Having done some humble research and writing about a few 17th (18th,19th) century topics and people, I felt it was my duty to study the Classics. When you write about the Latin days, you should read their sources, so I thought. Hence I became an undergrad Classical Studies. Then I felt I needed to implement more things Classical in my life, be it in a Victorian way with expeditions, study- and field trips. So why not walk and study the Roman Limes? I forged a plan.
First on the list: Walk Hadrian's Wall and see the Roman remains
Commissioned by the Roman emperor Hadrian, at the time it marked the northern border of the Roman empire. It stretched between Wallsend in Newcastle on the East coast and Bowness-on-Solway on the West coast. The actual wall itself was 73 miles in length with 80 small Milecastles (Fortlets) and six large Forts. The Hadrian’s Wall Path however, is 84 miles (136 km) due to some small detours. The remains of the wall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
NO BATTERIES REQUIRED: Magnum Panther Tactical Boots http://www.magnumboots.com/uk/panther-8-sidezip-boot-black-mens-womens.html
How good are they really? Used by the FBI since 1982 and as a black Tactical issue since 1983.
Already snow tested every day during "The Beast from The East" storm in mid Scotland and now the with the "Afterslush", wading through the wet mud. With success I must add, no cold feet and totally dry. So why wear tactical army boots and not hiking boots? I might explain why, or I might explain why not. Let's see what the outcome will be...
CLS Folding Seat
The smallest I have been able to find. Meant for when I take a break to admire the view. Looks amazing and incredibly compact, but will it carry a 6.3 giant many days in a row? Let's find out...
To be used with poncho as rain cover, as a walking stick and possible weapon against chaffs and other Barbarians. Basha is an Assamese word meaning something like 'hut'. Basha poles are basically tent poles that were used by the British / Indian army during the Malayan campaign (1950-1959). They have been popular ever since and are used combined with a rain cover, poncho or parka. But one can also use plastic bubble wrap, an old cardboard box or anything else discarded in nature these days. More to come...
Portable Instant Pop Up Tent
I might bring one. These fold-able wonders have literally popped up everywhere on the internet as well as in the field. Not necessarily small but small enough to take along. A quick rain protection possibility for 1 or 2 people? Or an emergency pop-up shelter for when the BandB has cancelled your booking last minute? Lord-forbid! I'm sure there will be a good use for it at some point. More to follow...
Panda Monocular Telescope (30 x 25 mm)
The ultimately cheapest monocular available and still powerful enough to do the job? I already peaked through it and upmarket brands: be afraid! Coming back to this...
National Geographic Weather Station https://www.nationalgeographic.com/
Promises a weather forecast with 5 symbols: sunny, cloudy with sun, cloudy, rain and heavy rain. Apparently it shows Time, Date, Altitude, Pressure History, Temperature, Humidity, Atmospheric Pressure, Compass and works on a 1 x CR2032 3V battery. Let's see what else it does or does not do...
CHARGING REQUIRED: Samsung Android Phone
It will do what I want with all the below apps or I will chuck it in the bin. We'll see...
Of course I will be a great drain on the local energy supplies at every accommodation. Lights might momentarily dim in every town and village I visit. Just nightly charging might however not be sufficient. Therefore I will use a portable solar panel for my gadgets and phone along the way. So let there be sun. More to come...
Drone (of the non-lethal kind)
Taking a picture of an entire area outdoors is never very convincing from the ground. Filming and photographing myself with the Roman remains from the air should solve this problem.
Let's see if this will be a success, or a succession of crashes...
When it comes to apps and the Roman Walls, in my opinion a Pokemon Go style app with which you can see actual Romans walk around and buildings erected would be ideal. But no reason to complain: there are several Wall apps out there! The following are the ones I will use during my trip.
Hadrians Wall App
Very curious about this app and looking forward to give full commentary and a full review as I walk the entire route. More to come...
Antonine Wall App
I already tested this GPS app with a short visit to the wall near Bo'ness in 2017. It gave a lot of information about the local Roman fort. It pages you to download and see the next bit of information. Very impressive so far. I will give full commentary and a full review on this app as I walk the entire route. More to come...
Nice to have this on my phone, but is it really gonna be reliable and tell me where I am staying each night? Let's find out. (Of course I will bring a backup list with addresses, printed on my retro-matrix printer. Not taking any risks here.)
Google Maps App
I will be testing the location sharing option.
For charity I will be crowdfunding for the Scottish Society For Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals.
I'm sure we'll have a warm Spring and Summer so I can wear the SPCA shirts I have been provided with. There will be lots of time for special SPCA picture opportunities along the routes. Press and photographers are more than welcome and cute local pets will be asked to pose with me. You can help me raise money by donating directly to the fundraising page: The Romans Walls for Animal Welfare (SPCA). https://www.justgiving.com/jeromeblanes1
I am basically now fully geared up on everything I need: Bagpack, shoes, clothing, rain protection, etc. My choice was towards tactical gear rather than outdoors recreational gear. Most I bought myself and some was as usual provided by my brother who works for a well known company I shall not name without his permission. I also stocked up on a multitude of tactical gadgets and electronic gadgets which I will fully test during the walks. All my findings can be read here on a daily basis.
Other than my brother's gear and 2 shirts received from the SPCA, I have had no sponsoring. I don't really need anything but any ideas are of course more than welcome.
7 weeks and 4 days before I walk in the footsteps of the Romans along Hadrian's wall.
Of all the hotels and B&Bs I booked for both walks (Hadrian's wall and the Antonine wall) two have cancelled and I had to find other accommodation. This is definitely something you have to be ready for when you are planning a hike. It's not just inconvenient, it also adds to your spending. The closer you get to the date, the more expensive hotels and B&Bs will get.