Updated: Jul 25, 2021
Part 1 – Northumberland
Given that the world this year was covidiotic, it appeared to us that there would be less bother involved if we did not try to cross international frontiers, what with having to undergo pointless and unreliable tests and put up with whatever other hassles governments seeking to increase "compliance" decided to invent. As we are disinclined to comply with anything we see as stupid, this was probably a wise thing.
In any event, there were old friends to see, and tasks to carry out, in various parts of Britain, so we planned a route, loaded the car and set off.
We decided to cross Scotland in one fell swoop and then stop for 2 days to see Hadrian's Wall. I felt we were guilty of ignoring it, having driven past it so many times over the years. It was a very good thing we decided to do this as it was in fact a wonderful sight to see. It was also great to be reminded that even the Romans had found it necessary to go to the vast expense of keeping people like us out of England.
We were also for the first time ever giving AirB&B a try. This turned out to be a successful experiment. This is where we stayed, in deep countryside, just outside the village of Greenhead. The most novel thing to our eyes was the multitude of trees in the fields (because Orkney has no trees to speak of). It turns out they are actually pretty nice things to have decorating the space around one.
This particular tree decorated the field in front of the house were we stayed.
And this was the house we stayed in. The hosts were so nice and interesting that we found ourselves inviting them to come and stay with us in Orkney, which we hope they will do sometime this autumn. One of the things we joked about was the fact that people going to Northumberland are often going there to experience rural peace and quiet, whereas to us as Orcadians, the location was neither remote nor unbusy!
We had arrived in the evening, so we simply popped round to the nearby town to buy food and relax before exploring Hadrian's Wall the next day.
And here it is, wild, uncouth Scots to the left, polite, civilised Britons to the right. You can even see that the grass is greener in Britain!
And here are two wild Orcadians sitting on a Roman bench,
The Romans built forts at regular intervals along their wall. We visited this one (from the outside only: it was run by the National Trust and they were expensive and had extra covidiotic rules such as wearing masks in the open air and staying away from people and paying them lots of money). Anyway, it was just as nice to look in from the outside.
More pictures here (click to enlarge):
Next we went to another Roman venue, this time run by English Heritage, but they were so covidiotic that you could only book timed visits via a website and they did not have any slots anyway so we gave them a miss.
Finally, we came to the remains of a Roman town called Vindolanda. This archaeological site was run by a private trust and was therefore open, friendly and great to visit. if ever you go to see the wall, my advice is give the silly bureaucrats of the National Trust and English Heritage a miss and just go to Vindolanda. Link here.
More pics here (click to enlarge):
We picnicked that day besides a beautiful quarry. I assumed it was a quarry from which the Romans got the stone for their wall but was in fact wrong. It turned out it was Victorian. The wild ducks there were so used to people that they came and pecked at our trouser legs to indicate they were expecting gifts of food.
All in all Northumberland was a great place to make a two-day stopover on our tour.
(Part 2 soon...)