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#39920 - 24/08/07 09:48 PM NSPCC Sheep Walk 2007
torey Offline

Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 10987
Loc: UK
Here we are at last – Sheep Walk 2007 underway! Here we are all in the carpark at Birdoswald, location of one of the major forts on Hadrian’s Wall. It’s on the western (Carlisle) end of the wall and we’ll be walking east.

We have a few 'stand-ins'. Fredgirl is traveling with us as Bananas the monkey. Then there is Lubey the Lamb and Sean, the NSPCC Bear. Here's Maggy helping make sure Sean gets into place.

We had to be ferried up to the actual start of the walk, which was at Banksend, 3 ½ miles west of Birdoswald.

Thanks to Anneka and Bertus, here is a lovely picture of the first day's walkers as we take the very first steps on the NSPCC Sheep Walk 2007

From left to right in front:
Zoe, Robyn and me
Second row: Carla, Anneka, Wonreka and Hannah
Back row: Carline, KatJ, Susan and Maggy

And here we are, starting out on our way:

We couldn’t have asked for lovelier weather. Bright blue, cloudless skies and pleasantly warm but not hot temperatures and so we were off!

After 3 ½ miles we came to Birdoswald, where Carline and Maggy met us (and I managed to go get my camera!) So now the pictures begin.

Reaching Birdoswald, it was time for a well-earned break

(From the left, that's Carline, Wonreka (on the other side) Carla, Susan petting the dog and Maggie)

Here is a chance to see all of us – and all of you! – who are coming along on the walk. Although don’t ask Kathryn to take pictures, if you actually want to be in them yourself, as you can tell here:

So, there you are Skye, Serendipiter, Damian and others. And it is me who is carrying you!

And here’s the whole gang:
Wonreka and her crew
(Carline is proving such a hard-working sheepdog that she deserves not to be teased anymore!)
Susan is thrilled!
And as always, Carla is paying no attention whatsoever.

#39922 - 24/08/07 09:57 PM Re: NSPCC Sheep Walk 2007 [Re: torey]
torey Offline

Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 10987
Loc: UK
Zoe's a trooper:
And so is Robyn:
And well-behaved Hannah!
But then we get to the troublemakers. Only Kat could make 'carrying avatars' into an effort to flash the camera:

Lubey, if not able to carry anyone in person, is still with us in (sheep) spirit and doing her best to keep her promises to bring you all along too:

And here she is with Fredgirl there behind her, giving a bit of moral support.

Sadly, Sean looked a little depressed about the whole thing!!

Which is perhaps because it appears Fredgirl was intending to get up to something rather unsavoury on the picnic table with Lubey . . .

#39923 - 24/08/07 10:02 PM Re: NSPCC Sheep Walk 2007 [Re: torey]
torey Offline

Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 10987
Loc: UK
Then off to the shop for a spot of shopping. Zoe and Kathryn found just the style-icon kind of clothes they’d been hoping for.

And a group photo op!!

(In front) Wonreka, Hannah (being murdered), Carla, Susan
(In back) Kat (in uniform) Zoe, Robyn, Maggie and Carline

Then we’re off again to our final destination of Gilsland

KatJ, now fully equipped, gets into the proper Roman mood . . .

Until Susan decides to put her in her place
(Yes, just the thing that THBB outings really need: swords!)

And here’s a quick look at the back of the walkers’ t-shirts – and all Carline’s very hard work putting Roman sandals on sheep!!

(That's Carla, Hannah carrying Sean.)

#39924 - 24/08/07 10:06 PM Re: NSPCC Sheep Walk 2007 [Re: torey]
torey Offline

Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 10987
Loc: UK
So we progress right alongside Hadrian’s Wall. Pretty amazing for something 2000 years old!

Then suddenly the path starts going steeply downhill

And more downhill (this is the fun bit!)

And finally evens out alongside the river.

You can still see the very old abutments in the water where the original Roman bridge is (stones on the left in the picture,) but we get to cross a new one.

And stop for a small moment of playing in the water. (Kat and Carla here.)

Then a photo opportunity beside the tower that guarded the bridge in Roman times.

And, of course, all that downhill walking can only mean one thing . . . going back up hill again!

#39925 - 24/08/07 10:07 PM Re: NSPCC Sheep Walk 2007 [Re: torey]
torey Offline

Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 10987
Loc: UK
We’re almost to the end. There in the far, far distance are Maggy and Carline!

