The UK is a country full of great walks. One of the most popular is the walk along Hadrian’s Wall.
When walking in the countryside one has to go by the Country Code. Basically this means that you leave gates and property as they were found and that you take your litter out with you. It is imperative that dogs are under close control as you will pass lots of farm animals en route. In the UK one has rights to cross private property. It is suggested that when walking Hadrian’s Wall path that you have respect for where you are walking and that you don’t walk on well worn sections and that you cross the wall only at recognized rights of way.
Hadrian’s Wall dates from AD 122 and there is an AD 122 bus that runs along the route. So this is an alternative way to see the wall if you don’t want to walk it or just take some time out from your walk.
Hadrian’s Wall is a remarkable monument from the time of Roman rule in Britain. The Romans wanted to protect the land to the south from the Barbarians in the North as there just weren’t enough military personnel to guard this area. There were already forts at Carlisle and Corbridge which were linked by a road. Other forts were established at Vindolanda and at Nether Denton. In AD 117 Hadrian decided to build a wall north of the Stanegate in the east as far as the new bridge Pons Aeluis across the Tyne and in the west beyond Carlisle to Bowness.
The height was probably 5 metres with milecastles at regular intervals and in between these a pair of turrets. Eleven more forts were built at 7 mile intervals. The wall was stone for about 43 modern miles but was often of turf. The base was initially 20 feet wide at the base. The width changed to 7.5 feet later probably due to practicality. At one point the limestone could not be dug through and the crags were left to act as the wall.
The walk now has parts of the ancient wall, some turrets, milecastles and temples along part of the route. As well you can discern where the ditches and vallums were dug alongside the wall that were used for protection. Close to the route various forts have been discovered and you can walk through the encampments where the Romans lived and view the items from their everyday life that have been found.
The wall runs from Bowness-on-Solway in the west to South Shields in the east. One can start at either end or just take in sections at a time.
You can spend a week or more walking the entirety of the wall and is you wish, you an engage a company to arrange your accommodation and to move your luggage as you go. Many people drive to certain sections or to the forts for a day out or a weekend getaway. Popular destinations along the route are the forts that have been discovered. These include Corbridge, Vindolanda, Great Chesters, Vercovicivm (Housesteads) and Birdoswald. Close to the Wall Lanercost Priory is a popular visitor’s spot. There is also the Roman Army Museum near Gilsland
A good place to see a section of the wall is at Heddon-on-the-Wall close to Houghton. The Brunton Turret is the best example of a turret that remains on the wall.
Some of the best scenery is at Housesteads. In this area can be found the often photographed Sycamore Gap.
A suggested walk would be to start from the Segedunem Fort at Wallsend just a short metro ride west of Newcastle. This fort has a viewing area and museum. There is a map of the Wall so is a great place to get an understanding and an overview of where you will be going.
Get a guide book that explains where to walk. The first day follows the bank of the Tyne River until you are away from Newcastle. It will be time to make it a day so I would suggest leaving the walk and heading west to Wylam for the night.
Get back to the Hadrian’s wall walk in the morning and head towards Heddon-on –the-Wall. This is the first substantial piece of wall since Wallsend. There will be much to see today. The Temple of Mithras and the best remains of a turret , The Brunton Turret are on this route. There are lots of remains of vallums and ditches. You can end your day in the village of Wall which is a bit off of the Hadrian’s Wall walk or you could choose to walk south to the fort at Corbridge first.
The third day is a long walking day but there is the best scenery and landscape including the most photographed site on the walk - the Sycamore Gap. You start the day passing Chesters Fort and a Roman bridge. There is the fort at Housesteads to see this day as before a well deserved rest at Twice Brewed or at the hostel next door where there is a brew pub.
For the fourth day there is lots to choose from. Firstly, the fort of Vindolanda is a mile or so from Twice Brewed. Then Great Chesters is on the walk today and the Roman Army Museum as well. The day ends at Gilsland. The fifth day has Birdoswald fort as a point of interest and a detour to Lanercost Priory for which stones from Hadrian’s Wall were taken to build it. Newtown can be the end of this day. The sixth day will take you to Carlisle. This is a short day – only about 4 hours. There is not much in terms of the Hadrian’s Wall to see on this section but it is very pleasant through fields and villages and is quite flat. It is strange to see a city again after not having seen too much civilization for a few days. Be sure to visit the castle and Cathedral there.
From Carlisle to Bowness it is about 14 ½ miles so it can be done in one day. You will see an entirely different landscape today as you view the Solway Firth. It is very flat for the most part but there is a steady climb up a hill at one point. You do see where a fort was at Drumburgh and the road passes Drumburgh castle which was really a fortified house. Part of the walk goes along where the vallum was. The walk ends at the sea.
My companions and I took the train to Newcastle where we spent the night at the Thistle County Hotel across from the train station. Other hotels were the Bistro En Glaze Guest House in Wylam, the Hadrian Hotel in Wall, Twice Brewed Inn, Bardon Mill, Hexham, The Samson Inn in Gisland, Orchard House in Newtown and Hallmark hotel in Carlisle.
The luggage was moved every day for us. Arrangements by Let’s Go Walking.
I would highly recommend this walk and do it with friends or family.