What a beautiful day it was to begin our second hike along Hadrian’s wall! The sun was shining through the few clouds adorning the blue sky as we ventured west from our cottages in Haltwhistle to Birdoswald. Not only was this a great learning opportunity, but also a great group bonding activity because we all struggled to push through the humid and hot air. We began our journey with a trip through Great Chesters fort where we stopped to look at the remains (still buried) as well as a preserved altar within it.
This is an interesting site to see because it is a good example of how archaeology can provide clear details about human action. On our way out, we got a visit from the animals of Hadrian’s Wall and what a happy surprise it was! It is always exciting to make new friends (especially non-human ones) along the way, and more so when they follow you through the fort.
Unfortunately we had to say goodbye to our new friends to continue on our hike as we had a time to keep! The dark clouds were ominously looming behind us and helped us keep pace. We powered on through the heat and humidity, triumphing over large hills, as some stopped to take in the beautiful sites down below.
One of the most iconic parts of the hike was the stunning remains of Thirwall Castle. Here we see the remaining stones that made up the castle. It was built in the 12th century, and later strengthened using stones from Hadrian’s Wall, which is nearby, The castle, however, began to fall into disrepair in the 17th century. This is an example of how the Roman stones were repurposed into later architecture and we see evidence of this not only here, but in other sites along the wall, including objects such as modern field walls or farmer’s houses.
Nearing the end of our hike, we stopped to see the large Poltross Burn milecastle. This is a special milecastle for many reasons. It has the inclusion of an oven, stairs which indicate the existence of a second floor (which otherwise doesn’t remain), and the structures of its north gateway. This was the largest milecastle we have seen so far.
Further on, we stopped once more to view the remains of the old bridge (at Willowford), and some even decided to experience what it would have been like to be the River Irthing, which flowed through here at one time, before the river changed it’s course.
Avery (left) and Aline living like the River Irthing
Overall, the hike was a success (even in the heat and humidity), having learned a lot while at the same time all having fun together, enjoying this beautiful landscape that Hadrian’s Wall runs through.
Updating you soon,