Wall Mile 12 [HB 166–7]
Leaving the site of the milecastle, we still have a bit of field to walk down until we have to undergo some diversionary jiggery-pokery in order to negotiate the A69, which has been rather thoughtlessly inserted across the line of the Wall and the Military Road. The B6318 (as it now is) lurches to the left, then hangs a right across a bridge, then left again to rejoin the line of the curtain wall, which is what we too must do. We pass up steps and through a gate to be guided along the edge of the road until the Trail rather inelegantly abandons us to get over the bridge by our own devices, skirting some Armco barrier on the way. Crossing over (carefully – remember the manic motorists) will not only provide the benefit of a pavement but also allow inspection of the ditch, which is going to reappear shortly.
Our enjoyment of this section is not particularly enhanced as we pass over the A69 by the accompanying roar of the traffic beneath us until, to our left, just before the road turns left again, we get a view along the ditch as it strides up to Heddon-on-the-Wall. Now look to the right and you can see the orphaned section of the Military Road produced by this diversion when the new road was built. Excavation beneath this section showed that the foundations of the curtain wall were still intact here, even if they have vanished (or, more correctly, been removed) elsewhere.
Our path is now leading us inexorably through the western limits of Heddon towards its centre, accompanied by the vegetationally hirsute ditch to our left, the curtain wall to our right (beneath the road, naturally), and the Vallum in the fields beyond. We are now going to have to get used to walking on pavement, as there is rather a lot more of it to come before we reach our goal on the north bank of the Tyne at Wallsend.
When we get to the end of the road (which is even called Military Road here on the street sign) and reach the junction, we need to cross and end up on the same side of the road as the petrol station. We then turn right but immediately bear to the left, keeping the war memorial on our left-hand side. A curious low metal gate guards the entrance to Chare Bank and that is where we want to be going. The sensible walker is advised not to attempt limbo-dancing under it. This lane leads us gently up hill, with the old church (it has Anglian origins) perched on a mound to our right, until we reach the top, where Milecastle 12 ought to be.
Milecastle 12 (Heddon) [HB 166; haiku]
Milecastle 12 (Heddon) has proved quite evasive. It should be located near the top of Chare Bank but attempts to find it have so far only produced what was thought to be a bit of the north gate in 1926. When the Military Road was being constructed here in 1752, a hoard of coins was found nearby, causing something of a furore; unfortunately nobody thought to record the contents, so we know nothing about it.