Now that I am back home and have had time to think about it, I thought I would make some concluding comments about the walk.
Would I recommend walking Hadrian’s Wall Path? Yes I would. And I would recommend walking it from West to East, as Newcastle makes for a nice change after the walk and has lots of choice of accommodation, food etc. So does Carlisle I suppose, but I liked starting on a beach and ending up in a city.
What were the best bits? The crags, definitely. And the lovely weather we had for it, but that is never guaranteed. The people, the cozy pubs, the lovely food. I miss the chicken with haggis!
What were the bad bits? Hm. I suppose tarmac walking, but then we skipped most of that. I didn’t particularly like walking into fields with young bulls, but they were very blasé about it all and I did get used to it. And the long stretches without food or water (or shelter for that matter), like the fact that I couldn’t fill my water bottle at Housesteads! There should really be something on those stretches for the walkers, even if it is just a water tap and a little shelter.
Would I do anything different? Now that I know the area the Path runs through, I might plan the daily stages slightly differently, and I would set aside a day to go to Vindolanda (not far from Once Brewed) and really take it all in. I was happy with all the accommodation we had, I loved the food, but I would have to plan the long stretches without food and water better.
Do I regret skipping some stretches? No, this was a holiday and not a purist exercise, and of course we never claimed the achievement badge or anything. But the passport with stamps is a lovely keepsake and reminder of our walk.
Was the kit good enough? Yes, luckily. Most importantly the boots-or-shoes gamble paid off and we only had moderately wet feet once and got to enjoy better cushioning and lighter steps. As for the clothing we could still have managed even colder temperatures and more rain, easy, but it wouldn’t have been a very pleasant trip. I think I have found the perfect balance (for me) between having enough to manage well, and admitting and accepting that if it gets too unpleasant I’ll rather find shelter or transportation out of there than carry even more gear.
Would I do it again? Yes I would, actually. Not exactly the same, but I would love to walk the middle bit again, or the beginning and into Chollerford. I am not a fan of long stretches of flat road next to a road, but that is just me. I would definitely like to come back to Newcastle and might even go back to walk St Oswald’s Way to Lindisfarne … or, being a Contrarian, from Lindisfarne to Wall, where we can stay at Hadrian Hotel and have chicken stuffed with haggis and peppercorn sauce!