Day nine on the Wall – arriving to Boustead Hill

Dark rainclouds skim across the morning sky as I get ready to head back onto the Hadrian’s Wall path. The weather fits my somber mood perfectly.

I use the word “somber” to describe a serious nature to my thoughts, not a dark or depressing state of mind. The weight that I lifted off my proverbial shoulders from the time at the Carlisle Cathedral has left me with a feeling of moving forward onto the next stage of life. How fitting it is that I continue walking after this epitome.

The morning rain quickly dissipates, and the sun returns after a couple of miles along the path. I find myself back along the riverbanks of the Tyne, first seen on day one of this journey. It feels like a lifetime ago, those first steps taken by a different person than the one walking today.

A lone gentleman, with rod and reel in hand, is casting out into the river. He looks to be of retirement age, enjoying the quiet morning. There is something so peaceful about fishing, it reminds me of my own father.

The city of Carlisle soon is gone from view, the small villages becoming more and more of a rarity as I get back out into the countryside. I recall the words of a cyclist I met on day four at the Old Repeater Station telling me that the area from Carlisle to the West coast is one of the “poorer” sections. Being here now, I couldn’t disagree more, although that may be due to the fact that I only have two days left before my journey is complete. I am soaking in every last magnificent view.

I stop more frequently than normal along this section of the path, taking the time to listen to wind howl, the creaking of tree branches, the tall blades of grass that blow to and fro across endless fields of beauty.

I come to the salt marshes, and can smell the ocean. There is only a single dirt road that leads into this area. The rain starts to pick back up, the cows huddle under trees as I walk past. I see the sign for Boustead Hill before me.

I have the salt marshes on one side of me, the rolling hills of farmland on the other. A cluster of homes seemingly perched on an island can be seen in the distance.

I’m early to check in by almost an hour. My endurance and strength continually surprises me. I almost laugh out loud as I come to the road leading up to Boustead Hill and find a lonely bus stop. It’s the perfect spot to shelter in for a spell.

I break open a book and read, watching the storms roll over the marshes. The clock strikes 4 p.m., and so I close the book and walk up the road to the Highfield farm.