What’s in our Pack?

This trek will be a bit different than The Camino trek, because we’re using a baggage transfer service to transfer our main bags (weight limit of 30 lbs each + additional diaper bag) from accommodation to accommodation. Can you imagine hiking with a 20+ pound toddler AND your weeks worth of stuff? haha. Good luck!  It’s a challenge in itself to carry our day provisions and her on my back. She alone weighs more than my pack for the Camino and that was for 40 days.

Nevertheless, I have a strategy and here it is:

Our daily packs: *The strategy for walking is we each (Me and Hubby) walk carrying J for about 10 K (each) and she walks the rest. I can get through about 9K during one of her naps, so this will work out great for the 24K days. We’ll trade off who carries the day rain gear and lunches and divide the water.

-Main pack/Child Carrier: Osprey Poco with rain cover – 5lb and 7 oz (I got the lightest one). (Has stirrups for little one’s feet (nice to keep them from kicking you) and a hydration sleeve (which I store diapers and wipes in/lunch)

-Front pack – Platypus Cross Country – for water/snacks/passport/map/money – wt is 1 lb 7 oz * I didn’t want to put everything on my back, so opting to balance out a little with a front pack has worked during training.

-Warm Jacket – The North Face Down – stores a a little ball (*spouse will be carrying the rain gear during the day

-Rain Shell – Mountain Hardwear

-Water Resistant Hiking Shoes with extra laces – Salomon XA Pro 3D Mid 2GTX (My favorite hiking shoes!)

-Active Sandals / cute shoes for evening (Flip flops – to air out feet – plan to carry so can use them at lunch breaks for blister prevention).

-Merino Wool Travel Outfit/Dress/jacket/scarf – mix and match with everything

- (3) Convertible Hiking Pants – Marmot and MEC

- (1) Hiking Shorts -MEC

-(1) Hiking Leggings – Smart Wool (goes with shorts and dress if needed)

-(3) Hiking Bras

-(5) SmartWool Socks (mid ankle)

-Hiking Cap

-Waterproof Bags/one Ultralite Towel

 -First Aid – (After Bite, Polysporin, Band Aids, Sunscreen, Lavender Insect Spray, Blister Treatment, Etc)

-Toiletries (include needle/thread/safety pins/baby fingernail cutters)

-Baggies, TP, Antibacterial Gel for hands, Lip balm, etc

-Guide Book: “Hadrian’s Wall Path” and Waterproof Map

-Bus Schedule/Stamp Passport/Money/Etc

Josephina’s Gear:

- (4) Hiking Pantstechnical shirts - hiking cap (UV protection)/(1) sports outfit (wicks)

-yoga type wear (comfortable) – travel outfit

-(4) Smart wool Hiking Socks

-rain gear/muddy buddy/fleece

-(2) hiking shoes

Diapers/wipes/sticker books/Baby first aid


Hadrian’s Wall Path – last leg

Day 7: Carlisle to Bowness-on-Solway, 15 miles – the end of our journey.

The final leg already stresses me because of the Solway Estuary (area between Dykesfield and Bowness)The <b>Solway</b> Firth, where <b>Hadrian&#39;s</b> <b>Wall</b> reaches the west coast.Photo courtesy of knowledge.uk.

A beauty to behold but during high tide it’s completely flooded. We have to check the high-tide times and according to the guide book add 2 hours during British Summer (which this is) to allow us to cross before the tide comes in. Here is the link for a 7 day prediction: hide tide (I don’t know how to read this)….. So we’ll see how that part goes.We can always grab the bus in Dykesfield and go through that part quickly if we don’t think we can make it.

All in all, this last leg has a few mysteries. For instance, the wall itself changes direction 34 times between Carlisle to Bowness without any apparent reason why and it has the least amount of ruins, which is interesting because it’s flanked by the largest forts.

The end of the trail is marked by a little shelter and garden (with the final passport stamp) close to Bowness. Sign over the finishing point of Hadrian's Wall Photo courtesy of The Walking Englishman.

For our last night on the trail, we’ll be staying at a cute little bed and breakfast called Shoregate House. It used to be a corn mill that dates back to 1684, right on the water and very close to the end of the walk for us. View of Criffel from the garden View from the gardens.

