The frogs croak loudly in the thrushes of the pond. The sun has silenced everything else under the oppressive heat. I take a small sip of water, lift my backpack up and strap it on.
I’m covered in sweat.
All wandering thoughts about the universe and my place in it are temporarily forgotten. I look for shade to provide relief for my sunburned arms, yet none is to be found. The sheep stare at me, no energy for them to be skittish today, that takes too much effort.
I come to a small forested grove, an oasis out here in between the open fields. The shade only drops the temperature by a few degrees, but it is a welcome reprieve. I take another small sip of water, realizing that all I have left is in the tube, the pouch is empty. I still have a couple of hours to go.
The barren landscape around the Wall inexplicably pulls me upward to the top of the crags. I’m more exposed, yet a feeling within assures me that this is the path I should be on.
I put my faith into this notion, and climb upward slowly, feeling the pains of dehydration each step of the way.
The afternoon hours pass as I continue on in this manner. I hardly see another soul, but even when I do, I can only nod my head in salutation as my tongue is too parched to speak.
Down from the crags, I come to surface streets and to the edge of a farming community. The river Tipalt is a most welcome sight to see, and I venture off the trail to sit and cool off at the waters edge. Fish watch me from below the surface. I still have no water and my muscles are starting to tighten and wince in pain.
A little further along I find the remains of Thirlwall castle. I discover here that I still have a few miles to go before I reach Gilsland, and so I rest in the shade of these 12th century walls, and pray that I’ll have the strength to carry on, without injury.
Emaciated, beat down and exhausted, I come to the edge of the village of Gilsland. My mind is playing tricks on me, and to add to my confusion I find that the Hadrian’s Wall path has a detour.
My phone has little battery life left, and as I try to navigate my way through the village to my evening’s destination, I debate whether or not to pop into a local pub for a glass of water.
For reasons I can’t explain, I carry onward to the Hill on the Wall B & B. It literally is at the top of a hill overlooking the village. I must have been quite a sight to see, sunburnt and glossy eyed.
I drink liters of water in my room, not appreciating the beauty of where I am.
I’ll save the story of my night in Gilsland and the Hill on the Wall for the next tale.