Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Doors of Hadrian's Wall

Cha d’dhùin doras nach d’fhosgail doras.
No door ever closed, but another opened.

Before we entirely leave Hadrian's Wall, I must show my trail doors. Had I not been so preoccupied with the other eye candy on the trail -- and I'm not referring to the "sexy voice" guy in the pub -- my camera would have been filled with more doors. I wrote an earlier blog on the Doors of Bhutan. Joan has a gallery just for Doors.

What is it that draws some photographers to doors?

Farm building doors along the way were not your usual bland entrances. These farm doors were Mykonos colored and, curious... do you suppose Sarah Palin got hold of that second floor door to nowhere?

More farm doors...

The door to this fortified house entered into the second floor -- the better to defend your house from those nasty "reivers" come raiding across the border from Scotland in the 15th and 16th centuries. English law required the border houses have three foot thick walls for defense. How would you like that in your homeowner's association agreement?

Beautifully simple and classic church doors...

Classic doors in the little villages we walked through...

Joan spotted this loving door at the Low Rigg dairy farm that put us up for a night.

And, last but not least, a door to one of the many of the pubs we frequented along the way ... my kind of door.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

End of the Trail

Tuesday, July 15th – 14 miles to Bowness on Solway. Our last day of hiking!

My feet, knees, and hips felt achy today – was I getting sick? Kathie and I slowed down after lunch (just past Burgh on Sands where there’s a statue of Edward I).

Supposedly, he died in a battle against Robert the Bruce in 1307. Kathie thinks he died of dysentery. Ick. He must not have washed his hands after taking off his trail-muddied boots.

Earlier in the day, cows (actually, I think they were young bulls) chased us all out of their pasture. Then after lunch, several young bulls blocked our way on the path and gave us the evil eye. We just kept our heads down and hustled by to the road. What’s with these guys?

We passed a fortified house, chatted with a lady about flowers and shopping in Jenners (Edinburgh) and stopped in the Highland Laddie pub for sodas before the final stretch.

Then we followed a nice road along the tidal flats, where there were lots of birds and sheep. You can see Scotland across the River Eden!

This guy was haafnet fishing. (From the Dictionary of Ichthyology: "Haaf net = a Scottish salmon net in the form of a large bag on a frame (5 m by 1 m). It is held by hand in tidal areas until a salmon is felt entering and then lifted to catch the fish. Haaf is from the Norwegian for open sea.") The next day we learned that you can actually walk across the flats here to Scotland when the tide's out. You just have to watch out for the quicksand. Yikes!

We ended victoriously in Bowness on Solway in a little lean-to shelter.

Veni, vidi, vici!

Anybody know what this means? Hail, Maia? I thought these guys were Roman!?!!!

We stayed in another lovely B&B, a nice place called The Old Rectory. This was our bathroom. Luxury!

After dinner at the King’s Arms Pub,

...we checked out St. Michael’s cemetery.

Kathie went back out for her traditional sunset photo and met up with a hedgehog.

It’s a good thing she didn't meet up with something bigger and more ferocious. She woulda been on her own because I was sacked out when she finally got back.

Of course, Kathie had to take her traditional end-of-the-trail boots photo.

The next morning, we caught a ride back to Carlisle with the father of the King’s Arms owner. As we passed the scenery we'd walked by the afternoon before, I cried silently to myself. I'd say I was just being overly emotional because I was tired, except I've been missing England and Scotland ever since we got back. WAH!!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

More Mud, The Mayor, Hugh Grant's Father, and a Nave

Monday, July 14th – 11 miles to Carlisle

More pasture land to Crosby on Eden.

I have never seen so much mud in my life.

We sat in a bus stop shelter to eat our packed lunch. An older gentleman came across the street from his house and chatted with us. He invited the group of older hikers behind us to eat their packed lunches at his house. What a character! Wonder if he was the mayor…

What kind of story do you suppose he was telling us that I had such a look on my face?

Just before Carlisle, we crossed over the Eden River. Kathie chatted up the firemen who were observing rescue practice going on below. I suppose they thought she has a sexy voice too. :) What a flirt!

Then we had a little difficulty finding our B&B, the Abberley House, where the owner/host/manager looked and acted just like Hugh Grant's father (although none of us know Hugh Grant's dad...). Kathie noticed it first.

I couldn't look at the man after that without snickering.

Kathie and I shared a postage stamp sized room, which was a far cry better than what Hugh's dad had for Hisako and Tetsu – no room at all! (He did find them a place up the street.)

After dinner at a Greek restaurant, we visited the Carlisle cathedral. The nave was topped by a beautiful darkish blue barrel vaulted ceiling, the panels of which were decorated with golden stars and suns. Lots of wood carvings adorned the whole place and there was a Norman chapel from the 12th century!

(Several of the above pics were taken by Joan and are saved on her SmugMug site. I'm too tired to figure out which ones.)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Flossies, Bossies, pint virgins, and pick-up lines

Sunday, July 13th – 8 miles to Walton
This morning, we passed (besides lots of pasture, poop, and mud) Birdoswald...

In the side yard, Joan spotted this heart-shaped hole in a tree stump. That Joan!

This is a nifty place at Bankshead where hikers can "camp" for five pounds a night. It's all furnished with a kitchenette, dishes, pots and pans, a table - the works!

We, however, stayed overnight at the Low Rigg Farm - a working farm of the Thompson family.

Nice view, eh?

On our way back out to dinner, we passed a bunch of Flossies and Bossies queued up to be milked.
We ate dinner at the Centurion Pub.

