Hadrian’s Wall Path: Day 3 – Coombe Crag Farm to Winshields Farm

Today’s route

Setting off a little later than I’d hoped, around 6:30 am, I began the day after a night of thunderstorms and rain. Despite the dampness in my tent and packing it wet, I found myself surprisingly okay – tired but spirited, ready to ride this wave of positive energy.

My journey took me to Birdoswald Roman Fort. Despite it being too early for it to be open, I still managed to get a stamp on my Hadrian’s Wall passport. I ended up taking the road route to Birdoswald, bypassing the typical trail, by accident. Despite the lack of picturesque views, there were no cars that time and most importantly, saved my boots from further sheep poop encounters. A word of advice to any potential trail-walkers: prepare for soiled boots!

As I tread further into the Roman history, I’ve found the information displayed at each turret and milecastle interesting. Milecastle 49 and then the Roman bridge at Willowford stand out with their dramatic landscapes, stirring up a (weird for me) newfound appreciation for bridges. Could it be the remnants of my Thames Path walk?

On arriving at the Gilsland car park, I was diverted through the town. Despite the promise of the House of Meg opening at 8 am (on a sign in the car park), it remained closed until 10 am. Still, the tables outside served as a handy spot for a backpack rest. A warning to those expecting a hearty meal in Gilsland, I have it from the lady from Coombe Crag Farm campsite that both the pubs have sadly closed down in recent years.

Passing the overgrown grass of Thirlwall Castle (nowhere to sit there), and passing a large group of charity walkers, I tackled a massive hill and descended onto the disused Walltown Quarry. By 10:30 am, I was having a well-earned break, indulging in an egg bap and crisps for lunch.

The remainder of the day was a blend of singing breast-cancer-charity walkers, dramatic quarry rocks, and intense heat. The strong sun and my backpack’s weight kept my pace even slower than usual, but the breathtaking views made it worthwhile. I had to lean on music to help power through the more gruelling stretches of the walk, a change from my usual nature-listening walks.

After a much-needed break in the shade of the woods near Cockmount Hill, and crossing Great Chesters old fort, I ended up at a car park. Despite forgoing the available refreshments, the sight of the quarry’s water was an absolute treat. From there, it was an uphill battle against the heat.

A friend’s suggestion of soaking my snood in water gave me a refreshing reprieve. The challenge continued, though, as I briefly lost and then rejoined the path before finally passing milecastle 41. After a short struggle and some musical motivation from Jackie Wilson which felt quite apt (Higher and higher), I saw the sign for the campsite and doubting the terrain downhill, I made my way there.

I dried my tent for a bit.

With a free fruit juice drink from the campsite owner, a pitched tent, a shower, and a load of rinsed and hung clothes, and charging my power pack, I felt accomplished. I treated myself to a rather expansion meal: a large iced water, steak and chips, and a large Malbec at the Twice Brewed Inn. Despite the steak being overcooked and overpriced, it still hit the spot after the long day.

Tomorrow, I’m headed to Chollerford. Thanks for following along my journey, see you tomorrow!

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