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Hadrian’s Wall Day 6 – Mission Complete!

Sunset over the Solway Firth

Sunset over the Solway Firth

The final leg of the walk took us from beautiful Carlisle to the remote coast of North Cumbria at Bowness-on-Solway.  We are staying there tonight before beginning our journey home tomorrow (via Newcastle). Amazingly our digs have a wicked view of the Scottish coastline and the setting sun.

Some people say this leg of the walk is pretty boring but Chris and I disagree. Yes it’s flat but the first half is a wonderful mix of colour and open greenery much of it along the River Eden.  The second half was interesting as there’s quite a lot of history and of course the excitement of finishing the walk.  There’s a 3 mile straight stretch of military road when the Firth initially comes into view. As you can actually see the road disappearing into the horizon, it’s mentally punishing.  Moreover, whilst it seems like the walk is coming to an end at this point, there’s still 90 minutes of solid walking ahead.  There isn’t much actual wall on display but there is strong evidence of its location, particularly on the 3 mile section of straight road.

My feet have survived today but my knee only lasted 1 hour this morning before painkillers were required. Chris suffered with her toe blister which is now the size of Africa.

We went straight to the ‘only pub in the village’ where we had a celebratory pint.  Now relaxing in our room looking at Scotland!

Tomorrow is a travel day so no blog. I will however be blogging some highlights next week and beyond with some follow up stories of interesting incidents and observations made throughout the 6 days.

Thanks for listening

Ronny Allan

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Hadrian’s Wall Day 5 – Pass the morphine!

Me Resting!

Me Resting!

The M6!

The M6!


When I was in hospital for major surgery, I remember being briefed by my excellent nursing staff about all the tubes and pipes intruding and protruding into/from my body. One of the most important ones in the early days was known as PCA – Patient Controlled Analgesia.  Basically I could click a button whenever I felt the post surgical pain was too much.  As this administered morphine, safeguards were built in – for example, the machine limited me to 2 clicks within 5 minutes and then it wouldn’t accept a request for another 5 minutes.  That handheld push button device was never far away from my hands!

I could have done with it today.  Yesterday I felt my right knee going downhill but some ‘deep heat’ seemed to do the trick during the walk.  However, 1 hour into the walk today, I felt it degrade to the point I was limping badly with still over 10 miles to go.  More deep heat and a couple of paracetamols taken.  A couple of miles later, I was OK and back to normal pace.

Today’s route was mainly on fairly gentle ground all the way to Carlisle and the sun came out for the second half (welcome back Mr S, not seen you since Newcastle).  Didn’t see very much wall but clear evidence of where it was including the ‘Vallum’ or ditch.  Bit more built up than the middle section, so we passed a lot more small groups of houses.  Many of the older ones were built with large redstone blocks – a story for another day.

Final today tomorrow, 15 miles down to Bowness-on-Solway for a pint!  Only 1 though.

Tune in for some pictures of ‘God’s Country’ over the Firth 🙂

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Hadrian’s Wall Day 4 – Welcome to Cumbria!





Lanercost Priory

Lanercost Priory


Milecastle 48 - Poltross Burn

Milecastle 48 – Poltross Burn


That was a long day and a hard walk!  Started at Steel Rigg and ended at Lanercost and we were accompanied by our friend and ex Army colleague, Jim Waterson.  Jim and I served together in Germany 1977-79 and then again in Blandford Dorset 1983-84.  Usual banter all day brought back more memories and news about some old mutual friends.  Thanks to Jim for a great day. Thanks also to Jennifer for picking us up to take us to the start point on the wall and vice versa at the end.

The route was a mixture of hilly crags and rolling fields as we entered Cumbria.  There were some marvellous sections of original wall and a few interesting spots which are probably worth a revisit to spend more time looking around.  Some photos attached.

