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Hadrian’s Wall – Final Day

08/08/2018

A straightforward easy walk to Heddon on the Wall and the full team are on the starting blocks (sic!)

The day started well with a good breakfast at the Robin Hood Inn at East Wallhouses. Unfortunately, a minor incident occurred as Tom crushed Joan’s crisps as he loaded her rucksack – see the caption competition below and see if you can guess what Joanie is saying……

We weren’t far into our walk when we stopped at the Great Northern Reservoir to ’twitch’ a while when we heard the cry of ”Hello United States of America” at full voice. Turning round we saw our friends Inge and Miet aka the ’Belgian Bombers’ who we have met every day on the walk. The camaraderie and fun that we’ve had with these two ladies just epitomises long distance walks in the UK. It was lovely meeting these two ’famous Belgians’ and hopefully you had ad much fun as we did when we met up!

Today we were treated to lovely views across the Tyne Valley as we walked in the Roman ditch or alongside the Vallum either side of the wall which is now the military road and covered by asphalt.

The scenery whilst not specific to Hadrians Wall still pleases the eye and spirit and allows you time to appreciate the fact that many parts of the wall are so well preserved in the aftermath of 2000 years of agriculture and mankind’s progress!

Poppies alongside the wheatfields

After a pleasant lunch spot just after Rudchester Fort, we arrived at our destination, the Three Tuns in Heddon on the Wall.

Time then for a celebratory drink with Ritchie from Badger Adventures and who should be lurking in the pub but the Belgian Bombers! So it was a whisky for Tom and a whole cask of ale for Joanie!

Joan settles for a bottle of ’dog’

So it was back to our lodgings at the Robin Hood for a small snooze (Tom), an episode of Tipping Point for Ritchie, no doubt a shower for Joan, and blog writing for me!

Tonight is our celebratory dinner before taking Joan and Tom back to Carlisle so that they can continue their adventure in the Lake District.

Thanks to Joan and Tom for making this a fun trip, thanks to Inge and Miet for their humour along the way, and Ritchie from Badger Adventures for making it all happen in a seamless way.

Bon Voyage and until the next time.

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Hadrian’s Wall – day 3

07/08/2018

Today’s journey took us from Chollerford to East Wallhouses (15k) and a moderate ascent of 200m over the first half.

As customary, you’ll see the opening photo but with an omission – that omission being Tom! While Joan and I took on the wall, Tom visited Vindolanda and Chesters Forts to brush up on his Roman history.

Joan on Chollerford Bridge

Before we set off we took a detour down to the Roman bridge abutment to discover the symbol of Roman prosperity!

The symbol of Roman wealth and prosperity!!

Walking on to St Oswald’s we took a quick visit to the church and Heavenfield battle site where King Oswald representing ‘Christianity’ defeated the ‘Pageans’, thus setting himself up as a future St Oswald and even has a walk named after him leading to Lindisfarne. The sundial on the wall wasn’t working (due to no sun!), but the Roman Altar was quite impressive as was the pocket sized church organ.

St Oswalds Church

The ‘non’ sundial

Roman Altar

Pocket sized church organ

Panoramic view from St Oswalds looking out towards Carter Bar and North Northumberland

After St Oswalds we followed the ditch line towards Newcastle and some very deep examples of the Vallum. At just about this point, Ritchie and Tom arrived with the bus and Tom joined us for the last couple of km. On arrival at the Robin Hood Inn, Tom was heard to announce that he was ‘pleased to have completed all three days so far’ 🙊

Ditch gets deeper and more impressive.

Tom looks suitably ‘bedraggled’ after his Herculean effort while Joan looks as fresh as a daisy but ready for a local brew of ‘Rivet Catcher’

One more day ahead of us to Heddon on the Wall – check Badger Adventures for your next adventure.

Hadrian’s Wall – day 2

06/08/2018

From our hotel in Gilsland we drove back to Steel Rigg car park ready to continue our Badger Adventure .

Joan and Tom ready for day 2.

The weather was forecast to be cooler and our first hour was to climb Peel Crags and Milecastle 39 (Castle Nick) before gaining a view of Crag Lough Sycamore Gap. The Sycamore was made famous as a star in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner.

Joan and Tom aka Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman – and the sycamore tree as himself!

