Hadrian’s Wall Day 1 – From Bowness-on-Solway to Carlisle: a (Long) Journey Begins

Welcomed by the dawn’s early light, my day started at the charming Wallsend Guest House and Glamping Pods.

The showering and drinks facilities were lovely.

This felt like luxury for a campsite!
Perfect fir my cuppa tea in the morning

Last night, I managed to grab a lovely meal (massive portion size!) at the King’s Arms pub in Bowness on Solway and head to the shore to watch the sun setting over the Solway Firth.

After a breakfast of my homemade flapjacks and a steaming cup of tea, I set off for the pavilion in Bowness-on-Solway, going past the King’s Arms.

The journey began at 8 am. With the sky a lovely blue, and a gentle breeze, I was off to a good start. Despite the long stretches of roadside walking and straight lines, forewarned by our Facebook group, the morning brought its joys. I spent an hour in the company of Lee, Lewis, and their dog Frank, from Swansea, sharing stories and pacing well. I suspect they’re well ahead now, as they are aiming to cover the path in just four days.

I took a much-needed break at Laal Bite, a spot I highly recommend for fellow hikers. The afternoon, however, came with its challenges. An earlier than anticipated arrival at the Greyhound pub in Burgh-by-Sands found it still closed, prompting me to push on without a proper rest. My short rest involved basking in the cool grass and eating a protein bar and some nuts. I made my way to Burgh by Sands’ village hall, where I enjoyed a nice vegetable quiche, courtesy of a suggestion from a lovely dog-walking couple.

As the day wore on, the heat weighed me down, and the way into Carlisle felt longer than expected. Yet, the sight of the picturesque Bitts Park and Sands Centre, where I had my passport stamped, an ice-cold water bottle, and a refreshing ice cream, marked the end of the first leg of the journey.

Arriving at my B&B, I learned breakfast wouldn’t be served until 8. However, they kindly provided yogurt and fruit for my early start. The rest of the evening involved some laundry in the sink(I know – classy! 🙂 ), a visit to the beautiful Carlisle Cathedral, and tending to a bug bite and a small blister.

Inside the cathedral, I crossed paths with Veronica, a friendly face from the trail. We had kept running into each other since the very start at Bowness.

Dinner was a lovely linguine a la verdure at the Italian restaurant Sannas, perfectly matched with a glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc. It was happy hour so very affordable. Back in my room, the slow progress of charging my gadgets and the damp state of my freshly-washed clothes hinted at the real-life nuances of such a journey.

Thoughts about tomorrow’s long 28km trek bring a sense of anxiety. The forecast warns of heat, and perhaps thunderstorms, and I find myself questioning whether I’ll make it to the campsite. I also questioned my choice of taking my hiking boots over the trail running shoes.

Yet, lying here in my bed, despite the aches and pains (my hips are bruised), I find myself excited about what the new day will bring. It’s not just a physical challenge but a mental journey too. I know I can handle this physically; now it’s my mind that needs to take the leap.

As the lively Carlisle nightlife buzzes far away in the background, I’m already on the path that lies ahead, one foot in front of the other, ready for tomorrow’s adventure.

Good night.

Thames Path – Kingston Bridge to Chertsey Bridge (section 3)

The third section of my Thames Path walk, from Kingston bridge towards Chertsey bridge should be around 11 miles but I walked 12.21miles (19.65km).

Map of section 3 of the Thames Path

It took me over 4h to get to the start of this section. Public transport on a Sunday morning is a challenge.

I started today’s walk along Barge Walk by Kingston bridge. The path was busy with families and couples cycling and walking, some runners, some rowers, and even some children feeding the seagulls , in this nice and sunny Sunday afternoon.

It was warm enough in the sun but cool in the shade, around 11 degrees Celsius.

Switching sides

I should explain that today I started my walk on the North bank for the first time since the start of the Thames Path walk. This took me along Hampton court and then to Molesey bridge where I crossed over again. I crossed from North to South Bank and back to North again, including by ferry at Shepperton Lock.

View from Kingston bridge


Even though I had only started the walk at midday, I stopped on a bench after a quarter of an hour for a protein shake as a snack.

My last couple of walks have taught me to try and plan some food to take with me, meaning I don’t have to rely on finding cafes or spend too much money all the time. I would much recommend that if you’re planning to do the Thames Path walk too.

