We had stayed in Wylam overnight at a lovely little guest house, Wormald House , having been collected by the owner on a country lane at Rudchester. Wylam is about 3 miles from there; in another life, I know I would have walked the extra miles but this was the new order. The 12.25 miles we had walked from Newcastle was enough for the day.
Timothy Hackworth is commemorated here, born in a house near the site of the guest house. He was the first resident engineer on the Stockton and Darlington Railway, an appointment recommended, of course, by George Stephenson.
The owner left us exactly where he had found us, at a gate marked Vindobala, ready for our 14 mile day. Such promise awaited the beginning of our journey with the fort just there and yet, it turned out to be a slightly raised piece of ground, sliced in two by a busy road. Maybe historians have more imagination than I do; I was less than impressed with the fort but delighted by the countryside. It was warm, the sun gentle on my back, the gently rolling fields a pleasure to cross. The open expanses we glimpsed was why I was here, nourishing my beleagured soul.
Although the road thunders by for much of this stretch of the walk, the trail itself pops you in and out of protected field edges and it felt quite beautiful, particularly with the peaceful reservoir to stop beside and watch raptors flying overhead.
My favourite occupation is collecting the stamps to add to the Hadrian’s Wall passport and we were not too disappointed (although I have to moan and say that the Camino de Santiago’s sello are far, far more imaginative). Even so, collect I did and The Robin Hood Inn is the place to get your stamp. The owner even came out when we arrived and made sure that we were able to get this. You cannot believe how ridiculously happy this made me.
But today I was beginning to feel snippy and irritable. “We left the accommodation too late,” , “We ate too much breakfast,”, “We stop too infrequently”. It was a relief to stop for a quick drink at the pub, so soon after our stop at the reservoir, the knots in my heart beginning to loosen but with it, the dark shadows of complaint tapping me constantly on the shoulder.
It wasn’t the same, walking with a different companion but I didn’t know how to make it ok. Silence walked beside us on our journey whilst I grumbled away to myself. My achilles was already starting to complain loudly and I was beginning to sense the petulant child emerging. I didn’t want to be walking; having had Covid several months before, my energy and bounce had not been restored completely back to normal; I was exhausted and the rawness of the emotional trial was draining.
Snippy and irritable I may have been but Northumberland would not let me wallow; it may not breath-taking here like the Highlands or the Lakes but it has it’s own serenity for a town dweller. I needed this expanse.
More wall emerges as we near Chollerford; a small fragment at Planetrees rescued by William Hutton from the local landowner taking the materials to build a new farmhouse. It is a small piece of wall but seeing any part of the wall is better than trying to imagine it as we had been doing frequently up until now. And here you can see the narrower build of the wall on broad foundations which was a change from the original broad wall option of earlier.
And finally as we round the corner and Chollerford comes into view, we see the river and the 18th Century stone bridge which we cross to come to the end of our 14 mile day. Water always makes me feel peaceful and I couldn’t have asked for a more lovely end to the day than this.