Ninebanks Once More: Hadrian’s Wall (Slight Return)

Hadrian's Wall Rainbow

Time for our annual pre-Christmas get-together with friends, this year, for the third year running, at Ninebanks Youth Hostel in the northern Pennines, near Alston.

It’s a lovely cosy spot, nestled in a pleasant valley, with great views from the living room windows. Crucially for us, at this time of year it can be exclusively booked by groups, and it has enough bedrooms for each family to bag one of their own.

On our last two visits there has been snow and therefore sledging in the field opposite the hostel, and so the kids haven’t wanted to venture too far. But our friend D has been itching to investigate Hadrian’s Wall and this year, with no snow, he was to get his way.

For A and B and I this would be our first return to the Wall after our long(ish) walk along it this summer. We suggested the section from Steel Rigg car-park along to Housesteads Fort, which includes the walk along the crags above Crag Lough and the climb over Hotbank, and which I remember as my favourite section of our summer walk.

Hadrian's Wall and Rainbow

It was a mixed sort of day, some blue-skies and sunshine, but some black clouds and a bit of drizzle too. A rainbow day.

Milecastle 39, Crag Lough and Peel Crags

The worst rain shower coincided with our visit to Milecastle 39, where we stopped for lunch.

Milecastle 39 again

Leaving Milecastle 39

Sycamore Gap

Sycamore Gap.

Looking down on Crag Lough

From the cliffs above Crag Lough we watched a roe deer bouncing away through the boggy looking terrain beyond the water.

By the time we reached the top of Hotbank, the sun was already low in the sky.

Crag Lough from the Wall on Hotbank Crags

At Housesteads we only really had time for a fairly cursory look around. I did manage to find the latrines, which I remember well from my first visit here (circa 1978, on a Geography field trip/holiday with school), but which we missed in the summer.

The latrines at Housesteads

The kids had almost all of them disappeared into the warmth and shelter of the little museum, to dress in Roman style garb and to watch a short film.

It was just a short descent from there to where we’d left the cars (thanks to the Madman ferrying the drivers at the start of the walk). Back to the hostel then, and straight into cooking a veggie korma and a chicken rogan josh for a communal supper. I was only slightly hampered by the fact that I’d neglected to bring the recipes with me, but despite my ineptitude it all seemed to go down well – probably due to the healthy appetites everyone had mustered out in the fresh air.

A few tipples, a quiz, a few stories rehashed. A great day.

Ninebanks Once More: Hadrian’s Wall (Slight Return)

7 thoughts on “Ninebanks Once More: Hadrian’s Wall (Slight Return)

  1. Glad your rainbow photo came out so well. Mine didn’t work, all blurry and dark. Really enjoyed the day, the grassy stroll at the end was superb and we got some nice sunset views to close it out. Another visit needed I think.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      I took several rainbow photos. The first one in the post is actually two pictures stitched together (using autostitch which is free to download and very easy to use). You really did get some good sunset photos!
      I shall always be up for another visit. We should really do Allen Banks sometime when we’re in the area too.

  2. Quite a few years since I visited Hadrians Wall – didn’t know about ‘Sycamore Gap’ – is it officially called that?

    I don’t really agree with the YHA’s “Rent-a-hostel” scheme as I’ve fallen foul of it quite a few times and had nowhere to stay and just had to sleep in the car instead. Travelling alone means it’s generally too expensive to book into B&Bs/hotels as they really overcharge single travellers for their rooms 😦

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Sycamore Gap seems to be a fairly widely used name. I suspect that it’s quite recent. Not sure how it could be official.

      I take your point about “Rent-a-hostel” – I was caught out that way in Braemar once, having come down from the Cairngorms after several days touring bothies in severe winter weather, we found that the hostel was fully-booked by a skiing group. We’d been turned away from the same hostel earlier that year because, we were told, some beds were saved for travelers on foot, so we felt that our annoyance was justifiable. Fortunately, we found beds at an independent hostel.

      However, I suspect that the choice is often between the hostel being rented out, or being closed, rather than between being rented out or open to the public, in which case I can’t see that it really does any harm.

      The price of B&Bs and Hotels seems to me to be generally extortionate, but maybe I’m just getting old?

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