oh boy, here we go. the beginning of our 120 mile pilgrimage over the next 10 days!
i am doing the pilgrimage with 13 other brave souls that have some affiliation with Epiphany Episcopal Church in the Madrona neighborhood of Seattle. Epiphany organizes pilgrimages every couple of years. two years ago i went on one to Israel and the Holy Land and loved it.
a pilgrimage is a prolonged journey often undertaken by foot to a destination of spiritual significance. it also provides the opportunity for personal reflection and prayer, as well as enjoying the fellowship of other pilgrims.
the first day we started in Wall. Wall is a very small village, with one very small hotel and pub. and that is where we stayed. we are in the northeastern section of England, the area called Northumberland. we are only 20 miles south of the Scottish border.
early morning we hiked two miles from Wall to Heavensfield which was the site of the battle in 633 where a young St. Oswald defeated the pagan Norsemen invaders and established Christian rule in Northumbria. a wooden cross and church commemorate the battlefield.
from there we linked up with the Hadrians Wall Path. for the next few miles St. Oswalds Way and Hadrians Wall Path were one and the same.
Hadrians Wall is 73 miles long and was started to be built in AD 122 and served as the most northernmost defensive fortification built by the Romans when they ruled. today it is a very popular hiking destination.
we turned off of Hadrians Wall hike to follow St. Oswalds Way by itself. OR AT LEAST SOME OF DID!
Yours truly and Steve, another member of our 13 member hiking party, were leading the pack, hiking at a pace that was strong. we were significantly ahead of the others. and we were really engaged in a conversation about our kids and schools for them. the two of us totally missed the turn, the place on the trail where we were supposed to turn off Hadrians Wall trail and just stay on St. Oswalds Way by itself. after about a mile further Steve gets a call on his cell phone from Diane, who is our group leader, asking where we are, and informing us that we have missed the turn. OMG.
we turn around and hike back the mile. so, we have added two miles to the day’s hike. eeghad. who needs this?
today’s hike is supposed to be an easy 7 mile hike to get us prepared for the second day’s hike which will be more than 13 miles.
well, this easy day turned out to be a little harder than we expected. first, because of the mistake, which added two miles. second the path turned challenging in a few spots. look at this. some of the paths were wonderful as you can see. but some were not. we were literally traveling over hill and dale.
in the end, this 7 mile hike turned out to be a 10.3 mile hike.
we ended up at another really small, tiny village. what do you call a town that has no stores — none whatsoever? no gas station, no convenience store, no post office, no restaurants, no pubs, no businesses at all. wow. how often do you see this?
well, Great Whittington (population of 401) is where our hike today ended up. we were expecting to end up at a pub in Great Whittington, but it turns out that the pub that used to exist no longer does. the new owners shut it down for lack of business. our loss. we were some very frustrated hikers at the end of a long and difficult first day of hiking.
on the positive side the homes in Great Whittington are beautiful. most are made from stones which it is said were taken at some point from Hadrians Wall.