Wednesday, 27th June dawned cloudless in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. We were not in any rush, and so after a leisurely breakfast, we meandered around the nearby Cathedral Church of St. Nicholas and the remains of the castle. When I say meandered, in my case it was a slow hobble – my big toe had taken to swelling and giving out pain. I call it my gout, although blood tests have been normal. It only troubles me in hot weather, when presumably I become a little dehydrated.
We stopped off at a cosy café, Violets, before returning to the Royal Station Hotel. Having paid our dues, we were ushered through their back door straight into the grand interior of Newcastle Central Station. It’s airy and spacious; the stone walls, the steel stanchions and struts, and the glass domes all following a gentle curve. A beautiful railway station for an impressive city.
Leaving Newcastle soon after midday, we were back home before supper. Our train journey was the epitome of efficiency; even the change at Manchester Piccadilly went smoothly. There was one surreal moment – as we approached Stalybridge, the azur sky was blotted out by smoke. Looking out of the train, we could see people wearing face masks in the streets around the town’s station. Saddleworth Moor had been ablaze, causing a huge environmental problem. Many in the Stalybridge area had to be temporarily evacuated.
We enjoyed our walk along HWP, and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it as a walking holiday. We would really like to return, mainly to visit the various sites along the wall; although we went to Birdoswald and Vindolanda, pressure of time meant that we walked right past many other forts. One of these days…..
I’ll finish on a technical note regarding the maps for HWP. You may well have noticed that some of them have a blue track representing our line of progress; others lack this embellishment. I’m not sure why this should be! I recorded tracks on my phone using two apps – OS Maps and ViewRanger, and subsequently exported the track files in GPX format to upload to the relevant website maps. I sent a message to Maps Marker, who provide the maps on our website. They kindly sent me a link to an online tutorial to help me solve the problem. Rather dispiritingly, I could barely identify any of the nouns and precious few of the verbs in their article!
In any event, to compensate for the lack of a blue line, on those maps, I dropped plenty of markers to give a reasonable idea of our itinerary. The default layer for the maps, “OpenStreetMap”, will show the footpaths as a faint dashed line, but you have to zoom in to a lower scale to see them!