Archive for the ‘Malcolm Wade’ Category

Hadrian’s Wall (day 9 the Finale)


The news about fine weather cheered everyone this morning and shorts and appropriate attire emerged after the three days of waterproofs and soggy soles.

Down towards the river we passed the birthplace of the inventor of the locomotive, George Stephenson and we were truly on the last furlong of this walk.

It wasn’t long before we reached the banks of the River Tyne and a stunning view over the river to Gateshead and the Angel of the North. You can see her between Jeff and Margie’s heads 🙊

Gateshead Council’s brief was simple; to create an ambitious artwork that would become a landmark of the region’s character. Antony Gormley’s winning design is now one of the most viewed pieces of art in the world. It is seen by more than one person every second. That’s 90,000 every day or 33 million every year. 

With its prime location, on a panoramic hilltop by the A1, the Angel of the North has become one of the most famous artworks in the region.  The sculpture was installed in February 1998 and over the last twenty years has become one of the most recognisable pieces of public art ever produced, winning many accolades and awards.

Then our final leg took us along the river past the historic Scotswood Road, the armaments factory, Vickers Engineering who made tanks, the old coal staithes at Dunston and the now defunct Elswick Shipyard. The Tyne shipbuilders were once responsible for building 25% of the worlds ships – including the SS Mauritania. Whatever happened to British industry and ingenuity that brought us the British Empire and the admiration of the world? Sigh!

The sun shone brightly and beckoned us to stop on the Quayside for refreshment. Never one to pass up the opportunity of promoting the Toon I thought it about time the group sampled a pint of Dog. In the North East, Newcastle Brown Ale is often given the nickname “Dog”, alluding to the British euphemism of ‘seeing a man about a dog’. It is also known as Broon, “brown” pronounced in the Geordiedialect. Elsewhere in the UK, it is known as Newkie Brown.

Of course the Blue Star label incorporates the Tyne Bridge in its design so what better place than under the same bridge to sample it!

The walk along the Quayside took us past the Millenium Bridge and the Sage centre as well as the Baltic Flour Mill – all iconic landmarks of this culturally rich area.

The walk through the concrete of urban landscape won’t suit everyone but on a day like today it makes a pleasant departure from the other days.

After lunch stop we marched in best Roman Centurion fashion into Segedunum and the Roman fort for our final salute to Emperor Hadrian.

All that remained was to celebrate the successful finish with a little Prosecco and lots of smiles.

Thanks to Margie, Rosie, Sarah, Jeff and Walker for being the best group ‘ever’ not forgetting Judy and Fiona who joined us for part of the walk. You were all brilliant and I enjoyed every minute of your company.

I hope to see you on a walk sometime in the future somewhere in the world 😊

Hadrian’s Wall with Badger Adventures and Treks


Hadrian’s Wall (day 8) Robin Hood Inn to Newburn


Heavy overnight rain cleared as we left Twice Brewed and Walker was quick to pay homage to the fact

Leaving the Robin Hood Inn, Jeff was determined to be prepared for all eventualities. I wager he still gets wet feet today though.

Meanwhile Rosie and Walker are raring to go by the look of it. Now that Walker has mastered putting his waterproof trousers on the right way round, there’s no stopping him.

Walking past the reservoirs there are usually plenty of wildfowl specimens to observe from the hide – if only we could get to it 🥴

Ah well at least the path ahead was clear …….well maybe not then!

Torrents of rain over three days have ravaged the area with flooded homes, roads closed with landslides, paths submerged but nothing stops these guys from getting closer to the end point at Wallsend.

Some of the wildlife are still recovering

Heading down through Heddon-on-the-Wall the sun broke through encouraging Walker to get his legs out to his great delight.

Down the hill now to the sight of the River Tyne and our first view of the beautiful City of Newcastle ahead. The sound of Mark Knopfler and Going Home, the theme from Local Hero fills the air making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up (if I had any).

Late lunch by the Tyne then minibus back to our lodging at the Robin Hood and a welcome beer/shower/laundry wash/ boot dry (delete as appropriate).

One day to go until we complete the 83 mile Hadrian’s Walk – let’s hope we have good weather for that last walk along the Quayside and the Tyne.

Hadrian’s Wall with Badger Adventures and Treks

Hadrian’s Wall (day 5) Badger Adventures


What a day of bad weather – heavy rain, thunder and lightning to end it! Intermittent spells of bright weather and sunshine made it a memorable one nevertheless.