And the final stragglers come in to mark the end of Day One’s walk!

#40015 - 25/08/07 08:38 PM Re: NSPCC Sheep Walk 2007 [Re: torey]
torey Offline

Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 10987
Loc: UK
So here we are, Day 2. The weather isn’t quite as bright and sunny as yesterday, but it is pleasantly warm and actually better weather for walking.

Today we have been joined by my publicist Ann, who also came on the Sheep Walk in Cornwall last year. With her is her mum, Sheila. THBB member Val from Scotland has also joined today, along with her daughter Dawn.

First there is the conference in the carpark about where the walk ends and Maggy and Carline will meet us. Actually, I jump back in my car and drive to the end of the walk to assure there is a car park and come back while everyone adjusts backpacks and gets ready.

Off we start. The first part of the walk is made memorable by stiles – stiles in all sizes and shapes and, many of which are going into people’s gardens and out again!

And then the next stile:

Then we come to a well-preserved fort and enjoy a photo opportunity. That is Ann, my publicist, taking the picture. Many of you will remember Ann bravely getting drowned with us on the walk last year. The photographic subject down in the fort is Sheila, Ann’s very very brave mum for agreeing to be a member of this particular flock on this particular day!!

Then down across the river at the bottom.

#40016 - 25/08/07 08:44 PM Re: NSPCC Sheep Walk 2007 [Re: torey]
torey Offline

Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 10987
Loc: UK
It’s all such a deceptively easy walk today . . .

Except for the stiles:

And more stiles (with Robyn demonstrating for us how to go over a stile without making your bum look big):

And more stiles

And even more stiles yet:

Then starts the animal part of this journey. How this part worked is that you would see some very interesting looking animal, such as here:

And the next thing you knew, you got to share the pasture with him.

We were (we mistakenly believed) about halfway by this point. Unfortunately the road never ran very close to the path today, so our two sheepdogs – Maggy and Carline – had to check on us from afar. There you see them in the far distance, doing their halfway check by semaphore to make sure we are well and managing:

Which we were. But this is the point where the terrain started to change. Gone were the stiles, gone were people’s gardens, gone were nice, smooth roads. And we started to climb:

The compensation for the steep climb were some spectacular views across Northumberland:

(Don't ask me why some of these pictures are so green. I mean, it was green up there, but this is ridiculous! Now on my home computer where I can adjust colouring, I've tried to adjust this but it only goes from bad to worse . . . so I'm leaving well enough alone. Suffice it to say, I was using a very small point-and-snap camera for all this photography.)

Then we thought we’d really landed in heaven. A tea shop just when we most needed a tea shop. We were about three miles along the way and at the end of a big climb, so a nice sit-down and a drink was just what was needed.

We didn’t even mind that it meant combining the joy of styles with the joy of ‘interesting-looking animal’ path sharing.

#40017 - 25/08/07 08:50 PM Re: NSPCC Sheep Walk 2007 [Re: torey]
torey Offline

Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 10987
Loc: UK
Unfortunately, however, this was the point that we realized something was wrong with our mileage calculations for today’s walk, because we had walked three plus miles and suddenly, as we came around a corner, was this little marker sign mentioning that it was 3 ¼ miles to the next stop before ours!

Unfortunate part two was that if we thought we had just had a big climb, well . . . we were about to have it fully redefined. If you look very carefully at the top of the hill in this photo, you will see a black dot on the skyline. That is a person. That was where we next had to go . . .

But we got there. This is what is called an ‘escarpment’ which means the land slopes up on one side but is a sharp cliff on the other, in this instance, about 400 feet straight down. Where you notice the fence in the picture just hanging, THAT is the drop-off. Straight down. So, of course, Robyn immediately had to dash to the edge of it to take a photograph. (And the path you see way below is the one we just came up. The tea shop is around the corner of that hill beyond the small lake.

And on we went, wall keeping us safe from the 400 feet below.

And on:

The wall is really quite amazing:

And it continued to wind ever onward. Here is the next escarpment, and yes, our path winds around right to the top of that. And on . . .

This is where the exciting part comes, because if you look closely at that picture, you see a hill further yet in the background. By the time we reached that, it started to climb steeply up again and it had become apparent that we were walking much further than the 5.3 miles we had slated for today. Something happened to the Sheep Walk Shepherd’s calculations and I seem to have accidentally sneaked an extra 1.5 miles into today’s walk!