However, today has taken its toll on our legs.  Jim said we would all be doing ‘Douglas Bader’ impressions later, he’s not wrong! I’ve developed a right knee problem which made the last 5 miles uncomfortable.  Painkillers might be required tomorrow.  Despite the minor pain, my blisters appear intact but only due to the pads applied yesterday.  Chris has a blister on her left big toe which has its own postcode.

Interestingly we’re staying round the corner from Lanercost Priory where, in 1306-07, King Edward 1st (long shanks) convalesced for 6 months with dysentry.  Mel Gibson would have been happy with this 🙂

We met some interesting and friendly people in our digs tonight including 2 mad Ozzie ladies!   They expressed some interest in my blog so thought I’d give them a mention……. hi Sheila and Sheila 🙂

Tomorrow we head off from the wall down to Carlisle which is mainly flat, probably a good thing given my knee problem.




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Hadrian’s Wall Day 3 – Spectacular but wet!

The lone sycamore

Temple of a Roman Sun God (epic fail today)

The lone sycamore

The lone sycamore

Chris & Dave being daft

Chris & Dave being daft


Chris and I adopted the famous military ‘buddy buddy’ system this morning by checking each other’s feet and applying blister pads.  We then set off on a hilly section with some spectacular scenery.  But first we collected our friend Dave Taylor who was walking this tough section with us.

The forecast rain didn’t arrive until around an hour into the walk and then another hour after that it was time for waterproof trousers.   Pretty rough underfoot with plenty mud and damp grass.   Stonework was in some places dangerously slippy.  I fell once, fortunately I managed to miss landing on the ubiquitous sheep droppings!

Some of the scenery was absolutely outstanding but the weather was not too good for photography.  For much of this section the wall is routed along a ridge and goes up and down, up and down, up and down (you get the message!).  There were fantastic views both sides of the wall, this section must have been easy to defend, the drop facing north was almost vertical in some places.

Dave Taylor was excellent company today and once we had finished swapping ‘war stories’, we started jointly reciting the words of Life of Brian followed swiftly by The Holy Grail, both Monty Python classics.

Had two interesting phone calls today.  First was from Hope FM in Bournemouth where I did a 10 minute live on air call as a follow-up to my 1 hour session in April.

The second call was a Consultant appointment for one of my routine tests asking if I could make it this morning as a slot had become available at short notice.  I took great delight in letting the secretary know I was on Hadrian’s Wall and wouldn’t therefore be able to attend!

Looking forward to tomorrow’s equally tough walk with Jim Waterson.

Some photos attached, hope they come out OK.

We’ve seen £200 donated in the last 24 hours which is excellent news but our target is still not met.  Please see our donation site at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/planets7

You can also donate by text.   Enter PLAN84 £10 to 70070, this is free and you can also use gift aid by following the instructions. Smaller amounts are possible, simply replace £10 with £1, £2, £3, £4, £5


Twitter @ronnyallan1





Hadrian’s Wall Day 2 – The wall appears



PLANETS on the Wall

PLANETS on the Wall

Wall design change

Wall design change

From wall to house

From wall to house

We must have been doing a blistering pace today!  Four of them – I claim 3 and Chris has one.  Nothing spectacular but a discomfort we could do without. Blister kit has been deployed and resupply to see us through the week will RV with us on Day 4  at Steel Rigg (cheers Jim W). In hindsight I should have deployed the blister kit last night as I had a feeling my tender feet would be even more tender by end of play today.  Four months of training and not a blister between us!

When we set off from our farmhouse (Ironsign), it was overcast but dry, perfect walking weather. We had been told to expect rain in the afternoon but it just got sunnier and hotter throughout the day.

We saw some wonderful scenery today but we know the best is yet to come with the hillier day 3 and day 4 legs.  However today we started to pick up signs the Romans had been here with various bits of wall including some which had been relocated and turned into a house (neat trick!).

