Written April 5, 2023, at Hexham, England.
The rain is back. It’s predicted to continue tomorrow as I resume the trail but to then gift us with dry and partially sunny skies for the final two walking days. If all goes according to plan, I will reach Wallsend in Newcastle Saturday afternoon. No worries, we have come to appreciate the weather forecasts which are incredibly accurate… for about 20 minutes.
There were two sites that we had hoped to visit today. One was the Old Gaol (jail), and the other Hexham Abbey.
The Gaol was open yesterday and scheduled to be open today. However, with accuracy second only to the weather forecasts it was closed for routine elevator maintenance.
Fortunately, Hexham Abbey was open.
The Abbey was founded in 674CE, And is one of the earliest sites of Christian worship in the United Kingdom.
Vikings pillaged and burned the Abbey to the ground in 875. The Abbey was rebuilt in 1050, with the current edifice actually dating to the early 12th-century.
Evidence of its ancient past remains evident. Upon entering there is a large Roman burial marker on display. It is dedicated to Flavinus, a 25 year old cavalry soldier who died sometime during the first century.
The stone was found in the foundations of the Abbey, along with other stones from the Roman era, many which were originally part of the huge Roman bridge to the north.
There is an eighth century “bishops chair“,
Dark wood panels and a pulpit are from the 1500s,
Most notable is the ancient crypt that was constructed in year 674. It contains a small chapel where relics of saints were once secured and venerated.
As with many very old cathedrals, there were funeral effigies and the stones on the floor literally cover the graves of people who were important in their time.
It was a relaxing day during which we wandered many of the old serpentine streets and alleys. There was some window, and real, shopping.
We decided that for dinner this evening we would search out a classic British pub. “The Heart of Northumberland” checked all of the boxes. Excellent ales from hand pumps (very low carbonation and served “warm” according to most American’s tastes), fish and chips, and an amazing salmon cake dinner left us more than satisfied.
Tomorrow morning I will catch a 9 AM taxi that will deposit me at the point where I left the Hadrian’s Wall trail on Tuesday. Christine will taxi at 10:30 AM to our next accommodation, the well regarded Robin Hood Inn, located about 10 miles from here on the Hadrian’s Wall path.
I sense the end to this portion of our journey is nearing. How I feel about that is both complex and uncertain.
Peace Everyone. Pete