Walking The Walk: Wallsend to Harlow Hill

Day 2

My breakfast – marked as appropriate
Photo by Gary Perkins

Sam and I woke to the sound of her mobile’s alarm at 0630 and quickly set about washing, checking bags, filling water bottles and putting stuff in the car we wouldn’t need on the walk. The cars were to be left at the hotel to be collected at the end, having arranged this beforehand with hotel management.

We met for breakfast then gathered out in the cold, frosty car park to pack bags and bedding into what was to be our ‘Ticky Taxi’ for the rest of the trip. Iain and Susie of The Crimson Moon were kindly providing logisitcal support and   Iain, in his dedication, had already been out to fetch packs and missed breakfast 🙁

We’d intended to be at Wallsend at 0800 but it ended up being more like 0830. Sam and Dave, another mad walker, had shuttled people to the start point having been picked as the faster walkers, and shuttled back to Wallsend by Iain. Susie was to join us for part one of our walk.

So the start point was at the Segedunum museum where we should have got our first stamp in our National Trail passport except it was closed. We had to walk a small way out to get to the petrol station to claim the passport and some people took the opporunity to grab some coffee and sweets.

Us lot by the Tyne
Us mad lot in front of the scenary, minus Kel.
Photo by Gary Kelso

So the main part of the first day of walking was through central Newcastle Upon Tyne. Having never visited the city, there was plenty for me to gawp at. We spent most of the day following the Tyne so got to see the bridges..even going through a market at one point. As tempting as it was to stop and buy, we were there to walk, not browse!

The weather was absolutly glorious sunshine too with little cloud. I’d not thought to pack sunscreen and regretted that later!

The urban landscape slowly gave way to more suburban settings. We’d slogged 8 miles over mostly tarmac and we already had one casualty: Susie’s feet were suffering. At this point, after walking through a park that neighboured a bread factory pumping out delicious smells, we had a long awaited lunch! Iain had found a handy layby, set out garden chairs and we were so glad to see it! Soup and rolls and a nice cup of tea.

Us eating lunch by Newburn Bridge
Us having lunch by Newburn Bridge
Photo by Gary Kelso

After lunch, without Susie whose poor feet were badly blistered, we got further and further into countryside. The paths were well marked but we spent a lot of the day avoiding cyclists who were taking advantage of the fair weather. Signs everywhere said that they should give way to walkers…nevermind eh!

Up a path bordering a golf course and gravely track we started our first steep incline.  Luckily these incline was tiered so we had some rest between. I like to tackle hills by just going for it and Sara, Kel, Ant and Andy seem to feel the same as we put a little distance between us and the rest. Turned out well for the group behind as, once we reached the lovely Heddon On The Wall we came across a pub, The Swan, with awesome views and cold bevrages! We spent some time here to recharge before doing the final stretch to Harlow Hill, though the sun was beginning to set.

Us at the Swan Pub
Us enjoying cold drinks and the view at the pub
Photo by …

Heddon On The Wall gave us our first site of a bit of the wall. There’s not much there, but it was a start!

The last stretch went more rural, with us walking alongside fields and over styles following the ever present National Trail signs. And whlst most of this was relatively flat, the challenge was the distance. Guidebooks had suggested the total length for our first day should have been 17-18 miles but the GPS tracking some of us had used suggested our total final mileage was more like 20! The last few miles were pretty hard and we were all longing for a sit down.

It was dark by the time we reached our first campsite, The Belvedere. We were the only campers there and The Crimson Moon marquee was all set up and ready for us to sit in, around the fire. We wolfed down scones and then a bit later dinner. Due to the time and tiredness, we all headed straight to bed after eating. I’m not sure I’ve ever slept so well whilst camping!