As you can see from the picture above, our ’lightning rod for calamity’ aka Walker is getting ready for the rain by putting his waterproof trousers on (albeit back to front) but who noticed. I hope it doesn’t mean he’s going to walk backwards all day.

There were plenty of opportunities to see the Vallum and wall today with some striking views over Walltown Crags.

There was even a badger sett in one part of the ditch but no sign of Chief Badger – then again Badgers are mostly nocturnal.

Fortunately as we reached Cawfield Quarry towards lunchtime, the torrential rain stopped and the sky cracked with warm sunshine, drying us and making our lunch very pleasant overlooking the lake.

The walk over Whin Sill is always a pleasurable one even in bad weather. It is a volcanic extrusion and the change in geology from sandstone makes a pleasant interlude.

By mid afternoon, we were on top of Whin Sill and the trig point / only 345m but the highest point on the Sill.

After a quick photo stop at the trig point, it was time to meet our transport at Steel Rigg var park and head to House of Meg’s Tearoom in Gilsland for well earned tea and cake.

Day 5 of 9 completed and ahead of us tomorrow is the most iconic day of the lot in my opinion including a visit to Housesteads Roman Fort.

Hadrian’s Wall with Badger Adventure Treks

Hadrian’s Wall (Day 4) with Badger Adventures


Day 4 meant us heading to Gilsland from Newtown today – a modest 15k and easily manageable by this intrepid group.

Sarah’s about repairs looked decidedly dodgy and unlikely to last – and so it came to pass after a short distance. Duct tape and super glue are good but they can’t work miracles.

Anyway, off we went into brilliant sunshine and lush green views all around.

Note to Ritchie – ’the obligatory landscape view’ from the north Pennines to the Solway Coast.

Pretty soon the views were a panorama of perfection – enough to make Jeff smile too.

The only noise pollution in this idyllic landscape came from an inconsiderate RAF Hercules checking out our elevenses.

The day was idyllic for weather even making sunscreen obligatory.

Even a dip in a ’Roman’ (sic) bath was the order of the day. It wasn’t long before we started to move from the turf wall to the stone wall to the delight of all.

We arrived at Birdoswald Fort for refreshments and a tour before heading on to Gilsland Spa and our destination hotel for the next three nights.

It’s been a great day with no mishaps other than Sarah’s dissolving boot and the meeting of a poor fellow (from Sunderland so there you go!) who was struggling badly with blistered feet, no back up support bus, and no guide – why would you want to walk the wall without Badger Adventure Treks who take care of all your needs?

It’s such an interesting walk packed full of 2000 year old human history – and the scenery must have been why the Romans came here in AD55 – not just for the Newcastle Brown Ale and stottie cake 😂

Hadrian’s Wall (day 3) Carlisle to Newtown with Badger Adventures


We abandoned the urban environment of Carlisle City today and headed out through Rickerby Park towards the east. Ahead of us, 15k of unfolding countryside with vistas of the Eden Valley sandwiched between the Pennine Hills and the Lake District mountains.

The river Eden was substantially swollen from last evening’s rain and due to its wide catchment embracing the streams flowing off Spadeadam Forest, the western slopes of the north Pennines and the eastern lake of Ullswater for 64 miles it was running fast and deep for the ONLY English river to flow north.

Passing the Cenotaph and Rickerby House and the folly tower called the Bull Pen we passed the bijou residence and gardens of local entrepreneur Fred Story.

Onwards passing over the M6 into the pleasant village of Linstock and it’s picturesque gardens and buildings.

Entering Crosby on Eden, the group resisted the Stag Inn for refreshment despite its allure.

Many local houses offer welcome snacks, refreshments and rests for the weary ’waller’ passing by.

Continuing eastwards a lunch stop just before Bleatarn gave us our first clear sight of the vallum that marks the beginning of many ’Roman’ miles ahead.

Now we will be enticed by the wall and ditch for many a day ahead with milecastles and forts to marvel at.

Let’s hope Sarah’s boots will respond to some loving running duct tape and superglue repairs from Ritchie and that our ”lightning rod for calamity” aka Walker continues to dodge any mishaps.

Tomorrow is another good day of 13k to Gilsland and the heart of Hadrian’s Wall country.

Hadrian’s Wall with Badger Adventure Treks

Hadrian’s Wall (day 2)


10k of walking and missed all but two of the forecasted heavy showers didn’t deter the group from enjoying the last slice of West Cumbria.

