And the Sun Shone Upon Us!

Hiking through the fields, listening to the sheep baaa at their lambs with the lambs bleating back, the birds singing, and an occasional cow mooing was the most calming experience. The sun was warm, the daffodils are flowering, the the Brits are all out working in their yards. This is our last day hiking the wall but it has been a beautiful one. The people we have met on the trail say this is the best day so far this spring. If I had any problems in my life I could have solved them all today in my state of mind, instead I tried to send my positive feeling to those in my family I love that are struggling right now.

We learned today from some English ladies about the Reivers. The area we are in is known as the boarderland as it is close to the Scottish border. It was an area that housed a society of lawless Scots that stole sheep, cows, horses and women from the Brits. The Reivers stole anything portable but mainly the livestock. I am not sure in what era this took place but it lasted over 300 years and we were told the word Reiver is where we get the word bereavement (to lose someone).

Besides the many stairs we had to climb to get over the wall we also had to go through these little gates that keep the sheep in, you entered one side, moved the gate in front of you, then exit the other side. Both the stairs and gates always had a deep mud pit on both sides which we could not understand and were difficult to navigate.

We came across a sign warning us of cows aggressively protecting their calves, it was pointed out that all anyone needed to be able to do was out run me, so of course we came right up on those cows, don’t you know I was nervous.

Last night at the Samson Inn they had music so we went down to listen. Turns out it was a jam session just like Jim takes part in at home. It was a fun way to end the evening.

Out stay tonight is in the beautiful Oakwood hotel in Brampton.

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Roman History 101

We took a side trip today to the Northumberland National Park information center and the Roman Army Museum. We were given an interesting insight into how the original wall looked and how the soldiers lived. We learned there were deep ditches dug by hand through rocky areas for an added protection which were called vallums. Hadrian was in an arranged marriage but never had any heirs, he studied architecture and designed the Pantheon in Rome. Harsh northern winters, the threat of war never far away and living side by side with fellow soldiers made life for them very difficult. Soldiers were sometimes required to march 20 miles a day wearing sandals and carrying heavy equipment including their food and cooking equipment.

Our hikes took us through fields of sheep with their new lambs, past stone house ruins and a beautiful babbling brook.

We reached Gilsland, checked into Samson Inn and had some time before dinner to get in another game of euchre. Tammy and Sue won this game making Tammy the common denominator for the wins so far.

We hiked lots of nibs today

After I figured out how to keep my collapsible hiking poles from collapsing everytime I put them down in the mud (which was every step) I had a wonderful day hiking! We hiked 12 miles today, first in perfect cool temperatures, no wind. Then midday the rain started softly at first then a little harder, at the end the wind started for a little bit so I was feeling the cold all the way through.

Our host Dick told us we would be crossing lots of nibs (hills) today and he was right. The scenery was beautiful, we met lots of hikers, some of which told us to watch for the sycamore tree that was in the movie “Robin Hood” with Kevin Costner.

Hadrian’s wall was built around the year 120, we thought the reason was to keep the Scots out of Britain but turns out Hadrian really needed to keep his troops busy during peace time. The wall is approximately 80 miles long, we are doing half of that. The Hadrian wall is to Brits what the Chilkoot is to Alaskans, people want to hike it because it is part of history.

We met a single teacher who is hiking the wall during her Easter break to raise funds for hospice after her 38 yr old friend died from ovarian cancer. She was doing the full 80 miles in 5 days so we each contributed to her. She was very grateful and said she would post on the website “justgive.org” that the four Alaskan hikers donated to her fund.

Tonight we are staying in a little village called Twice Brewed, we had dinner at the Twice Brewed brewery. Very good dinner and beer! We are spending the night at Vallum Lodge which has chickens in the yard and rabbits in the cages.

The winds were whippin’

Corbridge is our starting point for Hadrian’s wall. Our hotel, The Angel of Corbridge has been a coaching Inn since 1752 and was called the King’s Head. It is a charming North Umbria inn located 2 1/2 miles downhill from the wall. We started our day off with Salmon, eggs, bacon and eggs florentine and it’s a good thing we did because we needed all the energy we could muster. The cold wind was catching our packs and pushing us around as we tried to stay upright in the mud but we were grateful it was at our backs. We walked through beautiful fields and forrests and past cute little lambs just recently born. We were told many of the lambs have died in the cold this year. Occasionally we would come across a set of stairs we needed to climb to get over the wall. At first we thought they were really cool but after the 15th one or so they lost their charm.

