The countryside around here is spectacular. We had a year-group trip to Barnard Castle, where the Tees river valley is beautiful. (I have to admit I did not see too much of it as I was discussing Anglo-Saxon history with Phil, a former mediaeval historian!) Then on Saturday Tom and I went to Hadrian’s Wall, starting at Housesteads Fort – which has large and extensive remains – and then walking alongside of the wall for a couple of miles to the east. The
Wall here is at its most impressive, rising along with the Whin Sill – a geological welt that marks the collision of two microplates, roughly correponding to England and Scotland, more than 150 million years ago. Walking with Tom can be humbling. As we came to a patch of boggy terrain, at 6ft8 he strode across. I, well, splashed.
On the way back we drove past the Angel of the North, which necessitated a change of plans to see it more closely. It’s truly impressive!
I’ve started my parish placement. It’s at a church in Haughton-le-Skerne, on the north-east edge of Darlington: the area used to be a village in its own right before being absorbed by the growth of the city. The vicar, David Bryan, has a lively and engaging style, and we have already enjoyed some good, intelligent conversations! Economically the city is deprived: it grew in the 19th century when it became a hub for coal being transported from the West Durham coalfields to the port at Stockton-on-Tees – hence the reason for the world’s first commercial railway from Darlington to Stockton. As the demand for rail transport declined, so to did Darlington and its factories. Much of this I learned at the Darlington railway museum – a little gem, a wonderful blend of social history and trains!