Once we get our final stamp, we’ll all be able to get our certificates then have a lovely evening relaxing and enjoying the last leg of the journey.  From here, the next day we take a bus to the train station and arrive back in Newcastle for the evening (Gateshead Marriott). Then back to North America the following day.


Hadrian’s Wall Path – Onward

Day Four takes us from Once Brewed (or Steel Rigg) to Gilsland, a mere 9 mile walk.  We start off at the highest point on the trail, 345m at Green Slack on the Winshields Crags. Today’s walk will be mostly downhill, so that will be a treat (Day 3 is a rolling hill kind of day.)  Looks like there will be an opportunity for a hot meal at Milecastle Inn, but we’ll most likely be packing our lunches again just in case. We’ll pass Aesica, Thirlwall Castle, and much farmland before we reach our destination in Gilsland (stamp location at Birdoswald Roman Fort). Here we’ll be staying at Brookside Villa.

Day Five is another 9 mile walk to Brampton. We go through Banks, where we see the last remnants of the actual wall. By the time we reach Walton there will only be traces of the ditch. This part of the trail is poorly marked (even looks confusing on the map), so following the signs is important. After Walton we come to Newtown where it appears we need to deviate from the path to get to our destination of Brampton for the evening. This evening we are staying at a small (8 rooms) family hotel called The Howard Arms .  The hotel looks lovely, but I’ll have to contact them as I’m not at all clear as to how to get there (looks really far from the wall path).https://secure.mrsitestore.com/usersitesv21/166893.mrsite.com/wwwroot/images/thumbs/0000000292232.jpeg

Day Six gets us from Brampton to Carlislie, an 11 mile day. This day takes us through Crosby-on-Eden where we mainly follow the river to Linstock Castle.hadrian s wall thirlwall castle thirlwall castle was built in the ...

Then through Rickerby where we come to the next stamp station at Sands Sports Center.  Carlisle, our destination for this day is not far. Here we are scheduled to stay at Howard Lodge Guest House  – a cute family run Victorian house.


Hadrian’s Wall Path – Scherer Family Day Three

Today’s lovely walk will take us from Chollerford to Once Brewed, roughly about 12 miles. According to my guidebook, this is the most thrilling day of the entire walk. We’ll pass the best-preserved fort on the Wall, amazing views, and the most complete sections of the Wall that are still remaining. We’ll definitely need to pack food and water, as there doesn’t appear to be any pubs or cafes for this leg.

Making ones way towards Housesteads *Wall near Housesteads – another passport stamp location – photo courtesy for The Walking Englishman.

Part of this section of the wall can be walked on.  Also Milecastle 37 is the best preserved and most important along the way (part of a gate). We end this section at Once Brewed (named after a pub, of course) where we venture to Twice Brewed to overnight at Saughy Rigg Farm. One of the highlights of this farm is that they do laundry! As this is the end of Day Three, we’ll be happy to have our socks laundered properly. Saughy Rigg Farm

Hadrian’s Wall Path – Walk Plan for Day Two

Our overnight accommodation at the end of Day One is actually in Wylam, about 1 mile or so off the path (what’s a mile when you’ve walked 15, right?) at a delightful country home called Wormald House

We embark Day 2 on another 15 mile trek from Heddon to Chollerford. Unfortunately much of this leg is on the Northumberland Highway, so if we need a break, those sections would be good to skip via bus. (Depends on how much traffic there is too – I don’t like highway walking.)  Hopefully The Robin Hood Inn (stop for a stamp) is open as it would be a nice place for an early lunch snack (about 5 miles into the day). The Inn is closed, but expected to open in August, so we may get lucky. However, we’ll be packing a lunch from the Warmald House for today’s walk, so we’ll be prepared. The Robin Hood Inn (Photo per Trip Adviser)

During this leg we’ll be able to make out “milecastles” built along the wall in all shapes and sizes. The milecastle numbers run from East to West, with Segedunum the start of Milecastle One. The Wall’s turrets have their own special numbers/letters derived from the closest milecastle to the east… For example, the first turret after Milecastle One is Turret 1A, then 1B until you reach Milecastle 2, etc.  Many of these have been destroyed, so we’ll be on the lookout for the few remaining.