We met quite a few people on the trail traveling the opposite direction, one lady and her 10 year old daughter were hiking the full length with their black lab, Maverick. We also met a wonderful gentleman who is a volunteer for the Hadrian path. Checking on hikers, looking for areas that may need repair and just being all around helpful.

By my walkmeter app we covered 11 miles part of which may have been in Corbridge. At Chollerford we stayed at the Hallbarns Bed and Breakfast, our hosts were Margaret and Dick Locke. Margaret cooked us a wonderful English dinner of ham, potatoes with gravy and steamed vegetables. Dessert was a carmel toffee cake with ice cream. That is why we don’t loose weight on these hikes!

Closed at every turn, so we went to the bar instead

After 12 hours of sleep we still didn’t feel the need to rush into the day so we proceeded to solve all the problems of the world, then planned our activities. We gathered our swim suits, towels and snacks to head out to the famous hot springs of Iceland. After an hour of driving we arrived at Reykjadalur geothermal area for a wonderful dip in the hot springs. As we were getting out of the car a lady approached us to say the trail is closed to the hot springs due to muddy conditions. She told us of another hot springs in Hveragerdi, down the road, so off we went. Since we got such a late start it is now early afternoon and we are really getting hungry. A girl in a shop recommended “the Old Hotel” down the street. We had the most wonderful lunch before going to the community hot springs.

With our hunger satisfied we headed off to the hot springs, but when we got there the sign on the gate said closed at 1pm. Foiled again! Ok, if no hot springs, lets just go to the Viking museum. We drove into Reykjavik found the museum, parked, walked up to the front door and read the sign! Closed for renovation! That’s it, we are headed to the Lebowski’s bar for a shot of Iceland’s brennivin!

served by this guy.

On our way home we saw lots of people out riding their Icelandic horses!

Tomorrow we say goodbye to Iceland and fly to Manchester, it has been an experience here that we would do again!

Arrival

Our day started with me trying to put our luggage in someone else’s car. The car was black like the rental and parked right in front of the rental. The back was full of tools and garbage but still I did not suspect until the girls called my name from the real rental. A few hours of sleep doesn’t work well for me. We proceeded to drive toward Reykjavik for coffee in a snowstorm, and to look for a grocery store. We were lucky to find both after about 20 miles only the grocery store didn’t open for another three hours. After we enjoyed coffee and a criossant we googled and found a grocery that was open 24hrs. We went out searching for our airbnb and actually found it but were not able to check in for another 4 hours so we took our time exploring the grocery store. Having spent as much time as we could stand looking at food labels we couldn’t read we paid for our groceries and headed back to the cabin, deciding we would just wait in the driveway and take a little snooze.

The owner finally knocked on the window to inform us we could now move inside. Our plan was to sleep for another hour or so then go exploring. Well that didn’t happen, we just had too much to discuss. When we felt we had exhausted most of our current news we started a rousing game of Euchre with Jo and Tammy beating Sue and I by one point. It was a nail bitter to the end. We have showered and now feeling the lack of sleep creeping up on us again.

Goodnight beautiful Iceland!

Departure

April 2nd has arrived, day of departure. It is starting out on a good note for me, I just learned I have been upgraded to Saga business class on Icelandair! Yahoo! Icelandair has a very nice feature called “class up” that allows you to bid for a first class seat. You can bid any amount but they do have a minimum. I bid the minimum and it worked! It is a 7.5 hour flight from Seattle to Reykjavik so it will be so nice to do it in comfort.

We will arrive in Reykjavik tomorrow morning at 6 am which will only be 11:00 pm our time so we will need to sleep on the plane since the girls are already talking about a walking tour of the town. I don’t think they have checked the weather there, it is only going to be about 30 degrees but then maybe they don’t care about that. Spending my winters in California has thinned my blood so 60 degrees is cold to me. I can see I am going to have to toughen up to keep up.

We are all coming from different directions, Sue from Az, Tammy from Ak, Joanne from Idaho, and me from Ca. We will all arrive in Seattle within an hour of each other and then the fun begins,

We are together now waiting in the Saga lounge to board our flight. Two of us have business class seats and with that we are allowed to go through security in the premium line. Ok, we are feeling pretty privileged until we get to the scanners and are melded in with everyone and have to take off everything except our shirt and pants, oh socks are ok too. Then something suspicious shows up in my back pack and the girl proceeds to pull everything out showing everyone in the immediate area how many pills I take, all my snacks, making it look like I was afraid they didn’t have food in the UK. I have a good reason for packing snacks which I tried to explain, she obviously was not interested. Sue gets busted for having water in her bag but they just take it away from her. We are all looking forward to an exciting adventure so if this is any indication it will be a good one!