The wall: Wallsend to Newburn – June 16

Today’s walk: 11.5 miles / 18.5 km in 5 hours

Today we began our walk of Hadrian’s Wall. We started with a good breakfast in our B&B, then we packed up our day packs and left our luggage to be picked up by the courier.

We took the Newcastle metro from Whitley Bay to Wallsend, the site of the Roman fort of Segedunum where the wall came down to the Tyne river.

Here's where it starts

The trail starts just outside the fort museum.

And so it begins

The line of the wall runs right through downtown Newcastle, so there’s almost no remains to be seen and walking the actual course of the wall would mean walking along busy highways, so the trail diverges from the wall line for most of the day to follow the Tyne River.

The Tyne river, just before it starts to get urban/industrial

The Tyne is tidal up to this point. The remains of an old river boat in the low-tide mud.

We started out in not unpleasant suburban surroundings. The trail runs through some parklands and behind some housing developments and comes to the river. We saw lots of flowers in bloom, especially many different kinds of roses growing wild. Fairly soon we came into the heart of the city itself. You can see the remains of Newcastle’s industrial past, but the walk along the river is well taken care of.

Newcastle city center. The Tyne is crossed by many different types of bridges along this short stretch.

The city gradually receded as we kept walking west. The day was cool and cloudy, but mostly dry apart from a few sprinkles of rain. The path was almost all pavement and after several hours of walking, the soles of my feet were getting quite sore. My legs were fine, no sore muscles, just the soles of my feet from all that walking on hard pavement.

Into the countryside west of Newcastle

We arrived at our lodging in the early afternoon. It’s a brewery/pub that also has a separate lodge building as a B&B.

Our food, drink, and lodging for the night

The room was pleasant enough. We got a few hours of rest off our feet, then went for dinner at the pub. When I saw toad-in-the-hole on the menu I figure I had to order it, just so that I could say I’d had it. It turned out to be rather good: imagine a giant popover filled with sausage and mashed potato and slaked with gravy. I also had some of their own brown ale, which was very good.

In the evening there was a Morris dance performance at the pub. E. found the evening too chilly and stayed in the room, but I went out to watch. The performance was supposed to start at 8. A little after 8, there was a group of guys in colorful costumes standing around drinking beer. After they’d all had a round or two, a few of them finally picked up accordions and fiddles and the rest started to gather up on the patio outside the pub. Once they got going, though, they were a lot of fun to watch.

A sword dance. The dancers start in a circle holding flexible short swords between them which they then dance around, over, and under.

They did several different kinds of Morris dances and sword dances, introducing each one by explaining where it came from and something of its history. All the dances were very local, coming from villages not more than a few miles away. They danced about a half-dozen dances altogether (with frequent pauses for more beer).

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