and only have one emergency bag of noodles left – whoops.

Last day of walking tomorrow!

IMG_2768IMG_2765IMG_2764IMG_2760

Hadrian’s Wall: Day 5 The Sill to Chollerford

IMG_2737

Hadrian’s Wall: Day 5 The Sill to Chollerford

After commiserating with my two room mates, Niamh and Natalie, on our lack of drying room, I set off after breakfast.

Today’s route took me over the last of the Crags, during which there was a slight drizzle. I refused to put on my waterproofs until I’d reached the top of the last crag, at which point the heavens opened.

The latter section of the route was a raining trudge through fields alongside the main road. Good to do in the rain but not overly inspiring. Even less inspiring when I slipped over.

A man stopped to ask me why there were so many solo ladies walking today (myself and two others apparently) but I didn’t have an answer for him, other than because three ladies decided they felt like walking today.

I stopped into Chester’s roman fort in the hunt of a tea room, and ordered myself a hot chocolate and bacon butty. Natalie and Naimh also came to the tea room (great minds think alike), after which they walked to my campsite with me. Niamh bought me a lighter for my camping stove, so that long hunt is over – thank you!

Noodles for dinner and then bed.

IMG_2739IMG_2745

Hadrian’s Wall: Day 4 Sandysike to Once Brewed

IMG_2707

Hadrian’s Wall: Sandysike to Once Brewed

8miles

Today is my resting shorter day, with this evening’s accommodation at the new YHA The Sill building, an eco-friendly modern building with an exhibition centre and cafe. This will be welcome after last night’s campsite owners wrongly classed their ‘shower’ as a shower.

I set off early today as poor weather was predicted to set in around 11am. The walk followed the Crags, and boy did they mimic the south west coastal path. I’m glad that I didn’t have to walk all of the Crags in the rain as it would’ve greatly increased my chances of  slipping over, breaking my coccyx and having to be rescued.

I realised early into my walk that I’d put my trousers on inside out. So, on top of a crag, standing on a slippy map case on angled ground, I changed my trousers. Halfway through this wardrobe alteration the rain started. It’s moments like these which make a walk. Funny idiotic slightly stressful survivable moments which make me chuckle aloud.

The views were lovely, very desolate to the North, and not so desolate to the south. I passed the point where I crossed over the Wall when walking LEJOG; my heart and soul wanted to head north again, but my feet were saying differently (I told myself that there were White Walkers to the north past the Wall- game of thrones reference).

I had my cheese roll at 11.15am on a crag (a cheese roll doesn’t taste nearly as good indoors) before making my way down the road to the YHA where I had a second lunch of soup and bread (to warm myself up from sitting on the cold drizzling hillside during my first lunch).

Check in isn’t until 3pm so a bit more waiting and then hopefully I can wash and dry my clothes.

Scratch that last part: the brand new hostel, that is situated in the Northumberland National Park, and on the Pennine Way and Hadrian’s Wall Path,  does NOT have a drying room even though it is ADVERTISED as having one. The service person said that if enough people complain to head office they might get heaters/humidifiers installed. I am fuming, pretty sure the whole reason that a walker pays for a hostel is for the drying room. Did they even ask walkers what they wanted when they designed this thing?!!!!! Sorry, rant over.

IMG_2710IMG_2714IMG_2734IMG_2726IMG_2721IMG_2711IMG_2696

Hadrian’s Wall: Day 3 Sandysike to Greenhead

IMG_2669

Hadrian’s Wall: Day 3 Sandysike to Greenhead

I missed my waking up alarms this morning – the alarm is fairly quiet on Dad’s watch – so it was in a bit of hurry that I packed the tent and bag. An adorable jack Russell puppy delayed my departing further as I had to wrestle my underwear from its not-so-adorable teeth.

The weather was glorious again today – I must have pleased the weather goddess somehow.

I saw the first bit of Hadrian’s Wall today. I realised quite by accident. I was walking a long and thought to myself that it quite a thick piece of stone walling, and then I realised that a sign was stood nearby announcing that this was Hadrian’s Wall. I was quite excited as, after all, I am walking the HW path.

I ambled along and stopped to speak to various people, all friendly and interesting.

I had lunch by a river, where it occurred to me that I was eating my last bread roll. So, I walked into a village, Gisland, and stopped at a cafe to buy some unfilled bread rolls from them. And then walked out of the village, only to find another (!) diversion which went back into a village. As lovely as Gisland is, I was glad to leave before further diversion signs could weasel their way onto the route.

