Hadrian's Wall, England
It was a windy drive to Hadrian's Wall. In fact, it was so windy that one particularly strong gust blew our skylight wide open. This has happened a few times now, but on this occasion it took the cover with it. All we were left with was a vent; the top cover that keeps the cold air and, more importantly, the rain out was gone. Not ideal while driving through England nearing winter. Danny somehow MacGyvered the hole with a plastic bag and all the tape we had, but there were still gaps around the edges. It would have to do until we could find a store with the particular part and model we needed. I was glad we were in an English-speaking country for this task.
Our destination was a settlement called Once Brewed. I don't know how to define a settlement, but apparently it consists of one building that acts as both a tourist office and a hostel, and is only open on weekends. As it was a weekday, we had no way of obtaining a map for the area. We had planned on a longish walk along the famous Wall tomorrow, which you think would be easy without a map – just find the Wall and follow its path. The only problem was that we didn't know which wall was Hadrian's Wall. There were many low, stone walls marking the boundary of each property, and they all looked the same. We could have passed Hadrian's Wall ten times and not even known it. The wind hadn’t settled down at all (we could barely manage to walk in it) so we had no desire to go exploring to find it.
We drove around the area until we found a real town with multiple buildings that were open, and parked outside the pub. It was obvious once we entered that we were the only out-of-towners here. I guess not many tourists pass through this area. Everyone knew everyone else, and they picked us as the campervan owners immediately. But all the locals were friendly, and thought it was great fun to tease us for being Australian.
Thankfully the pub had Wi-Fi, allowing me to search for walks along Hadrian's Wall. The details weren’t clear, but I had a rough idea of where to go tomorrow. We also looked up campervan stores to replace our skylight but they appeared to be online only, which is of no use to us without a postal address. Giving up, we spent the rest of the night chatting to the other patrons. One of them told us about a quieter spot to park, which worked out great as it was out of the howling wind. Unfortunately, it rained most of the night – we could only pray that our makeshift roof held up against the elements. Secretly, I think we both presumed that we would wake up to a deluge of water pouring onto our bed at some point during the night.
The following morning, we cautiously assessed the damage. Much to our relief, Danny's quick fix on the skylight seemed to have worked - there were a few drops inside but nothing significant. With that issue under control for the time being, we prepared for our hike along the Wall.
On our drive back to Once Brewed, we found that the terrible weather from the day before hadn’t subsided. Gale force winds, rain on and off, gloomy skies – not the best conditions for hiking. We fainlly located a sign that pointed towards Hadrian's Wall so we think we were on the right path, but with the wind hindering our ability to even walk in a straight line, we ended up bailing and sprinting back to the safety of the car.
Our backup plan was to visit Housesteads, a former Roman Fort near the Wall (again, we had no clue which was the right wall). Once the rain disappeared, we commenced our walk up the hill, but Danny became exasperated by the relentless wind and turned back after two minutes. I made it to the top, where the ruins weren't anything exciting but the views of the countryside were fantastic. The squally conditions meant that the weather was continually changing, and I was enthralled by the fast-paced clouds as they sped across the sky. I would have stayed longer if the rain hadn’t started up again.
We gave up on any further Hadrian adventures.