|Booting up before departure|
Today's section of the Wall was already, at least in part, familiar to Fiona and me. We had visited the area a couple of years ago, and had walked several miles along the Wall from Winshields Crags to Housesteads Fort. We thus knew that the day would be demanding, with a lot of ascent and descent, as well as being along the top of the Whin Sill Ridge. However, we also knew that there is a lot more of the surviving Wall in this part of the country, so even though we had a difficult day in prospect, it was going to be packed with interest, dramatic scenery, and Roman remains. And so, not without some apprehension, we were off along the first couple of kilometres of quiet lanes, until - yes, you guessed it - the first stile of the day took us off the road near Walwick Hall.
|Roman Wall near Black Carts|
|Temple of Mithras|
The views all around were expansive along this section of the Wall, and as the weather continued sunny, the visibility remained good. Many interesting things to photograph, including a number of isolated groups of trees, which for some reason kept reminding me of paintings by Paul Nash. (More about the artist here). Although the weather was sunny, the wind was persistent and cold, and did not encourage us to stop for long in any one spot.
|A Paul Nash Clump|
|Lunch in the Wind Tunnel|
On the approach to Sycamore Gap we were overtaken by a tall, lanky European man, looking for "the tree from the Robin Hood movie". Luckily, having some knowledge of the area, I had a vague idea as to how far we were from the Gap, and so gave him directions. As a group, we were moving more slowly than he was, and he continued on his way alone, but soon returned saying that he had not found the tree. So, as we were going that way, we invited him to accompany us.
|Along the Whin Sill, beyond Broomlee Lough, from Sewingshields Crags|
|Housesteads Fort, just South of the Roman Wall|
|Descending from Hotbank Crags, with Crag Lough beyond|
|Crag Lough, Winshields beyond, including Milecastle 40!|
|Sycamore Gap, the now-famous 'Robin Hood tree'|
They consequently got down to the Twice Brewed Inn about ten minutes earlier than we did, but we were all down and installed behind a table with a beer in front of us before 5.15pm.
|At last - the Twice Brewed Inn!|
While we all had definitely found it to be an arduous day, the combination of terrain, scenery and weather made it surprisingly enjoyable. We kept well to time, and the calculated distance was close to that measured by the app. on Fiona's phone. One unexpected (and frankly unbelievable) result: the app. claimed that the altitude climbed for the day was nearly 1500m!
|Our room (sans facilities) in the Twice Brewed|
After a couple of beers we checked in to our rooms. For the sake of economy, we had chosen to book rooms without en-suite facilities, which meant that we had to make use of communal showers and toilets. Given that there were some other guests also staying that night, and also opting for shared facilities, we ended up with nine people sharing two showers and two toilets. Carol and Dave found another toilet and shower later, but in retrospect, we would have been wiser to accept the extra cost, and book rooms with en-suite facilities. When you are cooling-down and stiffening-up at the end of a hard day's walk, the last thing you want is to have to queue for your shower. There was little wrong with the facilities (although it was difficult to control the temperature of the showers), just a pain to have to wait. We won't make that mistake again.
|Team Shot - Day 4, still smiling|
|The snow settling over Hadrian's Wall|
So the end of Day 4. We were all properly tired now, with blistered feet, aching shoulders, and sore legs. But we were still mobile, still up to the job in hand. We were almost at the official Roman half-way point, and would pass Roman Milecastle number 40 on Winshield Crags (also the highest point on the Wall at 345m) in the morning. From there on, it was all downhill!
All the photos from the day can be seen on my Picasa Gallery.