Today I packed some snacks (protein powder and a shaker), a banana, a plum, an oat bar, some nuts and a ham and spinach pitta sandwich. I also have 1.2L of water in two bottles.

My rucksack this morning

The sounds of the Thames Path

Very much like the last couple of days’ walk along the Thames, the sounds are a major feature of my experience. Fom the rumbling of the cars, which you can just about see through the trees and the boats on the far side of the Thames, to a couple of boats passing along, the seagulls, people chattering, the sound of the wind and the leaves in the trees, and the water splashing along the banks after a boat has gone past.

Rambling on

To my left, and on the far side of the Thames there was the sailboat yard from Surbiton and to my right I get to Hampton Court and could see some horses, fields, and stables behind the trees. It was a nice straight path, not too muddy at all and fairly dry today, some leaves on the floor. The sun was shiny, and actually I realised I forgot to bring sunglasses, which would have been really useful this afternoon.

Around 13:00, I approached the Pavilion, on my right, but I could only really see a wall and the walking path next to it, unfortunately. At that stage, the weather had warned up and I took my jumper off. It was a pleasant afternoon. I crossed to the South bank at Molesey bridge.

Molesey Lock looked good. I’m always impressed by Locks engineering. I stopped at the Molesey Lock cafĂ© to have my sandwich and a lovely black Americano, sound outside. The person serving me was very pleasant and asked about my walk.

The cafĂ© doesn’t have toilets but there are some public toilets just a few meters away along the path, which were surprisingly clean. I also took the opportunity to stop to check my feet which looked fine and I put on fresh socks.

As I come to the proximity of the Molesley nature reserve on my left, the path had become quieter and only a couple of walkers were about as well as a couple of cyclists the other way. There, the Thames seemed animated with swinging and dancing of sailboats through the fairly strong winds today.

The path, which was quiet until just before Walton Wharf, became busier just after passing Walton. My guess was that people were perhaps having evening walks or afternoon walks at their Sunday dinner.

The plan was to take the ferry at Shepperton Lock but I became a little anxious, seeing a few of the other ferries along the way we’re not operating because of adverse weather (I guess it was higher wind than normal?). So I found the Shepperton ferry’s phone number on my phone (https://www.nauticalia-marine-services.co.uk/shepperton-weybridge-pedestrian-ferry/) and they confirmed that they were operating today.

I got to Walton bridge where things were getting a little bit quieter.

To signal that you are waiting for the ferry, at Shepperton Lock, you need to ring the bell on the quarter hour. I didn’t do a great job at ringing the bell, but it worked. I then stopped at the cafĂ© and drank another black Americano andngrabbed a slice of coffee & walnut cake before using the toilet and head to Chertsey. Despite not needing to go, I thought I should mention that there are done public toilets of few hundred metres after the cafĂ©, in case you need.

Someone must have been having a garden fire as it was quite smoky and the landscape was quite eerie as you approach Pharaoh Island. With the sun setting, the colours and hue were changing, to the point it gave an eerie feel to the evening. I’ve read that all the houses are named after Egyptian places and items.

On the last stretch, the sun had set a little while before and I stopped a lot, taking quite a few pictures trying to capture the colours of the subset, but they weren’t great as there seemed to have a lot of power lines in the way, which was not that pretty, but I guess they are part of our landscape in some way.

The Thames at that point was really quiet. I kept walking on the tow path. The sounds had changed quite a lot, mainly coming from the noisy road on the other side of the Dumsey meadow, and from planes (we are very close to Heathrow).

The moon, just overhead, was so lovely: a thin waxing crescent. I really enjoyed that last stretch of the walk, this evening.

As I arrived by Chertsey bridge, I could see a few flocks of migrating birds and fewer planes but also one fisherman in the dark, and a couple of couples walking dogs. It was only just before five but felt much later as it was quite dark. The street lights were on and you could see their pretty reflections in the Thames.

I completed the third section, checked in my lovely hotel room with river view (had to change rooms because my door was broken), had a nice warming dinner at the pub downstairs and sat to plan tomorrow’s section.

I’m tired so it’s great time I get some rest before tomorrow’s 12 or so miles to Windsor.