Lovely gates designed for backpackers have turned into stiles/ladders. Is this perhaps because the Pennine Way has now joined up with HW…?

I can now see the Crags. Unfortunately it’s raining tomorrow so the most beautiful part will be seen in a hurry and without many pictures sadly.

IMG_2653IMG_2673IMG_2671IMG_2658

 

Hadrian’s Wall: Day 2 Beaumont to Sandysike

IMG_2616

Hadrian’s Wall: Day 2 Beaumont to Sandysike.

Today was a day of diversions and beautiful weather.

I left Beaumont at 8.45am ready to begin  another day ambling along. After reaching yesterday’s campsite so early in the day I was determined to slow my pace and stop more. I also needed to find some matches so I could cook my noodles.

I wandered into Carlisle, via a tarmaced diversion, and grabbed some early lunch from a Sainsbury’s petrol station.  While eating this (at 11.30am) I thought I’d just check the location of my campsite for this evening. Unfortunately it said that it had closed down in 2014. So, cramming my last bit sandwich in my mouth (dramatic I know) I slowly shot off like a rocket, as the next campsite was apparently a further 5.5miles away.

When I got to Crosby, a campsite was available but having psyched myself up to walk further and the fact that it was 13:15, I walked past it out into the wilderness of our luscious farmland.

The last few miles were fairly tough as my feet were protesting, but after passing through a field of cows who were mooing and increasing their speed of waddling, my ambling speed picked up too.

Anyhow, I am now safely camped on a front lawn at Sandysike with a stunning view over the north Pennines. I still have no matches to light my stove though.

IMG_2609IMG_2601IMG_2591IMG_2585

Hadrian’s Wall Day 1 Bowness-on-Solway to Beaumont

IMG_2532Hadrian’s Wall: Day 1 Bowness-on-Solway to Beaumont

9.7 miles

A new (mini) adventure begins! Far less distance than LEJOG due to the sad constraints of annual leave, but hopefully just as fun!

Sorry if I am spamming anybody who subscribed to blog when I was walking LEJOG. I’m making an account of Hadrian’s Wall so that if my memory doesn’t quite hold up to any holiday questions, I can take the lazy way out and direct people here 🙂

Anyway, first day of walking with a heavy rucksack since last summer (I can’t believe it’s been this long!). My backpack feels incredibly heavy again, hopefully I’ll get used to th  weight again pretty quickly. Packing list is similar to LEJOG except that I have added a groundsheet for tent and I’ve forgotten my matches – big whoops.

I set off from a lovely campsite at a Bowness-on-Sands at 8am and quickly met Roger. Roger takes pictures of walkers who are either starting or finishing HW; he is a friendly chap who lives in Bungalow overlooking the Solway.

Today was mainly on country lanes, hard underfoot but very picturesque. I nearly had a heart attack when a cow loomed over me from a high point in a field.

I walked faster that I thought I would and at 11.50am ended up only 2 miles from my campsite. I’ll slow down when I reach the hills.

I debated carrying on until Carlisle but the lack of campsites there and memories of seeing other walkers on long distances footpaths hobbling along on day 2 as they’d pushed too much on day 1 made my decision. Therefore, I’ve spent an afternoon reading my book and listening to the patter of raindrops.

Still alive at the end of Day 1, albeit with the usual blisters. No bogs thus far which is pleasing. Walking through Carlisle tomorrow.

IMG_2517IMG_2527IMG_2524IMG_2540IMG_2569IMG_2541

Overdue Update!

image

It has been about three months since I finished my Land’s End to John O’Groats Walk.

I can honestly say that completing the walk is the best experience I have ever had and urge anybody thinking of attempting this hike to do it!

The day after I finished, my Mum and I went to Orkney for a day and then went on a road trip down the west coast of Scotland. The scenery was absolutely beautiful.

Thank you to everybody who donated to my chosen causes. Via just giving, £135 was raised for Mind, and £200 was raised for the Leamington Hasting’s roof. The church team, including Jane, our lovely vicar, say a massive thank you. £80 in cash donations was also raised and have been passed on to the church alongside the just giving  sum. Thank you!

I had the surgery on my big toe in November and I’m now two months after the operation. It still hasn’t fully healed and I can’t do any jogging or hiking just yet. In about three weeks hopefully I will be at the point where I can go out, buy myself a new pair of walking boots and start walking again.

