Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Walk On Hadrian's Wall - Darkening Clouds, A Clumsy Oaf, But Lightening Never Strikes Twice

'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.'

Great, I thought. This will be a doddle. Show a little goodwill and walk with my friend for half an hour and walk the dog at the same time. Then we'd be back home for brunch.

It didn't quite work out that way. I walked and kept walking. It was even fun. The people were genial. The organisers from Discover Adventure were fantastic. They had been all round the world and had interesting careers. This was a weekend job which they loved doing. They were patient with those who were less fit, had loads to talk about and made the whole thing interesting. I'd go anywhere in the world with them. There would never be a dull moment.

Following the group photo at Robin Hood's tree, I got my deserved comeuppance. For too long I'd bored my fellow walkers rigid about the fact that it wasn't necessary to have the latest jackets and boots, and here I was as proof, in 5 year old wellies and a 32-year-old ripped Barbour. Walking next to the Wall, I stepped on a large, slippery. Both my feet went from under me and I shot upwards then sideways before plummeting to earth. I landed on the wet ground with a flump, similar to something that might have sounded  like Bernard Manning hurling himself onto a sofa. My dog, Cedric looked up at me pitifully and licked my nose in consolation. 

The only damage done was to the ground. Old Fatso had left an imprint in the turf. It was like an environmental crime scene, but without the chalk outline. The next time you visit this World Heritage Site you may see an ancient looking dip in the landscape. Don't be fooled thinking it may have been a Roman burial ground.

It was just me.  

No comments:

Post a Comment