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I think I need to explain my comment about the Working Men’s Club in Haltwhistle. In my youth the Working Men’s Clubs were very much the preserve of the menfolk. The women didn’t go in unless it was a special social evening, hence my comment. I am not a snob but old habits die hard. The Northumbrians are great and always very friendly and welcoming and you would both have been made very welcome. Knowing Haltwhistle, your visit may well be a topic of conversation for some time.
I take your point about the Great Wall of China. I am assuming you are referring to the section seen around Beijing? Hadrian’s Wall isn’t on the same scale and in comparison does look rather like a decrepit garden wall. This stretch of the Great Wall was mainly built in the Ming dynasty around the C15th and the sections popular with tourists have been preserved and even extensively renovated. In other locations the Wall is in disrepair. The oldest stretches of the original wall in the west of China around Jiayuguan were made of mud bricks and are not in such good condition.
As I am sure you know, Hadrians’ Wall was begun in AD122, so you can’t really compare like for like. Many of the stones have been robbed out to be used as building material. The wall has been consolidated but not reconstructed. If you want to see what the wall might have looked like then a section of both the turf and stone wall have been rebuilt at Vindolanda. The highest and best bit still standing about 12 courses high is at Walltown Crags to the east of Greenhead and isn’t visible from the main road.
I agree with you about Belsay which is a lovely place to visit and especially the walk through the quarry gardens. I am always fascinated by the development from the C14th defensive pele tower to Jacobean manor house and finally the early C19th grand hall.
I’m not sure why the Haltwhistle club is "definitely not a place for the ladies"; my lovely wife was treated extremely well there but, having said that, we’re not snobs. Regarding the small section of Hadrian’s Wall that we saw through the rain, let’s just say that it didn’t remind me in any way of The Great Wall of China.
Belsay Hall and Castle, on the other hand, was really enjoyable. The gardens had quite a few tropical plants and the section that ran between "cliffs" from the walls of the disused quarry really did feel quite Mediterranean, despite it not being overly hot that day.
It seems a bit unfair to criticise Northumberland on the basis of the weather being "less than ideal". Surely that’s the luck of the draw wherever you go (and incidentally Corfu had rain forecast today).
I suppose a lot depends on what bit of the Roman Wall you visit, it’s true there’s not a lot to see in some places. Housesteads can be expected to fire the imagination of most visitors as can the very tall section still standing at Walltown. The walk from Cawfields over Winshields and above Crag Lough to Sewingshields is, for my money, one of the best walks in England and what you see is a testimony to the ingenuity of the Roman civil engineers who used this route.
What a shame you were disappointed by Northumberland and especially Hadrian’s Wall. I can’t imagine anyone thinking it an anticlimax as it roller coasters its way across the landscape from north of the Milecastle Inn to Sewing Shields. Mind you, you do need to walk it rather than admire from the car and good weather does help. I’ve not been in the Working Man’s Club in Haltwhistle (definitely not a place for the ladies) but son in law and his mates went in there when they were on a biking holiday in Northumberland several years ago and are still talking about the warm reception they got.
Glad Hall Meadows B&B lived up to its reputation.
I have to say that I was disappointed overall, and our one night stay in Northumberland cost us about the same as a week in Corfu. The weather was less than ideal, bed & breakfast was excellent, Hadrian’s Wall was a total anti-climax and we enjoyed Belsay Hall, Castle & gardens far more. The one shining beacon of value-for-money was the working men’s club in Hatwhistle, which I was guided to by Trip Advisor, and where we spent a soggy evening watching the locals playing dominoes.
£65 for one night in a double room with ensuite bathroom. Thanks for the tips.
Enjoy yourself and let us know all about it when you get back.
How much is Hall Meadows now?
Weather permitting , walk the wall. It is a lovely walk up Haltwhistle Burn to the Milecastle Inn and then across the fields (or along the road) Cawfields Crag. Walk east towards Winshields Crag (the highest point along the wall), Hotbanks and Housesteads. Or walk west past the remains of Great Chesters Roman fort and Walltown which has the highest parts of the wall. There are some lovely walks in the South Tyne Valley too, with the South tyne Trail along the closed railway line and over Lambley Viaduct. Alternately follow the banks of teh river through Featherstone PArk with the ruis of the POW camp.
OK, so I’ve booked Hall Meadows for tomorrow night. Now I just have to work out what to do and see whilst we’re up there…
OK, thanks. The Travelodge offers come up quite often on HotUKDeals, so I’ll keep an eye open for them. I’ve also emailed Hall Meadows for price info.