Another grey, mild morning as we slip quietly through the morning park east. A local man with a dog told us how high the floods of 2000 were: right up here, he said, his arm at head-height.
Quiet backroads and lanes led, with a few hills, to Brampton. We sat out some light patchy drizzle with a light patchy lunch of crisps, muffins and pies, coffee and tea in an obliging pub with roaring wifi and high-speed fire.
We poked around the priory and historic bridge at Lanercost. I didn’t want or need anything from the souvenir shop but I felt I should support the establishment somehow, so I had a hot cross bun and some mead from the nice lady.
She pointed out the sharp hill we would have to climb out of the village. A local eighty-year-old woman did it every day in one go, apparently. So I did too, in case she was watching.
At the top of the hill is the first real look at the remains of the Wall. Built on the orders of the then Emperor, Hadrian, it took six years to construct round about 120CE and marked the far northern boundary of the Roman Empire. Here was where civilisation, society and order finished, and free-for-all bedlam began. Funny how it sometimes seems the other way round now.
From Banks Top we took in the grey, sweeping views of the damp hills and wondered which direction home was, just as the Romanian conscripts must have done so miserably eighteen centuries ago, and like them wondered when it was going to stop raining.
We stopped off at Birdoswald, which has a good little museum, poked around the remains of the fort and warmed up with tea and coffee in the cafe. Hadrian’s Cycleway doesn’t often go that near the wall, but this is one of the sections where it does indeed follow many chunky sections of preserved masonry.
I’d been a bit cocky about my bike’s kickstand. Every time Tim stopped to take a picture, he had to lean his bike against something. When I did so, though, I could flip my kickstand and set my bike sturdily upright by itself, even use it as a makeshift camera stand for selfies. But now I was to get my comeuppance.
Because the kickstand was playing up, getting a bit stiff. But I didn’t realise how much until we were way out, maybe two miles from the nearest road, on a rough bridleway across remote windy moorland. I flipped the stand down, took a picture to show how remote we were – and then realised I couldn’t flip the stand back up. It was stuck down.
I hammered, pushed and pulled for ten minutes but with no luck: I no longer had a bike, just a camera tripod. An unpushable camera tripod, with two panniers, weighing thirty kilos. And we were two miles from the nearest tarmac road.
Tim and I fiddled with the bike, turned it upside down, took off the back wheel, bashed the kickstand with a rock that may have once been part of the Wall, etc, but no luck. Eventually, after half an hour of frantic pummelling, I managed to force it back up and I could cycle again.
We found our way with some relief to the road, and then with further relief to the hostel at Once Brewed, and then with even further relief to the pub at Twice Brewed.
A spanner, kindly provided by the hostel, helped me remove the malfunctioning kickstand once and for all, putting my mind at rest. A beer, kindly provided by the pub, helped put my mind at rest a bit more.
Miles today: 45
Miles since Bowness: 58