From Bowness-on-Solway to Carlisle

Travel writer E. C. Glendenny walked from Bowness-on-Solway to South Shields following the route of Hadrian’s Wall in October 2021.

She records her experiences in a lyrical account, entitled From Maia to Arbeia, the first section of which is recounted here.

Maia: outermost edge
Of a Roman world
Now vanished
Save the same, timeless sense
Of isolation.

Flat, flooded Firth
Without relief ‘til Annan,
Where lapwings strut in lazy mud
And wild geese fly,
Great raucous flocks heading south.

And me?
My way leads east.
Following an invisible wall;
Joining dots on a straight line
Across a map
From coast to coast
In the footsteps of legion before me.

The night before:
The Kings Arms pub,
A table of East-westers
Their walk completed
Loud and celebratory
Over their pints.

And me?
Loathe to leave the comfort
Of my glamping pod
To the cold mist of morning
And the uncertainty
Of a task, which might
Be beyond me.

A touch for luck:
The sign above the pavilion states
Fortuna vobis adsit
While salt-bleached prayer flags
Flutter a bleak farewell
In the absence of any other.

At this point, all is east.
My route; my goal;
The entire country
An undulating, ill-laid carpet ahead of me,
Except here, where land and sea
Mix and merge as marsh
And a time in my tide-tables
Adds a frisson of added danger.

Burgh pronounced ‘bruff’.
I want to impress with my
Local knowledge
But there is no one to impress.
Rooks caw in the churchyard and
– Is that a cuckoo?
But surely it is the wrong time of year?
The church itself is shut,
Despite advertising refreshments.

From Maia to Arbeia.

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