Mud Exposed at Low Tide

Day 5’s hike, 10 miles from Chollerford to East Wallhouses, was our smoothest and easiest yet. Maybe we’re just getting good at this, but we’re estimating our arrival times within minutes.

Other than 10 minutes of rain this morning, the only annoyance out on the trail was me to Seth, courtesy of my Duolingo Spanish audio lessons. Whenever I caught up to within earshot of him, Seth would hear something random like, «Un sándwich con carne pero sin tomate, por favor.» Or «Yo necesito un boleto de autobús a la Ciudad de Morelia. ¡Muchas gracias!»

In lieu of your regularly scheduled green grass, blue skies, gray wall, white sheep, and cow-colored cows, I bring you a selection of notable signs from my journey. «¡Disfruta!»

I began my Hadrian’s Wall journey visiting Laura at Polokwane. She and MA grew up together in South Africa, and our families have stayed tight through the decades. Or I guess through the millenia?! She packed me enough trail snacks to last all 84 miles. 🥰
This represents 99% of the signs we see, enabling hiking auto-pilot mode.
Yet somehow Moe misses every one of these.
I only took 3 years of Latin, but I’m pretty sure it says, “Good luck with that.”
The sign is extra funny, since nothing has ever happened in Once Brewed, on any date.
And yet also no guns to shoot them down? How do they expect to maintain any semblance of law & order in this country?!
This art installation was about as subtle as an Andorran duty free shop. But I loved it.
Bibby is the surname of the English branch of my family tree. These are my people!
Camouflaged for their amusement?
When water reaches this point, don’t trust this water-damaged waist-high sign!
I’ll leave you with that image. «¡Adios!»

Orange You Having a Better Day Now?

Jessica has had a few less than stellar days back home. I think subconsciously, deep deep down, she’s starting to miss me. So I took a picture of some flowers that are her favorite color.

Day 6 today was an easy breezy 9.5 miles from East Wallhouses to Newburn on the outskirts of Newcastle. We’re definitely in the city now. Like when Buddy the Elf hikes through seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then emerges from the Lincoln Tunnel. It’s kinda like that.

Meanwhile, tomorrow is our last day of Hadrian’s Wall! So I’m going to get some extra sleep before our long day of hiking, celebrating, and onward travel. But first I’ll put a smile on your face:

Moe and his pudding!

Our Watch Is Ended

“I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men.” ―George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings

If you’re wondering if George had Hadrian’s Wall in mind when conjuring the wall in Game of Thrones, apparently that’s a big yes.

Day 7’s 12 mile walk from Newburn to Wallsend went by super fast. We wanted time to properly celebrate before going our separate ways beginning with Moe’s 4pm train. So we averaged sub-16 minute miles without stopping, banging out this last leg in barely more than 3 hours.

The last sign post, or the first for those traveling east to west.
Having seen no wall yet all day, it was nice to get this final glimpse at the very end!
Dave, an old AMD work buddy for all 4 of us, kindly received our luggage at home and delivered it to us at a pub across from the train station. Seth & Dave go waaaaay back.

After breaking company, Eric and I took a train to Whitby. Unfortunately, it arrived 15 minutes late, which gave us just enough time to wave at our bus to Robin Hood’s Bay as it pulled away on schedule. Fortunately, there were taxis available, which would get us to RHB before the bus would have! Unfortunately, the taxi only took cash. Fortunately, Eric had an old £10 note in his hat (don’t ask), and I found an old £5 note in my backpack. Unfortunately, our cash was so old it’s now out of circulation and the taxi driver wouldn’t take it! Fortunately, we convinced him to take a $20 bill instead.

So now we’re back in Robin Hood’s Bay, the finish line of our 2015 Wainwright Walk. I have some unfinished business with MA, who’s also completed Hadrian’s Wall with us now, and is itching for a swim tomorrow. Seth and fam are planning to drive up from York as well. So more on that tomorrow!

God Only Knows What I’d Be Without You

Yesterday morning, while the sun was still just rising on August 6, MA’s birthday, I scattered the rest of her ashes in the North Sea at Robin Hood’s Bay. She’s hiked along the length of Hadrian’s Wall with us in a jar in my backpack. This was the same spot of our glorious conclusion to the 192 mile Wainwright Walk back in 2015. (MA hiked herself across that one!) Eric took photos to mark the occasion.

Bye, MA. I love you tons.

Walking along the beach back to the village, Eric told me how several of his elder family members had instructed him to scatter their ashes on the family farm, though he doesn’t totally understand why. I suggested maybe it helps give them peace as they get older, knowing that they’ll eventually make it back to their Happy Place. And it’s nice to think that MA has many happy places. My sister Maggie has already brought some of her home to her beloved Florida Keys, and there are probably some other Happy Places in store…

View from one of MA’s many happy places.

And if you can believe it, with Eric as my witness, when we walked back to the Wainwright Bar next to the beach, the Beach Boys were playing this blog post’s title track. It brings me right back to the end of Love Actually, with the mosaic of family reunions at the airport. Kills me every time. ❤️

Eric hooked us up with a sweet post-hike cool-off weekend in RHB.

Big props to Hadrian’s Wall Wingman Eric, who made possible a post-hike weekend in Robin Hood’s Bay. I had given up on finding lodging, as everything was booked months in advance. But he found the cutest little AirBnB, one of the many cottages along the alleyways halfway down the steep hill. (If you’ve been to RHB, you know what I’m talking about!)

Eric noted the seagulls are worse for sleeping than howler monkeys in the Amazon.

Only downside: the seagulls are VERY active between the hours of 4:30am and 11:00pm. Right over my head in the attic bedroom!

Sophie feeding the fish a discovered quid

Thanks also to Seth, his mom Anne, Ealish, and Sophie for joining us in Robin Hood’s Bay for a lovely beach afternoon. We revisited the Bay Hotel for dinner, the same place where we celebrated 7 years ago after finishing the Wainwright Walk. Such great memories it evoked.

I’d only seen RHB at high tide before. What a difference!
Any science nerd knows what makes these in the sand? [We have an answer: worm poo.]

Until our next adventure… Adios! (A tip of the sombrero to all the Duolingo Spanish we were all doing by the end of the trip. 🤓)