I wake to a light rain falling in Humshaugh. My dried tears from last night are salty on my face. Smiling, I ready my body for another day of walking Hadrian’s Wall.
Sue makes me a hearty English breakfast that I devour like a starving child. Another American couple is with me, and we make casual conversation about our journeys. He has walked the wall before, some twenty odd years ago, but it’s his wife’s first time. They are sore and miserable as they have been pushing themselves too far each day. I’m glad that I listened to my inner voice about what pace I should be taking….
Taking my time trying to see if the rain is going to let up, but it becomes apparent that isn’t going to happen. I adjust accordingly, strapping a water proof cover over my pack, and put on my rain proof jacket. Sue wishes me well as I leave the Linden Holme.
Back onto the trail I go, and within a few minutes I see the Chesters Roman Fort and Museum. I stop by but the place doesn’t open until 10 a.m. so I continue onward in the rain.
My head is down to try and keep the rain out of my eyes, which causes me to almost miss the sign pointing one in the right direction of the trail. I realize early that this will become my challenge today. Slow as a snail’s pace is my walking today, as I do not want to slip and injure myself.
My thoughts turn to the great migration’s of our ancestors throughout history. I connect to peoples long gone : the first Native Indians in the West, the original inhabitants of Mexico, the Vikings of Norse legend, the Massai of Motherland Afrika, the Roman soldiers that built the wall I caress over 1,900 years ago. These wanderers walked for food and trade, for hunting and pillaging across the vast expanses of Mother Earth. I let their spirits into my own soul.
Even with the rainclouds so seemingly close that I could extend my hand out to touch them, the landscape is still revealing itself to me in magical ways. I climb each ladder slowly, holding the wooden post lovingly in my hand as I survey the land around me.
Each mile I go I lose the baggage of my life back home. The stresses that come from work, the financials worries of an ever looming retirement, the body aches and pains that grow larger with each passing year. They slip from my mind the deeper into this journey I venture. There are more powerful forces at play out here, healing me in ways unexpected.
Animals can sense a person’s inner workings, in my opinion. In just three days I have lost whatever it was inside of me causing the animals I came across to be hesitant to my nature. Today the curious cows come up to my face, sheep continue to graze with only a slight raise of their heads in acknowledgement of my passing. Rabbits come out of the thicket, and birds fly close overhead.
The closer one becomes with Nature, it also finds a way to be closer to you.
Crags (mountains) and Lochs (lakes) start to shape the Northumberland countryside. I see a small stone cottage and farm at the top of the hill. I should be getting close to my final destination for the day, but this little area has a magical aura about it. I slowly pass through the gate into a forest that seems to hold a deep mystery.
A spell comes over me as I continue through the small forest and emerge at the top of a crag overlooking the area below. I see tiny farms dotted here and there, and try to pinpoint which one is my guesthouse for the evening.
I find Housesteads, another well preserved section of the Wall that has a fortress, old hospital, and some of the strangest Old World toilets one may ever see. I realize though that, once again, I’ve become a bit lost and missed my guesthouse. I exit Housesteads and find myself on the Military Road, the main way for cars and tour buses to see the countryside. I have about 5% battery life left on the GPS, but it looks like the Old Repeater Station is right on the military road a couple miles back.
No worse for wear, I arrive at Old Repeater Station to a warm old codger named Les. The home is eccentric, somewhat cluttered and upon first glance perhaps a bit disorganized. Yet after I settle into my room and shower, I come out to the main living area to find a warm fire going where my clothes and backpack are hung out to dry.
Les and I talk over a game of chess while waiting for the other houseguests to arrive so that we can all dine together.
Les makes a simple meal, something I would make in my own kitchen back home, spinach ravioli. A Polish couple that now live in the Welsh countryside as well as a cycling father and daughter from London join us for dinner.
The dinner conversation was all about Brexit, Trump and Immigration, then turned to World War Two, memories of their childhood cities being bombed by the Nazi’s, and Hitler taking over the factories and Industries of their respective towns. It is a gentle reminder that History can change depending upon your perspective and point of view.
The Father of the daughter was an Oxford Professor, and his insights resonated with me deeply. The Polish couple had strong opinions about immigration, as well as nutrition and health. I learn so much from these new friends, yet feel I do not have much to offer myself.
I go to bed with a head full of thoughts, yet the rain outside hitting the windowpane in my room slowly drowns them out. It doesn’t take too long for sleep to find me.