Skip to main content

On walking (a bit) of Hadrian’s Wall

There was a time, in what feels like another life, when I strapped a 15-kilo pack to my back and hiked across the Victorian rangers, ending at beach with glistening water and blinding white sand. It lasted thirty-three days and I took exactly two showers.  

<pause for a shout-out to any fellow trekkers reading and remembering>

It was a time that I had no desire to recreate. Why be in the outdoors when you can be indoors? Why put all your belongings in a bag on your back when you can keep them in a house? Why eat dehydrated food when you can eat ANYTHING ELSE?!

But then ahem years went by and I began to think that the outdoors wasn’t so bad after all. And besides, if you can keep your backpack to a respectable size and weight, it’s almost an enjoyable way to carry around one’s personal effects. And so I turned my sights to investigating rambling walks in the UK. As regular readers will know, it was barely two weeks after landing that I embarked on my first such walk. So delightful! Such majestic views! Such thigh chaffing!

Next, I knew I wanted to conquer Hadrian’s Wall. History! Ruins! A logical path! Rolling hills! What’s not to love? But too many months after having this initial thought, I was no closer to making it a reality. Was I falling into the trap of being all talk and no walking? Was I allowing the weather to dictate my plans? Was I allowing my lack of funds to be an excuse? (One doesn’t need money to walk the English countryside, Nicolette!)

Months went by and the most rambling of walks I did were usually within the confides of London, with a handful of visits to the wilds of Richmond, Hampstead Heath or Kew Gardens (i.e. not the wilds at all). 

And then I found myself on a train to Scotland.

And three days later, I found myself on a mini bus headed to Hadrian’s Wall. Or, at least, a part of Hadrian’s Wall.

<pause for a shout-out to my Scottish mini-break travelling companion>
HWall Lyf

With the wind whipping my hair into a frenzy, and the sky adding a perfectly moody backdrop to the day, I sat with eyes glued to the window as the bus made its way south of Edinburgh. The fluorescent majesty England’s green fields give me life – I will never get tired of looking at them – and so I knew this day would be exactly what I hoped it would be.
Just beautiful
Before we encountered our first look at Hadrian’s Wall, we visited a ruined abbey, an adorable village – bunting in the streets should be mandatory the world over – and arrived at the Borders where we indulged in selfies on both the Scottish and the English side of a giant rock.

But it was at Steel Rigg where I lost my breath, and not just from lack of oxygen from being highly unfit. For at Steel Rigg, we were released from the mini bus and guided to a section of the Heritage-listed, 135km-long Wall (and yes, I’m still Australian so miles have no business on this blog). The Wall whose namesake ordered it to be built in A.D. 122 – a timeframe I am still unable to fully grasp.

Then, ahead of me, loomed an imposingly steep stretch of the path. A section I knew would be hard-going on my unfit body, my shaky legs. A section I knew I would regret not climbing.

And so I thought back to that time I trekked through Victoria. A time still firmly ingrained in my mind and my being. I thought of my aching back, and sore feet. Of my shrunken stomach, and growing muscles.

I took a deep breath.



Up the stone pathway, at times so narrow I could barely make it through, and at other times so steep I had to use my hands to pull myself up. It hardly took more than thirty minutes, but it felt like a lifetime because I was finally doing it.

I was finally walking Hadrian’s Wall. 
I climbed this!


  1. Go you! I'm very jealous, the UK is a walking paradise, weather not withstanding. I look forward to more rambling blogs... geddit?

  2. Totally geddit - haha!
    And maybe you'll just have to come over for a visit and a ramble!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

On the existential crisis of the weekend

  Weekends used to be what life was for. Two days of freedom and relief from the weekday routine, from the grind of office life, from waking up with an alarm. The sweet, giddy euphoria of a Friday night was made all the more intoxicating if you had plans to socialise, go to a gig, watch a film, eat at your local Italian. Not only did you get your socialising/culture/food fix in, but you then had two more days of doing the very same thing. The weekend also offered endless pottering-around-the-house hours since usually it was a space you scarcely saw during the week. A Saturday started with a little light cleaning was one sure way to make you feel as if you were ahead in the productivity stakes, and made the Netflix binge that followed feel earned.   Friday night was balanced out by the cold sweats of Sunday evening but still, the weekend was always worth it, regardless of whether you didn’t move from the couch after Friday night work drinks, or because you p

On my first trip abroad

  I took my first overseas trip when I was in year eleven. It was to Noum é a, New Caledonia and it almost didn’t happen. The trip’s purpose was to improve the French language skills of those of us insistent on studying French during our last two years of school, believing the subject a necessity for our futures when we would most certainly be in Paris living our best French lives being all Parisian and speaking fluent French and just being all chic in our Frenchness and you get the picture. The first step on this road to being so Frenchy so chic, was a week’s trip to this South Pacific island wherein we would live with the locals, have 3-hour French lessons each day and immerse ourselves in the otherworldness that comes with visiting a place far removed from that in which you live. But whether it was the 3-hour lessons or the 3-hour flight, not enough of my classmates put their hands up to make this trip a reality. Cue teenage woe-is-me angst, the shedding of many tears, threats

On learning a new skill

So how many new skills have you mastered during this Covid-19? Are you fluent in Latin? French? Turkish? Is your personal brand lighting up Twitter/Instagram/Facebook as you sell the wellness candles you cooked up in the kitchen after you created an online festival but before finishing a new dress made from scraps around the house you can wear when you next meet a friend for ‘exercise’ with a keep cup full of ‘coffee’? Spoiler, it has wine inside. Thought so. But guess what. It seems that if you haven’t managed to generally improve yourself, and a substantial number of people online, during this dire time of unprecedented crappness, then apparently you’re doing it wrong. (Bonus points if said improvement was expressed in a language other than that with which you were born). Having missed this chance at enlightenment earlier in the Covid-19 mayhem, this week I decided to give it a go. To change up lockdown life for the better. I vowed that no longer would I spend my