Starting from Burgh where we finished yesterday, we headed into the atmospheric and historic church that is St Michael’s.

Firstly, the building is magnificent with some splendid features befitting a 12th century church. Stunning stained glass windows depicting saints with a northern bias – Bede overlooking Lindisfarne and Cuthbert outside Durham Cathedral among them. This was the first resting place of. ’The Scottish Hammer’ aka King Edward I after he died in Burgh in 1307 before he was finally rested in Westminster Abbey. His death subsequently led to a huge increase in nefarious activity with the Border Reivers wreaking havoc in the area. The villagers turned the church into a veritable fortress by adding a fortified tower with arrow slits and iron gates for protection and it certainly stood up to the task. A large amount of the stone came from the nearby wall and so the connection with AD122 was strengthened.

The walls were certainly impregnable and clearly withstood the ravages of the Reivers.

Inside the tower are some stone carvings of animals of the time.

Dodging showers enabled us to enjoy some intermittent sun and even allowed Sarah to demonstrate her prowess as a gate vaulter. Who knew she was an Olympic gate vault medallist?

There are occasional glimpses of the wall and it’s surrounding on this stretch but the best is yet to show itself to us. Meanwhile we content ourselves with the knowledge that our hotel in Carlisle was once the largest single garrison of cavalry anywhere on the wall with over 1,000 men. The wall is visible in the car park and under our feet – you just need to know where to look to see the history.

We marched onwards following the River Eden into the Border City via Bitts Park and ready to recharge our batteries for the 15k walk tomorrow to Newtown.

Sorry Ritchie – best landscape photo of the day.

Meanwhile, as a border town, Carlisle has much to uncover with the Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, the Castle and it’s museum plus a vibrant shopping centre with cafes and cake.

The historic quarter also contains some great old buildings, the Cathedral (Carlisle is a city) and some quaint old alleyways linking castle and cathedral.

If you fancy experiencing AD122 and Hadrian’s Wall, check out Badger Adventures

Hadrian’s Wall with Badger Adventures (day 1)


Well the weather forecast looked like we might have needed our waterproofs but it stayed away and our first day was mostly dry. The group consists of Margie and Jeff, Rosie and Walker, and Sarah all from Portland in Oregon apart from Bristolian Sarah!

From our hotel base in Carlisle we travelled over to Bowness on Solway on the Solway Firth to start our 9 day / 84 mile walk along Hadrian’s Wall with Badger Adventures

Starting from the Kings Arms pub, our first job was to find the very Roman Path Pavillion on the beach overlooking the sparkling waters of the Solway to Scotland and of course it strikes home the sense of being at the far-flung edge of the Roman Empire!

Having taken a few minutes to explore our route and set the context of Emperor Hadrian Aelius’s dream – i.e. Contemporary acclaim and lasting renown. He had come to power in AD117 inheriting a volatile situation around the edges of the vast empire. Failed attempts by Governor Agricola to conquer Scotland a frontier road was established between the Tyne and the Solway. Hadrian’s idea was to construct a stone wall (is this where Trump got his idea?) and this audacious idea gained huge support and awe from the Senators in Rome and echoed what the Chinese had done to quell the Mongols with the Great Wall in China!

And so the idea took shape as a statement of authority, with Hadrian taking influence from the much admired Greeks – a factor which led him to grow a beard rather than remain clean shaven in Roman manner – Hadrian was a “trendsetter”.

So in AD122 work began on this huge undertaking. Here we are some 2000 years later about to walk its path in the wake of these impressive visionaries and of course witness some of the finest archeological remains anywhere in the world.

Gardeners echo the heritage of the wall as we start out – maybe our boots will look like this as we finish in Wallsend! Let’s hope Walker doesn’t require this modern day accessory though …….

Of course, over the years this area has seen local people plunder the wall stones for houses and buildings to detrimental effect. Some houses incorporating Roman altar stones as door lintels and houses built as fortifications against the Border Reiver incursions. None more so than Drumburgh Castle with its castellated end, Roman altars, coat of arms for the Dacre family and the griffins with spread wings – altogether an impressive fortified home.

Not much further on we met Roger at the Solway Signpost at Port Carlisle. How spooky that he had the distance to Oregon on his signpost ready for our group picture!

