Welcome back readers. Fresh off our week long trip to Greece, we decided to forgo a restful weekend and drive half the length of the country up to Hadrian’s Wall. No glitz and glamour of the Mediterranean here. Just some nice English countryside with some Roman ruins.
The wall was built by the Romans when they were ruling the western world (around 122 AD). They decided that that they had gone far enough and that Scotland was not worth their time and resources. Hence, the need for a wall to keep out the barbarians on the other side. This reminds me of the HBO series, Game of Thrones, where the civilized people build a huge wall to keep out the “White Walkers”. Anyway, a lot of the wall is still intact, so we thought we’d better go see it while we are living in England. Here’s what Rome’s empire looked like when the wall was built.
So on Saturday morning, we set off from Derby for the wall. We found a nice 7.5 mile circular route that took us along a good stretch of wall and also explored some old Roman forts. It was a 3 hour drive followed by a 3 hour walk.
We got lucky and had some great weather. It was partly cloudy and in the mid 50s, which is more than you can really ask for at this time of year. The walk was really nice and had some good views of the countryside. Hadrian’s Wall itself wasn’t very intact, but you could decipher Hadrian’s wall remnants from a normal wall. Hadrian’s wall was wider than your typical wall today. Probably because it was wide enough for guards to do patrols on top of back in the day. Anyway, here are a bunch of photos:
After awhile, we made it to Housesteads Roman Fort. This used to be a huge Fort/City outpost area. Now it’s just ruins. The museum was free with our National Trust memberships so we went in and watched the free video. After Roman rule dissolved around 500 AD, this fort gradually disbanded into what it is today.
After the fort, we wandered away from the wall, through some more sheep fields, across someone’s land, and on to a road. This walk had a little something for everyone.
After some more walking, we ended up at Vindolanda, which was another Roman fort/outpost that was responsible for guarding the Stangate, which is a road from the river Tyne to a city called Solway Firth. We thought we’d be able to get into this place with our National Trust memberships, but it turns out you need to be part of the Vindolanda Trust. We didn’t feel like signing up for year long memberships, so we just took a photo or two from above.
We finished our 7.5 mile walk in about 3 hours, 15 minutes. That’s a pace of 2.3 miles per hour with some stops in there for map checking and fort exploring. We quickly checked into our hostel and then headed to the most important stop on the walk: the pub.
They even had wifi, so I could watch the Hokies beat up on North Carolina while enjoying a nice local Twice Brewed Smooth. When we return to the states, I’m going to miss these types of pubs. Virtually everywhere you go in England, you can walk to a pub. This one even had some really good food. I’ve become a bit of a meat pie aficionado in my time here. It took me a year before I tried one, but now I really enjoy them. This place had a killer steak and ale pie.
And that was our day exploring the wall. We went to bed early out of exhaustion and so that we could see another National Trust site on Sunday. Here’s a shot of our hostel. It was a pretty good value for 30 GBP total for the two of us. The only downside was that we had shared bathrooms. Other than that, this “youth” hostel was great. I put youth in quotes because we were the youngest people there. The people in the next room over were in their 50s, so needless to say, there were no drunks keeping us up all night that you can sometimes get at a typical hostel.
The next day, Tara picked a National Trust site on the way home: The Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens. I was highly skeptical of this place, but it turned out alright. This was a massive former monastery that is now in ruins. But all in all, the ruins were pretty impressive. The monastery was in use from 1132 to 1539 when Henry VIII decided to get rid of all the monasteries. The ruins left from this huge monastery are among the biggest and best preserved ruins out there.
The water gardens were still in pretty good shape. There were tons of people out enjoying the nice day and walking around the grounds. The water gardens were built in 1718, well after the monastery was dissolved. They are still looked after today and are in the process of being upgraded.
And a church for good measure. Luckily it was closed on Sundays.
That’s about it. Short and sweet entry for a quick 24 hour trip to see Hadrian’s wall. I’m glad we went. It was pretty cost effective and I had a good time. Next up is Frankfurt.