Preparing to walk Hadrian’s Wall: An Update on My Progress – Much to Share!

Hadrian's Wall

It’s been about month since I went public with my plans train for and then walk the length of Hadrian’s Wall in September 2014. I was immediately overwhelmed by all the messages of support and encouragement. Much has happened since I initially made the announcement so I thought it would be fun to put together an update for everyone who is following my journey.

Got a Walking Partner

The biggest bit of news is that I now have a partner to walk the wall with. I had planned on doing the walk by myself, a prospect which made Mrs. Anglotopia rather more nervous than she would admit. I was looking forward to the solitude of the walk and being alone. But the perfect walking partner came along and it was too good of an idea to say no.

Years ago, I idly had a conversation with a close uncle who lives out in Oregon that it would be really cool to walk the length of Hadrian’s Wall one day. He said he’d love to do it one day too. Well, when I went public with my plans, he immediately emailed me and said he wanted to go. Despite plans to go alone, I couldn’t say no.

He’s the perfect walking partner. 1. I know him relatively well. 2. He loves the wilderness and has years of hiking and camping experience. 3. He’s up for an adventure. 4. My wife’s fears would be assuaged since I would not be wandering in the English wilderness alone.

So a journey of one has now become a journey for two and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

Got lots of advice

After I made the announcement we got tons of great comments and people who’ve done the walk took the time to email me suggestions. Much of the advice was really helpful including suggestions to do the walk in reverse (from west to east). Thanks to everyone who’s given me advice – please continue to do so. We’re filing everything so that as I plan the walk, we can take the best advice.

Bought Research Materials

I’m addicted to doing research for all our future trips to Britain and this challenge is no exception. The organization that runs the National Trail Hadrian’s Wall Walk has several publications they recommend for walkers.

I bought them all.

image_resizeFirst up is the official guidebook put together by the people that run the walk. It’s a cheap little book that you can only order directly from the official Hadrian’s Wall store (which means it has to be shipped from the UK). It’s a helpful little book and its a good place to start for your research. You can buy this book here.

Next up is Hadrian’s Wall Path by Henry Stedman, which is a treasure trove of information about the walk. It’s certainly the most comprehensive book out there. It features over 59 detailed maps and covers the entire route in extreme details – including where to stay, where to eat and what to see. It also includes helpful tables to help you decide the best pace to walk and where to stop along the way. I’m sure I’ll read this book a hundred times over the next 18 months.

And now, let’s talk maps. I love maps. Even with the advent of GPS and iPhones, I still love paper maps. I have drawers full of them and the walls in Anglotopia Towers are covered in them. So, with geeky glee, I purchased the 4 Ordnance Survey maps that cover the entire Hadrian’s Wall National Trail.

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Now, for those that don’t know, Ordnance Survey maps are pretty much the best maps in the world. They’re incredibly detailed and cover every aspect of geography you can think of – all the way down to where a bench to rest your bum is. They’re great. I can spend hours staring at these things. They’re sturdy, easy to fold and water resistant. They’re not cheap and some of them you have to order from the UK, but don’t consider doing the walk without them.

Current Walks

Part of preparing for the walk isn’t just research in books. It’s also going on long walks and seeing how I handle things. I started off with walks locally in the 1 mile to 1.5 mile range. I seemed to handle them all right. I was only mildly sore the next day. I’m trying to do 1-2 walks a week and will increase the distances as time goes on.

I found a great free little iPhone app called Walk Watch that will track your distance, pace, time, etc. It also plots your route on a map using GPS. It’s pretty handy.

I recently attending the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo (aka C2E2) and for curiosity’s sake, I turned on the Walk Watch app to see how far I walked at the convention. People familiar with conventions like this will know that there is usually a lot of walking involved.

I was shocked to discover that when the day was over, I’d walked a total of 15 miles! And the next day I didn’t feel like I was going to die.

Last weekend I did a 4 mile walk in our local National Park and I did OK as well.

So, I think this bodes well for doing the wall path. I think I’ll add some distance to my weekly walks to pick up the pace. I’m not doing this to lose weight but it is a benefit as I’ve already become trimmer and in general feel a bit healthier.

First Injury

A couple weeks ago I sustained my first walking related injury. It was minor but annoying enough to prevent long distance walking for a couple of weeks. When I do a lot of walking, I have the unfortunate pleasure of callouses forming on me feet. I suppose this is a good thing as it keeps my foot protected and keeps blisters from forming.

Now, this can probably be filed under too much information but the callouses on my left foot have a tendency to flake and come apart. And one can’t help pick at it to remove the dead skin. The problem is that I got a little too carried away and ended up creating an open sore on the heel of my foot. It hurt to walk for about a week.

I won’t be doing that again.

Cost and Savings

A big part of planning for this trip is planning how to pay for it. We’re estimating that it will cost us each about $3,000-$4,000 to do the trip. This includes airfare, accommodation, transport north to Hadrian’s Wall and a few days in London before the walk. It’s a perfectly doable amount of money for both of us.

We’re employing the ‘Bank of Thomas’ strategy where we take an envelope, write the savings goal on it and then only make deposits (and then promptly forget the money is there). Both my walking partner and I are confident we’ll save the money over the next 18 months.

It’s a nice feeling overtime you put a $20 bill in, knowing that you’re saving for your dream.

Started Reading ‘A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson is my favorite author and the only book of his that I haven’t read is “A Walk in the Woods” where he attempts to walk the 2,100 mile long Appalachian Trail with an old friend. So, in honor of the much shorter walk we’re planning I thought it would be fun to see how he handles a much longer walk.

So, I picked my dusty old copy off the shelf and got reading. It’s hilarious so far.

That’s it for now – I’ll have another update next month!

Comments

  1. avatarLisa says

    I hope it goes without saying that you will be visiting me. I’m only 40 minutes from Newcastle.

  2. avatarLauri says

    We will be in the UK in December, in both Scotland and England, and definitely want to see Hadrian’s Wall. Will have to do some research to see what will be the best and most convenient location for us to stop and see it. Good luck on your adventure, I look forward to hearing more about it!

  3. avatarcmct says

    A bit late reading this post, but I’m still curious enough to keep wondering how your training is going. Re the callous issue, Dr. Scholls makes a callous remover product that combines a medicated patch with a donut shaped foam cushion. It takes about a week for the callous to fall off. Totally painless. You only have to change the pad a couple of times, no other work involved. It’s a better idea than picking at it. I know from experience that doesn’t work, and leaving the callous there can sometimes become uncomfortable. It will be crucial for your feet to be happy on this trek, so pay special attention to foot care. Maybe grab some moleskin while you’re at the supermarket display of Scholl’s products. BTW, I’ve tried a generic brand. It works, but not as well. May as well stick with Scholl’s.

    • avatar says

      Thanks for the tip! Actually haven’t walked in a couple weeks due to the arrival of Miss Anglotopia, our baby girl. But I’ll be back on the trail soon. My callous has healed mostly and is tolerable.

  4. avatarJo says

    Hi there, we live on Hadrian ‘s wall so open for tea :) Stock up on Compeed blister plasters and make sure your boots are well worn in don’t forget to visit some of the Roman museums & forts!

    The Newcastle end is reasonably flat but fairly ugly and Urban.

    When you have finished the walk try to go North a bit into North Northumberland ad visit some of the little towns like Rothbury, Alnwick and Banburgh..Great Castles and coast line including Holy Island and the Farnes. Many Tourists stop at Hadrian’s Wall or head straight for Scotland and miss out this wild and beautiful part of the country.