Walking up to the crag we passed the Crag Lough with some stunning views through the crags to the water. No need for a huge wall here with the crag being such a good defense against the marauding barbarians from over the border into Scotland.

View from Steel Rigg to Crag Lough.

A few more ’undulations’ and we traverse Hotbank Crags, Cuddy’s Crags and then Housesteads Crag. Coming along the wall you are greeted by the archeological site of Housesteads Fort. The Fort is one of the most important Roman sites anywhere in Europe with well preserved ruins of the granary, communal latrines, commanders quarters and much more.

Housesteads Fort / home to up to 1000 Roman infantrymen and cavalry.

The next portion of todays 19km walk took us past Busy Gap and the impressive restoration work of John Clayton in the 17th century.

Sewingshields Crag just before Turret 35a and a saxon burial chamber / crypt.

Leaving the crags behind we picked up the ditch on the north side of the wall and the vallum on the south. More sightings of Hen Harriers and a Goshawk kept our journey alive with wildlife.

Soon we arrived at Brocolitia Fort and the Temple of Mithras and the sun God. After a quick prayer we hastened our way onwards to Limestone Corner, the most northernmost point of the Roman Empire.

Temple of Mithras with altar at the far end and two Sun God worshippers!

The last part of our Badger Adventure took us along a relatively flat part of country to Chesters Fort and Roman Baths. Ritchie (Chief Badger) was waiting for us in the bus ready to adjourn to the Crown Inn in Humshaugh for libation of local ale and northern sustenance!

So another great day with Joan and Tom and ready to return to Chesters first thing tomorrow to explore the Fort and Baths before our 15km walk to East Wallhouses.

Why not tailor your Badger Adventure by following the link to the website and see what you can do!

Badger Adventures

See you tomorrow!

Hadrian’s Wall – day 1

05/08/2018

Our plan today was to walk the wall from Gilsland to Once Brewed / 15km or 9.5m.

As you can see, the day was a rollercoaster with many ’undulations’ but mostly a straight line!

Joan and Tom started with a few minor comfort niggles but nothing to cause any concern. So off we went.

Our first major point of interest (other than the Badger Sett – alas not the home of Badger Adventures), was Thirlwall Castle -the 14th century fortified home of the Thirlwall family to protect their amassed wealth from military campaigns from the Border Reivers who loved nothing better than taking whatever they could steal. The fortified home was built almost entirely from stone from Hadrian’s Wall but sadly after 300 years was sold for £4000 and fell into disrepair.

Soon after we Headed onto the wall and got our first real sense of the way ahead.

The Northumberland scenery also began to emerge in all its glory. Vast open countryside, big skies, and a 2000 year old feat of engineering, vision and determination.

The Walltown Crags in the distance behind Jane and Tom.

The undulations became a frequent companion if not friendly!

A little before 1630 we reached our end point of day 1 and retired to The Milecastle Inn at Twice Brewed for a small amount of imbibing before a drive back to Gilsland Spa Hotel for our overnight and dinner.

So, day 1 completed and looking forward to day 2 and even more spectacular scenery and wall.

If you are interested in this walk or any other UK trail, why not look at Badger Adventures for details of how you can join us on your adventure.

Follow us tomorrow for the next instalment of Hadrian’s Wall with Badger Adventures

Hadrian’s Wall day -1

04/08/2018

Met with our clients Joan and Tom today in Penrith before driving to Gilsland in Northumberland to settle into our hotel and go through a briefing pre dinner.

Van to carry luggage and also to accompany us along the way to help with any tired legs or excursions that may take our eyes en-route – all part of the Badger Adventures experience.

Meanwhile, after a short pre dinner walk to the River Irthing Gorge it was a full dinner and a swapping of travel stories and experiences as we got to know each other ahead of the walk.

For more information see Badger Adventures

Hadrians Wall – dry weather ordered by Badger Adventures!

04/08/2018

 

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Well it looks as if Ritchie (Chief Badger) at Badger Adventures has ordered the weather for our Hadrian’a Wall Adventure this coming week. No rain forecast until after we have finished will help us to enjoy the majestic surroundings of the wall in beautiful Northumberland.

The wall is northern Europes largest surviving Roman monument and is a UNESCO World heritage site.

