Monday, 27 May 2013

Hadrian's Wall Trek. Day 1, part 1

Here we go.
The plastic bladder that is my mobile water source for the next few days leaked on the way to the station, rendering much of my clothing soaking before I'd even caught the train. When full it's 3 litre capacity gives the bag a significant amount of extra weight. To be fair, as a source of water for when you're on-the-go it's ingenious in design, offering a long plastic pipe which you can attach to your rucksack and sup on when you need to. The fact it had leaked was not a design fault, but mine. I had clumsily put the rucksack into the back of the car leaving all the weight of the pack pressing against the water bag. Water had squeezed out, but , thankfully, it hadn't burst altogether.

My rucksack itself is ridiculously heavy. I would have weighed it before leaving but Jenny had told me that the family scales were not working properly. I questioned whether the scales were genuinely broken or she just didn't agree with its calculation of her weight.

I don't know exactly how it managed to get this heavy. I have packed the absolute bare minimum. I fact, it's dangerously little, if not dangerously antisocial. I have one pair of pants, two pairs of socks, one pair of trousers and two Tshirts. I have a toothbrush and paste, but no soap or washing materials. Instead I have the shower in a spray-can that is The Lynx Body Spray. I have a waterproof coat, a sleeping bag, a bivvy bag and that is pretty much it!

 I managed to forget my waterproof trousers but remembered, at the last minute, the bloody map!  To be honest, I would have rather have had the waterproof trousers than the map. As I am following a wall, in theory, there should be little chance of getting lost! I simply follow the wall. Only if the wall dissected into several deceiving options would I hit a snag. Or, as I was to discover in Newcastle, the wall disappears under several hundred tonnes of tarmac and brick. Here, I would need to use other forms of  deduction to follow the line of its path.

If nothing else I could rely on the Ancient Romans for building things straight. Just like their roads, if they wanted to build a wall from east to west you could rely on it being as straight as humanly possible. That's not to say they didn't make the most of the natural contours of the landscape they met on the way, but their philosophy for engineering, which complimented their for strategy for war, was keep it tidy and keep it straight.

It is not grim up north- official. No sooner had I arrived at Newcastle station and stopped at the kiosk for Neurofen and Plasters that i was introduced to the uber-social Tynesiders. The lady was determined to give me every detail of how I was going to get to the metro station and was adamant that I took onboard that if I took the wrong train from platform 2 I'd end up at the airport and not the coast. ' You got that luv, look for the one that says the The COAST!"
Then the ticket machine attendant, very attentive. Then there was the dad who took my photo at Tynemouth, the start of my walk. He took several wanting to get it right, despite the fact we were both aware that during this time his young daughter had wander off and out of sight. "Ah she'll be fine, now let's just try a couple more.  So, how many days are you hoping to do it in?" He asked me. "Four?"
"Five," I replied, surprised at this blasé 'four'.
"Oh 'ay, you'll be fine. The first 8 miles is terrible though. You've got to get through the city first, but after that it's beautiful"
On we go!

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