We walked nearly all day on the ‘Barbarian’ side of the wall and not a blue painted warrior with a Mexican moustache in sight! A bit boggy in places though so our footwear took a pounding (along with our legs). My hips were sore after day 1 but OK today. Chris is OK.

I attached some photos above. One is PLANETS Charity ‘silicone selfie’ on a real piece of the Wall. Another is a side angle of the same piece of wall. This is an interesting stretch as it represents a significant design change where the wall reduces from a 10 foot width to 8 foot and continues as 8 foot to the western most edge.  The old ‘Time, Cost, Quality’ triangle springs to mind!

What a piece of engineering this must have been in those days.

Also attached is a picture of a building mainly constructed from wall stones – an example of the desecration of the Wall before Mr John Clayton (powerful landowner) stopped it realising the historical significance was being destroyed.

We meet up with Dave Taylor tonight and are very grateful to him for finding the time to walk with us on day 3. We will be covering some of the most spectacular scenery including the famous fort at Housesteads.  Change of terrain too, a bit hillier!


ee you all tomorrow?




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Hadrian’s Wall Day 1 – Sunny Newcastle (no fog on the Tyne)


First day under our belts but it wasn’t easy.  We always knew it would be an odd walk with the first two thirds in urban environments. The first third of the route took us from Segedumun Fort, the official start/end of the wall walk in the east. There is evidence of Newcastle’s previous and declining shipping industry all the way along the Tyne.  The second third took us through modern Newcastle including impressive views of the Sage and Baltic Arts Centres on the opposite bank and the iconic Tyne Bridge which we walked under.  Quite a lot of riverside flats on show, some with nice looking views.

The final third takes you to the outskirts and out into the countryside.  We were able to see Heddon-on-the-Wall on top of a ridge to our right indicating we would be climbing at some point and the eventual climb was more severe than I imagined!  However when we got into the village, we had a well deserved drink.  It was here we said goodbye to our friend Nick Naylor who had walked with us all the way.  Nick was a work colleague from 1995-96 and also a close neighbour.  We very much appreciated Nick’s company and it was fantastic of him to give up his bank holiday.  What a nice guy!

We then set off to find our lodgings which was a further 2 (hard) miles down the route which runs parallel with the ‘Military Road’ (B6318).  Had to sniff out the wifi though, only works in certain places.

I think Chris has completed the day in a better condition than me, I’m feeling pretty sore and stiff.  Hopefully I’ll be able to walk off these problems tomorrow.  Looking forward to meeting up with Dave Taylor tomorrow night ready for Day 3.

Hopefully will be able to update you all again tomorrow (depends on good access to wifi!).


Ronny & Chris

My ‘right-hand’ woman – Chris

There’s been a lot in my blogs about cancer, the cancer patient and the medical teams. However, we sometimes forget to mention the close family and friends who are also a piece of the cancer jigsaw. Without these people, it’s possible the patient would potentially have a much poorer quality of life.

I’ve had tremendous support from my immediate family and many of my friends. Some of my closest friends have almost been functioning as counsellors. I’m in a much better place than I was nearly 7 years ago but I have a lot of people to thank for some excellent progress.  My son & daughter’s families have all been there for me and although my 4 grandsons don’t quite understand the situation, their presence in my life is a great tonic.

Perhaps even more focus should be given to those who are supporting, living with and in many cases, caring for cancer patients 24/7 – often routinely taken for granted.  In particular, I’d like to focus on my wife Chris who has actually been at my side for most of my adult life. She was there when I received the bad news and she helped me break this news to others.  She was the first person I saw when I woke up after major surgery. Over the last 7 years since diagnosis, she’s been watching over me when I’m not quite 100%. She was singularly responsible for getting me fit enough to be able to fulfil a long-term ambition to walk the entire 84 miles of 2000 year old Hadrian’s Wall in 2014 and she walked every single mile with me. I recently wanted to walk up a very big hill in Wales and she was there too (see photos).


Thanks for reading

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