Day 5

Day 5 was day two of the crags.  It was also a “light” day, only eight miles to go that day.  We were driven back to the trail by the lovely innkeeper. I had two pairs of socks dangling off the back of my day pack; though it got pretty chilly at night and had been cool, rainy and windy all day, they didn’t turn on the heat. Few places did. I was convinced that since it was after May 1, they weren’t going to turn on the heat, no matter what.  And while we were never cold at night, the heater is the best/only way to dry clothes overnight. So I was left with two damp pairs of socks hanging from my bag as we headed towards Vindolanda, about a mile out of our way since we’d missed the bus that would take us there.

Got there, bought our tickets, headed inside only to realize that somewhere that morning, one of my socks had gone missing. Fantastic.  I retraced my steps through the museum and down to the road.  Nothing. Ridiculously annoyed – I had three pairs of socks and the one I’d lost was from my best fitting/feeling pair.  Combine that with missing the bus, the realization that I had as far to walk as I had already walked, and I was none too pleased. Not an ideal way to start the day.

Vindolanda was pretty neat. They had some excavations going on; it would have been interesting to be a part of that as they ask for volunteers, but we had a schedule to keep. We had about an hour before the bus that would take us back to the trail and we were not going to miss it. Vindolanda had been a community/town before the wall was built, which is why it is so far off the main wall. It is also the site of some of the best preserved Roman artifacts. There were the standard coins and pottery, but they also had clothes, shoes and a helmet adorned with horsehair! It was also the spot where they recovered letters (currently in a museum in London) that could be read. The site was large and there were recreations of life in the fort.

Vindolanda excavations

With our morning sightseeing, we didn’t get on the trail properly until about 11:30. So at about 1:30, when stopped for lunch, instead of being nearly done with the day, we still had hours to go. It wasn’t rainy, but it was extraordinarily windy. Much of the trail near the highest points of the walk were right next to the wall, which helped to block the wind some. The views were pretty spectacular, but it was slow going.

Nearly finished with the day, there was a little outpost with snacks and supplies. I bought some blister bandaids for nearly twice as much as they would cost in a store anywhere else, but there wasn’t going to be a store around for another couple of days.

Once we were out of the crags, we still had to go a couple of miles across fields. They were lots of stiles to cross and usually the fields were filled with sheep and lambs.  Until we got a field right outside Gilsland, where there were some cattle.  One of which decided to charge our direction for a bit. That ended with a half hour detour as we hopped over a fence then tried to figure out a way around. Only to see two hikers from the other direction placidly walking right through the same field. Of course.

One lovely thing about that part of the walk was the fields filled with flowers. Some lovely blue flowers, I assume bluebells, but I’m not sure.

So the crags were complete, the scary cow was gone, and we were at the Samson Inn for a long bath and a full night’s sleep.

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