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