Category Archives: England

Day 6 – Meandering into Scotland

Today marks our final day in England and our last morning at Fenham Farm Coastal B&B. In preparation for the day, we headed for the breakfast room to fill up on another delicious English breakfast before a busy day of exploring.

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The main house is in the background…the lovely breakfast room…in the foreground.

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All set up and ready for breakfast.

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A wonderful room with coastal accents and lots of information for the curious traveler.

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The innkeepers – Watty & Gill Curry – a lovely husband and wife team…and part of the family of Christ!

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Saying goodbye to Fenham Farm – our favorite place to stay!

Farne Island - Glad Tidings 6

If today had gone as planned, you would have found David and I aboard the Glad Tidings – a tour boat harbored in Seahouses, England – that would have taken us to the Farne Islands for a day of bird watching.

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Located right off the Northumberland coastline near Bamburgh, the Farne Islands are one of Europe’s most important seabird sanctuaries. The islands are home to more than 20 different species, including puffins, eider ducks and three species of tern. Many of the birds are extremely confiding and visitors can enjoy close views. 

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Both David and I were hoping to see our first puffin, but this was not to be!  With rain in the air and wind whipping up a lot of wave action in the North Sea, all boat tours were cancelled for the day. 

As a second choice, we decided to meander through the English countryside, starting our day at Bamburgh Castle just south of Holy Island and offering a commanding view of the Northumberland coastline.

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Coming around a bend in the road, this is the first view we got of the massive castle.

Spanning nine acres of land on its rocky plateau high above the Northumberland coastline Bamburgh is one of the largest inhabited castles in the country.

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Once home to the kings of ancient Northumbria, Bamburgh Castle is one of Northumberland’s most iconic buildings. 

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Entering the castle grounds through the impressive gatehouse.

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A small section of the inner ward…heading towards one of the many entry doors!

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A bronze cast of the entire castle and extensive grounds.

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One of the displays in the China Room.

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More china…very similar to the Spode Tower I use at home.

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Entering the King’s Hall.

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What a spectacular room. You don’t see this everyday!

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North end of the King’s Hall.

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Helmets from the armory.

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Can you imagine this? Even the horses wore armor at one time!

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You can’t really tell from this angle, but the people who wore these suits of armor must have been very small.  Most appear almost child-size to me.

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A lovely sitting room with spectacular views.

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Deep in the lower levels of the castle…the main well is located right behind David’s right shoulder.

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An amazing array of weaponry – spears, swords, rifles and crossbows.

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And of course….every castle must have it’s dungeons.

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These torture chambers were much more gruesome than I had imagined they would be.  I was happy to leave this sight behind!

To see an aerial view of Bamburgh Castle, you can watch the video below:

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With the weather getting more blustery and the rain now falling in earnest, we decided to head inland to the small, rural village of Wooler.  We were hoping to visit a local art gallery, brimming with photos and handicrafts from local artisans. 

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Hmmm? Do we drive through this flooded roadway or don’t we? Of course we barreled crept through, but wondered what other surprises waited for us up ahead!

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This very ancient bridge most definitely was a surprise and could be accessed only one car at a time. Notice the sign…nothing wider than 2.0 meters could pass over the bridge.

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The lovely village of Wooler…looking down High Street.  Finding the art gallery closed for the day, we opted to walk around town and found a delightful place to eat lunch before heading north.

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Just a short way up the highway, we came upon this welcome sight… Scotland…we’re  finally here!

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Shortly after arriving in Scotland, the sun decided to show its lovely face!  It turned out to be a perfect day for visiting Eyemouth Harbor and Gunsgreen House – a historic house like no other.

Built in 1753 by notorious smuggler John Nisbet, the architecture included a number of secret hiding places where Nisbet housed his smuggled goods. The most smuggled item was tea, and the house contains a ‘tea chute’ right through it’s core where the leaves were stored away from prying eyes.

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Sunny day, but still a little chill in the air.

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Looking back up the River Eye towards Gunsgreen House.

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A friendly harbor seal that came in for a closer view!

Leaving Eyemouth, we headed a few miles inland to Coldingham where we would be spending a couple of nights at Rhovanion B&B.

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What started as a gray and gloomy day, had now turned into a beautiful and sunny evening and a perfect time for a stroll to the beach.

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There’s nothing better than a light supper by the seaside…

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…especially when this is the view before you!

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TO BE CONTINUED…

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The Happy Wanderer(s) – Day 5

We woke up to cloudy, gray skies and light drizzle – typical English weather – but nothing could dampen my enthusiasm for today’s adventure. We were going to explore Holy Island of Lindisfarne!

