Next Stop, Vallum Lodge at Twice Brewed

The morning greeted us with sun and clouds so we made sure we had our lunches and that our rain gear was handy.  Mrs. Locke's husband loaded us back into the car and took us to where we would begin walking the Wall again.  The Path headed up north and at the top of the small hill we could see the Black Mountains of Scotland in the distance.  We were in what Mr. Locke referred to as  "no mans land". It seemed this area was not wanted by the Scots or the English.  One thing I had noticed was there were not many trees or forests, almost all open land and the moors.

Today had us actually following the Wall as we walked on the southern side as often the Wall was built on the edge of a cliff or on the edge of the Vallum.  Living in the desert of Arizona, the greens everywhere were breathtaking. Since most the land around the Wall was used as pastures for cows and sheep, there were numerous stiles to climb, gates to open and close and rock walls to climb using the flat rocks at steps.  By the end of the day I had a love hate relationship with getting over or through the Wall by any means.

We were now seeing more evidence of the Romans with rock turrets and somewhere along the way we walked by the Limestone Corner, the Northernmost point of the Roman Empire or so our map said.  I need to point out again that there is nothing but the wind, land and sky walking the Wall, and very few fellow hikers.

Climbing a stone stile, we came to Mithras Temple and near by was a Cafe Van that looked so out of place.  (The origins of Mithraism is thought to be of Persian descent and dates back as far as 1400 BC and became the unofficial religion of the Roman soldiers). We thought about stopping for a coffee but decided we had to far yet to go so kept walking following the Roman defensive ditch.

As we continued walking we noticed the ditch ended abruptly. As we surveyed the scenery we soon knew why, we had reached the Sewingshields Crags. This is a wild and rugged land that many believe is the stalwarts of British folktales, King Arthur and his knights. Sewingshields Castle that use to stand at the foot of the crags was also the inspiration for Walter Scott as his setting for "Harold the Dauntless". Many consider this part of the Path the most splendid.

Coming up to Housesteads, considered where one can really get a feel for how a Roman fort would have looked like, we took in the sight from a distance near the Wall at the top of the hill, near the North Gate, as we felt we did not have time to spend here as we still had miles to cover. As we continued to climb we viewed one of the most preserved portions of the Wall.  It was excavated by Clayton in 1853. The Path continues to rise and fall with the contours of the land and includes a drop to Sycamore Gap, maned after the solitary tree that grows in the gap.  The sycamore is something of a local celebrity we later learned as it appeared in the film "Robin Hood" alongside Kevin Costner".  

Our day almost done, we realized it was near here that we had to leave the wall and walk down to Once Brewed and the Northumberland National Park visitors centre, which was going through renovations when we were there and closed.  The thought of having to walk back a mile or so to get back to the wall the next morning was not feeling too good right now.  

Back down to civilization, we stopped at Twice Brewed to ask directions to our lodging, The Vallum Lodge, to learn it was a ways down the Military Road.  Walking on we found it and realized that if we wanted dinner we would need to walk back to Twice Brewed so we decided to check in, clean up and head back before dark as we did not want to walk a main road at night with nothing but a shoulder to walk on.

Leaving our boots at the door, our hosts welcomed us and showed us our room which was a welcome sight and it would feel so good to lie down at some point in time.  Cleaned up we walked back down for dinner and what a lovely dinner it was and much deserved. We toasted with our red wine, another day well done.




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