Hadrian’s Wall Day 5 – Chollerford to Newburn (am I stupid or just crazy?)

This is today’s walk. I won’t reiterate it enough. If I had to plan this again, i would make quite different choices in my stops and distances covered per day.

After decided to rest more today, last night, I awoke too early at 6 a.m. in discomfort, but comforted by the thought that this would be my last night in a tent for this trip. Everything in the tent felt damp with the morning dew.
To my surprise, I found that a number of ants had found my tent quite comfortable and had joined me under the tarp. Thankfully, they didn’t invade the bedroom portion of the tent.

I spent my early morning hours browsing through Facebook messages and comments about my walk. The wave of kind words and encouragement was heartening, even though I found it hard (myself) to match the optimism reflected in these messages. Still, I was determined to give it my best shot, today.

After washing my hair (a small luxury given how dry it had been), breaking camp for the last time this week, drying my tent and packing my backpack, I arrived at the Riverside café as it opened at 9 a.m. I had a filling breakfast of eggs on toast and a decaf black americano. Perfect.

I set off at 9:30 a.m., beginning with an uphill hike that led me past Planetrees, where a section of the Wall is well conserved. I continued uphill through the woods and fields, past Oswald’s farm which looked very nice. It was after milecastle 24 that I entered the Stanley plantation, only to find a diversion in the trail. I found myself perplexed by the signage until I spotted the diversion sign. The walk through the woods was lovely; there’s something special about these kinds of trails in the woods that always fills me with joy.

I took a mid-day break at the Errington Coffee House for a cup of tea and a scone. I also used the time to change my socks, top up my water (having consumed about 1.5L in just 3 hours) and reapply my sun cream. I bumped into Heidi, Dan, Paddy, and Marlen, who I’d met yesterday on the trail. Their company, along with conversations with locals, was a pleasant distraction to the miles ahead.

We stopped at the Robin Hood Inn in East Wallhouses, where I had a late lunch.

The remainder of the journey was challenging, with long stretches and a particularly painful patch of chunky pebbles that felt like walking on Lego (I kid you not)! I did enjoy the Whittle Dene Reservoir. It looked so pretty.

Passing Vindobala, I rested briefly. I eventually made it into Heddon-on-the-wall, although I was suffering from sore feet and a bad stomach. I still don’t know why. I felt better after a while. I didn’t think it was dehydration or bad nutrition as I was able to stave off dehydration by consuming salted cashews and rehydrating frequently, and I ate well all day.

As you arrive in Heddon-on-the-wall, do note that the sign telling you’re in Heddon-on-the-wall is quite a while before the actual village.

This is well after the sign. Still no village, yet.

Upon reaching Heddon-on-the-wall, I decided to catch a bus for the final 45-minute stretch, as suggested by Google Maps. But unfortunately, due to a mix-up with bus directions and a particular unhelpful bus driver who insisted that both the signage on the bus stop and direction on Google maps was wrong (and refused to let me on board!). Disappointed and tired, I decided to finish the journey on foot.

Although this part of the journey was tough, the views over the Tyne and the distant sight of Newcastle made the pain more bearable.

At this point, my concern shifted to the dinner serving time at the pub in my lodging, which was stated to end at 20:00, coinciding with my ETA as per Google Maps. With 20 miles already behind me and a 15kg backpack, my body was beginning to protest. Despite nearly limping down Station Road just a few moments earlier, I found a surge of determination and began running (the mysterious powers of food!). The word ‘running’ might be a bit generous for my pace, but it was definitely faster than a walk!

I finally arrived at my lodgings for the night just four minutes before the restaurant stopped serving food. But they had closed the kitchen already. They were kind enough to make a fish and chips dish for me.
It was massive and I struggled to finish it.

After this challenging day, I decided to indulge in a soothing bath for my poor legs.
After nights of camping, the bedroom in the lodge felt like luxury. So spacious. Just the simple fact of having fresh towels rather than the lightweight microfibre type I’ve been using for days.

It’s the final stretch tomorrow – about 10 miles from here to Segedunum Roman Fort & Museum, where the walk officially finishes.
From there, I plan to head to Tynemouth, albeit probably not on foot. The end of this incredible journey is in sight, and I’m more than ready to reach it.

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