Walking the Walk: Chollerford to Cawfield’s Quarry

Many members of the party were struggling with there energy levels so it was decided that Iain would shuttle some of us to the 3 mile point some of the party had reached the previous day.

The aim was to get an 0800 start. Kel and Sam decided they would do the 3 mile hill walk and make sure all our. National Trail passports were stamped at Chesters. They left at 0730 and we ended up setting off at 0815 in the van.

This photo depicts the undulations nicely, I feel!
Photo by Sara Wingham

Today, having thought I would not need them, I decided to borrow some walking poles to see if this would ease the pain off my feet. It wasn’t a magical cure, but if helped a fair bit.

Twas another cold but clear morning and initially across fields. Despite the sunny, warm weather of the previous days the land was still recovering from floods and heavy rains of the week before and was frequently soft and even boggy in places. We were to come across many signs about erosion from walkers, but a lot of the paths had also been trodden across by lifestock. Still we did what we could and spread out trying to find the drier/firmer bits of the path.

Today we were to see a lot more of the wall and fortifications, the first being the remains of a temple of Mithras. It’s odd because there were a few buildings like this surrounded by fields of cow and/or sheep. It was on this day that Kel discovered that saying phrases such as ‘What are Ewes Looking At’, in a scouse accent, it was guaranteed to make me chuckle. A lot. It was to become a catchphrase for the group.

A very steep descent here. I took this one slowly!
Photo by Kel

Another change in territory was the undulations – this part of the walk involved many steep climbs and descents in quick succession. In some ways this made it the most fun and the most beautiful – the height meant wonderful views of the surrounding countryside. One of our rest points was at a trig point, the highest point we would go but the best views of the walk.

The undulations had split the group again so when I got to Housesteads Roman Fort with Sara and Kel, we had to wait for the others to trickle in. This was where we were to meet The Crimson Moon for lunch, though we had to walk a bit further to the car park (1 mile!). On the way, Gary brought a much appreciated round of ice creams. We also got yet another stamp for our National Trail passports.

At lunch, Gary decided to go back to basecamp with Iain and Susie to help out at basecamp as his knees and feet were really suffering. It was a shame to see him go, but health comes first.

Sycamore Gap
Photo by Kel

Shortly after lunch we came one of most spectacular and well known bits of the wall: Sycamore Gap as seen in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Looking down to it was a little dizzying! This section was particularly picturesque so many photos were taken.

My feet were really beginning to hurt now. We’d figured out that a crease in one of the boots was pressing into my ankle so loosening that helped. As we descended more and more steep narrow pathways the worse my feet got and I started to lag behind everyone else. Eventually made it to the quarry though and I don’t think I could have gone further.

Kel at Cawfield’s Quarry
Photo by…? In Kel’s collection.

This was the first of two possible stop points we’d planned for the day, the other being 3 miles away but the light was failing. I could not have gone another step and I’m sure some of the others felt the same. Kel being Kel, stubborn and with more energy then a caffeinated, sugar-powered 5 year old, decided to run on ahead on his tod. Craziness.

This evening, we were to spend the night at the imaginatively named ‘Hadrian’s Wall Campsite’ near Haltwhistle and very nice it is too. Very good and clean bathrooms and a warm laundry room and bunkhouses in case of washouts! Gary, having seen what it took to put up the marquee and prep for us all, he cancelled the campsites for the other nights to make this one our base with Iain doing shuttles in the van.

As it was yet another hard hitting day, not much happened between dinner and bed. For me, this had been the most tough day, physically, and I was about ready to chop my legs off.

End of day mileage: approx 12 miles. No data for ascent/descent unfortunately.