Rest Day 2: Haltwhistle / Hadrian’s Wall

Today has been split into two parts and both have brought equal joy into my life. The morning was spent in Haltwhistle doing my laundry and a bit of shopping. The afternoon was spent exploring, very leisurely, Hadrian’s Wall.

Back in 2015 I cycled through a place on the west coast of France called… I forget. No, not a place called ‘J’oublie’ but I have genuinely forgotten. Somewhere on the long straight bit south of Bordeaux. In the book Spain to Norway… I likened it to the town in The Trueman Show where everything was perfect. I had similar feelings cycling out of Haltwhistle this morning. Again, everything was perfect. Everything went to plan. Everyone was very nice. No hitches whatsoever:

  • The laundrette was open
  • The hotel next door gave me all the change I needed to feed the machines
  • The other customer gave me detergent
  • The machines worked seemlessly
  • The Sainsbury’s was about 60 seconds round the corner
  • The trolley chap offered to keep an eye on Wanda (the bike…)
  • A young boy engaged me in conversation when he pointed at the bike and said (erroneously) ‘electric’. I asked him to Google ‘Rohloff’ when he got home and his gran was so keen she asked me to spell it. Twice.
  • En route back to the campsite I realised I had forgotten to buy gas so I called in at another campsite that had a small shop. They didn’t have any bottles with a screw fitting but the chap gave me a bottle that had been left by a previous camper.
  • I have clean clothes!

It is the sequel, and a good one at that!

Back at the campsite – Winshields Farm Camping for the record (write it down) – Malcolm was mowing the grass and gave me a cheery wave. I did some housework around the tent and spent a few more minutes contemplating that view (see yesterday’s post). Winshields Farm Camping is a definite member of the ‘top five’ campsites in the world. Admittedly I have never visited most campsites in the world and my ‘top five’ now probably consists of around 20 campsites but let’s not quibble. It’s a cracking place to spend the night if you are travelling by bicycle. That view alone would rocket it into the top ten but when Malcolm comes round in the morning to chat to all the campers (not just those who haven’t paid), well… Just brilliant!

So it was a good morning. The afternoon would be spent at Hadrian’s Wall. There is a visitors’ centre called The SILL just down the road from the campsite. It stands for the Scientific Institute of Luscious Landscape. Of course it doesn’t but it should. ‘The Sill’ is not an acronym. It actually refers to the outcrop of land upon which Hadrian’s Wall has been built in these parts and is subtitled ‘The National Landscape Discovery Centre’. ‘The Sill’ sounds better than ‘The NLDC’ I suppose. I was given a map and pointed in direction of the wall:

Upon arrival I promptly sat down and, for about an hour, watched others made the climb to the top. Actually, at least 45 minutes of those 60 were spent horizontal on the grass, dozing. Watching others being tourists can be utterly knackering.

I was in two minds as to whether I had the energy but eventually I did climb to the top myself and the view back towards the campsite was well worth the effort. The landscape around here might not have what The Lakes has vertically but it has what a The Lakes lacks; horizontalality. Magnificent:

You know that your job has been done when you’ve invent a new word like ‘horizontalality’ so it was at this point I returned to the NLDC, sorry, Sill to unchain Wanda. Such is the design of the Sill that in order to exit the building you need to walk through the shop (why has no other cultural institution ever worked this out??) and I was drawn to the map section. It seemed a prudent to purchase a good map for tomorrow’s route which will take me across the treacherous border country between England and Scotland. Tomorrow is not just another day, it’s another country!

Categories: Adventure, Cycling, Travel

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