Why restrict oneself to only one walk at a time? When two are far more exciting!
As I stride out into my neighbourhood through woods and fields I’m simultaneously traversing the path of an ancient wall 300 miles north and 2000 thousand years in the past.
Nearer to home is a beautiful lake, over a mile long and created when the gardens of the local Hall were designed in the middle of the 18th Century.
The Hall itself was host to such prestigious guests as Elizabeth I and her grand retinue in the 1500s as well as King Louis XVIII. Along with his wife and courtiers the party numbered over 350 people and they resided at the Hall between 1807-1809 after King Louis XVIII fled the French Revolution.
Nowadays the Hall with its Elizabethan and Georgian aspects is a beautiful wedding venue.
I’m further immersed in history on my second walk, this time a virtual one as part of The Conqueror Challenge, which involves a fabulous 90 miles following Hadrian’s Wall.
Hadrian’s Wall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the north of England and the hike starts off at Wallsend near River Tyne not far from the North Sea and finishes at Bowness-on-Solway near the Irish Sea.
Hadrian’s Wall was built by the Romans in AD 122 by order of Emperor Hadrian and it was the north-west frontier of the empire for over 300 hundred years.
The landscape is breathtaking and along the 73 miles of the wall, much which is alas not in existence, there are fascinating fort remains to explore!
At home I’m still standing by the lake, soaking up the serenity of the winter peace. During the rest of the year, the 35 acres site is bustling with people and particularly with water skiers, both of national and international competitive standard, including a young man who was in my son’s class at primary school.
Just up the road is the local church and one has existed on the site since 1190. It was built by Audrey De Vere, 3rd Earl of Oxford during the reign of Richard I (The Lionheart).
The current church was established in 1435 and looks very much the same now as it did nearly 700 years ago. It is incredible to think that the church registers go back without a break to 1539.
As I leave the church, my walk along Hadrian’s Wall continues and I pause for a while at Homesteads to explore the ruins of ancient Roman military site. At this vantage point, the panoramic views stretch 360 degrees across the stunning countryside and show exactly why the Romans would have chosen this location for the fort. Amongst the ruins, I happen to see the oldest toilet in England!
Following a couple of months of bleak, damp and bitterly cold weather I needed an incentive to set out for daily treks. The inclination was rather low at the thought of walking through the same familiar routes and thankfully I came across The Conqueror Challenge on various blogs to encourage me out every day!
These challenges vary from the extreme to more moderate and Hadrian’s Wall looked just ideal for my first attempt at the challenge.
An app on the phone handily allows me to track my progress as well as seeing my location in 3D on StreetView. Along the way four postcards are emailed to me packed with information and for every 20% completed a tree is planted! Participants of the challenges have ensured more than 450,000 trees have been planted since August 2020. Furthermore, I look forward to receiving a medal upon completion of the walk – I can’t remember if I have ever received one before!
To finish my post I would like to briefly mention a very special man on who passed away on 2nd February 2021.
Sir Captain Tom Moore raised our spirits in 2020 with his warm, kind and positive nature and utter determination and true Yorkshire grit in his own particular charity fundraiser. Born in Keighley, West Yorkshire (a town close to where I grew up), he served in India and Burma during WWII.
Sir Captain Tom shot to fame as he aimed to raise a £1000 for the NHS by walking a lap of his garden on each of the 100 days leading up to his 100 birthday on 30th April 2020. To say he smashed the amount he hoped to raise is an understatement. He raised over £33 million for the NHS Charities Together, an incredible feat for one individual. He gave us all hope and inspiration when it was so sorely needed proving that the human spirit can prevail when so much feels lost.
As the flag at my local church flew at half-mast in his memory, the song ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ which Sir Captain Tom Moore recorded with Michael Ball played on loop in my head. It rightly became a number one hit in the U.K. in April 2020.
Here is it for you all!