Hadrian’s Wall

It’s January 2022 and I just arrived to Northumbria. The plan is to explore the Hadrian’s Wall over the weekend. For quite a some time now, I’ve been immensely interested in the history of this monument built by Romans in Britain.

However the weather is completely rubbish. The MetOffice just issued a yellow weather warnings for the strong wind (up to 80 mph). Later in the day the wind is named by the Danish Meteorological Institute as a Storm Malik.

As a consequence, most of the sites and museums I inteded to explore are: “Closed due to an adverse weather forecast of high wind.” And to add insult to injury I’m unable to cancel the hotel because: “Bookings made using any promotional code are non-refundable and non-transferable”. And surely I used the promotional code though.

So our expedition is stuck here for the weekend. I’m sitting in the lobby of the hotel with my notebook and I decided to start a travel blog. For the past 10 years I’ve been keeping diary anyway. And some of the entries are quite interesting or quite fun to release online.

Let’s go back to the Hadrian’s Wall. The guide book says:

The Hadrian’s Wall is the best-known frontier in the entire Roman empire and stands today a reminder of the past glories of one of the world’s greatest powers.

For nearly 300 years, Hadrian’s Wall was the north-west frontier of an empire that stretched east for 2,500 miles to present-day Iraq, and South for 1,500 miles to the Sahara desert.

And as we are at numbers, the year 2022 is the 1900th anniversary of the building of Hadrian’s Wall. It was built on the orders of the emperor Hadrian, who visited Britain in AD 122. His biographer states that its purpose was to separate the Romas and the barbarian. It certainly did that. At 73 miles (80 Roman miles) long, Hadrian’s Wall crossed norhtern Britain from Bowness-on-Solway to Wallsend on the river Tyne, though frontier installations continued for at least a further 25 miles down the Cumbrian coast.

Later on, I brave myself enough to go outside. The wind is so strong that the trees are bending almost to the ground. It is not raining though, which is always good. With my girlfriend Michaela, we try to walk towards the Steel Rigg, the nearby section of Hadrian’s wall. She gives up, I continue.

The photo, you can see on my Instagram is a Sycamore Gap. Right there, at that point I gave up the battle with the wind too and diverted in the local brew house for the roast pheasant and a pint of good old, hand pulled cask ale. The plate sign on the brewery said: “In the loving memory of a sunny day.”

Some places are to be visited more than once. And Hadrian’s Wall for me is now one of them. I’m already looking forward to the spring. As Richard, Duke of Gloucester said in the opening line of Shakespeare’s Richard III: “Now is the winter of our discontent, Made glorious summer by this sun of York”.

Wall’ by Katrina Porteous

I, the Wall,
Defend this place.
Across a dizziness
Of space
I am control:
A ruled line,
Mark of the safe,
The sure, the known.
I am the edge –
The Frontier.
This is where the world ends:
Here.