Hadrian's Cycleway Day 5--Twice Brewed to Ovington
Trip Start Jun 02, 2010
17Trip End Jun 16, 2010
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Where I stayed
Ovington House Bed & Breakfast
We headed out into the windy, overcast morning wearing all our layers, and spent it visiting Vindolanda, a famous excavated Roman Fort located on the Wall itself. Vindolanda is known for a number of things, but one I find most interesting is that it's the site of the discovery of a written birthday party invitation from a Roman woman to her sister-in-law. The invitation proves not only that Roman soldiers had their wives and families with them on the frontier (as Vindolanda was at the time it was written), but more importantly that women were educated. It is the only example of its kind yet discovered. The numerous writings and documents found at Vindolanda are considered the most important artifacts in all of the UK and most are now kept in the British Museum in London. Here we also ran into another American cycling family, a father and son who were biking the other direction. By the time we'd finished touring the extensive excavated fort and the museum with all its artifacts, the sun had come out
We rode happily on--so happy to reach the highest point on the route, in fact, that we rode right by the turn to the next excavated fort, Housesteads. After a, shall we say, "animated" discussion, we rode a mile back up the hill (into the wind) to the turn, where we rode down and then up again to Housesteads, which offered a view of a continuous section of the wall, and it was worth it. The weather was glorious and the views picture perfect--blue sky, puffy clouds, white sheep, light grey Roman stones, and green fields with neat deep green hedges.
We ate lunch, peeled off a few layers, and prepared to enjoy payback time. After yesterday's uphills, the afternoon riding was almost all downhill. We rolled through stone villages and past fields of rape and maize and barley. The weather warmed the lower we got and the windswept, open hilltop pastures were replaced by hedges and woodland lining the road--much more closed in. Signs had names like Thistlerigg Farm, Fourstones, and Whinney Hill. We rode 29 miles in about 2.75 hours.
Tonight we're staying in a stone farmhouse surrounded by sheep fields and horse paddocks. We walked on a public footpath to a pub in the next village for supper. Here there are public paths which traverse fields, cross fences over stiles and go right through people's yards in some cases. So different from in the US, where you'd be more likely to see no trespassing signs dotting the landscape.