Friday, May 22, 2015

The scoop on Hadrian's Wall

  • Building started in 122AD, on the orders of Emperor Hadrian who, having visited Britain, decided he needed a way of keeping out the Scots (or Picts or whatever they may have been called at that time).
  • The bus service that travels the length of the wall is numbered AD122.
  • The walk along the wall is 84 miles long.
  • It feels longer.
  • Especially when it has hailed on you for four hours.
  • The wall was built by Roman soldiers, who clearly had to be multi skilled.
  • It had a big ditch dug on the front (north) side of it to deter invaders.
  • It had a big ditch dug on the rear (south) side of it. This ditch was there to make it harder for soldiers to run away.
  • One of these ditches was called the vallum.
  • To get an idea of the amount of effort involved in digging the vallum, think of how much effort it would take to dig an Olympic swimming pool by hand. Then multiply that by 10,000.
  • Given it was built almost 1900 years ago, it is astonishing how much remains.
  • The walk starts at Bowness on Solway and ends at Wallsend. (Yes, really).
  • However, remaining sections of visible wall actually start near Heddon-on-the-wall and finish before Walton. So if you just want to “walk the wall” you can do it in three days, not six.
  • The highest point of the wall is about 370 metres (say 1,100 ft) above sea level.
  • The high point of walking Hadrian's Wall, if you have any sense, will be a evening's stay at Oakwood Park Hotel, which is one of the top two or three places I have stayed in during my life.
  • You will probably meet more North Americans walking the wall than people from all other nations combined.
  • It feels good to be done!

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