When I was visiting with some of the group in Edinburgh, many of them said that they were, or had been in their younger days, Ramblers. This means they go walking for fun over the delightful hills and streams of this fine country. So when I determined there was no way to do what I wanted to do and get back in time via public transportation, it did not seem unreasonable to me that I should follow the road from Vindolanda to Bardon Mill. It looked to be about two miles, and indeed, google maps supported my decision with a helpful dotted line down the main road.
Boldly I left the Vindolanda museum and went up the road, but as I was about to strike out onto my google approved path, I spotted a small sign: “Public Footpath, Bardon Mill 1 1/2 mile” Aha! A charming footpath, and shorter too! So I turned around and headed back. Just to the left of the museum there was a confirming sign. Good news! A few steps more…and there was a fork. One path going downhill, one going uphill. Both said they were public footpaths. There were several moments of debate. I generally don’t like hills, but on the other had, if I to downhill I’ll probably have to go up eventually. Perhaps better to get it out of the way. On the other hand, what about the old “you take the high road and I’ll take the low road, and I’ll be in Scotland before ye?” The low road might get there first, but what if I ended up back in Scotland? The deciding factor was the sign that indicated there might be flooding along the low way. Also it looked dark down there. So up I went. And then I turned back and looked at all the signs again. I did that about three times. Finally I committed to the up. And we’re off!
Dappled woods, nice ferns, birds singing, and at the top of the hill, there is a fence. That is locked. But a helpful set of stairs has been installed. So up and over I go. There are sheep in the field. Cows too. They look calm, but what if they turn on me? Anyway, onward, the die is cast.
So here is the thing about a “public footpath.” That means there is a trail through the grass. Pretty high grass too. Sometimes it is clear, and other times it either fades away, or there are several branches leading off in other ways. I found myself concentrating very fiercely, almost entering a meditative state where all I thought was “see the path, see the path, with the occasional, see the hole,” thrown in. Some sheep were in the path at one point, but they moved along when I approached. The “path” finally led me to a footbridge, I took a google sounding at this point, and knew that the stream led to town, so there was more debate on the other side of the footbridge about whether to go up on one vague trail, or along the river on another even vaguer trail. Again I chose up. Of course at the top of the hill there was a three way split in the “path” and I took the hard left choice because it looked a little more worn, and would keep on the course of the stream.
I was rewarded for my toil when I reached another gate that had the official public footpath badge. Then I just had to figure out the gate which you step into, move the gate and step back out. I guess the sheep aren’t smart enough to figure it out, and frankly, it took me a few minutes.
If I was to give you directions so you could find your way at this point I would say: through the gate, across the field with the three trees, through the gate, shut it please, down the path, over the creek that is in the road, up the hill, out the gate by the stables, down to the main road! It really was a beautiful day, and a nice walk, only lessened by the occasional thought of, “I could die out here, wandering forever.”
Cries of joy, were heard, from me, when I actually found the road that I had walked on the evening before that led me back to the village! It was a triumph. I am a rambler!
Needless to say, I rewarded myself with tea and scone at The Village Store and Tearoom in Bardon Mill, then collected my bags from the pub/hotel and headed to the train. When I had to walk a mile and half from the train station in Thirsk to the hotel, I thought nothing of it (except for cursing when I was passed by a bus and two taxis, none of which were in evidence at the train station.)
So in summary for Saturday :
Train from Bardon Mill to Haltwhistle
Bus from Haltwhistle to Roman Army Musuem
Walk back and forth to Hadrian’s Wall
Bus from Museum to Vindolanda
Walk from Vindolanda to Bardon Mill
Train from Bardon Mill to Newcastle
Train from Newcastle to Northallerton
Train from Northallerton to Thirsk
Walk from Thirsk train station to Hotel.
Over 21,000 steps by my pedometer! So Sunday when I only walk about 3 steps, it all balances out.