Distance 7.75 miles, cumulative distance 505.23 miles, time 6 hrs 5 mins, walking and talking time 3 hrs, pace 2.5 mph, B&B Holmhead.
More talkin, less walkin -sums our day up. We did not build any rest days into our plan but we have built in some much shorter days to provide a little respite and give our bodies a break. Today was a planned 8 miles, so we took our time at the campsite which also had a bunkhouse were breakfasts were supplied.
We made the most of a leisurely cooked breakfast and our first chat of the day was with Len. We had passed Len on the trail the previous afternoon and he was struggling, it turned out he had blisters. Len was 74 and we had his life story from being a ‘craps’ croupier in 60’s London and Athens to being a builder. He now lives in Bulgaria but spends most of the year walking. He showed us his passport which was full of stamps from all over the world and included a 10 year US visa enabling him to spend 6 months each year walking in the States. He had walked the complete length of the Appalachian Trail, which is over 2,000 miles. He had never married but he shared his colourful love life history with us. One of the funniest episodes was a girlfriend he had in the States. They were getting along very well and the family friends he was staying with threw him a surprise birthday party. His girlfriend had not known his age, it had never come up or been an issue. When she saw what his age was she shrieked ‘your old enough to be my father’ and dumped him – it was his 69th birthday. We left Len at the campsite as he had decided to rest his feet for a day.
We were also joined at breakfast by a pony which got Steve thinking about a packhorse, having being put off getting a donkey to carry his sack. Friendly as he was, when Steve learnt he was 40 years old he did not have the heart to enquire if he was available for the 700 miles we have left.
After a misty wet start, the clouds lifted and the views became more far reaching. We even had the odd ray of sunshine.
Our next chat on the trail was an American couple from Oregon who winter in Hawaii and they recommended the big island when we visit. Their original home was Hawaii so we logged that advice away.
Having all but given up any hope of finding a solution to the load carrying dilemma Lynn was really exasperated when we came across Conal and Linda and……’Bob the Barrow’. Conal and Linda had planned to walk the Pennine Way, when Conal had first put his rucksack on he had said ‘forget this’ well he actually said something else a bit more Yorkshire. He came up with Bob a three wheeled collapsable barrow to carry all their kit. In addition to Bob they walked wearing steel toecapped wellies. We spent a good while discussing the advantages and disadvantages of Bob, for example negotiating stiles. Bob was fully equipped with two spare wheels. Conal and Linda would start walking each day at 5am, break midday to avoid the worst of the midday sun (if only) and then walk on until 10 pm and wild camp. We found them at a national park toilets making the most of all the amenities. Much to Lynn’s disgust it started Steve off thinking about his trolley design.
Paula requested a cute picture of a dog so hopefully the picture of Jaxs an 18 weeks old German Shepherd hits the mark. Jaxs proved not to be the first cute dog of the day. We stopped for an extended tea break at a National Park information centre, brilliant helpful staff, and we ended up in stitches for a good 45 minutes whilst a 6 month old shitsu poodle cross called Sally was let of the lead for the first time and escaped under a gate and then just refused to be caught. Everyone had a go at trying to catch her including the Park staff trying to lure her with food but she was so quick and was obviously enjoying her first outing off the lead. She was eventually caught by mum and the picture is taken shortly after the rascals recapture. Paula – do not expect this everyday.
The whole day was spent walking along Hadrian’s Wall and in a twist we were not expecting we slept directly on top of the wall. Our farmhouse B&B was built on the wall with stone pillaged from the wall and nearby castle which had also been built from pinched wall stones. So our bedroom was actually turret 46a of Hadrian’s Wall. Even better the farmhouse had some original roman graffiti which reads ‘CIVITAS DUMNONI’. The Dumnoni were the people who inhabited the south west of England during the Roman occupation and who were conscripted to make wall repairs. The B&B owner therefore translates the graffiti as ‘EXETER BOYS WERE HERE’.
After a few too many cute pictures we thought something to balance them out was required so we have included some dead moles …..sorry Paula.