Miles 42–50, Once-Brewed to Greenhead

The couple who own and run the Winshields Farm Campsite were up early, the husband chatting with campers while his wife cooked us a simple breakfast of bacon rolls and coffee. They explained to Phil and I the history of the old farmhouse, the oldest building of which dates to 1600 and was used in the filming of the BBC mini-series "Nature Boy".

The previous night I'd mentioned to Phil that I was almost out of snacks and needed to find a place to buy some. Phil doubted that there would be a place along the path to stock up with food (and he was right) so he generously gave me some of his oat crackers, assorted nuts and Romney mint cakes (the latter of which I'd never heard, but are apparently the ORIGINAL energy bar having travelled with both Sir Ernest Shackleton to the South Pole and Sir Edmund Hillary up Mt. Everest).

Since he was looking to walk the next 42 miles in just two days, Phil set out shortly before me. I packed up and ascended the steep hill out of the Winshields Farm and onto the ridge and the Hadrian's Wall Path.

Today's weather would prove to be the best of my seven day walk. The temperature easily topped 70 degrees Fahrenheit and it actually might've been a little TOO hot if not for the patches of clouds rolling by and occasionally blotting out the sun.

The path passed through more pastures of sheep, many of whom seemed to be shedding their coats and were likely ready for a summertime shearing.

As with the previous day, much of this section of the wall was built along a ridge for strategic reasons. There were several ups-and-downs along a row of cliffs called the Nine Nicks of Thirlwall which offered nice views of the wall ahead and the scenery behind on this mostly clear day.

The path passed along more turrets and milecastles (which were all beginning to look alike), fort ruins and, most spectacularly, some of the tallest portions of Hadrian's Wall that still exist, measuring six and seven feet high at points.

The tall wall disappeared quickly at the site of a former quarry, which is now a nature preserve. I stopped for a snack of oat crackers, assorted nuts and Romney mint cakes.

Today's was the shortest walk of the trip — only eight miles of the path. It ended at the impressive ruins of Thirlwall Castle, which had been built in the 14th Century using (of course) stones from Hadrian's Wall.

From the official path it was another mile into the village of Greenhead and the suitably cheesily-named "Roam 'N' Rest Campsite" which, again, was really just someone's very large backyard. Three generations of women were tending the garden there and the friendly grandmother showed me around.

"You can pitch your tent over by the white bench there," she said. "Though the bench has no seat. I've been meaning to fix that." The fee was four pounds fifty, but she only charge me four. Perhaps because I looked a bit bedraggled, or perhaps because the bench had no seat.

I showered and walked into the center of town for an early dinner at the Greenhead Hotel pub. I had a delicious chicken, leek and ham pie with chips, peas and tomato. And a couple pints of John Smith's bitter.

I asked the waitress if there happened to be any place in town that offered public Internet access. She laughed and said, "No, there's really nothing here except this pub and the church next door."

As I left the pub the bartender asked if I was walking the wall. I told him I was and that it had been great so far. "Four days of walking and it hasn't rained on me once," I boasted.

"Don't worry, it will," he replied. "Especially now that you've said that."


(Click on images for larger version.)
Winshields from the ridge.
Perfect day.
A beard of sheep wool.
The ridge.
The serpentine Wall.
A tall stretch of the Wall.
Thirlwall Castle ruins.
Roam 'N' Rest Campsite.
Greenhead pub.
Greenhead church.