Friday, June 14, 2013

Carlisle - Bowness-on-Solway

Distance: 23,8km.

A last morning on the walk and it is always a thoughtful morning when you know that by the end of the day you've completed the walk. We decide to quickly go through the streets of Carlisle after breakfast and to the Sands Centre where we will come back to the trail where we left it yesterday. The flag on Carlisle Castle greets us blowing in the air. We walk under the bridge and are on our way towards Bowness-on-Solway and an end to a journey along Roman and English history.

The trail goes under the bridge built for Border Union Railway after Carlisle, the bridge is now closed.

There are no signs of the Romans when we continue the walk in a loop around Eden and out of Carlisle. The weather is cloudy on our last day of the walk alongside a wall we no longer can see. We pass under a bridge that was built for the Border Union Railway; the bridge is built on the skew on purpose and was opened in 1859. The bridge is now closed and by that we're leaving Carlisle behind us. We are now at the same time following the Cumbria Coastal Way alongside the river towards Grinsdale.

Alessandra at a gate before Kirkandrews-on-Eden.

Between Grinsdale and Kirkandrews-on-Eden we can still see what was once upon a time the vallum of the wall. The horizon bears portents of rain when we cross a tiny stone bridge with the amusing name of Sourmilk Bridge. A part of the trail alongside Eden are closed before Beaumont due to erosion, instead we have to go to Beaumont by the road (later on we got to hear that someone else had walked the part without problems). Just before coming to Beaumont we're crossing a field where we are so lucky to arrive at the same time as the farmer fertilizing it, smell-on-the-wall.

The church at Beaumont which is literally built on top of where Hadrian's Wall went, the Normans used the stones from the wall to build the church as well.

In Beaumont the church is standing right on top of where the wall went. The Normans used the stones from the wall to build the church as well. We're still accompanying the Cumbria Coastal Way on a small and quiet road after Beaumont. We switch between two roads by a short green interlude before we arrive at Burgh by Sands and the Roman fort Aballava (apple orchard) that no one can see anything of. We are the first guests of the day at The Greyhound Inn having decided it's time for a little break.

Alessandra outside The Greyhound Inn in Burgh by Sands.

At Dykesfield starts the part of today's walk that I have been looking forward to the most, the passage over the marshes by Solway Firth. A tide table has been posted at Dykesfield, for by extreme high tidal water and a lot of rain the water here can stand several feet above the ground. Its low tide when we arrive at the Burgh Marsh, so there is little danger for us having to swim across the long and flat stretch. A bird wails in the distance.

Walking over the wetland at Solway Firth in rain. A desolate stretch of marsh and bog. The water can stand as high as three feet above the road at its most.

We start the walk alongside the marshland and the dismantled railway line, the sky changes to a dull grey color. More and more darker spots are appearing on the road. The rain is washing over us. Under the grey blanket we can barely see the rivermouth that goes out into Solway Firth. Cows wanders wet over the marshland. There is an embankment by the side of the road, which is not a part of Hadrian's Wall, but a wall against the tide water. It is flooding from above; several walkers are seeking shelter under a bus stop at Boustead Hill. The grey wall is hammering down upon us while it passes overhead.

A cow walking by the wall walkers at Easton Marsh. The rain is abated a little and is moving on towards Scotland.

We continue walking through the desolate stretch while the rain is abating little by little, this is the biggest rainfall we've had on the whole walk. I would like to experience how it is here when the tide is at its highest. The rain clouds drifts further on behind us and in the direction of Scotland. We can look out towards Solway Firth and the sea. There is a line of walkers over the marsh. We arrive on safe ground in Drumburgh on the other side.

The long and flat stretch over the wetland between Burgh by Sands and Drumburgh.

At Glasson it's high tide for lunch. We occupy The Highland Laddie Inn, so named since it's said that Bonnie Prince Charlie stopped here. While we're eating lunch our clothes dries up after the deluge. A couple of other walkers are here as well, we talk for a while with a couple from the Isle of Man.

Lunch at The Highland Laddie Inn in Glasson.

Then the last verse of the walk remains. At Solway Firth we can see two haaf-net fishermen out in the water; these are standing out in the water with water up almost up to their chest and are fishing with a large net strung up between them. The waves are rolling onto the beach while we walk towards Port Carlisle. Since all the places to stay in Bowness were occupied we found a place for the night here, The Hope & Anchor. Before we take the last steps on the walk we check in and take a short break.

Out from Port Carlisle with the last steps on the walk towards Bowness-on-Solway.

We move quietly over the small and abandoned looking stretch between Port Carlisle and Bowness-on-Solway, on the other side of the water is Scotland. The waves are continuing its dance towards the beaches just before we arrive at the last stop of the journey. A sign greets us welcome to the end/start of Hadrian's Wall. Now only a short promenade down to The Banks is remaining. Ave Terminvm Callis Hadriani Avgvsti Pervenisti. We are at the end of the wall and have walked all the way from Wallsend. In the little hut that marks the end of the walk is also George, who we've met several times on the trail. A last stamp in the passport.

Alessandra and me at The Banks in Bowness-on-Solway and the end of the walk. At the end of the wall all the way from Wallsend.

Down by the water I take a look out towards the sea. We sit down at the end of the walk and enjoy the peaceful moment for a while, listening to the peculiar sound of the sea rolling in onto the beach. Clouds drift by over the horizon, small glimpses of sunlight in the sea.

Solway Firth and Scotland.

And then we leave the Hadrian's Wall Path and take a look at Bowness-on-Solway, which is a cozy, but sleepy place. It's sort of customary for the walkers finishing in Bowness to meet at the King's Arms, so we pay a visit to the inn for the mandatory celebration. Here we meet again Karl, and his parents. Not long afterwards George is coming before Truls and Kristian arrives a little bit tired after celebrating a little bit in advance in Carlisle. Another walker we've met, Graham, is also joining us, as well as the couple from Isle of Man. I order salmon from Solway Firth for dinner, hopefully fished by the haaf-net fishermen. A nice evening finishes a great walk across Northern England.

Celebrating the end of the walk at The King's Arms in Bowness: Karl, Alessandra, George, Truls, Kristian and me.

When we leave in the evening it has become dark outside. And it has started to rain. We make our way in the small light of our headlamps alongside the little desolate stretch back to Port Carlisle. It is quiet. Small lights can be seen from Scotland on the other side of Solway Firth. A journey is over...another begins...

A journey is over...another begins.

<- Carlisle

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