This walk will take us through part of the Roman Ditch, Whittledene Reservoir’s Great Lake (lots of birds and plants), forts, an excellent portion of wall still standing (Planetrees), and if we want to vear a half a mile off the path at our destination, we can be rewarded with a huge phallic symbol. (I swear those Romans! I remember all the ‘symbols’ at The Coliseum in Rome, haha.)

We end the day at an adorable detached farmhouse, on a working farm, on the edge of the wall called Hallbarns - it’s about a mile from Chollerford, but owner, Mrs. Locke will pick us up (hope that’s not an issue with the car seat, as we aren’t traveling with one.) The farm has horses, so Josephina will love that! Photo from business website

**Chollerford is also where Chesters Roman Fort Museum is where we’ll collect another stamp.

Hadrian’s Wall Path – Walking Day One of Seven

Walking with a toddler can be a challenging task on it’s own – so we decided to extend our (84 miles) walking to a pleasurable seven days. My hubby, Richard, will be able to join us, so we get to split the “backpack” mileage and then of course, there will be a few “slow” miles when Josephina gets to walk on her own.  What does this look like?

-We begin in Newcastle, where we stay an extra day (Indigo Hotel) to acclimate to the time change from North America, see a few sites and pick up our “Hadrian’s Wall Path Passports” (if they haven’t arrived from the UK before departure), etc. * The Passport is our “proof” that we walked the trail with the collection of 7 stamps along the way. All the funding from the passports go to support protection of the trail. (A passport and first stamp can be obtained from the Segedunum Roman Fort in Wallsend – the start of the trail.)

-The start of the trail is at Segenunum (4.6 miles away). So, the plan will be to bus it there from the hotel for the start of our adventure. Our first leg is 15 miles (Newcastle to Heddon).

-Good lunch stop (about 8 miles or around  half way) is the Lemington Community Centre.

Things to note during this leg:  Signs/Trail markers in Latin (oh dear),  Panorama Tower, Roman baths (closed this summer), the ONLY stone toilet seat surviving the Roman Britain (haha), Walker Riverside Park, St. Anthony’s Point, St. Peter’s Marina, Millennium Bridge (First of seven in the city), look for seals in the Tyne, Tyne Riverside Country Park, (Maybe lunch at The Boathouse), then one final hill before arriving at our stop for the night.The Tyne Bridge with Olympic Rings Millennium Bridge in Segedunum courtesy of The Walking Englishman .

More about The Hadrian’s Wall Path Passport:

There is an opportunity to collect 7 stamps in order to obtain a commemorative badge and certificate at the end of the walk.  The stamps can only be collected at the following (according to the trial ranger’s blog, all stamp stations are currently open):

1. Segedunum Roman Fort, Wallsend (or if closed the Total Petrol Garage).

2. Robin Hood Inn (1 mile west of the Whittledene Reservoir) – Mile Castle 18

3.  Chesters Roman Fort – Chollerford, Hexham

4. Housesteads Visitor Center – Bardon Mill, Hexham

5.  Birdoswald Roman Fort – Gilsland, Brampton

6. Sands Sports Center, Carlisle (inside the cafe)

7.  The Banks Promenade or the King’s Arms in Bowness-on-Solway (Also where you can get your certificate)Kings Arms Bowness


Continuing the journey – Walking Hadrian’s Wall

It’s been three years since I started the magical journey from St. Jean Pied de Port, France to Finisterre, Spain (The Camino Frances) May 1, 2012. Exactly one year later on May 1, 2013, I  gave birth to a beautiful little girl, Josephina. Josephina is indeed a miracle and full of wonder and curiosity for the world.  So what better way to share my passion of travel and adventure, then by showing her first hand. At two, she’s already a seasoned frequent flyer and world traveler, and our next adventure is to walk Hadrian’s Wall Path in the UK.

Hadrian’s Wall Path (World’s Heritage List 1987) is an 84 mile (135k) walk from Newcastle to Bowness-on-Solway (runs coast to coast). The path follows the “wall” built by the Roman Emperor, Hadrian (AD117-138), and was considered the border between “Scotland” and the Roman Empire. Today, the wall is actually well south of the Scottish border and in England. Construction of the wall began in AD 122 and lasted 16 years. It was built to keep the “barbarians” out and to control the movement of people across the border. The original wall was most likely 4 meters high and 3 meters wide, but today there are mostly mounds and ditches left with some remains of forts, fortified gateways (milecastles) and turrets along the way.  After completion of the wall, a 9 foot ditch was dug on the South side and a mound of dirt on the other side – they meant business! Eventually a road was constructed so to allow troops fast access to the forts, etc.

