Saturday, 1 October 2016

Day 7

The final days walk. Having left off the previous day on the tyne we had Newcastle's outskirts in our sights for day 7. (We passed Apu on our way out of the BnB)

Our final calling pint today: The walls end, where sat nearby was a museum we'd planed to meet dad at then another friend of Catherine's had offered to drive us back home to County Durham.

We left Corbridge by bus on our way back to the point we'd left off the previous day. Simply walking back down the hill and rejoining the path, that for the most part continued besides the river. Crossed Newhum bridge.

Its hard to pin point as many memories of this day although it was generally quite enjoyable, it became a very sunny day by the time we'd reached the first suburbs of Newcastle but after just a few navigational obstacles it was overal encouraging as we gradually made our way in. It certainly makes more sense to do the walk this way around, not just for convenience of transport home afterwards, but the routes are relatively tamer, which could lure many a walker we past that day into a false sence of security as they headed west.

Crossing the A1 was a satisfying checkpoint, a view that's novelty may be lost on some people not in our circumstance, but as far as views of the A1 go, we stood on a bridge on-top of a hill overlooking a fair distance, observing the many people exploiting a more modern means of transportation.

By the time we hit the riverside again it was very sunny, everything become more and more built up with signs of industrial past and more activity on the horizon. We'd decided against taking a pack lunch that day, instead filling up on breakfast and taking a few practical snacks. We'd aimed to arrive at the end by about 4pm so I figured a nice strong coffee in the city centre would get me through the last few miles. 

A few hours must have past, since.. I'm not sure actually, it must have been at least an hour since crossing the A1, traversing Newcastle via the Tyne reminded me a bit of cycling into Paris via the Seine, not really knowing either territory that well and anticipating a destination which I did not really know, the twists and turns around each corner evoked anticipation to see one thing or another. Sooner or later with Newcastle, the sights I did recognised emerged, Paris was admittedly the extreme, where there was no such pay off, where it turned a wet rainy night before clocking the glimpse of any satisfying landmark. Wether it was the set back of that last minute punctured tyre, or the swollen knee of this journey, both trips could be greatly improved by me in the future with more planing. 

After we passed the millennium bridge we where on the loo out for a coffee stop, there where obviously lots around but because of the sunny weather there where all looking full, and a possibly little up market for dogs. We certainly weren't keen on sitting inside and the artisan type establishments weren't as abundant by the river, opting for a generic Starbucks we found a nice large path of shade the building beside it and observed some part of a wedding taking place. The toilet at Starbucks was just a cross over into the reception area of the Hotel it joined up with, all very much a culture shock walking though this pristine, state of the art luxury interior, by the look of me at that point it felt like I was an imposter breaking in. We sat in the shade with our coffees for our last stop off of the the whole walk. Mutchly appreciated by Morph. 

As we continued walking with just a few miles or so ahead of us we where making reasonable time with a little added on as me left the centre behind us following the rivers edge through all manner of small estates, parks and industrial bits and bobs. We walked through Biker, which I assume based on the TV show Biker Grove is the place Ant and Dec once spontaneously materialised into existence as PJ and Duncan. 

The rest was mostly flat though it got hilly towards the very end and the last few miles I enjoyed cross checking our position on google maps as rough countdown to the end. As we neared the very end we noticed a wild flower garden on our left and a building that had obviously been made to recreate some Roman settlement, and there was the Walls Ends. There'd been no other trace of Hadrains wall to observe for the past few days but it was good to be able to mark the end with that last piece. 

We weren't quite finished I guess, we had another minutes walk to the museum where we some how entered through the back entrance and finally emerged from some elaborate interactive historical exhibit in-front of a surprised receptionist. We'd found dad who'd been waiting there quite a while, picked up the customary t shirts, medals etc from there shop and having been to late to use there cafe had to opt for something else nearby. (So you could infact add another 10-15 minutes walking on-top of that as we tried to find the nearest place for food and drink.)

The place we found in the end was so busy and disorganised we abandoned it after waiting way for long for food that did not arrive, so we got a lift back that was promised but I was at least fair tanked up after having two pints, and as you might imagine enjoyed a huge meal when we got home. I want to take one moment just to complain about a phone app: Just Eat is a great app generally for ordering food and in that situation was absolutely ideal for ordering something on the drive home so we wouldn't have to wait ages when we got home, if the bloody thing wanted to work properly. I know technology is what it is but of all the times it decided to totally not work, this aggravated me as I was drunk. Nothing more to add on that, I just thought I'd cover it because for some reason it still jumps out in my memory. 

