A complete spur of the moment decision yesterday to shoot up the M6 and be part of the Illuminating Hadrian’s Wall event – the celebrations designed to light up the 84 mile wall from coast to coast with flaming torches for the first time since 1600 years ago, in 410AD, when the Romans buggared off back to Italy, leaving behind them only Pizza Margherita and Nancy Del Olio. My sixth form Ancient History teacher, Mr Royle, would be gob-smacked to learn that I remain fascinated by all things Roman as I didn’t pay the slightest bit of attention in class, very naughty, but something must have clicked because I adore Italy and can’t get enough of all things gladiatorial.
It was just like the old days, Veronica, me and a bag stuffed full of M&S goodies, though I did spit out the cupcake – who puts jam in cupcakes for god’s sake, disgusting. Popping two co-codamol (driving with a bad back was preferable to ending up in Gloucester, with Veronica loose at the wheel :-)), we arrived mid-afternoon and faced a bit of a quandry. Did we stay on Hadrian’s Wall at a less than brilliant vantage point (as our last minute planning hadn’t allowed for tickets to the top viewing spots), or head into Carlisle? In the city was a Welcoming the Light event as the torches, lit first over in Newcastle, then every 250 yards along the wall, arrived into Carlisle, then left again for the coast. The latter option won, but first we had a little stroll in Hadrian’s mens’ footprints. Two minutes I left her alone, just to get a lens, and the gorgeous Veronica had man fans already!
There wasn’t much going on when we were there, the torch lighting teams were waiting for their torches to be delivered:
So we plumped for Carlisle, where we discovered that for just £4 you could take your life into your own hands. I read this week that the Cooper’s Hill cheese rolling competition has been cancelled due to safety fears. When faced with the hundreds of wax-dripping, spark-flying, heat-spitting, smoke-spewing torches in the main square in Carlisle, this did strike me as quite funny as the torches seemed completely lethal, but it must have been rehearsed and was utterly the right decision as we didn’t actually see any human torches or third degree burns.
The fiery engines from Pandaemonium led the way:
Everyone followed the spooky white Casper looking thing down to the castle, I’m not quite sure what it was supposed to be but this is a great image of it by dandhphotographers, who are based in Carlisle:
In the castle grounds, the view was spectacular, hundreds of people with flaming torches, gathered around to see the central torch being lit as part of the line of lights along Hadrian’s Wall. There was a fabulous fireworks display, with an ethereal Heliosphere floating around in the sky. Really glad we went along. My sister did comment that once upon a time I spent my Saturday nights chasing lights around the countryside looking for Acid House Raves…. how times have changed eh? 🙂
A bit sad that we didn’t see the wall lit up as we hadn’t learned about the event in time to get good tickets, and as the torches only burned for about 40 minutes, it was impossible to get out of Carlisle in time to drive out and see them. What we did do was great, though and I’m so glad we took part.
Here is a wonderful link to aerial footage images of the wall lighting up:
A blog by Epic Fireworks with images and videos here:
And some brilliant images of the torches on Hadrian’s Wall: