Hadrian's Wall Path - Day 5 - 20 miles
Yes you read that correctly. Twenty miles.
Yesterday evening was spent at the Slack House Farm, about a mile and a half north of Gilsland and Birdoswald, but well worth the trek for the seclusion, the spectacular views, the host, Dianne's excellent cooking, and the delightfully friendly farm cat. After 2 days of very technical hiking in Northumberland, we were in need of a large hearty meal, and Dianne's cottage pie was the ticket. Our bellies full of mashed potatoes, beef, and banoffee pudding, we found sleep pretty easily.
Which brought us to today. We knew today was going to be a day to be weathered, a test of mental endurance if not so much physical, being that we are officially out of Northumberland National Park and, thus, off the crags onto more manageable but still hilly ground, and it proved to be just that.
The uncharacteristic heat was going to be our enemy so we set out early feeling adequately prepared by a large and well made Cumberland English breakfast. Brief tangent: black pudding is good. Don't let the description of its ingredients put you off, it's delicious.
Days like today are the Hiker's Paradox; one of those experiences you find yourself gritting your teeth through in the moment, but yet smiling about in the evening. It's a weird thing. I didn't take a lot of pictures today, my mind focused on the task at hand, but as we crossed into Cumbria shortly after Birdoswald, believe that the views were just as storybook as ever. Rolling hilltop fields, dotted with trees, sheep, and cattle, the Path meandering through them in sometimes surprising ways.
More times than we can count, we've been surprised on this trek how often the trail will simply wind itself right through someone's back yard or alongside a driveway, almost like it forgets for a second that it's this epic official national trail and then suddenly remembers and deviates back off into the fields. It definitely keeps you on your toes.
We dragged ourselves into Carlisle, our first proper city since Newcastle, hurting but feeling accomplished, hunted down the stamp location at the Sands Centre (a community wellness facility, think the YMCA with a theatre tacked on), and could go no further for the day. We took a cab to our Airbnb on the other side of town, mustered enough energy to walk a half mile to dinner (a VERY good Indian place call JayRaj), staggered back and passed out.
Tomorrow, our final day, promises to be a much lighter and enjoyable walk, as we plan to leave our packs since we will be bussing back here for another evening after completing the Path tomorrow.