Wall Mile 28 [HB 210–11]
We now come up against a major diversion which sends us first to the north and along a minor lane. As we pass through Walwick, we can admire the rather aggressive notices warning walkers against using the farm buildings as lavatories (and of course begging the question of why appropriate facilities have still not been provided if there is a demonstrable demand). The Trail then lurches westwards and starts to climb gently up the side of a farm (the reason for the detour), encountering as we go one of the boggiest bits of the whole Trail, a result of heavy poaching of the soil by livestock. The path then heads south-westwards, before turning onto a more westerly course along the northern rim of the ditch for a while. Finally, we get back to the line of the Wall near a recent quarry, which has ironically removed both wall and ditch. We cross the ditch and head first south then west up the field, with the Military Road to our left.
We are in fact now closer to the Military Road than the wall and ditch, but no matter. The very fact that we are walking between the 18th-century road and Hadrian’s Wall reminds us that not all of the wall was destroyed by the road being placed on top of it. In fact, the original survey conducted for the Military Road by Campbell and Debbeig proposed using the Vallum far more than was actually the case when the time came to construct the road (perhaps a result of their evident antiquarian interest in the curtain wall itself and its associated monuments; the construction companies had no such qualms).
Continuing to climb gradually, we arrive at a side road which we must cross with the usual care. The Wall was recently crossed by a major underground electricity cable here, but directional drilling meant it went right under the whole monument without causing any damage. Isn’t technology wonderful? Once we are beyond the wall, we have to circumnavigate a small plantation, cross the ditch by means of a stile and steps, and find ourselves presented with the glories of Milecastle 29.
Milecastle 29 (Tower Tye) [HB 211; haiku]
This is a milecastle which exists now solely as an earthwork, but is nevertheless an extremely interesting example. Excavated by John Clayton, the trenches dug by stone robbers, eager to get at its walls, are still sharply defined. However, there is an additional detail that the keen-of-eye may be able to make out and that is the fact that the milecastle is one of the few known to have had a ditch around it. It shows up now as a shallow depression around the west, south, and east sides.