An older guy at the bar called Kathie a pint virgin when she bellied up to the bar and ordered her first pint ever, and then he took her out on the back patio and pointed to Cold Fell where her beer was made.

Sounded like just another pick up strategy to me. More successful was the young guy telling her that she has a sexy voice. Kathie blushed. Heh heh.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Plebes and Punky Girls

Saturday, July 12th – 9 miles to Gilsland
Today I wore the boots again and took some Aleve to reduce the inflammation. The Aleve helped a lot until it started to wear off…

Former blogging buddy August Caesar had suggested we visit Vindolanda, a Roman fort just south of Once Brewed by about a mile. Joan and Tetsu weren’t all that interested in Vindolanda, so they set out on their own for Gilsland.

Kathie, Hisako, and I took the Hadrian’s Wall bus, the AD122 (get it?), to Vindolanda, which is a pretty cool place.
This was a public bath in the fort.

The ruins are being excavated and there’s a museum that displays some of what has been found so far – correspondence, etc. We only had a short while before we had to hop back on the bus, though, or we’d be late getting to Gilsland. On the bus there was a gentleman (guide?) who had a plebe helmet – a very heavy, steel plebe helmet. With the mohawk and everything! He let us try it on. I thought to myself, “Joan is going to be disappointed that she missed the plebe helmet!”
Yes, that's Craig the snickerer. We picked him up (again!) in Vindolanda.
I think that's a milemarker we're standing next to.

Back on the trail, the walk was very strenuous at the beginning, but there were stunning views from the top of Winshield Crags, and there was a lot of the wall still in place. These made up for the up and down and up and down on the muddy, rocky crags.
At one point, we passed Thirlwall Castle just beyond a nice little brook. Then we parted ways with Craig, not to see him again. I think he was tired of us old ladies, especially after Kathie fired him as our mapreader.
I was thrilled when we walked into Gilsland and ecstatic when we finally found our B&B, Hill on the Wall. When we walked into the yard, I noticed white sheets hanging on the clothes line. A late 16th century manor with three foot thick walls, it was so wonderful and beautifully decorated on the inside. Kathie and I had “Hadrian’s Retreat”, a second floor bedroom that faces out over sheep pastureland (in the morning we watched a sheepherding dog at work – too cool!) with a huge bathroom across the hall. Ah, towel racks that warm your towels! But I digress…

After we lugged our bags upstairs, I threw myself down on the bed. Joan and Tetsu had gotten in much earlier and were showered and ready to go back down to Gilsland for dinner. “No way!” Fortunately, the owner of the B&B was driving into the village and offered us a ride, so we shoehorned ourselves into her little car and went down to the Samson Pub for dinner. There we noticed some young girls all dressed in pink with 80s-ish punked hair and wearing stiletto heels.
We asked the barlady if this is how the kids dressed usually, and she told us that they were celebrating the 18th birthday of one of the girls. They looked so grown up and punky, but were very sweet.
Also at dinner, Tetsu told us that he had kept up with Joan all day. No small achievement, I tell you.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Day Worth Ruined Mizunos

Friday, July 11th – 12 miles to Once Brewed
This morning, my boot was KILLING my ankle. Kathie diagnosed the problem as an inflamed tendon. Moleskin – no matter how I cut or applied it – did nothing to alleviate the pain. The only thing to do was wear my sneakers. My brand spanking new, bright white, $95 Mizuno sneakers. Yikes! It’s muddy (read “poopy”) out there! Nothing else to be done though, so we set off. Pretty shortly, I’d plunged both feet into cold water, which was actually kind of refreshing!

Lots of mud, climbing up and down hills and over stone walls, spectacular views of crags, lochs (spelled "loughs"), moor, pastureland, ruins and Hadrian’s Wall (finally!), etc.

Mithraic temple and fake altar stone (the original is in a museum in Newcastle)
The white dots are sheep!

Lunch in a pasture. The extra person is Craig, the snickerer from the evening before. In spite of his snickering, he turned out to be a nice guy!

Housesteads Fort up ahead

Milecastle 37

Bromlee Lough and Kennel Crags

Toward the end of the day, Kathie and I missed a sign and took a little detour on the “military road”, Kathie called it. (Actually, the military road was about a quarter of a mile south of the path we were on, but “military road” sounds more glamorous when you’re stupid enough to miss a path sign.) Our detour was much easier going than the up and down of the trail, but we missed some of the best views on the trail.

Kathie started singing, which was very unusual. I don’t remember ever hearing her sing before - ever. So I began singing too. We paused, however, somewhere between “The Happy Wanderer” and “Yellow Submarine” or “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” – when we noticed that we could again see Joan, Hisako, and Tetsu hiking along the trail up to the right of where we were walking. It looked like Joan was on her hands and knees trying to scale a crag. Boy, was I glad we’d gotten lost. The three of them and Craig abandoned the trail and descended to our path through the moor. We slogged the rest of the way downhill and through a stream to get to the road to Once Brewed.

Sycamore Gap, the Robin Hood Tree, and three of our buddies

Before going to our B&B, the Vallum Lodge Hotel, though, we stopped for dinner at the Twice Brewed Inn. (The Twice Brewed Inn is just across the street and up a little way from Once Brewed. Don’t know what was brewed in either place - most likely beer. Funny town names in England.) When we finally arrived at our B&B, the hostess (Ann Lock) took our shoes/boots to dry in the kitchen and washed our socks for us. What an angel! Of course, my sneakers were filthy, soaked, and unrecognizable by now...but my ankle - and I - were both happy.