Poor Carline and Maggy were zooming back and forth on the tiny B road trying to find us, and, of course, we were nowhere near any roads of any kind. We kept trying to make phone contact, trying to explain where we were and where we might manage to meet up. Unfortunately, our maps and their maps and a very patchy phone reception area made this . . . well, shall I say “challenging”?

At this point, we decided to split up. Kat, Ann and Susan decided to lead the brave, sturdy bunch on along the actual Hadrian’s Wall path up the steep hill ahead and hope to come out at our original destination, which seemed to keep moving forward by threes (it was now apparently 3 kilometers away.) I decided to lead the group who were becoming tired or had too many blisters downwards in hopes of eventually locating the main road. I was getting particularly concerned, as by this point it was 1:30 and I was due to be in Carlisle for the book-signing at 3PM! As much trouble as we have had arranging this book-signing, then having WH Smith inadvertently cancel it, then re-arrange it, it wouldn’t have looked too good for me not to turn up! But we were, in fact, a good 20 miles from Carlisle, even if we DID ever find the road!!

To add to the mix, the battery on my camera was just about to expire so there are no photos of this rather exciting bit of the journey when Wonreka, Val, her daughter Dawn, Carla and I wandered through a totally uninhabited valley that seemed to go on for absolutely forever. Easy walking, but just no end to it! But at long last, we found the main road and sat there on the side like a bunch of forlorn hitchhikers until our now very distraught sheepdogs – Carline and Maggy – accidentally happened to pass us!

Carline took Wonreka and me back to the start of the walk. I collected my car and bolted off into Carlisle to arrive literally five minutes before the book-signing was due to start – still in my grotty walking shoes, sweaty t-shirt and muddy jeans. I’m sure they have never had an author signing quite like it!

And two pictures of the book-signing!

From Robyn, a shot of me (doing the dirty deed, from the looks of my expression - may have been the odor coming off my t-shirt!)

And this lovely one Sean took of all of us together

Front KatJ, me, and Ann, my publicist (who cheated and changed clothes – no clue how she managed that in the time we had!)

Second row: Maggy (and Jill), Susan, Hannah, Robyn, and Wonreka

Back row: Carla, Sean, Zoe, Val; and Carline

#40072 - 26/08/07 03:50 PM Re: NSPCC Sheep Walk 2007 [Re: torey]
torey Offline

Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 10987
Loc: UK
Here we are to Day 3 already. Bright and sunny and just the right temperature – about 15C/63F. I took this picture from my car, driving down to our meet-up point, which is just below that sharp crag in the distance.

We’re back to the hard-core walkers. Ann and her mum could only be with us a day and have returned to London. Val and her daughter have returned to Scotland. So, here we are, preparing for that last leg.

We are starting from Cawfields, which is a beautiful location:

And off we go. (Don't ask me what Carla is looking at!)

The heather here is just coming into full bloom. I can’t really do it justice with my dinky little point-and-snap camera, but I had to try.

Then back to going over stiles:

And, as we discover, back to up-close-with-livestock moments. A few of our intrepid crew are not quite so sure about this. For some reason, no one seemed reassured when I told them not to worry, the cows were all virgins.

But there isn’t much choice, so Carla bravely forges the way:

She then sneaks Wonreka by the next cow.

And guides Hannah past Cow 3.

A little look back at our cow-strewn path.

Actually, there was an interesting little anomaly I noticed regarding this whole Hadrian-s Wall-path-and-cow-thing. We would, for instance, go over/through a stile.

Proceed along a carefully fenced path, which, you notice, shows cows on the other side of the fence, giving the impression that this fence might be meant to contain people on one side and cows on the other.

At the point, however, that we reached the cows, there would then be another stile . . .

. . .with the sole purpose to let us in with the cows

(But, as you can see, the cows were pretty unbothered by all this!)

For those of you who have never had a chance to see ancient Roman handiwork a like this 1900-year-old wall, I thought you’d enjoy seeing the stonework up close:

And, again, I just can’t resist trying to photograph the heather, even in shadow.

Then comes the next big climb!

Which rewards us with a spectacular view:

(And if you are wondering how far we have come, see those three hills in the distance? We went over them yesterday!)

