I love hiking in the British Isles. Having taken on the Dingle Way in Southwestern Ireland and Offa’s Dyke which meanders along the border of England and Wales, I decided to get some of my hiking chums together for the 84-mile Hadrian’s Wall Path which runs from Newcastle on the North Sea to the Firth of Solway feeding into the Irish Sea. As is true with all hikes in this part of the world, it was not a wilderness experience. However, it is an elegant way to hike in a civilized manner.
I once again used the services of Will Ainslie of Discovery Travel who met the six-man group in Manchester, delivered us to Tynemouth and arranged B&Bs and luggage transfer. All we had to do was get up in the morning, scarf down a delightful full English breakfast and take off tramping on the well-marked hiking path paralleling the historic remnants of the border wall commissioned by Emperor Hadrian nearly two millennia ago. Not much of it is left, but what we saw was impressive.
However, what I enjoyed most was the day-to-day joy of meeting people in small villages, hiking through forest, field and glen, and reveling in the true joy of experiencing a lovely part of the world on foot. Sure, it rained a day and a half or so. And at times we were a little closer to civilization and traffic than we might have preferred, but overall, the experience was idyllic. Peaceful. Serene. A good time to smoke a few evening cigars and enjoy telling sheep jokes with Boy Scout hiking chums I have know since childhood. (Actually, I’ve only known Tom for 30 years. But we hiked the entire AT together, so he is like a brother.)
I guess I’m hooked. I plan to head back next May and hike in Scotland on the West Highland Way. Don’t worry about me though. I have not gone soft. I still get out in the wilderness. But man do I enjoy those hot showers and breakfasts!