A year on Hadrian's Wall Path National Trail - October 2012, part 11
The last month of the 2012 walking season on Hadrian's Wall Path National Trail is now upon us. More wet weather continues to make large sections of the path waterlogged and very muddy. This has certainly been the worst year for weather since I started, as a Volunteer Ranger.
Normally when visiting this section, I am out early, today was an exception as I started out at Heavenfield just before twelve o'clock. The moles had been busy since my last visit and I had to rake out their mounds of earth.
I did not come prepared to cut back any grass or vegetation. I am hoping that this task will not now be necessary as we get closer to the end of the year. The Trail has had to cope with a large amount of rainfall over the last few months. Sections of the Wall ditch and Vallum are starting to fill up with water again; as well as dips and hollows in the ground.
Stanley Plantation was very wet and muddy. You could see where the walkers had been trying to find a better route to avoid the quagmire. A small amount of litter needed to be picked up along the section. I reached The Errington Arms without meeting any walkers and returned back to Heavenfield wihout meeting any! This is the first time this year, I have had the six and a half mile walk all to myself.
After another night of heavy rain, I ventured out out again, with the prospect of getting very wet and muddy. The worst of the rain had stopped as I started, and a brisk westerly wind was clearing away the dark clouds.
The moles had been busy in the grassland at Heavenfield. As we are reaching the end of the walking season, the trees are starting to turn into their autumnal colours and the grass and vegetation growth is starting to slow down.
The already waterlogged ground is unable to cope with any more rain and all of the dips and hollows are filling up with water. In some places, all you can do is walk straight through. The Wall ditch and Vallum are the perfect places for water to collect as it runs off the grassland.
Dressed for rain in full waterproof gear, I was lucky to complete the walk of the section in a break between the showers. On my walk last week, I saw no other people, today I met two American walkers completing the full Trail and two dog walkers.
Two areas completely flooded had to be reported to Hadrian's Wall Heritage Limited and some sightings of Waxcaps growing in the Wall ditch to the Northumberland National Park Ranger responsible.
I completed the round trip in just under three hours, very wet and muddy! My tasks for today only included picking up a small amount of litter and raking flat the mole hills encroaching on the Trail.
I am looking forward to some colder but drier weather for the end of the year. This hopefully will allow the wet and muddy areas, particularly Stanley Plantation, to recover from such a wet year.
Out for the third time this month and getting closer to the end of October. The weekend was certainly drier than it has been for sometime and and we experienced some long sunny spells. It was too much to hope that it would last and the day started damp and very foggy.
It was to be another walk, where I had my section all to myself. There were no other walkers to be seen. Visibility was very poor with the fog, it was down to about 100 yards, and there was no chance of seeing the magnificent views of the north and south today.
It had been ten days since my last visit. I was expecting no real change to the condition of the Trail. It was as muddy out on the grassland where the livestock cross to get to the Wall ditch. The western end of Stanley Plantation continues to be completely waterlogged and ankle deep in mud. The trees and vegetation on either side of the narrow path channels all walkers into the muddy morass. You literally have nowhere else to walk!
In parts of the Wall ditch and Vallum, the water is standing and creating large and deep ponds. I was not looking forward to reaching the part of my section that was flooded on my last visit. The only route was to walk straight through the ankle deep water. I was surprised to reach the area and find that all of the water had gone.
My fourth visit in October and the 2012 Walking Season is coming to an end. The snow and ice of last Saturday had disappeared as quickly as it came. It was great to start a walk on my section in brilliant sunshine. Passing St. Oswald's Hill Head Farm shortly after 8.15 a.m. the sun was shining onto the trees and gorse bushes. The sun was not to last as a bank of mist quickly moved parallel to the Military Road to the east. After this the sky became greyer and I had to walk back to Heavenfield in the rain, on my return journey.
The Trail continues to be very wet and muddy. It is still bad in Stanley Plantation and out on the grassland livestock have been walking and have churned up the path. The trees are continuing to change colour and some trees have shed all of their leaves. The only other person I met today was a farmer out on his quad bike, feeding some of his cattle and sheep.
Today was my thirtyeighth walk of my section, this year. The only maintenance work I had to carry out was to pick up a small amount of litter. The wet weather of recent months has made walking difficult and messy. It has also put off walkers, another day where I have not spoken to anyone on the Portgate to Heavenfield section of Hadrian's Wall Path National Trail.
I am still hoping that as the weather gets colder towards the end of the year, and it also stops being as wet! The Trail needs a long period of dry weather, to recover from this season's poor weather.
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