Almost 2,000 years ago, in AD 122 to be precise, the Roman Emperor Hadrian ordered the building of a wall all the way across Britain, from Bowness-on-Solway in Cumbria to the appropriately named, Wallsend on the river Tyne (near Newcastle). Alongside runs a deep trench called the Vallum and Hadrian’s Wall was made a World Heritage site in 1987. For that time, it must have been an incredible feat of engineering, not to mention a lot of back-breaking work. They completed the 73 miles of wall, which looks to have been about 8 feet thick and contained several turrets or look-out towers along its route, as well as a fort at Housesteads (see Day 3), in under 10 years.
Once the Roman Empire crumbled, so did the Wall, as a lot of the stones were removed to build other structures, like the Lanercost Priory (see Day 2), various nearby farmsteads and no doubt other walls. But some of the central and most remote sections remain visible today. So it’s not surprising that there is a recognised long distance path (of around 86 miles) which attracts keen walkers from all around the world.
For logistical reasons, my ex-running mates Pete, Liam and I decided to start our journey in Carlisle (about 14 miles in from the west coast) and finish at Heddon-on-the Wall, which is 15 miles short of Wallsend in the east. Our day 1 proved to be a good ‘warm up’ of around 12 miles, from Carlisle to Brampton (where we detoured off the route to find excellent B&B accommodation at the Howard Arms). The going was a little damp underfoot, but dry above and relatively flat all the way.