Overall, Hadrian’s Wall is the best preserved frontier of the Roman Empire and attracts visitors from all over the world. I personally find it fascinating and feel that I’m in good enough shape to tackle the hike with a 2 year old on my back, with proper planning.  In my next blog posts, I’ll outline our walk plan, our training and include a list of what will be in my pack. I believe anything is possible as long as you prepare! Cheers!

The plan to battle Hadrian’s wall

Daily Schedule on The Way to Santiago

“A pilgrim is a wanderer with purpose.” – Peace Pilgrim

What’s the daily schedule like for a pilgrim on the road to Santiago?  I had the extreme pleasure of attending an all day workshop in Canada hosted by The Canadian Company of Pilgrims and took copious notes of what my journey will be like when I start next week.  In a nutshell, you get up every morning and start walking until you’re tired, then you stop.

Cathedral in Santiago

More specifically, this is what I expect my daily schedule to look like:

Up and out of the albergue (pilgrim hostel) by 8am. I’m sure I’ll be leaving earlier, but most close by 8 am for cleaning. 

After I walk for a few hours, I will stop for brunch (probably a bocadillo and café con leche).  (Breakfast is not a big meal in Spain).  

Then maybe another “coffee rest stop” before I reach my destination. 

The ideal time to stop walking is around 2 pm, to start looking for an albergue to stay the night.  They generally open at 3 pm, so it’s a good idea to get a spot because they can get full quickly. 

As soon as I secure my evening “bed”, I’ll take a shower, change into the next day’s clothes, wash the day’s clothes and hang up to dry as well as change shoes to air out my hiking boots.  Then eat my pilgrim meal if available, etc.

I do have a heads up weather-wise for this journey, thanks to the Texas Gulf Coast Chapter of the American Pilgrims on The Camino. I can expect some snow, chilly rain and temperatures of about 30F. Fantastic, as this is exactly the climate I’ve been training in!  I personally prefer the cold to the heat because I have layers – you can only take off so much when it reaches +80F/+30C, right?

Buen Camino!

Where to get a scallop shell?

Give me my scallop shell of quiet;

My staff of faith to walk upon;

My script of joy, immortal diet;

My bottle of salvation;

My gown of glory (hope’s true gage)

And then I’ll take my pilgrimage.

-Sir Walter Raleigh

I’ve already had visions of finding “shell vendors” along the Camino Frances in which I can

The Camino de Santiago

purchase the all-important symbol to tell the world that I’m a pilgrim – the scallop shell. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with the shell, perhaps use it for wine sipping, as a spoon to scrape up scraps, or maybe shade?  So why is the scallop shell a symbol of the pilgrim? Could be many reasons. A particularly popular mythological version has to do with St. James. (Remember he was one of the disciples of Jesus.) After Jesus’ crucifixion, James went to the Iberian Peninsula to preach.  Afterward, he returned to Judea where he ended up being beheaded by Herod Agrippa.  After his untimely death, James’ body was mysteriously transported by a crewless ship back to the Iberian Peninsula (Galicia).  A wedding was taking place on the shore in Galicia as his ship approached. The bridegroom (in some legends he’s rumored to be a knight) was on a horse that spooked at the sight of the ship and ran into the sea drowning them both.  Eventually, they both emerged miraculously from the ocean covered in cockleshells, indicating St. James’ first miracle.

Another reason the scallop shell is the symbol of the pilgrim on the road to Santiago could just be the shear access to the many seashells in Santiago de Compostela or Finisterre*. Perhaps early pilgrims brought them home with them, as souvenirs and eventually it just became the symbol of the Pilgrim.

Others say the scallop shell is a of love, as the symbol of birth.  Botticelli’s Birth of a Venus shows the goddess taking her first step onto the land from a giant Santiago shell.  The idea is that the hinged scallop opens and reveal something new….

Another interpretation is that the fingered scallop is the “hand of St. James”, which is outstretched in the open-palmed expression of comfort and encouragement.

Whatever the reason, I’m still wondering….where am I going to get my shell?

*Note here that shells would probably be sold in Santiago versus Finisterre where you could find them on the beach.