Although the actual walking in day 5 was easier, it turned out to be quite a difficult one for us again. We had to start walking at the same time as everyone else because we all had to get the coach back from the hostel to where we had actually finished the day before, so there was no chance to gain any time on the rest of the group. N and I therefore ended up doing most of the day on our own. Although the countryside was fairly kind to walk through, N’s feet were causing him trouble, as was my ankle again, as well as being in absolute agony because of my back. We soon fell out of the range in which the walkie talkie we were carrying could pick up anyone else.
The walk was cheered however by the presence of honesty boxes along the way, where you could pick up snacks and drinks, and while we didn’t actually take anything from them, it was great to see them there. When we did finally make it to Carlisle (in the rain) we had time to find the hostel, change into something less smelly, and the head over to the pub to meet Neil Salmon. A very cheery meal afterwards (video evidence to follow later) left us in great spirits.
The last day dawned grey. I woke up early in the morning to hear the rain pounding down outside the window, and while it eased off before we headed out, it picked up again as we walked. The wet made the going quite treacherous in places, with slippery stairs and slopes to negotiate, but progress was made. And then came the long slog through the marshland, and now the rain was driving, and we were walking in a straight line with no cover for about 3 miles. This is a stretch which I’m sure is lovely in the sunshine, but we just wanted to get through it. At the end we were fortunately rewarded with an honesty shack, containing benches to rest weary feet and fry off a bit. With toilets, snacks and a coffee machine, this was one of the most welcome sights of the day.
Only 4 miles to go from there and we ploughed on to the end, with a giddy feeling as we reached the town and then the final end of the wall marker.
We had made good progress this day, and were I think the 6th and 7th or so to make it to the pub at the end, to be greeted by cheers from those who had already made it, and to cheer those who came after. After 7 days and 90 miles of walking, we could finally sit down with a drink and say “we did it!”.
The party atmosphere in the pub continued as a big group of us all jumped onto a tiny country bus for the trip back to Carlisle, possibly to the terror of some if the natives making use if their local bus service.
At the end of this all, I feel really proud that we’ve achieved this. The days haven’t been easy, but I’m sure as I look back on it from even a short distance, I’ll only remember the good bits and will forget all about the pain and the tears. We’ve met some fantastic people and shared a great experience for a really worthwhile cause and I would like to say thank you to everyone for making it so great!
And a special and separate thank you to Dan, for being awesome and sorting everything out and for putting up with us on the occasions when we were tired and grumpy and miserable.
There’s also still time to donate and every penny is really appreciated: http://justgiving.com/hadrianswalkers.