A year on Hadrian's Wall Path National Trail, May 2012 - Part 6
The first day of May saw the start of the 2012 Walking Season on Hadrian's Wall Path National Trail. It was to be a dry sunny day with a north easterly wind. After the wet weather of the last few weeks it was needed to help dry out the trail, before the walkers get out and about.
The Trail in Stanley Plantation continues to be very wet, muddy and quite slippery in places. Out on the open grassland it is starting to dry out again, but there are still a great deal of waterlogged places for you to try and negotiate and keep your feet dry.
There is certainly more colour to be seen as you walk - the grass is getting greener and the gorse bushes are in full flower. On my walk today I cut back brambles and nettles, cleaned the stiles from mud and moss, raked flat a few molehills and picked up a small amount of litter.
On my way back into Heavenfield I noticed that an Acorn way maker had been removed, it was a two minute job to replace with one of the spares I carry. Someone must have thought it would be a good souvenir to take home!
It was an enjoyable morning and I met three day walkers and three walkers completing the full Trail. I also had to give three Australian visitors in a car, directions to Housesteads. They were taking the time to visit Hadrian's Wall whilst on their way up to Edinburgh.
My second visit of May was after a day of heavy rain and as I started there was still heavy drizzle. As suspected the ground was muddy and still waterlogged in places. It certainly is not what is needed for the Trail which consists mainly of grassland. The weather forecast for the rest of the month is for more rain and low temperatures for the time of the year.
It was very quiet on my section and not the day to remain still for long. Full waterproofs were essential and although there were some areas of vegetation that needed attention, it was too wet! I would sort out them out on my next visit when it hopefully is drier.
For walkers on the Trail, this weather makes walking difficult and uncomfortable, it can take away all enjoyment of the historic site and the wonderful scenery in Northumberland. Looking back at my photographs of the 2011 season, I found the photograph below taken at around the same date. It certainly shows the contrast in the weather and the condition of the Trail.
There was little let up on the wet weather and colder temperatures for my third visit. I was wanting to cut back the grass and vegetation around the stiles and gates but decided against it as it was just too wet. My work today was the normal litter picking and replacing some of the signs and way markers.
My early start was made under dark overcast clouds and I had completed about an hours walk before the rain started and became heavy enough for me to need my waterproofs. The Trail on the areas of grassland is coping well, close to and in Stanley Plantation it continues to be very muddy.
The majority of walkers met today were travelling east and whilst replacing a way marker near to the Military Road I had to give directions to three Dutch Visitors in a car who wished to see some of Hadrian's Wall. I suggested that they made a visit to Housesteads where they could see the Fort and standing sections of the Wall.
For my final visit of May, I decided to try and make an earlier start because of the brilliant sunshine and high temperatures we have been enjoying. It was about 7.30 a.m. when I reached Heavenfield and started the walk in the sun under a bright blue sky.
Heavenfield was covered in a wide range of wild flowers including Buttercups, Clover, Daisies and Dandelions. It was such a colourful sight that I had to take a picture.
With the recent rain and this spell of fine weather the grass and vegetation has grown considerably around the gates and stiles on the trail. As I did not get it done on my last visit, it was a job that needed to be done before it got too long. As well as cutting the vegetation, I cleaned the mud from the steps of the stiles.
This slowed me down and it was after 12 oclock when I reached the Errington Arms car park. Over the time I was walking east, I met 12 full trail walkers which included two dutch and two american walkers. On the way I came across the site of the last accident, it was good to see the wall had been rebuilt.
The return leg back to Heavenfield took just over an hour and I met only one other walker. Normally on the six and a half mile round trip I pick up about two bags of litter. This is the first time I have hardly picked up any. The trail is looking in good condition and the colours today were magnificent to see. The year marches on and I hope we get a long spell of dry weather to keep my section free from the mud we have experienced in April and early May.
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