A friend recommended it on the first day of our John Muir Discovery Award course, down in the wild’s of the Northumberland National Park on the exposed, windswept ridge of Hadrian’s Wall.
We had driven there through dense swirling fog on a chilly early January day, keeping eagle eyes open for a first glimpse of the ruined wall. We struggled…
I commented to Caroline and my friend that whilst our views were obscured, it was exactly how I imagined it for the poor Roman soldiers all those centuries ago, battling the elements and enemy raiders in their defence of Hadrian’s Wall (wearing little more than skirts and sandals, regardless of the weather!). Auden seems to have experienced similar thoughts.
Here it is for you, W. H. Auden’s
Roman Wall Blues
The Tungrian soldiers were from Belgium, so whilst they may not have been dreaming of sun-drenched olive or lemon trees, life on the wall must have seemed pretty miserable.
However, here’s proof it’s also incredibly beautiful in different conditions.
This is at Housesteads Roman Fort, the only place you can walk on the actual stones of Hadrian’s Wall itself, for a stretch of around 200m.
With views like this perhaps the Romans weren’t so blue during summer!
Actually, it was also several degrees warmer back then, as vines were successfully grown at Hadrian’s Wall for wine. What was all the Roman moaning about?!
Housesteads is very well worth a visit (and also apparently George R R Martin’s inspiration for Game of Thrones’ wall!) Entry is free to both English Heritage and National Trust members.
If you love nature poetry, try this inspiring children’s anthology is I Am The Seed That Grew The Tree, with a nature poem for every day of the year.
For more poems check out Kids of the Wild’s poetry section and take a look at more children’s books in the reviews section as well as lots of outdoor adventure inspiration throughout the website from coasteering to citizen science, picnics to puffins. Let’s get the kids outdoors now!
Wild wishes on your outdoor explorations.