Monday, January 21, 2008

Day 6 - Hexham to Haltwhistle

Day 6 has to be the raison d'etre for the walk for it is today that the route follows Hadrian's Wall for several miles before turning south for the stopover at Haltwhistle. It is the day that the way is half-walked and it is the day when the most northerly point is reached. Everything after day 6 is heading home.

The Wainwright route and the new routes coincide for the first part of the day as the early miles are largely a means of leaving Hexham behind as quickly as possible to make progress toward the Wall. There is little alternative to following the main road leading west from Hexham but it soon turns right and crosses another disused railway which once provided a circuitous route to Allendale.

Crossing the river Tyne the minor road runs under the mainline railway which is the first time a working line has been seen since day 1, all the others on other days having become disused. The road then continues through Warden with its church with no clock. History of the church (and why no clock) would be of interest.

Beyond Warden, heading north the old and new routes diverge at Walwick Grange where the new way turns west to Park Shield and then north toward the Wall. (If there is a desire to visit Chesters fort then the Wainwright route can be followed but this will then entail some main road walking). Details about Chesters and Cilurnum would be useful.

Having reached the main road the new route then allows the road to be crossed and the wall followed directly for a short distance before the most northerly point of the walk is reached near Milecastle 24 as noted on the old map but that is shown as Milecastle 30 on modern maps - details as to why and when the re-numbering would be useful.

The Wall is then followed to close to Milecastle 27 (modern ref 33) at which point the Wainwright route, according to his narrative, followed the main road (he stated that "I kept to the hard road:even if there had been an alternative, I should still have kept to the road, ..."). It seems odd that he stayed off the Wall but it may be that there was no access to the wall and certainly there was much archaeological exploration that followed his trek in 1938.

Details of 20th century archaeological surveys would be interesting as would any information regarding the accessibility of the wall itself at that time.

The premise that much exploration has been carried out since 1938 seems to be supported by the fact that although there is reference on the old map to "Borcovicium" there is no reference on the map to "Housesteads", the name by which it is better known. There is also reference in Wainwright's commentary to paying to see the fort at Beggarbog farm - any information about the farmer-cum-caretaker in 1938 would be very useful.

Soon after Housesteads the way then coincides with the Pennine Way once again which also follows the wall as far as Greenhead before turning south where the walks will again coincide on part of day 7.

Wainwright only had a short time on the wall and he left it again to arrive back on the road at Twice Brewed Inn. He was losing light and again took to the road for the rest of the day to Haltwhistle.

The new route stays with the wall for as long as it can, passing Sycamore Gap which was made more famous because it was where some of the filming was done for the Robin Hood film.

What is the reference to "Mare and Fox" on the old map (now shown as "Mare and Foal") - any details would be very good.

Finally, Haltwhistle is reached via a fairly quiet road.

At the end of day 6, 20 miles will have been covered visiting few places of any modern habitation but seeing many where there was once a great throng of life. Details about the Roman wall, the Vallum, the forts etc would obviously be great for the walk on day 6 is not a walk through geographical features so much as it is a walk through history.


gail said...

we met in the boatside inn earlier this evening. i think you need to just pass the"boat"heading for the church at warden.just under the railway bridge turn immediatley right, along a track and you,ll come to west boat, you may find the stone there .rob is away to see his mam so we,ll let you know if we have any more news ok


Andrew Lambert said...

Hello Gail and thanks for your comment, I am back in Yorkshire now but when up again I will have a look and if Rob's mum has any little details to add then great (one in particular is that I am trying to identify where the Abbey Cafe was and she might perhaps remember it?)

Many thanks and I hope you found the blog interesting