Why not experience the surroundings with Badger Adventures or even one of the other adventures on offer in the UK or further afield?

Visit the site at Badger Adventures Adventures

Keep checking the page over the next week for more excerpts and photos from the adventure.

Thank you

Malcolm

Coast to Coast May 2016 – Day 1

02/05/2016

What a start to this crossing – high winds, lashing rain but some determined ‘Coasters’ ready t brave the best Spring weather that the Uk can give them.

Despite the wet start, pebbles were collected and we were off on our two week crossing of the UK via the Coast to Coast route with Sherpa Expeditions.

The group of 5 women and two men are the youngest collective group that I have led across the route so I am optimistic that we will get a 100% completion. 

After a good stretch along St Bees Head and then heading East we were greeted with sun and even warmer weather (enough to give the group some sun reddened faces on arriving at Ennerdale Bridge this evening.  

On the way over St Bees Head we stopped to look at the nesting Kittiwakes and Guillemots although not as plentiful as previous May crossings – no doubt due to the colder weather so far. We did manage to see the Isle of Man, and Southern Scotland as the cloud lifted and visibility improved!

The big challenge for today was Dent hill and with the wet weather, the steepest descent on the C2C was going to be a challenge. I needn’t have worried though as the group made an assured descent without incident. From there it was a steady walk into Ennerdale Bridge and our accommodation for the evening. As usual, the meal at the Shepherds Arms was fantastic and fulsome and after a quick discussion about emerging aches and pains and blisters we settled into a discussion surrounding various remedies used for aches and pains. I liked the sound of the Aussie remedy of ‘Stiff and Sore’ although we couldn’t quite work out what Cheryl and Karen were using it for! Not sure it will help Trevor with his damaged finger from an argument with a lawnmower blade though.

Tomorrow is one of my favourite legs of the way up through Ennerdale and into Seathwaite in  Borrowdale – surely one of the most beautiful places in the whole of the U.K. if not the wettest with 4.7m of rain annually – but who cares – we are only there for a day!

More tomorrow on our adventures, but if you’d like t learn how you can become involved with a Coast to Coast challenge, take a look at Sherpa Expeditions

Arctic Expedition #6 the final day before travelling home

19/12/2015

Well it’s the final day here in Finland and it’s no less packed than the previous week. Our excellent guide and I walked out on to the ice last evening to check the depth and to ascertain whether we could go ice fishing on the lake or not. After drilling some test holes we ascertained that the depth of ice was 10cm and safe to take our collective weight and the stress of the fish we were going to catch!

So after breakfast, suitably attired for a three hour fishing expedition we headed off to the ice to wrestle with the huge fish Jarno had been telling us about. We were concerned that the size of ice hole was going to limit our ability to land our fish, but unperturbed we took our instruction from Jarno, baited our hooks with worms and sat down to wait for the bites.
  
 
It didn’t take long for us to start reeling the monsters in and to start thinking about our upcoming lunch. Surely fresh fish would be on the menu? I decided to go and tell Harri our chef to hold on the planned lunch for our catch and asked him to ready a sledge to come for our catch at noon.

However, I was a little premature in my assessment of our fishing ability through the ice and whilst we caught 5 fish, the description ‘lake monsters’ didn’t quite fit …………

   
 
Oh well, Jarno did soften the blow by telling us that fish spend the cold winter bottom feeding in the warmer water if they feed at all. So catching 5 didn’t seem so bad after all. 

After lunch we werecoff to a reindeer breeder and to learn about the way of life as well as hearing about his life as a counter spy in the Cold War – such an interesting man and a treat to be invited into his home for songs, food and Finnish hospitality in front of the log fire.

  
  
  
   
 Jarno gets comfortable
   
Does he know Rudolph?

  Piano recital complete! 
  
Well that concludes another great day in Finland and all that remains is a sauna, shower, dinner and the packing for a 0500 start in the morning back to Kuusamo and Helsinki to London. A fantastic expedition with a great group of students who made it a perfect example of a life changing experience with Outlook Expeditions

Arctic Circle #5 – Finland 

18/12/2015

We woke to a really warm morning here in Kylmaluomalla, about 50km south of the Arctic Circle meridian. It was -10c when we had breakfast and the forecast was for 10cm of snow moving into us later in the day. We were heading off to snowshoe again today to see the landscape and experience the arctic wilderness life. 