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According to the official website, “In 635AD St. Aidan came from Iona and chose to found his monastery on Lindisfarne. The Christian message flourished here and spread throughout the world.  However Holy Island is not only a centre of pilgrimage. Its tranquility, spirituality and scenic beauty attracts a multitude of visitors to its shores every year. Undoubtedly, it is the jewel in the crown of Northumbria.”

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Holy Island is linked to the mainland by a long causeway. Twice each day the tide sweeps in from the North Sea and covers the road.  But during daily low tides, the causeway clears of water and “safe crossing times” are calculated so that visitors can reach the island by car.  Nevertheless, travelers should remain vigilant if crossing near the extremeties…hence the warning sign above.

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The tide is going out in this photo and it is perfectly safe to drive across the causeway at this time.  However, if the tide is coming in and has reached the causeway before you…

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….you may become one of the many tourists that have to be rescued from their cars every year!

Pilgrim's Way

For those who may chose to embrace this crossing as a holy pilgrimage, there is the Pilgrim Way – A clearly marked route that links the mainland to the island across the sands and mud.

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David and I chose to drive across the causeway and paused to read about some of the history of Lindisfarne before walking towards the interior of the island.

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As we left the parking lot and made our way down a public footpath, we came upon this pastoral sight – Lindisfarne Castle – perched upon a natural rock outcropping. Quite breathtaking!

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Continuing down the lane, we were greeted by these beautiful flowers – Red Valerian – growing in the moss atop on of the many stones walls.

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David – waiting for me to catch up and join him on the journey.

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We were just one of many tourists making our way down the lane to the castle.

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You don’t see this everyday!

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My husband at the kissing gate but he failed to pay the toll.  Too many people…no kisses today!

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Looking up at the castle walls and the arrow slots (or loops).

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Entering the castle through the portcullis.

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The dining room – notice the domed, but very low ceiling.

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One end of the kitchen.

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Small work area but quite a view from the window!

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Ducking to get through the low doorways.

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One of the bed chambers – beautiful barley-twist spindles on the bed, side table and candlesticks.

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I believe this was a music and sitting room.

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Out on the bailey and taking a look at the marvelous view….

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….out over the bay and towards the priory ruins, situated at the upper left of the photo.

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On our way to the lime kilns, we came across dozens of these lovely creatures…much bigger than the ones back home!

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Another beautiful snail  – carrying his home on it’s back!

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The lime kilns at Castle Point on Holy Island are among the largest, most complex and best preserved lime kilns in Northumberland.

These kilns produced quick lime for a variety of uses such agricultural fertilizer, mortar for buildings and whitewash.

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David…peering out from inside the kilns.

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Hiking on the castle field and sharing the view with dozens of sheep that wander freely across the island…

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…while trying to avoid the hundreds of calling cards that they left behind!

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The backside of the castle as viewed from the entrance to the Gertrude Jekyll gardens.

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Thank you, Gertrude, for the natural beauty that you created and left behind for all to share in.

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A wet and cold day in early June, but the gardens were still lovely.

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Looking at plants that are new to me and definitely do not grow in Minnesota!

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Heading back towards the town square with a view of the priory ruins in the background.

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Another view of the priory…sitting in this same location since 635 AD. Amazing!

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Retracing our route past the line of poles that mark the Pilgrim Way and back to our B&B before we head out for dinner in Beal.

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The wine menu at The Barn in Beal.

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Starting out with a small appetizer – venison pate’ served with Barn Chutney and endive.  Very rich and yummy!

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David’s trio of lamb with vegetables in demi-glace’.

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I’m not sure why I’m looking so doubtful…

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…the seared pork medallions with baby vegetables and blood orange jelly was scrumptious!

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After a full day of hiking and a delicious and satisfying meal, it was quite a relief to arrive back to our room for some much needed rest. 

Tomorrow was going to be another busy day!

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TO BE CONTINUED…..

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The Happy Wanderer(s) – Day 4

After a wonderful and deliciously filling English breakfast – farm-fresh eggs, sausage, beans, bacon, grilled mushrooms and tomatoes – 

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it was time to say goodbye to the proprietors of Carraw B&B, Kevin & Leah, pack our few bags and head east towards the coast.

map day 4We would eventually head north to Beal (point D on the map), but before going there, we would spend the morning at Aydon Castle (point B) and the afternoon on the beach in Seaham (point C).

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Setting our GPS for Aydon Castle, we were immediately redirected off of the main road and onto a lovely one-track lane. The first time I traveled to England, I was terrified of these tiny lanes and feared that I would perish in a head-on crash!  But this was now my third time traipsing across the English countryside and I was not daunted in the least.  David, however, sat in the passenger’s seat with eyes as big as half dollars!

