'Is there no sun in this accursed country?' Morgan Freeman said to Kevin Costner after he had climbed the hill above Sycamore Gap, and started walking on what was left of Hadrian's Wall when Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was made in 1990. I always felt it was a ludicrous twisting of the legend to remove the green hooded hero from Sherwood Forest, sticking him 170 miles North to windy Northumberland.
Mel Brooks' 1993 film Robin Hood: Men In Tights might have been more accurate when it lampooned Costner:
(Prince John) 'And why should the people listen to you?
(Robin Hood) Because, unlike some other Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent.'
But then again, the sycamore tree to some people is more famous than Hadrian's Wall and has brought a new audience to view it. Ignoring the feeble American attempt to Hollywood-ise our legendary outlaw, Freeman's remark about the weather was about the only historical accuracy in the whole film.
It was not a surprise to arrive at the campsite where a friend was beginning the second day of her walk along the Wall to raise money for breast cancer. The place was still flooded after the tropical storm the previous day. I sat in the catering tent drinking Nescafe and eating jelly babies squelching in my wellies and watching the collection of rare breed ducks luxuriate in the sodden conditions.
The group looked as if they had spent the night in a forward hold on the Titanic. They were the most cheerful lot from Scotland and the South of England. They were all walking for various different reasons, from personal loss or experience of the illness.
'Not as bad as yesterday,'they said. 'Four of us got struck by lightening. It landed in between us and we felt a buzzing coming up from the earth.'