The students are doing very well with their learning experiences and working extremely well as a team of 8. Considering none of them has ever been to terrain like this, they have adapted incredibly well.

Last evening our guide, Jarno showed us some of his photographs of the area during the summer periods when bears, owl, Eagles, wolves, foxes, moose, reindeer and all kinds of birds inhabit the area in more numbers. The European Brown Bears were amazing to watch as they ran at speed and climbed trees to watch their area. Jarno is such a knowledgeable guide and has been invaluable in helping us to learn about the habitat and geography of this land. He is also an ex ice hockey player and his stories after dinner are fabulous.

  
The landscape looks different today with heavy grey skies and little light, but no less impressive. We agreed last night that the students would carry all the cooking equipment, food and supplies for today and also cook lunch outdoors for us. The menu was sandwiches, hot salmon, potato and vegetable soup, coffee, tea, and hot juice – all to be cooked and prepared outside in the forest by a lake which they had to navigate to!

  
The boys soon learned some natural navigational aids to find compass points without the sun, and how to walk easier routes using animal tracks. Walking across frozen lakes and swamps can bring its own problems and hazards so safety is always a necessary requirement. Jarno made sure that the students started practising dynamic risk assessments without even realising it.

  
It’s not easy to navigate the frozen landscape without too many mountains to take bearings from and of course all the water is hidden too. However, we made it to our picnic spot and all that remained was to chop wood, light a fire, get water and prepare lunch!

  
There’s always plenty of water somewhere, it just takes a bit of axe work to get through the ice layer. Starting a fire in the back woods arena isn’t always as easy to do when it’s a new skill and you have cold fingers!

   
   
But soon we had fire and we could get the kettle on for hot drinks while we boiled the water for our salmon, potato and vegetable soup.

Once wed eaten a really good lunch we made plans to head back towards our lodge and thinking about where to cross the frozen lake. With the winter so far in Finland it’s been a little too warm to freeze lakes sufficiently so care had to be taken on route selection in all cases. We reached our lodge area and decided that we would test the rigidity of our igloos after two days of freezing. We managed to get all 8 students standing on the roof of our igloo without it collapsing proving that we made the ‘best’ igloo by far – well at least Matt and I thought so – then the boys trashed it with some venom!

  
So it was time for hot chocolate, a warm up and then sauna time before dinner. What a spectacular day again in this amazing landscape.

To see how your school,can participate in a life changing experience for your students see the website at Outlook Expeditions

Arctic Circle Expedition -Finland #4

17/12/2015

Well I’m impressed that all but one of the students made it through the night sleeping in their self made igloos. The temperature fell last night to -26c so it was no mean feat to stay the course. Our guides showed us how to make ice candles for our igloos last night and they looked pretty spectacular!

  
The mornings are dark until almost 1000 and the sun threatens to rise with a lovely coloured sky but we haven’t seen the sun in the best part of a week.

  
The night was eerily quiet, but most of the bird life is conserving energy during the long winter nights. We snowshoed today through forests around frozen lakes and tracked reindeer, lemmings, squirrels, foxes, mountain hare,  and capercaillie but didn’t see any wildlife during our walk. The sky was clear and almost saw the sun !! But tomorrow and the rest of our time we have heavy snow forecast. 

  

  
We stopped at a great little ‘Kotta’ at lunchtime for a fire, hot sausages, toasted sandwiches and hot drinks while we watched the moon rise at lunchtime! The students are a little more tired today after a cold night and I suspect there may be some early bedtimes this evening. 

  
Jarno our guide is an expert in the wildlife, flora and fauna and traditions of the Sami so we are all learning so much on the way. We have another day of exploring on snowshoe tomorrow and then we are ice fishing on Saturday before we head to a reindeer farm to say hello to Rudolph! Tonight before dinner, Jarno is going to give us a slideshow and talk on the wildlife and let us see some of the photographs one of his professional photographer clients has taken on expeditions in the area.

  
So far it has been an amazing expedition for the students and their teacher and full of ‘first time experiences’ that are building an unforgettable and life changing adventure.

  
For more details on a school expedition for your school see http://www.outlookexpeditions.com


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