More importantly – 83 miles to Wallsend from here. Port Carlisle gives us an insight into the history of the canal basin, the demise on the arrival of the steam train and the steam packet ships that used to leave here enroute to Whitehaven and Liverpool taking immigrants across the Atlantic to Ellis Island before entering their new homes in New York. The building known as Hesket House now, used to be the Steam Packet Inn and the parents of Thomas Woodrow Wilson lived here. When he became the 28th President of The USA in 1913 he made a pilgrimage back to his parents’ last home in England in Botchergate, Carlisle.

Onwards we walked towards Burgh by Sands and again another milestone in history. It was here on 7 July 1307 that King Edward 1 was making another assault on his most hated foe, Robert the Bruce that he met his unfortunate demise due to dysentery. He instructed his troops to carry his body into one more assault but they instead turned back – a fact always reminded by the Scots in their national anthem ‘the Flower of Scotland’. Edward’s body lay in the church at Burgh before transfer to Lanercost Priory to his final resting place in Westminster Abbey – the ‘Hammer of Scotland’ as he was known is commemorated by a wonderful bronze statue not far from the scene of his death.

So day one ended at Burgh by Sands, Chief Badger, Ritchie met us with the minibus to take us back to our hotel in Carlisle before heading out to Victorian seaside town Silloth for a fish and chip dinner.

Tomorrow we head back to Burgh and walk into Carlisle for a leisurely 10km walk along the River Eden to the Border City and a landmark end to the West Cumbrian passage of the journey.

For more details of this walk and many others, take a look at Badger Adventures

Port Charlotte, Ardnave and whisky galore!


Another rainless day promised for a day of coastal exploration although the northerly wind is still very fresh at times.

We headed to Port Charlotte first today to visit the Islay Life museum which really does have a lot of very interesting artefacts and information regarding life on Islay and it’s local history.

Cross depicting sword and vine leaves c6th Century

There are some fascinating stone crosses from the 5-8 century along with some Bronze Age burial cists, ceremonial pots and implements found locally.

We then headed to Ardnave Loch and started our walk along the sand dunes adjacent to Loch Gruinart. Beautiful sandy coves and lots of oyster catchers, sandpipers, choughs, lapwings, skylarks, guillemots, and herons around us. The area around Ardnave Point is particularly striking with the dunes compared to the rocky shores we’ve been seeing elsewhere this week.

In the dunes at Ardnave Point

Stratified rock – Loch Gruinart

There were a couple of seals in the bay as we lunched, but they soon disappeared for more attractive seal food than we had to offer them. Continuing our walk back to Ardnave Loch across the point was gentle under foot and very dry – reminding us of how little rainfall Islay has had this winter and spring.

After returning to the minibus, we travelled to the Bruichladdich distillery where the group were able to sample the four unique spirits of Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte, and Octamore single malt whiskies and The Botanist Islay Dry Gin. The whisky is created from 100% Scottish barley using much of the original Victorian machinery. With the distillery on the waterside, it is claimed that the whiskies breathe the maritime air of Loch Indaal all of their maturing life. As you can see, tasting the whiskies is serious business for the ladies

Sampling the amber peaty liquid takes concentration!

After visiting Bruichladdich, we dropped into Bowmore to see what their whisky was all about too. The consensus was that ‘Laddies’ was the superior but there are 6 other distilleries on this island!!

As if the day hadn’t already yielded enough surprises with the landscape, we were about to experience more when Cynthia, Peggy and me arrived back at our accommodation after leaving Deb, Sue and Beth at theirs just up the road.

Arriving back at Lyrabus Croft, our host Deirdre, asked us if we’d like to look at her bike shed! Well, you can see from the photos that a bike shed it isn’t but we were only too happy to enjoy it with Deirdre and Gibson Campbell who own the guest house.

Inside the bike shed with Peggy, Deirdre and Cynthia

Deirdre then invited us to check her other shed!!

Inside the Grillkota – Barbecue Cabin in Finnish style in Islay complete with reindeer skins!

Deirdre and Peggy discuss the finer points of Brexit!

A full on Grillkota (Finnish BBQ Cabin) complete with reindeer skins! The evening couldn’t have got any better – completely knocked out and surprised. I know exactly where one of these could fit my garden at home 🙊

So after a nightcap or two and pleasant chat with Deirdre and Gibson, and two other guests from Canada, it was time to turn in!

Another great day with About Argyll . Check the website for more information. If you fancy a ‘bike ride’ with Deirdre and Gibson, check out Lyrabus Croft for availability.

Last full day tomorrow before our travel back to Glasgow on Saturday but it’ll be another special one on the Mull of Oa.