Then another stile:

And a nice walk along the top of this hill.

We’re about halfway, so there down in the valley, are our two sheepdogs, checking on the flock!

And there’s lots more to tell, of course, but I’m going to stop here for now, as I suspect that everyone would VERY much appreciate it, if I took a shower before appearing at tonight’s celebration meal!!

#40085 - 26/08/07 06:14 PM Re: NSPCC Sheep Walk 2007 [Re: torey]
torey Offline

Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 10987
Loc: UK
OK, at the halfway point, here’s a look back at where we’d been. Do realise that what is different about this walk is that it has been a continuous 15 miles. We pick up where we left off the day before. So this picture gives you an idea of the scale. Those three bumpy hills in the distance . . . well, we’ve walked all the way from there since yesterday morning!

And here’s the hill in front of us. What we were annoyed about in taking pictures is that there is just no way to convey to you exactly how BIG these hills are! They look little in pictures. Not so, walking up them! In fact, this one was steep enough we needed to ‘scramble’ part of the way – i.e. use hands as well as feet.

The good part of doing that was that it put us very close to the ground and on the way up, I found a very tiny piece of Roman pottery.

It’s worth the climb though, as the views are so spectacular.

And once up on top, the walking was easy.

Even so, we stopped for a rest.

And Kat and Lubey decided to have a little rest on the wall itself (probably highly frowned upon by the National Trust and World Heritage organizations, so I, as official owner of this site and organiser of this walk swear I did NOT approve of this!)

Mind you, the rest didn’t last long. Kat and Susan got into a handstand contest, which Susan very quickly won. (Excuse the small departure from family viewing in this scene!)

Realising the potential for exposure, they discreetly turned around. Susan won again!

After that little interlude, it was off again.

We came to a grid marker, just made for taking a nice group photo.

And here is the very lovely family who happened upon us trying to take a group photo and offered to take one of all of us together – not realizing that they were going to get to take about twelve photos on six cameras and a phone! So, whoever you are, thank you very much!

In the distance is our destination. We are aiming for that clump of trees, which is the Steel Rigg car park where our trusty sheepdogs, Carline and Maggy, will be waiting.

And down we go (over yet another stile!)

There in the distance, our sheep dogs are waiting!

And finally we arrive – at yet another stile. Note how Carla has perfected stile climbing. And how Kat has perfected map-opening!

Now it is decision time. Yesterday we started at the wrong point and inadvertently added an extra 1.5 miles to our walk – which is why it felt so long to all of us yesterday. Those who went up over the hills along the path walked a total of 7.1 miles yesterday and those of us who took the low road and really got lost walked 7.3! This meant we could stop today’s walk at the Steel Rigg car park and achieve our 15 miles. This was a good idea, as the more arduous part of the walk – although also the most beautiful – is along Steel Rigg to Housesteads, a further 3 miles. As it was coming at the end of a 15 mile walk, this was pushing it a bit for some of us. So we had the choice of stopping here or of doing the extra three miles. So we had a big discussion – in the middle of the road!

And here is a picture of the remaining part of the walk. Over those first hills but also over that hill in the far distance – THAT is where Housesteads is!

In the end, the brave (young!) ones - Susan, Hannah, Carla, Kat (and Lubey) - decided to forge ahead. First we had to re-secure Lubey, who was riding rather precariously by one foot. (And yes, you will notice Lubey has developed a runny nose by this point as well. Too many windy hills.)

And off they went .

And off the sensible ones went in the car to Housesteads to have sandwiches and much-appreciated cups of tea!

(Courtesy of Susan) Here is a little look at the extra three miles. It starts out looking fairly easy:

But then there's that 'bit of a climb' they tell you about when mentioning Steel Rigg:

Past a well=preserved Roman mile fort:

And at last everyone reaches Housesteads and is pausing to figure out where we might be.

We at the tea shop get a mobile phone call to tell us they have just arrived at Housesteads fort (which is up on the hill), so Carline and I went to guide them in, as "Housteads Fort" (where they were) and "Housesteads" (where we were) are not exactly the same place. There they are, little green specks just between the buildings on the left and the ruins of the fort.

Unfortunately, my shepherding efforts had a rather unexpected effect and all the sheep on the hillside also started heading for us!

And then at last, the four who made 18 miles and brought the 2007 NSPCC Sheep Walk to its official close.

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