Posts Tagged ‘Badger Adventures’

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

Hadrian’s Wall – Final Day


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.

Hadrian’s Wall – day 3


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


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!

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