Kilmartin Glen, Dunadd Fort, Crinan and Islay all in one day,


Kilmartin Glen is an area in Argyll not far from Kintyre with the most important concentration of Neolithic and Bronze Age remains in Scotland. There are more than 800 ancient monuments within a six mile radius of the village with 150 of them being prehistoric. Monuments include standing stones, a henge monument, numerous casts, and a linear cemetery with five huge burial cairns.

Temple Wood standing stones

Globe Cairn at Kilmartin Village

The Canadians show the carvings on the standing stone

Temple Wood standing stones and cairn

The remains of the fortress of the Scots at Dunadd, a royal centre of Dal Riata, are located to the south of the Glen. The anointing stone, carvings of a boar and a carved bowl all point towards a fortress of ‘king making’ significance. It’s believed that the new king placed his foot into the footprint at his anointing ceremony.

Beth receives adulation from her subjects on the anointing stone

Debs tries the footprint for fit

Peggy waves to her subjects!

A really interesting weathervane on top of Kilmartin Church shows the importance of the sea to this area

Following our own king making ceremonies, we travelled down the Crinan Canal to Crinan for lunch before heading to Tarbert enroute to the Islay ferry.

We arrived in Islay around 2000 and made our way north to our accommodation for the next two days.

Sue’s sprained ankle is making good progress and is certainly not stopping her from enjoying the walking – lots of ice is necessitating the requirement for the ladies to find a local hostelry (purely for medical recuperation) to ensure adequate supply!

No doubt there’ll be much debate about how much (if any) ice will be required to aid the libation of the amber peaty liquid over the next two days!

For details on how you can enjoy guided walks in Scotland, see About Argyll for some excellent options to suit you.

Glen Nant, Bonawe Furnace, and Inverawe Smokery, Argyll


Today we took a step back into the 18th century within this amazing landscape to see one of the most remarkable monuments of the Industrial Revolution in Britain. A company in the Lake District who already owned Duddon Estuary Furnace decided in 1753 to exploit the plentiful source of woodland in Glen Nant to provide charcoal before coke became the ‘new technology’.

Bonawe Furnace remained in blast for an astonishing 120 years producing good quality iron at competitive prices thanks to the readily available charcoal from the wooded hills of Argyll and Glen Nant in particular. Once pig iron was produced, there was ready access to transport from Lorn Quay onto Loch Etive and past the Falls of Lora at the mouth of the Loch.

For those of us from the Lake District, it is easy to recognise the red sandstone slabs from West Cumbria, and the grey-green slate covering the storage sheds – despite the slate islands just off the coast at Oban – but then I’m biased when I say that Westmorland green slate is the best in the world which is why it covers the Houses of Parliament in Westminster!

Bridge over a burn in Glen Nant nature reserve

Coppiced trees adorned with lichen and moss add to the verdant colours all around

Bonawe would have required at least 10,000 acres (5,000 football pitches) for sustained operation and ‘coaling’ which burned the wood to create charcoal took place in the woods before being carted by packhorse or clog cart in 12 sacks from one clamp kiln. There is an example of a clamp kiln in Glen Nant.

More details on Bonawe and the history can be found on the website at

The sun shone again on us as we launched at the Inverawe Smokery just a short walk from the Bonawe Furnace and gave some of us a chance to sample smoked trout pate with our packed lunches.

Panoramic view from McCaig’s Tower above Oban looking out over Kerrera, Mull, Morvern, and Lismore

McCaig’s Tower on Battery Hill built in 1897 at a cost of £5000 GBP

The Tower was built of Bonawe granite taken from quarries on Loch Etive – it has a circumference of 200 metres with two tiers of 94 lancet arches. John McCaig was a philanthropist banker to provide work for local stonemasons during the winter months. He was an admirer of Roman and Greek architecture hence the design based on the Colosseum in Rome. The planned art gallery and museum inside never got completed due to his death in 1902.

In early May, the warm Gulf Stream favours the gardens in Oban and the multitudinous colours of rhododendrons and azaleas make quite a spectacle against the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean.

The ladies completed their day with another visit to the Manor House Hotel on Gallanach Road where afternoon tea has been replaced for the group in favour of a cold Chardonnay or local craft beer and more takes of ‘daring do’ from Eddie the barman.

Last evening in Oban tonight before we head south to Islay via Kilmartin Glen and Crinan.

The adventure continues for these ladies with About Argyll Walking Holidays in Scotland

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