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Within half an hour, the road opened up and before us sat Aydon Castle – one of the finest and most unaltered examples of a 13th century English manor house. Set in a beautiful and secluded Northumberland woodland, it was originally built as an undefended residence, but almost immediately fortified on the outbreak of Anglo-Scottish warfare.

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Here I am, taking a look at the outer fortified walls of the castle. They’re definitely showing signs of age, but I guess that’s to be expected – they’re over 700 years old!

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Entering through the outer gates of the castle and amazed that many of the buildings are still intact.

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David in the inner courtyard.

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The manor house is on the left and the servant’s quarters and barn, on the right.

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My favorite part of the estate – the orchard!

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Another view of the orchard and manor house (not taken by me).

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Walking around the perimeter of the grounds and listening to the sound of the river below.

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Can you guess what this hole in the wall is for?

Here’s a hint:  inside the building, this is where the bathroom’s located.  You got it right…this is the sewer…leading out of the castle and down to the river below. Ugh!

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Inside the great hall of the main manor house.

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Can you imagine trying to stay warm with just one fireplace in each room? Brrr!

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The kitchen area with a fireplace that filled the far wall.

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One of the many sleeping chambers.

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Up on the rampart walk that surrounds the inner courtyard.

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I was increasingly intrigued by the plant life that had found a way to survive (without soil) in the tiny nooks and crannies on the castle walls and along the ramparts.  These were some kind of petite violet, growing in a bed of moss. Beautiful!P1060520

A new seedling that’s just beginning to take hold.

After a couple of hours at Aydon Castle, the weather has begun to change (for the worse).  Time to get back in the car and head to the coast – Seaham – a sea glass mecca.

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My favorite beach for picking sea glass – once the site of a Victorian-era glass factory.  After years of dumping slag glass into the ocean, beautiful orbs and smooth discs of multi-colored sea glass now dot Seaham’s pebbled shores.

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Looking to the north towards Sunderland. Lots of gravel to search through…lots of sea glass waiting to be found!

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It’s just like picking agates along the shores of Lake Superior…except there’s tea and scones waiting for us when we’re done here!

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Bending down to pick up a lovely piece of sea glass.

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This aqua beauty is a keeper!

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I found another amazing piece…this one deserves to be photographed!

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An amazing English “multi” that will make a lovely piece of jewelry one day.

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Introducing David to my English friend, Robert, and his dog, Lucy.

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Interesting caves…waiting to be explored!

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David – my spelunker – checking out the inside of one of the many sandstone caves.

DSC00010Some of the multi-colored pieces that we found in one afternoon.

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Feeling very content with our little stash of sea glass, we headed back to our peppy VW and headed north towards Beal. 

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Our route took us through a number of historical coastal towns.  Looking out over the North Sea was the beautiful Warkworth Castle.

Not wanting to pass up another historical ruin, we decided to make a U-turn to take a closer look at this ancient building…

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…only to discover that our VW was capable of time travel!

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A few miles further north and we found ourselves, once again, on a single-track lane…this time contending with cows that were in no hurry to go anywhere!

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With the weather getting foggier and the rain falling in earnest, this sign was a welcome sight!

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Fenham Farm Bed & Breakfast – a lovely oasis on this rainy and foggy day.

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Heading to the main house to check in to our room – the Sandpiper – formally the cow byre!

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Rustic and modern – all at the same time!

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Camera tucked inside my jacket, we take one last walk to the beach before the day is done.

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David’s ready to head out too!

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These guys obviously don’t get much company…they were quite taken with our presence.

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Looking out over Foulwork Burn…hoping to get a glimpse of Holy Island through the haze.

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There it is….Holy Island and the Lindisfarne Priory…waiting to be enjoyed on the morrow!

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TO BE CONTINUED…..

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The Happy Wanderer(s) – Day 3

Imagine building a stone wall – 8 to 10 feet wide and 15 feet high – stretching from the Irish Sea (on the west) to the North Sea (on the east) and covering a mind-boggling distance of 73 miles.  And did I mention, you don’t have any modern tools to accomplish the task – just those implements that would have been in use during the second century A.D.

This is exactly what the Romans did under the leadership of Emperor Hadrian.  Beginning in 122 A.D. the emperor ordered a protective, fortified wall – now called Hadrian’s Wall – built all the way across Roman Britain, separating them from the barbarians to the north.

Today – almost 2000 years later – many of the stones have been carted away and recycled into other buildings, but the wall is still there for people to explore.  And for those who love history and enjoy  hiking, the 84-mile Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail was created for folks just like you.

