When we left our band of merrily travelers they had just left a gypsy camp and crossed a torrential stream. Would they have the strength and the stamina to continue onward to glory? Would they capture Hadrian’s Wall?
We left the stream rushing behind us and continued the walk up the country lane. The sun was beating down on us and the uphill walk was taxing. Still, the pleasant breeze found us now and again and rejuvenated our spirits. We eventually came upon a castle complete with castellated tower and flag. As we passed by it, we entered into a pasture full of majestic English sheep. Ewes and their adolescent lambs stood in couples around the expansive field. Bleats filled the air and not to be left out of the conversation, Alex attempted communication with a few nearest the path. Judging from the speed with which they departed the scene, I would surmise he had delivered a rather stern rebuke in Sheepish.
The end of the pasture marked the beginning of our true journey. We had reached Hadrian’s Wall Path. Despite a misleading signpost suggesting otherwise, this was it. We had managed to find the trail and before us stretched a remarkable adventure.
|This is not the path you are looking for…|
I pulled out my guidebook which provided us with detailed maps of the trail and pointed out pubs and views of remarkable beauty. We gathered around it to decide how far we were willing to go. How far we were willing to challenge ourselves and the trail.
As we looked, Alex asked, “What does ‘teas’ mean?”
We crowded in closer and found a small pink box with the word teas close to the end of that section of trail. A search of the key in the front of the book provided no answer and a mystery was born that none of us could leave uninvestigated. We would walk to this mysterious place and try to uncover the meaning behind this perplexing puzzle. If it was the last thing we did we would triumph in this.
We began to walk the trail which was tucked up against the far stone wall of the pasture. This wall was not the fabled Hadrian’s Wall though. Along our route we would catch no glimpse of it. It was buried beneath the fields lost to time. On occasion we would see mounds which we knew held the remnants of the stone fortification just beneath the soil. Eventually we saw more fortifications in the form of steep gorges dug into the earth to slow down any Highland invaders. The Wall would not reveal its secrets to us this time.
We continued our trek across one pasture after another. Each pasture was marked with a stone wall enclosure which we had to climb. Wooden ladders were placed on each and we all climbed over them, one after the other. Each field was like a new chapter in our journey which provided new views and more sheep. One field was filled with wild flowers and had ruins of a stone cottage in the distance. One field had a muddy ditch we needed to bypass. One field had a sheep with an interesting haircut. They were each as different as a snowflake.
When we reached the Errington Arms pub it was nearing three o’clock and we hadn’t yet stopped to eat. Jeremy suggested we rectify this sooner rather than later and we all agreed to continue on the trail until we found a shady spot to settle into. It would be another few fields before we finally reached Stanley Plantation which my guidebook described as “a sombre mass of mature conifers.” We would come to know it differently. To us Stanley Plantation will always be the forest moon of Endor.