Regardless it was a good day and a good evening. Also a wonderful way to build up to my birthday which was the following day. An appropriately chilled and reflective one. I could have almost been tempted to go out or do something of that nature that following weekend but my knee sure as hell wasn't down for that. I got through a festival the week after that with crutches and then so using a few weeks into the start of term, as I write this it's now the first of October and I've been free of the knee strap/crotch set up for a couple of weeks and working on exercises that'll strengthen the surrounding areas now to build general strength and prevent those issues from happening again. So my lesson is learnt, and I'm absolutely down for doing something like this again. I'm very glad to be able to do something provocative and adventurous for Catherine's chosen charities, as with her funeral it's inspiring to see how someone can be remembered in such a broad spectrum of ways beyond what one might consider the obvious, necessitating activites that get people engaging with each each other or just in the sense of (charity based endeavours) working towards a common functional goal that demands focus and positive thinking. As well as a fair bit of minor problem solving.    

The sheer fact I buggered up my knee with my own flawed planing is strong enough motivation for most people to do something again and do it one better. Not sure what that might be exactly but I'm open to suggestions, by all means get in touch if your interested. 

If you want to know more about Catherine, and the charities she selected, you can find out here:

And if you'd still like to make a donation you can do so via this link:

(Thank you)

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Day 6

The breakfast room was an intriguing space, in keeping with the style I'd previously mentioned, once again encountering walkers here and there, traveled from near and far. (I assume they traveled by plane from there respective continents rather than walked)

This was my first day back at walking, because the route was nearing towards the Tyne there it was generally more populated than previous days, still mostly countryside but there where more options on the way for commuting back if I where to have to many difficulties with my leg. Once finished this days walk either all three of us or just mum and morph would get the bus back to Corbridge where we'd stay a second night, then commute back to the same spot the following day to finish the journey.

I was happy to have a go at walking again, my knee obviously had reservations which I'd pay the price for during the three weeks afterwards. But all strapped and geared up we made our way into the village centre to take a taxi we'd booked a few miles north to pick up on the official route.

In the two images below you'll observe a Super Nintendo built into a brick wall, I'm afraid that's all the context I have for that one.

The ground ahead was relatively flat and although my knee didn't show very encouraging signs to begin with, the following miles where fairly tame and made for a pleasant pace. With the exception maybe for a few close encounters with curious cows once again. Morph got by well in-spite the cows unwavering curiosity in him.

The weather was overcast but little or no actual rain, quite refreshing really, ideal for walking infact. We pasted further Roman historical sites of one form or another, all pretty much commandeered by sheep and cattle, and I recall the frequent sound of aircraft flying low overhead made a bit jarring by the overcast sky that obscured any visual sign of them. The rain did eventually increase into a heavy drizzle that then varied back and forth but when it neared good time to stop and eat we pushed on to the next nearest village across the A69 and found a convenient little shelter there. While eating we reviewed the option for me to take the bus from there, it had been a good few hours walk by this point and although my leg hadn't made any sort of miraculous recovery, it hadn't got notably worse either. After looking at the map I decided to keep at it, worse case scenario I could find some transportation back nearer the river which was one steep hill and a bit of woodland away.

So we walked through the village coming out on a defending incline into a large valley where the Tyne lay with an impressive row of houses as we edged down the road into the woodland.

Edging down the hill was a bit of a task with the knee but we we're making good time so it was all a pleasant pace really, in-fact this was probably the easiest of the walks factoring all that into account, there was a big change of scenery throughout but perhaps with it ended that day nearing the outskirts of Newcastle, (the overall destination) there was the added scene of satisfaction as well, unlike day 3, walking up and down, up and down, up and bloody down with sod all sign of anything encouraging once the novelty of the views wore off. 

