Over the Vertical Steps of Death to Sycamore Gap We Go
- 07 Jan, 2019
During our 2012 trip to England, I really wanted to see Hadrian's Wall. It's about a two hour drive north from the Yorkshire Dales to get there. It was completely worth it! We went to an area called Sycamore Gap. That's where the tree they used in the filming of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is. It's used in several scenes near the beginning. It's the tree Wulf climbed up to escape the Sheriff's men, before Robin saved him for the first time.
The car park is maybe two miles away. So we hiked along the wall to get there. There are three hills you have to climb over, and in true UK fashion, there are stone steps going up and down the sides of the hills.
The first hill we came to started easily enough. The steps had a nice gentle slope to them. About half way up, the steps turn inward (so that a fall all the way back down is right behind you), and ran up the side of a cliff. Now, if you know me, you'll know I'm terrified of heights. So this was a particularly challenging situation. The steps were knee height, and I could only fit my toes on them. If I slipped, I would tumble a very long way down. I did not get a picture of those steps, since I was instead fearing for my life.
But, we made it up, and hiked the rest of the way to the tree. It was very pretty, and definitely worth risking life and limb! It's beautiful there. The tree stands in such a stark contrast to the landscape around it. I loved it.
On our way back it started sprinkling. And when stone gets wet, it gets slippery. So we make our way back, and I'm staring down a cliff face that has steps in the side, and I tell my two friends that I can't go down. It was like staring into the abyss of certain death! One of my friends is in his 60's. He shrugged his shoulders, and told me then I would have to live in England on this hillside forever, and proceeded to walk down the steps as if nothing was odd about them. So there I was, standing at the top of these insane steps, staring down a cliff face, debating on if I could really live on that hillside the rest of my life. And then my other friend and I wiggled down the steps on our backs. My terror has no shame. I started affectionately calling those steps the Vertical Steps of Death. Would I do it again? Yes. Yes I would. And now I know how to conquer the Vertical Steps of Death. Victory was ours that day! And I saw Hadrian's Wall with the bonus of seeing Robin Hood's tree. I'd recommend it. It was the perfect blend of hiking and history.