We had a fantastic nights sleep in the lovely room in Quarryside Bed and Breakfast in Banks. The view from the bedroom window was gorgeous with lovely views out across the Irthing valley and the fells to the South. The garden was filled with birdlife and, though a little cloudy, the day looked like it would be a good one. The breakfast did not disappoint and soon, feeling full, we were ready to put our boots on and get walking. As we had the day before we left our bags at the accommodation ready for them to be collected and taken to our final night’s resting point another 20 miles or thereabouts to the West.
As we left our host suggested that stop for a coffee in the village of Walton. We said that we would.
We left the village of Banks behind us and, after passing a tall section of (largely reconstructed in the 19th century) wall, we were back into some fields and admiring the views ahead of us. We were on some of the last of the high ground. From the hills on the field we had a lovely panorama of the flatter land ahead of us and also, off to the side, the hills of the Lake District were filling the landscape to the South.
We walked across more fields still following the line of the wall, although there was less evidence as we moved on. Before Walton a diversion due to a broken footbridge had us following a small country lane into the village. As we crossed King Water River, off to our right, and covered under turf (to protect its structural integrity) were the remains of the Roman Bridge. These hidden remains would be, according to our guidebook, the last time that we would ‘see’ the wall.
In Walton we found the Reading Room coffee shop. We were still full from breakfast and were low on cash at this point so we only stopped for a coffee but we were glad that we did. The café owner told us that Elizabeth from the B&B had a habit of popping in to see if her visitors had stopped in as per her instructions. Although we were not likely to be back this way and staying at Quarryside again at any time soon we somehow felt as though we had passed a test and avoided a curse!
On leaving the village we came across the first of many honesty boxes that we would find from here on. With very few shops on the route a number of households leave cool boxes full of pop and snacks to sell to passers by who are asked to just leave money in a pot. It’s a lovely system and hopefully the number of boxes we passed are an indicator that it works.
The next few miles were largely uneventful. The path mostly cuts across fields with the occasional short section on a quiet lane. We passed to the side of Carlisle Airport and, in the village of Crosby on Eden, left the line of the wall behind us for the remainder of the walk into Carlisle. We would now be largely following the line of the River Eden to the city instead. We stopped on a bench in Linstock to have some refreshments (Quarryside had prepared us a packed lunch for the day) and then crossed over the M6, passed through Rickerby and into Rickerby Park, crossed the Eden and followed the riverside path into the centre of Carlisle.
The next stopping point was the unassuming leisure and entertainment complex, the Sands Centre. We stopped here both to use the toilets and also as this is the latest of the passport stamping sites on the route. As were low on cash, I made a mercy dash into the city centre to find a cashpoint and also to pick up some blister plasters! On the way I almost ran into a TV crew. This was the day that Thomas Cook had gone into liquidation and the local BBC crew were filming a piece outside of the closed store. I wonder if I made it onto local news?
Ready to continue, we would still be following the meandering twists and turns of the River Eden for the next few miles Westwards. We were now tired and though the path is quite pleasant it did feel much as though we were merely walking for the sake of it by now.
At Grinsdale we finally got to leave the riverside path and were back to following the line of the wall. Not that there is much evidence of it. At Beaumont we had reached the end of our day on the wall; though still had a short walk towards Monkhill and our base for the night at Roman Wall Lodges. We were more than glad to have found our way to the accommodation. The very friendly and welcoming host, Paul, met us and showed us to the log cabin which was to be our home for our final overnight stop. Our bags were waiting for us and we gladly kicked off our boots, showered, and rested up for a few minutes.
Once refreshed, although our feet were swollen and though not keen to put shoes back on, another short walk down the road took us to the Drovers Rest pub where we had our fill of some excellent value, and well stacked burgers. Stuffed and properly refreshed, we made our way back to the cabin and fell soundly asleep.