Hadrian's Wall Path - Day 6 - 14 miles
This is it! The end at last.
After a good sleep and a veggie biryani for breakfast from last night's Indian restaurant, our host was gracious enough to give us a ride back up to Sands Centre to pick up the Path where we left off. As we planned, we paired down Tiff's pack to just water and snacks, and set off on our final day.
Cumbria is a geographically distinct region of England, completely different from Northumberland. Gone are the grand hills and vistas, supplanted by the vast expanses of flat green, a telling sight that the coast is near. Today, to be honest, was not as visually compelling as the rest of the trail has been, though still pretty in its own way. Large swaths of grassy marsh punctuated by small stands of trees meant little shade for us today, but this was largely offset by not having big packs to carry and didn't present too much of a problem.
Not being particularly captivated by the landscape or challenged by the terrain was its own blessing as it turned out. It freed us up to reflect on our journey, the hardships and the moments of levity, the challenges and the rewards. As we approached our destination, we could almost physically feel the end getting near, like knowing you're on the last few pages of a very good book.
Bowness-on-Solway is a quaint little sea side village of maybe two dozen squat buildings and it was interesting to finally be there after such a long journey. The town is entirely unremarkable in the best way. The monument to the end of the Path is set apart from the settlement, and there are few mentions of it throughout the village itself, the residents not phased by its presence whatsoever. I say 'in the best way' because it does you a service, in that it forces you to realize that this type of travel more than any other, the destination is the goal, but not the point. The meaning is the walk itself, the getting there, not in the arrival. And the getting there this time around has been fantastic.
Like a fresh tattoo, thru hiking is an interesting dichotomy in which you go through a wide range of emotions, from pain to pleasure, defeat to victory; but no matter what, as the end approaches you can't help but think of what you're going to do next. We have a couple of destinations in mind but that's for another post. For now we feel grateful for the opportunity to hike one of the great trails in the United Kingdom and look forward to returning to explore the country more fully.
Until then, thanks for reading, and happy trails.