Hadrian's Wall Country has always been a popular destination for the masochistic and the frankly mad. BBC WEBSITE The Guide to Life, the Universe and Everything
New York, New York (So Good They Named It Twice) GERARD KENNY
Once Brewed, Once Brewed (So Good They Named It Twice) THE SOLITARY WALKER
Once Brewed/Twice Brewed is a tiny settlement exactly halfway between Newcastle and Carlisle on the Hadrian's Wall Path. We spent the Tuesday night there. It has a pub. It has a youth hostel. It has a light scattering of isolated farms and cottage B&Bs. And that's about it. But what's with the name? Is it Once Brewed or Twice Brewed? I'll tell you a little story.
In the mid-eighteenth century a certain General Wade submitted a design for a military road which would run east to west just below Hadrian's Wall. Unfortunately he died before planning permission could be granted (evidently it took ages to obtain in those days as well) - but his engineer carried the project through, using stones from the Wall as a foundation for the new road (ah, so that's where much of the Wall went). The navvies building this road naturally demanded good, strong ale from the local pub at the end of their working day, but the pub beer was watery and weak, so they insisted the crafty, cost-cutting landlord brew the beer again. Hence the pub's present name: the Twice Brewed Inn.
Two hundred yards east of the inn lies the youth hostel - which in fact was England's first youth hostel ever. It was officially opened in 1934 by Lady Trevelyan of nearby Wallington Hall. A staunch teetotaller, she announced in her ceremonial speech: Of course there will be no alcohol served on these premises, so I hope the tea and coffee will only be brewed once. Thereafter the hostel became known as the Once Brewed Youth Hostel. And that's the reason why this smallest of hamlets has two names.
Anyway, George and I dined at the Twice Brewed Inn and found the beer very good indeed, as was the company, for the bar and eating area were awash with lively, talkative Hadrian's Wall trampers. Seating was scarce so we politely gatecrashed one occupied table, requisitioned two stools, and struck up a conversation with two friendly walkers who - let's put it like this - now know plenty more about blogging than they did before (and nihilism and owls and American politics and stampeding cattle etc.).
The next day we were heading further west when who should we bump into but poet, short story writer, walker, climber, fell runner, amateur radio enthusiast, music teacher, double bass player and gypsy swinger Dominic of the blog ...made out of words. He also happens to be my wife's cousin. We'd arranged to see him in Gilsland later that day, but Dominic, eager to join up, had arrived early and had walked from Gilsland to meet us. He was equally surprised to see me as, of course, I'd also met up with George sooner than originally intended. This American trekker does seem to possess some magnetic power! Dominic proved to be one of the most interesting and stimulating of companions. You'd probably call him a lateral thinker. He tends to fire off all sorts of thoughts and ideas at crazy angles, often leaving George and I trailing in his creative wake.
Eventually we came to Thirlwall Castle - more a fortified house than a castle, and built entirely of masonry plundered from the Wall (ah, so that's where much of the Wall went)...
Here's Dominic admiring an attractive cottage garden and vegetable plot...
And here are George and Dominic striding purposefully onwards...