I’ve got an idea to do a much shorter long distance walk in Ireland in March: the Wicklow Way. It’s 80 miles and apparently reasonably well sign posted.

Ive started my job in Oxford (I’ve had two pay cheques!) and I am really enjoying it. I’m on the emergency surgery ward at the moment but will soon be rotating to trauma outpatients therapy department in April.

Thank you to everybody who supported me during my walk. Perhaps in later in life I’ll walk it the other way  🙂 Who knows?

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage

 

 

Day 112 Mey to John O’Groats!

imageDay 112 Mey to John O’Groats

8 miles (1,150 miles)

I’m here!!! I’ve finished!!!

The Met Office said gale force to severe gale force wind with heavy rain for this morning. The rain, at least, gave me little breaks, and I kept telling myself that sun gives you cancer anyway.

I couldn’t sleep last night and I dragged my feet while walking this morning as I was so reluctant to finish this walk.

I also thought to myself: don’t get hit by a car, you’re nearly there.

I arrived at the John O’Groats and promptly started crying. A couple came over to me and gave me a hug which was lovely of them.

Then Mum came and attempted to take photos of me in the wind and rain. Some pretty awful photos were the result.

I’m really sad to have finished this walk. I just want to carry on walking and exploring. This walk has given me such amazing memories and has provided me with the chance to meet lots of generous and lovely people. It’s definitely a trip of a lifetime. No wonder I’m so sad at finishing.

I am happy though, and relieved, and proud of myself. This year has been a big year: gaining at first at university, doing this walk and starting my first job as a physiotherapist in November.

I’m sat in the Storehouse cafe (recommended by Dot and Dave) where I have collected my certificate and bought myself a massive mug of hot chocolate as a reward.

Mum is taking me home the long way round. We are also stopping in Edinburgh where she has a conference.

After that, I’ll be having nail surgery on my toe and packing for my move to Oxford.

I’ll do a two week update on how I’m settling back into normal life after this epic trip.

Thank you to my family, friends, fellow LEjOgger friends and blog readers. You all kept me walk when it got a bit tough.

Also, if anyone would like to donate to my chosen causes it would be greatly appreciated.

https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/megan-ryan-smith  (Local church roof)

 

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Megan-Ryan-Smith  (MIND – mental health charity)

(P.s sorry for all the grammar etc mistakes. I’m always so tired when I write them!)

imageX

imageX

 

Day 111 Thurso to Mey

image
My only photo from today. Sand dunes in the distance 

Day 111 Thurso to Mey

14 miles

This morning had an interesting beginning. I’d just started walking from the centre of Thurso when two small dogs crossed the road and ran up to me. I couldn’t see any owner so I ended up trying different houses to ask if they knew the dogs. Nope, although one person said he’d seen them kill a neighbour’s pet rabbit and commented that the children would be upset when they came home.

I stood there for ages trying to decide my next plan of action. I know the RSPCA doesn’t really do anything with strays so I thought about the police. The only problems being that I didn’t know where the police station was and I couldn’t get the dogs along the pavement myself.

Fortunately, a dog walker came along the otherside of the street. One of the strays nearly got hit by a car when it ran wildly across the street. All the cars drivers glared at me, obviously thinking what an awful dog owner I am.

Anyway, I got the other dog walker involved and subsequently got two more dog walkers to help. I used my map case strap to collar one dog and borrowed a lady’s belt for the other. Then began the procession of dog walkers, dogs and a pram down the street to the police station. Apparently they don’t like taking stray dogs so we all came up with excuses so we could just leave the dogs there. Something about having an appoinment with the Queen. The police woman asked if I wanted to retain the dogs as I’d found them. I sadly declined.

All this drama meant I started walking at 10.45am.

The rain started shortly after. I hoped it would blow over but unfortunately it rained hard all day.

I got lots of offers for lifts but sadly had to decline them. It occurred to me that people doing this walk are nutters. Any sane person would take the offer of a lift when they’re soaked down to their knickers and still have 8 miles to walk.

What makes ordinary sane people be nutters for 3/4 months?

Anyway, I have at the hotel in Mey. The bar was closed but they let me wait inside for Mum and gave me a cup of tea while I dripped water all over their nice carpet.

Last day tomorrow! Eeek! Weather warnings in force due to high winds combined with rain.

image