|Look at this lot - they have no idea what they have let themselves in for! The fools!|
Now that some time has passed, and the aches and pains have subsided, I am able to look back and reflect on the overall experience. And having thought about it, I am prepared to say that I did indeed have a good time; but I would not go so far as to say that I enjoyed the walking. My main problem was not fitness per se. I was fit enough to survive the ordeal, without being fit enough to find it easy. Couple that to the fact that, in my younger days, I was fit enough to achieve more with less effort, and I have to acknowledge that I am not as young as I once was.
However, that wasn't the problem. The thing that gave me most trouble was meralgia paraesthetica. This is a condition caused by the hip belt of a rucksack compressing the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (which runs over the hip). This results in altered sensation in the thigh and hip of the affected nerve (or nerves). This sensation can apparently range from discomfort, through burning, right up to electric shock-like pains. I find it rather ironic that it gave me so much trouble on Hadrian's Walk, when as a much younger backpacker I used to carry much heavier rucksacks much more often without difficulty. The discomfort started on Day 1, and continued right through to the end of the walk (and beyond). I have only myself to blame; because I wanted to photograph the journey, I carried with me my camera, lenses, and small tripod, thus adding to the overall weight on my back. I (foolishly) assumed that, because I used to do it with such impunity, I would still be able to do it today.
|Tricky lighting under broken cloudy skies|
|Disappointingly unsharp, one of the risks of not using a tripod|
|Before and after Photoshop - manual exposure error|
The upshot of all this has been to leave me a little disappointed with my photographs. I can't think of a single, outstanding, classic shot out of all of them; there are many with inaccurate exposure, which will require a lot of work within Photoshop to bring them closer to "the picture in my head"; there are many shots "missing" - I can remember being there, but I don't seem to have a picture of that place or that incident; and, perhaps most damningly of all, it seems that I have lost that urge to be there at the dying of the light, and so I have no sunset or sunrise shots. However, as and when time permits, I intend to go through all the photos of the trip. I want to weed out the unworthy, tweak the fair-to-middling ones into some semblance of acceptability, and eventually to re-upload the improved versions into the day-by-day albums on my Picasa gallery. In which case, I hope that interested parties will check back now and again to see what progress has been made.
So to return to the original question: did I have a good time? On the final day of the Walk, as we were crossing the fields into Glasson I think, I asked the question of my fellow Wallers Hadriani:
"Ignoring all other commitments, work, family and so on, if you could have two days of complete rest at Bowness-on-Solway, would you just turn around and walk all the way back to Newcastle?"
Everybody said no. But I would have been prepared to do so, which must say something about whether or not I had a good time an the Wall. It may also say something about my fundamental inability to face-up to real life and the real world; but despite all the discomfort, the poor weather, the strong winds, even my disappointment with the photographs, I did have a memorable Walk along the Wall.
|Where the broad wall meets the narrow wall at Planetrees|
Whilst writing up the story of our Wall Walk, I discovered the following websites, some of which you might find interesting:
Per Lineam Valli Along the line of the Wall
Hadrian's Wall - Guide Vallum Hadriani - Itinerarium
Hadrian's Wall Camera
The Walking Englishman Hadrian's Wall Path general information site
The Walking Englishman Hadrian's Wall Path
Stage 1 of an account of three blokes walking the Wall in 2012. The person writing the account makes frequent reference to 'the Vallum', when he is mostly actually talking about the North Ditch. Otherwise, the account is quite interesting. To see further stages, scroll to the bottom of each page and click on the 'Continue along Hadrian's Wall' button.
The National Trail Hadrian's Wall Path guide