Hadrian’s Wall near Hexham, UK

It seems that many of the blogs I am reading lately are from the UK and Ireland. Looking at photos from a 2013 trip to the UK got me thinking about walls. Hadrian (c. 128AD) ordered a wall to be built at the northern boundary of the Roman Empire. If anyone from that area is reading this you know much more about it than I. What struck me was the passage of time. So many centuries have come and gone since those stones were placed there. What used to be buildings are now obstacles for the sheep to step over as they graze. Why did the Romans decide to spend time and resources on this project? It is not very tall. I remember reading something about keeping out the “barbarians”. Seems unlikely that it was effective for that purpose. I also read that one reason was to keep soldiers busy and out of trouble. That is more believable.

sheep and grass and stone walls
Once a Roman fort, now pasture for sheep

I live in the USA. There has been much talk of walls lately. I do not understand how a wall at our southern border is a good use of resources or even an effective way to do what they want. Obviously there are motives other than the stated objective of securing the border. Those resources are needed to help the people that are at the border now. Ah, but I digress. Back to the wall and the walks near Hexham!

Noticing connections between unlike ideas happens to me as I hike and paint. I absolutely loved the north of England, something about it just felt right. Rolling hills dotted with homes and criss-crossed with fences reminded me of the landscape of my childhood in central Minnesota.

watercolor sketch of hills and buildings and a fence
Watercolor sketch of the fields and barns and fences of Northumberland

One thing that surprised me was how narrow the roads were. I thought they were private drives or bike paths. I am very glad that we did not rent a car. When two cars approach each other, they need to drive almost in the ditch as they pass. We used taxis and the sightseeing bus to get around and that worked out well. A few times we decided to walk from one destination to another, but I do not recommend walking along the narrow roads. They do not seem well suited for pedestrians and vehicles to share. Maybe that has changed since 2013. I hope so. There is a footpath along the wall and that is where we did a day hike. It is long enough that you can do a multi-day hike and stay at B&B’s along the way. I saw ads for 3-9 day trips. If anyone knows more about that experience, I hope you will comment with whatever information you have.

photo of a country lane
I am used to bike trails that look like this, but this is a two way street.

Someday I hope to go back “across the pond” and see some of the wonderful hikes I am reading about. On the day that I wrote this (Saturday, December 29), I skipped hiking due to the temperature of -17F (-28C) and the need to drive to see relatives for the holidays. The visits were joyous and everyone arrived safely and made it safely home again so that was a victory.

drawing of feet
I wrote most of this post from the hotel room where I stopped for the night because the roads were too icy to continue to the next holiday gathering. It was a nice 12 hours of down time!

Best wishes to all reading this for a Happy New Year!

2 Comments

  1. Glad you visited Northumberland. I live not too far from the wall and have walked much of the official path. It was a very tall and imposing structure when it was first built but after the Romans left it became a source of road and building material. Many of the local buildings have Hadrian’s wall stone but I read somewhere that most of the wall stones are buried under a major road that runs south of the wall.

    Liked by 1 person

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