Posts Tagged ‘Malcolm Wade – Mountain Leader Lakeland Mountain Experience Ltd’

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 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

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

Isle of Kerrera, Argyll, Scotland


Sunday 5 May 2019

A dry day greeted us as we waited for the passenger ferry to Kerrera this morning. Everyone in high spirits, no jet lag, and no hangovers to be concerned about except maybe mine for not checking the date imprint on my camera – doh! It should of course be a day later!

The ferry started at 10.35 so by 10.45 we were walking the southern route on the island – lush green fields, sea air, and lovely views at every turn to greet us on this 6 mile walk.

Signs for the Kerrera tea shop were too much to ignore so we made a slight detour for elevenses and scones or rhubarb and custard cake.

The cafe was delightful, with a toilet with a wonderful view and it was even twinned with another in Pakistan!

Walking on further towards Gylen Castle and as we approached the view was amazing. As Kerrera shelters the entrance to Oban Bay, views are everywhere. It is a lovely green island, it’s unsurfaced roads used only by farm vehicles. It’s fertile pastures support sheep, goats and some highland cows. It has fine cliff scenery and at tiny Barr-nam-Boc Bay you can see the jetty remains where cattle herds were brought from Mull were landed on their way to market. The animals then walked the drive road to the east coast where they swam the Sound to Oban!

Gylen castle is perched high on a sheer cliff of conglomerate and was built as a tower house by Duncan MacDougall in 1582. It occupies a narrow promontory, access to which is by a vaulted passage under the main block. It only lasted until 1647 when it was sieved and burnt by Cromwellian troops.

Some latter day visitors from USA still feel the urge to lay siege!

The isle has much to commend it and makes a very pleasant 5 hour walk with stunning views over to Mull with Ben More in the distance.

So it was back to the ferry to end our first day of walking and enjoying the Southwest Highlands & Islands with

For more information and to see how you can enjoy Scotland see the website above or email

Tomorrow we head off on a 6 hour boat trip to the Garvellachs, uninhabited islands, and the Corryvreckan Whirlpool.

Check in tomorrow for more updates on the journey with Beth from New Zealand, Peggy and Cynthia from New York, and Deborah and Suzanne from Canada.

South West Highlands and Islands


Today we are off to the Island of Kerrera just off the coast of Oban – literally only a 10 minute ferry journey.

On arrival in Oban last evening after a brief pause in Glencoe, we had a delicious seafood dinner in The Fishouse Restaurant on the harbour.

The weather looks dry with a northerly wind so chilly but clear so hopefully some views to share later.

Beth, Peggy, Suzanne, Deborah and Cynthia are all well and eager to start their holiday with About Argyll. Check out the website link below for more details of walking tours in Scotland with About Argyll.

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!

Hadrian’s Wall day -1


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

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