Number in Group: 15
Distance: 11.1 miles
Total Ascent: 900 feet
Highest Point: Stanley Plantation 837 ft
Lowest Point: Wall 310 ft
Starting at Halton Shields, with two other groups, we followed the Hadrian’s Wall path alongside B6318 to Downhill Quarries. Here we turned SW to follow a track into Halton. This delightful village has a 13thC four storey Pele Tower with an attached 17thC Manor House and a Norman Chapel (rebuilt in 17thC). It made the ideal coffee stop and we were soon joined by Ron’s Group. Despite being surrounded by all these historical buildings, the main topic of conversation was the topiary in the Chapel grounds – is it a Pig or a Mouse? Ron has it on the good authority of a local villager that it is a pig. (I am still not convinced – just look at the ears and think Mickey).
Taking the minor road then a bridleway to Low Houses, we crossed Dere Street, the Roman Road, now known as the A68. The path, heading NW to Portgate, across Stagshaw Bank with its long grass, didn’t show much sign of having been recently walked. Portgate derives its name from a fortified Roman gateway (situated where the A68/B6318 roundabout now is). The gateway was used to control (i.e. Tax) traffic on Dere Street prior to the building of the Wall. After passing Stanley Cottages, we picked up another bridleway on the South side of Stanley Plantation to take us back to the Roman Wall Path for approximately 200m. Heading SW, a drinks stop was taken at the abandoned farmhouse prior to Wall Fell Farm. Since these buildings have been used in the past by this group for stops on Christmas walks, they have gained the nickname of “the Manger”.
After crossing Hangman’s Hill, a track was followed to Codlaw Hill. Passing the stables, a mobile farrier could be seen at work fitting new horseshoes. Lunch was taken in a field between Codlaw Hill and Codlaw Dene Farm. Just after the Farm, a footpath was taken which leads into Codlaw Dene. Unfortunately, the overgrown nature of this path, led to two of the group suffering injuries, which necessitated a diversion to Fallowfield Caravan Park where a taxi was arranged to take them to the pub. Returning back to the intended route, we headed NW to Square Wood then circled Written Crag (so called because of Roman graffiti in the quarry) to come out at Heaven Field. This is the battle site where in 633 (some say 634) King Oswald of Bernicia defeated a superior Welsh and Mercian force led by Cadwallon. According to the records of Bede, on the eve of the battle Oswald raised a cross and prayed for victory with his troops. St. Oswald’s Church stands on the site where the cross was raised.
From Heaven Field, the Roman Wall path was followed to Planetrees, the only section of the wall visible on this section of the path. The lane was then followed SW to come out at the buses in the car park just north of Wall. Our best wishes for a speedy recovery go to the two injured members of the group. (Report and Photos by MW)