Hadrian’s Wall… Housesteads Roman Fort to Steel Rigg

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The Adventures Of Captain Jayneway

Hadrians Wall – Part 1

One thing I am good at is multi tasking. If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain, or something like that. After three months of staring at the inside of hospital walls, as the last glimmer of summer creeps early behind the overgrown hedges. I knew I needed to hatch a plan before this fair island is plummeted into darkness and dampness again for what always feels like months on end. How about some mini adventures before hospital visits? Yes? Yes!

Our puppy, Chewie, is now big enough to escape the puppy fortress and terrorise the cat from the vantage point he could only dream of reaching just five weeks ago. We’re too soft here, anyone else would have had him in a dog cage, the equivalent of the naughty step, us? No. The little hairy naughty has taken over our lives for the last eight weeks. I couldn’t believe it yesterday. I was sat on the downstairs loo having a wee. Chewie bounded in through the part shut door, leapt up full gusto and sat on my knee. It was an amazing manoeuvre. I think he just wanted to be at the toilet roll, but I almost fell off the bog laughing. What a personality he is becoming! Yes.

I’m taking this summer on the chin. But from now onwards, as things are looking on the bright side with Dad, any window of opportunity I get to do more of what I like, I’m having it! Last night, ‘lots to do and see in the Newcastle area’ I thought. ‘I’ve driven past that sign, god knows how many times in the last twenty years, but still haven’t been there’ I thought to myself. Hadrian’s Wall. I’m going. Tomorrow.

So after I’d got the daily farm ritual out of the way this morning, at 8.30am I got my walking strides on. Damn I was excited. I hadn’t been this excited about anything for ages. I was going to Hadrian’s Wall. I pulled out of the drive with a kind of ‘come and have a go’ smile. And off I went. I drove up the A1 and was almost creaming my pants looking at the clouds, cloud porn. If I could have rubbed my hands on my legs like I felt like doing and held the steering wheel at the same time without going through the hedge I would have. I couldn’t have picked a more perfect day to go walkabout.

I’d punched in the details to where I wanted to go into my most faithful gadget on my dash and I was where I’d never been before by 10.30am. Hadrian’s Wall. The wall building escapades of some Roman silver spoon fed twat called Hadrian. Who reckoned he was an Emperor. We can all give ourselves a title. You can buy a square foot of land in Scotland and officially, legally become a Lord or Lady. I love that, and it just says it all. And I am, after all, an honorary Captain.

I’m definitely not a fan of building walls to keep folk out. Anyone who thinks building a wall will solve anything is a bit of a tangerine twonk in my eyes. But I do love history and you have to just take whatever stuff you learn along the way on board. Like it or not, it happened. None of us will ever know how deviated from the original truth many of these stories are. Anyone can write a story and say it’s a true account; I quite like the one about the bearded guy in the sky. Whatever Hadrian’s story, there was definitely a very impressive wall here once.

So Emperor Hadrian and ‘The Wall’. Hadrian’s Wall was the north-west frontier of the Roman empire for nearly 300 years. It was built by the Roman army on the orders of the probably silver spoon fed emperor Hadrian following his visit to Britain in AD 122. Haydie was a man who knew what he wanted, and no doubt he was a bit of an early Donald with it. Bit of a twat. Probably.

He may have been a twat, but maybe he wasn’t, maybe he was ace and was forced to build the wall after loosing a bet down the local on a Sunday. ‘Fuck, I didn’t really mean I was going to actually build a wall!’ Hadrian’s Wall is like a North East England version of The Great Wall Of China. Amongst various other things I have done in my life, I have actually built a section of dry stonewall. That was about a decade ago now when I helped build that. I’d never done it before and I loved every second of throwing it together. Having a go does make you appreciate what goes into constructing something like Hadrian’s Wall. As far as I know my little length of wall is still upright and dandy. Hadrian’s wall not so much, but that’s probably more down to the pillaging of stone to build other things with than any defective wall building. The parts of wall still visible were solid. The wall measured about 10 foot in width; it was hard to tell how high it used to be just by looking at it now. I do think the Roman’s were absolute masters at so many things, building was just one of them. I’m not even going to pretend I know loads about the Roman empire, but most of the places I’ve travelled to throughout Europe, there are remnants of the Roman equivalent of ‘we woz ere’ graffiti, everywhere.

So my first experience of walking the wall. The car park was very expensive! But once I got over the initial shock of that and got out into the open landscape I absolutely loved the place. The first section of the wall that I did was from Housesteads Roman Fort to Steel Rigg and then back again along the Roman Military Way. I had a massive urge to just keep on going West when I reached Steel Rigg, but I had to do a return journey to go back to the car. My thoughts along the way kept ending back at one thing, and that was my desire to do the full length of the wall from one side of the country to the other. I think the wall is about 87 miles or something like that. Peice of cake! It’s now on the already very long list! Here’s some photographs from the section I did on my first visit.

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Housesteads Roman Fort
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Housesteads Roman Fort
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Housesteads Roman Fort
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The View Eastwards From Housesteads
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Part of The Wall in Woodland
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The Wall, Walking Westwards
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Peel Crags
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The ‘famous’ Sycamore Gap
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View off Crag Lough
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Climbers on Crag Lough
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Looking North From Hotbank
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Looking North From Hotbank
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Two little rowing boats by the reservoir
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Nice Farmhouse, with Epic Views
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The wall’s not that high these days!

I’ve since returned to Hadrian’s wall and done two more sections of it, so look out for the blog posts on those… Absolutely wonderful!

Until next time…

Keep realising your dreams…

Captain Over X

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