May 10, 2012
We woke up to solid rain, so after breakfast we donned all our Gore-Tex and rain ponchos. The previous evening we had arranged with Alan that he would drive our large packs onwards to Sandysikes Farm for us, so again we would just be carrying day packs.
Our first stop for the day was the Roman Army Museum, just a short trip from Greenhead, and Alan drove us up there. Once again this museum was excellent and we all wished that we had more time to look at the exhibits. Our visit started out with a 3-D movie which described sections of the wall and the life of Roman soldiers in the forts. Much of it was filmed from above and narrated from the point of view of an eagle flying over the area. There were many displays which showed aspects of the Roman soldiers’ life, some of them audio-visual displays with actors playing the roles. All of the displays were very well done and very interesting.
Reluctantly we headed out into the rain. Our route was once again through numerous fields, along hedgerows and pass farms. We had passed all of the craggy sections so it was relatively flat now. Periodically sections of the wall would appear, or we would come across a turret or milecastle. By lunchtime we had reached the Birdoswald museum. Rather than eating outside, we went into their cafeteria and had a delicious bowl of soup augmented by the sausages from our breakfast and our own tea.
Back into the rain we continued along the path. We considered ourselves lucky to be heading west, as today there was a very strong east wind. Anyone we saw coming towards us looked drenched and miserable. And now we were at lower elevations, so there were cows in the fields as well as sheep. This meant that the muddy spots included copious quantities of cow dung to pick our way through. Finally we reached Walton, and Sandysike Farm was soon after that. We wrestled their twisted gate open and made our way up to the bunkhouse, where our hostess was just preparing things for us.
Since there were only the four of us staying in the bunkhouse, we all had lower bunks to sleep in. The bunkhouse was actually a converted stable, so there was a small room off it (the stable hands’ room) with a wood-burning fireplace. Our host Richard lit the fire and brought us a load of wood. We put on dry clothes as required, and hung the wet ones up to dry in that room.
We had arranged to have dinner that so at 7 pm we headed over to the main house. The dining room was very lovely in an old-fashioned way, with numerous photos and memorabilia and paintings of ancestors. We dined on tomato soup, shepherds’ pie, and cheesecake for dessert. Besides us there was a young couple from the Netherlands who were cycling Hadrian’s Wall and other local routes. They had been working hard on the local hills, which are quite different from the Netherlands. We had an enjoyable time talking with them.
Back in the barn we checked out the route for the next couple of days. We were all hoping for good weather, but the forecast wasn’t very good.