As we neared the bottom of the hill we came through part of the university property and then very briefly skirted around a golf course taking us finally to the rivers edge. The river itself wasn't practically accessible at this point being at the bottom of a long a steep ledge, but the sight of it was enough to put morph into a frenzy, scrambling about in search of a stick. The river did look very nice on a mild misty day like that, and a little further down our path morph finally found a way in. But not via the kind of terrain either of us where going to even consider, so he just kind of waded in and started at us hopefully for a while. (As you'll see in a photo below.) 

The ground eventually became more tarmaced as we approached a recreational park, sooner or later we'd find a bridge taking us over the river towards the town we planed on computing back from. But as we made our way I stopped off at the outdoor gym, it really frustrates me there art more of these, at least in Kent, obviously my legs had more than enough to keep them busy this particular occasion but doing a few pull ups and what have you was quite satisfying, perhaps because it gave me the fleeting chance to occupy myself with limbs that still worked properly. 

We crossed that bridge in the end and with a little help from google maps took the path up into (Can;t remember name of town). It was a steep and long hill but it was the last and the mood was good. As we neared the main road with our bus stop, we made our way through a long and narrow park, full of playground and sports facilities for all ages, for what was generally a general kind of town but coming from Kent, this place along with a few others I've seen while up north just seemed to have more on offer for people, and more to keep people of all ages entertained and busy. The cynicism in me suggests that as more big money trickles in from gigantic financial behemoths like with the expansion of London, more and more of those publicly accessible things that give a little more purpose to this or that person, is just another asset to capitalise on. But then by contrast what seems here as a not particularly wealthily area, doesn't seem to have many people on a loose end. There's defiantly less sense of community where I currently live, and that's down to a bunch of things, but I can't be sure that if there where walks this popular in Kent, the walkers would be met with the same level of casual hospitality, at least not in the lesser known areas.  

And with that we made it to the bus stop with a fairly short wait until we hoped on board back to Corbridge. (Around 5-6pm) I recall seeing an adult women being pushed into the nearby Coop on a trolley, voluntarily it appeared. That's all else I rememberer. When then returned to the same B&B and enjoyed another meal at the same dog friendly pub that evening. I tried enrolling onto my MA with the pubs Wifi, and then saw some weird documentary and isolated GP practises before hitting the sack. 

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Day 5

So as I said before I'd begrudgingly agreed not to walk on day 5. So dad and I saw mum and morph off as we took the bus to Chesters. (One of the popular historic roman conservations on the wall route.) We had a brief look around on what was a very sunny day. We didn't intend on walk much distance anyway but did have a good look at the Roman baths, it being such a hot day I felt kind of disappointed the bath and spa rooms where no longer in service. So anyway we went and sat, grabbed a tea and looked around some artefacts when I got word from mum she was near by.

Not much time had elapsed since we left the Half Way House, between 1 and 2 hours maybe. But it was just as well we'd stuck around as we had a brief meet up there.

According to mum the walk was much easier that day than the previous walking day, all besides a very steep hill from Collerford to Heavefield. (If I spelt either of those wrong then I'm sorry, I'm bad at reading hand writing so I may have to correct that later on.)

They ran out of water at one point and so has to ask a a cottage. They later got lost on the route to Corbridge, which is where we we're all meeting and staying that evening. Morph spent as much time in the water as possible that day which was fortunate given the heart.

Myself and dad had taken the bus to Hexham then changed fairly soon after for one to Corbridge, by the time we'd arrived there it was early afternoon and we sort out some shade to eat our lunch. Corbridge is a really nice place, obviously a good tourist attraction but everywhere there has a cosy feel to it and is pleasing to the eye. Me and dad had already had a quick drink in the town and made it (by a compromised detore) to our BnB. And it was around this point I received more word from mum, by this point a little lost, fortunately phone signal was back on the cards and I could use the wifi on the iPad to send over some directions.

Another unique Bnb, with an old fashioned interior and impressive view from our window. When mum and Morph had arrived, and after a quick bit of research/(wash and change etc) headed for a dog friendly pub. Really nice meal, and friendly people, the dog helped.

So by this point I'd had two full days off of walking, knee was all strapped up and I was hopeful I might be able to continue now the rest of the route wasn't quite as horrifically hilly as what had passed. It was quite jaring after 3 full days walking to be immobile so at that point I was fairly driven to go on, had it not been for that circumstance I'd have probably been wise to take it easy a while.But anyway that's day 6s issue.