The wall: Once Brewed to Gilsland – June 21

Today’s walk 8 miles / 13 km in 6 hours

The good weather we had yesterday didn’t last. We set out this morning into a steady drizzle and mist so heavy that we couldn’t see the tops of the crags. Once we got up onto the crags, we couldn’t see anything to either side, nor much before or behind us and the rain just got worse. We kept going, though and did our best to stay cheerful.

Looking back over the crags in a bit of a break in the weather

Early in today’s walk, we came to the highest point on the wall, marked by a triangulation monument from the ordnance mapping of Britain. We took a picture there, but sadly, the mist and clouds obscured whatever view there might have been.

The highest point on the wall, marked by a triangulation monument. Gee, look at those views...

At the highest point, smiling despite the rain

The walk continued up and down over the crags. The rain made slopes slick and muddy, which made all the upping and downing not so much fun. Over the course of the day the weather did get gradually better, but we had some dreadful downpours of rain before things really broke up. We sheltered from the worst of one under a stand of trees in a field, with the local cows doing pretty much the same thing not too far away. Even as the weather improved, it still left us mostly walking through wind and went and mist over wet, muddy ground.

The well-preserved remains of a milecastle

At one point I slipped on a bit of wet rock and fell down. Fortunately I wasn’t badly hurt, just a few scrapes on my hand and some minor bruises. Also very fortunately, I didn’t land in any sheep or cattle droppings when I fell. E. took very good care of me, washing off the mud, disinfecting the scrapes on my hand and wrapping them up in a bandage, and we got on with our walk.

The signage along the trail is mostly pretty good, but there are places where it could be better. We hit one of these today and got off track without realizing it. Fortunately we were going in pretty much the right direction and were able to pick up the path again with little difficulty.

A particularly well-preserved stretch of wall, despite the modern gate through it

Today’s walk took us down out of the crags and into more settled countryside. We started seeing more houses, even walking right through a garden or two. The livestock became less skittish as well, showing they were clearly more accustomed to having people around than the flocks and herds up in the wild crags.

Most sheep either ignored us or got out of our way. This one was quite curoius and interested in us.

What with the weather, my fall, and getting off trail at one point, it was not the best of our walking days. Fortunately, we ended up at the best B&B so far. It was in an old farm which had been recently converted into a B&B. Our room was in the old cowshed, although you would never have known. Everything was clean and well renovated, with under-floor heating which was very nice on our feet after a day of walking in the cold rain. Since there’s nothing else around, the B&B also serves dinner, which was one of the best meals we’d had all trip. Dinner was a pea and mint soup followed by roast lamb with mint gravy, new potatoes, and vegetables. For dessert I got a meringue with berries and whipped cream. We had called ahead to reserve our dinner and let them know about E.’s dietary issues, so they had a special dessert for her of berry and kiwi sorbet. Everything was local, fresh, and excellent.  As we ate, we watched a Mr. and Mrs. pheasant pecking away underneath the bird feeder in the back yard– no idea whether they were tame, wild, frequent guests, or what, but they put on a good show for us.

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