The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Thursday 5 June 2008

Day 52 - Just before Once Brewed to Bellingham

5 June
Distance: 17.25 miles
Number of close encounters with bulls: 1
Number of licks of the face by overly friendly dogs: 2
Number of midge bites: 9 (and not even in Scotland yet)

After our exceptionally lazy rest day yesterday the route along Hadrian's Wall came as something of a shock to the system this morning. That is one undulating route, and by the necessary anti-erosion work which has built stone steps into the steepest slopes it was a test of the knees as well as stamina.

Our time along the wall was brief, but gave us a taster. A few moments after second breakfast we left it and all the people walking along it (a surprising number for the early hour of day) to make our way north, often through forestry and often through bog (often both combined).

We'd just entered the forestry for the second time when Mick nipped off to powder his shiny nose and I looked around for a tree stump on which to sit for a few moments.

Having found a suitable stump I was distracted by a glimpse of white I could see behind a boulder, in the hollow under the stump. I stood at all angles to try to work out what it was, until finally I decided to see if I could move the rock to find out.

It turned out to be a very well concealed geocache - the second that we've stumbled across so far. Being apparently the first to find it this year (although probably not in the right spirit as I was't looking for it and wasn't using a GPS) I left a note before we moved on.

The incident with the bull (it wasn't really an incident, we just had to pass within a few feet of it, all the time nervously looking over our shoulders and noting escape routes) happened on the same farm as the dogs which turned out to be far from killers. It's always nice (albeit rare) when passing through a farm to see that the dogs running towards you have wagging tails and grins on their faces.

The walk down to Bellingham was pleasant enough but unremarkable. What was remarkable was the discovery that none of the pubs here opens until 7pm. That was a bit of a problem given how hungry I was at 6pm (in spite of the two scones and can of fruit I'd bought and eaten on arrival a couple of hours before).

I'm now sitting typing this (7.30pm) with a pint of beer and waiting for a plate of food which promises to be huge.

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