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This historical trail stretches from coast-to-coast and passes through some of the most beautiful parts of England – from rolling fields and rugged moorland to the vibrant cities of Newcastle and Carlisle.

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David & I woke up on the third day of our journey feeling refreshed, revitalized and raring to go! Today we would be tracing two thousand years of history across the beautiful English countryside and following in the footsteps of Roman centurions who had lived and worked on the wall centuries beforehand.

Knowing that we’d be able to cover only a small portion of the path in one day, we chose to begin our hike at Housesteads Roman Fort and head west for 3-1/2 miles, ending our journey at Steel Rigg. 

This particular route was said to offer some of the most dramatic sections of wall, with strenuous walking and several steep slopes.

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With our trekking poles in hand and our rain gear tucked away in David’s backpack, we headed out for the day.

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The start of the walk took us immediately uphill – heading towards the ruins of Housesteads Fort – located at the top of this hill. 

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The ruins of the fort were quite extensive and stretched out across the entire crest of the hill.

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Housesteads had been strategically placed and the view from the top was amazing!

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Entering the Commanding Officers house

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Headquarters

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The granaries – held stores of food including flour for making bread for over 800 soldiers.

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The Granaries – side view

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The Communal Latrines…I promise never to complain about having only one full bathroom in my home!

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Near the north gate

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The gate leading to Hadrian’s Wall Path

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The Wall stretching out as far as you can see!

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Looking back towards Housesteads Fort

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Wet weather up ahead! The English don’t seem to mind the rain. Many of the hikers didn’t even wear rain gear.

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Grag Lough and more rain ahead.

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Crag Lough from a different angle.

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David…looking over the edge of the cliff!

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Walking into the rain and hoping that I don’t slip and tumble down into Sycamore Gap!

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Taking a breather near the bottom of Sycamore Gap

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Walking carefully down the uneven pathway.

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Cutting through the gap on the way down the crags.

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The Peel Crags in the background.

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Arriving at Steel Rigg and feeling great!

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Leaving through the kissing gate. Wait!  You forgot something…..

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You have to pay the toll!

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TO BE CONTINUED……

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The Happy Wanderer(s) – Day 2

After more than 24 hours of traveling, David and I had arrived safely in Edinburgh.  We were both quite tired, but knew we needed to adjust to this new time zone as quickly as possible. The best way to accomplish this was to ignore our exhaustion (easier said than done!) and not even think of sleeping or resting until some time in the early evening.  With that thought in mind, we picked up our rental car – a peppy little VW Golf – and headed south towards England.

untitledHaving had a bit of experience driving on the “wrong” side of the road, I became the designated driver and David, the wide-eyed, gawking passenger. It was a glorious day for traveling – sunny and bright with just a bit of chill in the air.

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After bypassing the city of Edinburgh, we hopped onto the A68 and drove through the Scottish Borders – a rural area full of lovely little villages and fields dotted with frolicking sheep. Unfortunately, our nice weather disappeared the further south we traveled.

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It didn’t take long for fatigue and hunger to catch up with us, so we stopped for a late lunch at a quaint little restaurant – The Caddy Mann. This inauspicious building held a much-guarded secret…it served the best slow-baked Borders lamb this side of Edinburgh.

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Fork-tender and swimming in a pool of au jus..I savored every morsel!!

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David had the medallions of pork with a mashed potato, haggis & rutabaga gratin – scrumptious as well!

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After lunch, we continued south to Melrose – a quaint border village nestled along the banks of the River Tweed and home to the beautiful and almost complete ruins of Melrose Abbey – a Gothic-style abbey founded in 1136 by Cistercian monks.

P1060432Melrose Abbey from the west.

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The south transept window.

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Up the spiral staircase to the observation deck.

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A roof level view.

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Walking on the extensive grounds of the Abbey.

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A beautiful view of the Abbey from the south.

Once back on the road, we continued south but had to make a quick stop at the scenic overview between the border of Scotland and England.

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David on the Scottish side of the border saying …so long for the present!

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Me on the other side of the border saying…hello England!!

With the fatigue of traveling beginning to take it’s toll on us, I was glad when we finally arrived at our destination.

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Carraw Bed & Breakfast – our home for the next two nights!

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We stayed in the Vindolanda Room – named after the Roman Fort built along Hadrian’s Wall almost 2000 years ago! The room had once been part of the original stone barn built many years before – notice the rugged stone wall behind the bed.

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I fell in love with the old wooden beams above our heads!

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And the view from our bedroom window was nothing short of spectacular!

We went to bed that night wondering what amazing sights tomorrow would bring.

TO BE CONTINUED…..

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