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The Langholm walk had just been the start of an interesting day with Tom and Ally. They knew I was wanting to know more about the implications of having an electric car, and they had had a Renault Zoe for a couple of years now. So morning coffee at their place was dominated by discussion generally about electric cars, and then we went out for the rest of the day in their vehicle. Until now, she had only been used for very local journeys, so this was going to be a test of range – and nerves. (Apparently range-anxiety is a common phenomenon among electric car owners. Certainly I have two incompatible desires for any car I buy – a good range and a very small size.)

I was very happy to go along with the suggestion that we visit part of Hadrian’s Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which I had never seen before. Amusing ourselves with observing whether the car was using (uphill) or making (downhill) electricity, we made our way to Walltown Crags, in the Northumberland National Park, and just north of Haltwhistle on the map on this web page, and ‘arguably the most spectacular part of Hadrian’s Wall’. While the England/Scotland border runs diagonally from south-west to north-east, the Wall runs almost exactly west-east, so land on both sides is in England.

This rotating board indicated that we had arrived in an International Dark Sky Park. (The Zoe is the middle car – I would normally have cropped the vehicles from the photo.)

Great excitement when Tom found that there was a very newly installed car charging point available.

Or not. Sadly, it could not be made to work, neither was there anyone on the end of a helpline to advise.

Having eaten filled baps for lunch, we sat off on the recommended route, though I didn’t see this map (red dotted line) until we got back and were buying an ice-cream.

Tom leads the way
Northern Marsh Orchid
Common Spotted Orchid
Tom risks joining the wrong group.
Remains of a tower

On the way down, I spotted a tree I liked.

I looked back and saw that Tom and Ally had spotted something that interested them.

And another tree I liked.

Lots of Northern Marsh Orchids
And a few more, with some Not-dandelions.
I do like a clump of flowering grasses.

We moved in the car on to another part of the Wall, under skies beginning to glower, but with beautiful views ahead of us, and saw a less incomplete version of a tower, with explanation.

The plan had been to go on to Kielder Water, but there were concerns about remaining charge in the Zoe, especially given that, despite her maturity, no long journey had yet been experienced. So instead we planned to go round, pretty well on our direct route back, Lanercost Priory, dissolved and much mutilated by Henry VIII, but still in use as a parish church.

The vicarage. Not too shabby, eh?

Covid obliged, booking to see round it was necessary, and we established that we could book for the next timed entry. However, the technology of this proved so time-consuming and frustrating that we opted for a nice cup of tea in the sunshine instead.

To the holiday lets… and the café.

Where my tiny mind was much amused by this:

A leisurely drive back to Langholm, via a garden centre for Ally, and I was invited to join in a Zoom meeting of the five Tom siblings, all of whom I had met at least once over the last half century. It was very exciting for me actually to see Mary, with whom I have had many phone calls since the beginning of the pandemic, but of whom I had not actually had sight all that time.

This was followed by a quiet evening in the hotel, where over a light dinner I met, quite coincidentally, a researcher/filmmaker who was due to meet up with Ally two days later to interview her about a community project she is involved in.

Many thanks, Tom and Ally, for a lovely day. (Tom’s blog on the day is here.)

A long drive tomorrow – good job my car is not electric.

Follow-up. I have since learned that Tom and Ally have now done the full round trip as originally planned on one ‘charge’ and also, though it was not necessary, succeeded in ‘filling up’ at a similar chargepoint some miles further on from the one which was not working. Satisfaction all round.