Hiking Hadrian’s Wall

A few years ago, I planned to tour Europe as I always did in our business. I thought it would be cool to retrace the steps of Roman Legionaries and Auxiliaries on Hadrian’s Wall with my team. Then 2020 came and with it, the global COVID pandemic which put a stop on all our travel. We were confined to our homes for months.

External forces might put on hold our actions, but nothing can put on hold our hopes and intentions except ourselves. And so, while COVID might have postponed the actual trip, I continued to imagine, plan, read, and discuss what that trip would look like. I also started learning Latin and over two years became reasonably proficient.

Two years and a half later, here I am in the UK, with part of my team, walking Hadrian’s Wall. I originally wanted to walk it all of it (about 80 miles from coast to coast), but having only one weekend available, we decided to just hike the middle part for around 40 Km.

Near Carlisle

Very appropriately, the day of the hike, I reached 800 days streak on Duolingo for Latin:

Members of the 20th Legion “Valeria Victrix” quarried, shaped, and carried the stones along the magnificent english countryside. They knew what they were doing, taking advantage of natural obstacles. Every roman soldier was a builder. It shows.

I walk and pretend to be one of them. Like many of them, I am far from home. I miss my family. I imagine and feel for a minute the anxiety of an imminent attack from the north, although the only threatening thing here is the cow dung I might step into inadvertently. I approach a milecastle and climb the ladder that leads to the door.

I smell the smoke from the stove and the nice dinner waiting for me and my comrades. MARCVS is a great cook and always enjoys making something up for the whole CONTVBERNIVM. Perhaps I can get some money back playing dice with my COMITES. Soon, it be my turn to get up there and switch places with IVLIVS. IVLIVS comes from CARNVNTVM. Tough guy, but good friend. My other mates are from all over the IMPERIVM.

Our CENTVRIO LOVSIVS SVAVIS came on a surprise visit. He’s a tough, grumpy old fella. He’s got more scars than I can count. No one doubts his courage, and we follow him with a mix of fear and admiration. He makes sure we are all disciplined and keep our kits in good shape.

I heard MASCVLI men drank all the beer, and he’s requested more. Good, maybe we’ll get some far up here. VINDOLANDA tends to get all the perks.

Last month, I was sent on duty to another section if the LIMES. This part has a gate into the north.

Any openings on the MVRVS make me uneasy. I like the feeling of watching the north from the security of the height. The construction of the MVRVS is solid, and I am sure it will stand hundreds of years; but I don’t trust the north people. They certainly don’t trust us either. Anyway, we are mostly at peace now, and trade flows both ways. Perhaps one day we could become true friends and the MVRVS and VALLVM would be obsolete. What a crazy idea! Not in 1900 years!

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