Wall Mile 55 [HB 328]
We follow the hedge line and fence which mark the line of the wall until we reach the western end of the field. The wall ploughs straight on, but we must now turn left down the (alarmingly busy) lane. For several years now, there has been a diversion in place that forces the murophiliac to stick to the road and risk the traffic to get down to Dovecote Bridge. Descending into the valley, the road bends round to the right and, crossing the bridge, we rejoin the original line of the Trail.
Immediately after crossing the bridge, we may look through the gate to our right and see an English Heritage sign for a section of consolidated curtain wall that was formerly visible here during the summer months (being covered with straw and buried during the winter). Unfortunately, despite these precautions, the soft red sandstone weathered badly and the section had to be permanently buried. It would have been the westernmost portion of consolidated curtain wall, but now it is not. It is a reminder that exposure and consolidation is just the beginning of a long battle with the elements for the remains of Hadrian’s Wall.
Reflecting upon this sobering message, we march on uphill to Walton, the ditch being clearly visible to our right. We pass through the village until we reach the road junction where, to our left, is the building that used to be the Centurion Inn.
Milecastle 56 (Walton) [HB 328; haiku]
Milecastle 56 is assumed to lie beneath the now-defunct pub (which boasts an amusing cod-Latin date on its western gable end) but no trace has ever been found.
This used to be a good place for some map wrestling (the English Heritage Archaeological Map of Hadrian’s Wall is less sagely designed than its Ordnance Survey predecessor, being large and printed on two sides of the sheet, so always requires refolding near this point). Now, deprived of the pub, the gasping walker may find sustenance if they turn right into the village and visit the tearoom in the village hall, beyond the play area.