Monday, February 26, 2007

Day 37 : Haltwhistle to Bellingham

Tuesday 20th February 2007

Distance Walked: 19.6 miles
Start Time: 9:04
End Time: 16:06
Elapsed Time: 7:02
Weather: Overcast but dry
Distance walked so far: 721.2 miles

I’m not carrying all my sins on my back but each day the bag seems to get heavier and the first hill of the day is always the steepest. Thankfully today’s hill takes me away from Haltwhistle and towards the final frontier, for here is the snaking expanse of Hadrian’s Wall, the most visible sign of the Roman occupation of these lands and the indication that my days of English walking are almost at an end.

The Pennine Way follows the line of the Wall for a few miles, and so do I, and the initial joy of such a unique experience is soon diluted by the huge, and wasteful, effort required to get through it. The wall leaps steeply up and down the hillocks that span the country and walking it is similar to the coast path in Cornwall, without the benefit of the reward of a view at every peak, for on each of these crests there is just another bit of wall and yet more desolate fields on either side. A long distance path follows the wall from coast to coast, and a more depressing, unrewarding walk it’s difficult to imagine. This is truly the domain of the masochist.

Leaving the crumbling edifice near Milecastle 37 it soon becomes apparent why the Wall was plonked where it is, for immediately beyond there is virtually no territory worth claiming. Shitty fields and shitty bogs and soulless woodland. What a tragic waste of an afternoon. Through unkempt farms and unkind forests. Depressed animals and depressing weather. There’s definitely a small leak, somewhere, in my left boot, and my sodden sock is as damp as my spirits by the time I arrive in Bellingham, a remote town which lacks network coverage, street lights and options for evening meals. I eat, where I sleep, in the Cheviot Hotel, with its basic facilities but friendly owners, and mingle with the travelling builders, salesmen and bomb disposers as we watch the broadcast of sporting events occurring somewhere out there, in the real world.

Song of the day:

Aretha Franklin
“This Bitter Earth”

This bitter earth, can it be so cold /
Today you're young, too soon you're old /
But while a voice within me cries /
I'm sure someone may answer my call /
And this bitter earth may not be so bitter after all


RollerRuss said...

19 miles in 7 hours? Rubbish.

Nicole said...

How exciting that you're almost done! I must say that your sheer force of will is amazing and I very much admire what you've been doing.

Alan Sloman said...


Forever doomed by Renault.

He has a long way to go dear heart. Lift and support him in true Playtex style.

I am leaving for the tin mines in less than 48 hours now. I am surely doomed too.

Nik said...

Doomed, you're all doomed!!

Doomed to wander the fragile earth alone


Ben Joyce said...

Who is more foolish? The fool or the fool who follows him?


DaveG said...

Russ - thanks, but shhhhhh..

Nicole - hello, you sound nice

Alan - good lick. Race ya to the top

Nik - you're in trouble

Ben - it the fool?

Nik said...

Dave: Bring it on, hairbear

Alan: you'll be fine, if all else fails you can just copy Dave's blog and use it as your own while camping out on your sofa - people will never know..

Anonymous said...

Great job Dave, I hope one day you can give descriptions of all of your photos. PS your radio spot on the 25th was your best yet.


DaveG said...

Thanks DC. I'll try to add descriptions later, and maybe photos to each day's account when i get access to a faster connection.

Glad you enjoy(ed) the radio stuff. Hope I convey the weary glee that I'm usually feeling.