HWP day 1: Bowness on Solway to Beaumont

Yesterday's travels and travails

If you're not familiar with a palaver, here's a good example. Yesterday, we got the train from Peterborough to Newcastle Central Station (a shocking map, but the best one I can find), where we were to catch the train to Carlisle from platform 6. A train arrived and terminated, but didn't turn into our train to Carlisle. Instead, we were told to go to platform 12, where we boarded a train.

A man across the aisle asked if this was the Carlisle train. I said if it wasn't, we'd all be going to the wrong place together.

A staff member told us all to get off and go back to platform 6, where the aforementioned train still stood. We waited on the platform while a discussion went on among staff members, who eventually told us to go to platform 10, where there was no train. They amended this to platform 9, where there was a train. We all got on it, not exactly convinced we wouldn't be kicked off this one and sent back to platform 6. But it did set off, and it went to Carlisle and everything. Amazing what trains can do nowadays.


Carlisle, in Cumbria, in the northwesternest of England, housed our hotel for the night. After finding the bus station and the stand for the 93 bus, we had a drink, then went to Timmy's Bar and Kitchen, a haven of vegan junk food that deserves to be busier than it was, then retired to our hotel: the next day would be busy.

A busy day

We got the second 93 bus to Bowness on Solway, where the guide book said the King's Arms would be open; reality said it wasn't. Disappointed, we went to a café–bar affair, where we had an excessive amount of tea for one person each. I acquired a horned pencil for journalling purposes.

We extended our walking poles, and set off back to the road sign indicating that Wallsend at the end of Hadrian's Wall (See what they did there?) was 84 miles to the east. Wallsend, if you want to be pedantic, perhaps should be called Wallstart because the Romans started building the wall in the east.

Then we headed off to the official start of the Hadrian's Wall Path, a small shelter on Banks Promenade, and stamped our passports. We were finally ready to roll.

The plan

The plan was to walk the Hadrian's wall Path from west to east so that the prevailing wind would help us on our way.

We'd carry all our stuff ourselves – none of this having a company carry all your stuff to your overnight stay malarkey – and camp every night except in one place where there wasn't a campsite – none of this luxurious B&B malarkey, except in the one place where there wasn't a campsite. Hotels before the start and after finishing, though!

Day 1: Bowness on Solway to Beaumont

The walking was on flat land, so it was pretty easy going. Some of the path follows an old train line that George Stephenson's Rocket travelled on in 1829, according to the guide book. The weather was clear, so we could see Scotland over the Solway Firth.

Along Hadrian's Wall Path, there are various honesty boxes set up by kind people who set out drinks and snacks in sheds or boxes for weary walkers in return for money slotted into a cash box. One such place, Laal Bite in Drumburgh (pronounced as Drum-bruff), even has a much-appreciated loo. Outside, there are apple trees, from which I scrumped a carefully selected apple. The initial tartness gave way to juicy deliciousness. Never have I had a fresher apple. I saw the first red admiral I've seen in years sunning itself on the nearby wall.

The marshlands over the road were full of cows; one was on the road stopping traffic before moving on, some were on the grass on our side of the road, where we were walking on the embankment used as flood defences from the tidal marshlands, so it was almost-but-not-quite like walking along the Great Ouse in the fens. I was wary of the cows because reasons.

We saw HM Coastguard rushing out across the marshlands from a couple of vehicles parked on the road.

We stopped for a drink in the Greyhound Inn, with the nearby Edward I statue, in Burgh-by-Sands (pronounced Bruff-by-Sands) before finally reaching Beaumont (pronounced Bee-mont), where our campsite for the night was.

We were assured by the guide book that the wall really had existed here, even though there was no sign of it.

The evening

We set up the tent, and the gadgie showed us the facilities. There were two bathrooms, a reading room, a communal area with a table and chairs, and snacks, drinks and stuff like that. It was a nice campsite, and the gadgie was helpful, if a little intense.

After showering and changing into our evening clothes, we set off to the pub, the Drover's Rest, round the corner. It was a lovely pub, and they provided us with pleasant beverages and delicious hotdogs and chips. The barmaid said maybe we'd visit again when we walked the path from east to west. We'll see.

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