Day 31 Mon 30-05-2005
Alston to Once Brewed
I woke early, and tried not to wake the other occupants of the room: a couple of young lads cycling coast to coast, and a father and son walking locally. By 7:15 I was walking, heading for Hadrian's Wall. The route followed low lying farmland, and was a bit fussy. At one point near Slaggyford I found myself walking through someone's back garden. Looking around, I was thinking of turning back, but the occupants of a rather nice conservatory tapped on their window and gesticulated that I was on the right path! It must be fun to have the Pennine Way running through your back garden...
Haltwhistle tempted me to cut a corner, missing a few miles of Pennine Way, and I found a pub at 2:30 (the Manor House Hotel) where I had a delicious beef salad, and the obligatory beer to accompany it. Ken phoned me from Basingstoke, it was good to hear a voice from home.
From Haltwhistle, I cut north to join the Pennine Way again, and after a steep climb, Hadrian's Wall. It was a glorious sunny afternoon, and this was the highlight of my walk so far. I strode along the wall, where Roman soldiers had walked before me, nearly two thousand years ago. The scenery looked lovely in the sunshine, but must have been very bleak for the builders.
I took lots of photos, and chatted to a few tourists and walkers along the way. The wall plunged up and down, following the contours of the landscape, and was quite hard going in places. Just resting my hand on the stones of the wall felt good, trying to feel some connection with people from centuries before.
Two men with backpacks approached, and we stopped for a chat. They were walking "coast to coast", and asked if I knew where the next campsite was in their direction. I had left Haltwhistle a good two hours ago, and I told them it would be a bit further. One of them looked on his last legs, and I wondered how much more walking he had in him. Wishing them good luck, I walked on, wondering where I would spend the night.
There was a campsite at Once Brewed, so I headed south down hill away from Hadrian's Wall about half a mile to a busy and scary main road, and along the road a few hundred yards to the campsite. I scrounged a cup of coffee off the farmer, pitched my tent, and ate some cheese and digestives.
Another walker pitched next to me, and we chatted about tents and walking. I learned that Paul had actually completed lejog about eight or nine years ago! I was thrilled to meet someone who had actually done it, and was keen to find out as much as I could about his adventure. He was currently doing a walk from his home in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, along the Pennine way, up into Scotland, and along the Southern Upland Way - Scotland's "coast to coast". I was going to turn in early, he was heading off to the pub on the main road for a meal, so we agreed to look out for each other in the morning.