Wednesday, May 30, 2012

382.4 kms: Greenhead-Walltown-Cockmount Hill-Shield on the Wall-Once Brewed.

See, what I think happened is that Hadrian's Wall Path heard that its cousin, Pennine Way was going to run with it for a day. There has always been a sort of family animosity. Pennine is the upstart: takes the hardest way up anything and the second hardest (after jumping off with a parachute) back down. Hadrian's Wall Path said to itself 'I'm no second-rate country bumpkin; if its mettle testing you want I can test your mettle'. And hence, today. A huge field climb was followed by the wall running along the very edge of two escarpments, and the wall path running along side that. Escarpments (see one in the right of the photo) seem a simple issue on first appearance—one up, one down. Right? Wrong. They are interspersed with multiple fissures which require scrambling downs and back-ups with the latter always seeming to be just that bit higher on each successive climb. I give thanks to the God, Fate or Deity which looks after reluctant mountain climbers though, as I always find that my ups are harder than my downs. I much, much prefer that. If I had had to go down some of my ups, I would probably have sat down on the edge, pushed off and hoped to still be alive at the bottom. Either side of the day the paths walk together, Hadrian's Wall Path can be heard yelling out: 'Get down to the flat bit! Now! Don't care if it's not anywhere near the wall. I am going to die! Show-off git, Pennine, good riddance!' Tomorrow I head off on the show-off git Pennine. Funny thing is, looking at my guide, it seems like an awfully tame day for the Pennine—long, but undulating rather than torturous. I think it may have sprained something trying to upstage its coast to coast country cousin. 

[Aside: It is tomorrow. I am not on the Pennine. I wrote this all yesterday and it has disappeared. Mortified. I got up this morning, looked out of the window and couldn't see the escarpments. Suddenly things like banks and sorting out why I can't see my cash passport balance, and posting maps and a new pair of shorts to replace my ripped ones all seemed very important. I read the weather report posted at reception to confirm my own analysis and it was confirmed: hundred and three percent chance of rain all day. I booked in for another night.]

Tortured feet to the right.

Twice today I tried to cheat. I didn't try a third time. By cheating I mean I tried to take little sketchy paths that appeared to go round rather than up and down. On the first I somehow ended up behind another wall that appeared from nowhere. There was a gate but the farmer was busy tying it up. He refused to make eye contact and seeing as I knew that I had done the wrong thing, I turned back. I spied a short cut to get back on the right track and took it—right through a large patch of nettles! Leason learned? No way, Jose. The second such path was over lush grass. It was hard to judge what the surface beneath was like. Suddenly, and it happens that quickly doesn't it, I was on my arse. My foot had disappeared into a hole that went to my knee. I thanked those supernatural beings again. I had no apparent strains, sprains or pulls—just a sock and a shoe full of sand. I don't have to worry about that dream of falling over any more, it's done. Although currently that dream does involve falling into dank, smelly water with my pack on and wondering whether, one, I'll just automatically sink to the bottom or will I be able to swim to the edge, or, two, my iPad will be destroyed. Lesson learned? You bet! Every up upped, every down downed.


English whining (hee hee) aside, these are actually some of the phrases that could be heard coming from my mouth today:


This is ace!


Excuse me cow, would you know if total immersion in water—for example, by walking across a river—renders the Goretex layer in my boots useless. I only ask because the morning dew seems to be making my socks wet.


Are you okay Wes? Is the rain getting you?


This is friggin' amazing!


Sheep, do you know how far from Once Brewed I am?


Ok, enough with the $%@* ups already. I don't care if there is a beacon, do we actually have to go right up to it?


I have single use of my room at the hostel this evening (unless something has changed since dinner). I am having the last of the school group's teacher's coffee, courtesy of the chef, gratis. It does come with sitting in the dining room while the group does its activities. They are quite odd. One group is child-slave-labouring over copper jewellery production. One group is playing a game where someone just had to move back three places because they didn't wash their hands after going to the bathroom, and then made dinner and all the others got sick. Hmm. Last group is repairing costumes. There is one shower for every five or so rooms, four beds minimum per room. Lucky it is not busy. It is the second steamiest room I have ever seen that wasn't a sauna. I am ever-grateful that I have thongs now.


[Aside from the future again: Feeling slightly shameful for abandoning walking when the teachers were making the kids go out, I caught the bus to Hexham. Did all the things I needed to do. On the way back I could see all the groups of people who are travelling in the same direction and whom I have met up with a few times walking along. They all looked very colourful in their rain gear, but also a little grumpy. Ah, the benefits of not booking ahead.


A blog about successful blogs suggested that successful blogs shouldn't be about 'you'. Oops. How do you write a blog about your travels without mentioning yourself? Which reminds me that lately the signs on every gate are going contra to all others I have seen previously. They say don't use the path, walk on other areas to stop erosion, and don't walk single file. Do they know how hard, almost impossible, it is to not walk single file when you are on your own. I have to try and walk on two not-paths simultaneously. The blog also suggests inviting discussion—maybe with a question. Have you had a time recently when you had to look to the heavens and thank some unknown force for something?


It also said don't make your blogs too long.]


Good night to Once Brewed, good night to you.


1 comment:

  1. Yes recently I had occasion to thank the divine forces above for miraculously waking me up from my deep slumber on the Couch. I had forgotten to put the Washing Machine water flow tube in the Bath. I just woke up in the nick of time avoiding a Second Floor Apartment soapy water Tsunami.
    I hope you stay dry and Wes and the I-pad.