Hadrian's Wall stretches from Wallsend, Tyne and Wear to Bowness-on-Solway in Cumbria, or to be more precise, between the Roman Forts of Segedunum and Maia. It was built under the orders of Emperor Hadrian on AD 122 to mark the northern limit of the Roman Empire, it is the most important monument built by the Romans in Britain, and a reminder of the past glories of one of the world's greatest civilisations.
Although much of the wall has since disappeared what is left is often spectacular especially where it follows the uplands in the Northumberland National Park. The wall is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and now from May 2003, a new 83 mile National Trail. It is thus now possible to follow the remains of the wall for the whole length of the way, even through the built up areas at either end, in fact unless you are a wall scholar the best place to start your walk is Heddon-on-the-Wall.
Another thing worth contemplating is the fact that for 22 miles between Heddon-on-the-Wall and Milecastle 33, the route stays beside the fairly busy B6138. Although you will be walking on a footpath, and purists will be followingthe wall line, its course is followed by the road!
You can decide therefore whether you want to follow the National Trail, or with the right maps, you could come off wall route and deviate using minor roads and footpaths via Corbridge and Hexham to rejoin the wall trail at Chollerford.
The best remains and the nicest scenery is found in the Northumberland National Park and in Cumbria: the central and Western parts of the route.
Tourist Information Centres: Brampton (seasonal) 016977 3433, Carlisle 01228 625600, Haltwhistle 01434 322002, Hexham 01434 652220, Newcastle 0191 261 0610, Once Brewed (seasonal) 01434 344396.
Stage 1: Wallsend to Heddon on the Wall 15 Miles (24km)
From the tourist information in Wallsend, by the Swan Hunter Ship Yard, the trail heads out following the walls of the ancient Roman fort of Segedunum. Take the Fossway through Walker and Byker. There can be very busy traffic along Shields Road, until there is the opportunity to drop down to the Tyne river via "Broad Chare" road for a vista of the Elegant Tyne Bridges and of the Newcastle skyline inc. St. Nicholas Cathedral. There should be time to climb up to Newcastle Keep. Walk out of the city by the built up banks of the River Tyne. Cross the busy A69 and then the Western Newcastle bypass and continue Through Newburn before steeply ascending from the river with the countryside about to open up, You enter Northumberland continue to the first substantial section of the wall just before reaching Heddon -on-the-Hill.
Stage 2: Option A: Purists Route: Heddon on The Wall to Chollerford 15.25 miles (24.5km)
The route follows the B6318 out of Heddon crosses the A69 then follows the waymarked trail sometimes in the Vallum ditch, and beside the road, with only minor deviations all the way to Chollerford. There are neverthe less some interesting things to see: hr remains of Vindobala Roman Fort, The Welton Reservoirs, with beautiful associated meadows which in Spring have many flowers; the site of Halton Castle, the field patterns in the fields nearby and there is the battle site of heaven field. Won by Oswald king of Northumbria against forces sent from wales and the English Midlands. You the come into the Wall, Chollerford and Humshaugh areas for accommodation
Stage 2: Option B: Heddon on the Wall to Hexham 16 Miles (25.5km)
Follow the road as above turning off at Rudchester farm, away from the wall line for the next 11 miles, through Horsley and then finally across the fields, entering woods to cross the Whittle dene. Cross fields and minor roads zig - zagging across the landscape until rolling onto the old Newcastle road and into Corbridge with the interesting remains of Corstopitum Roman Fort at the intersection of what was Dere Street, the Roman Road. Reach the pretty village of Corbridge, then crossing the Tyne the trail heads to Dilston, going over the railway line and on through the forests of Park Wood past the Duke's House in all its neo gothic glory! Then it is down through Spruce and Larch into the old market town of Hexham, a great place to pause if you are not staying here. Famous market place and Abbey, lots of beer & good views from the Tyne! From Hexham, either stay the night, or walk, or take a taxi the five miles to Chollerford to continue the wall walk, Cross over the Tyne, continuing on via minor roads through the former pit village of Acomb and rejoining the line of Hadrian's Wall a mile before Chollerford which we reach once again on the B6318 military road..
Stage 3: Chollerford to Once Brewed 12 Miles (19.3 km)
Next it is on through Chollerford, still on the road as far as Fozy Moss, where the road veers off the wall as it reaches the crags of the Whin Sill Escarpment. Our stage roller coasters to Housteads, with its famed fort and National Trust Museum. There are excellent views over what Richards calls the "Northward Tynescape" to the Bellingham and Simonside Hills. Now follows arguably the most scenic section of the trip over Highshield crags and then down via Peel Crags to the National Park car park at Steel Rigg, from where you can walk out to accommodation at Once Brewed.
Stage 4: Once Brewed to
Walton 16.25 Miles (26 km) (or Brampton (+2 mile or 3.2km diversion off route)
The wall climbs to its highest point over Winshields Crags, before descending to the delightfully named Bogle hole. Downsteps through Thorny Doors and up Cawfields Crags with excellent views onto the Pennines. The way passes by Great Chesters and Magnis (Roman forts), passing Greenhead, the ruin of Thirlwall castle and in another mile or so crosses the Cumbria / Northumberland border on the River Irthing at Gilsand (possibility of accommodation). Interesting Roman defences are found at Birdoswald, and eventually after a trek to Banks you will find a shop / Post office. However it is yet another three miles of some of the best cross country walking of the entire trek, until you reach the real reason for the day's walk…that's right the pub in Walton - The Centurion! The pretty little town of Brampton is the obvious place for accommodation around here, but this is two miles off the route proper.
Stage 5: Walton/Brampton to Carlisle 11 Miles (17.8 km)
The route continues undulating across country, passing Castlesteads House, crossing the Cam beck, briefly joining the road at Newtown before skipping across the fields and once again after a few miles you join minor roads, crossing the M6 and on via Rickerby into Carlisle on quieter tracks by the beautiful River Eden. This is a very interesting historic city and has good transport connections if you have to leave at this point.
From Carlisle the Wall Walk follows the Cumbrian Coastal Footpath, firstly out of the defunct industrial suburbs of the town. Perhaps of interest to people into industrial heritage. The trail follows the Eden once again, more or less parallel with the line of the Wall and Vallum, through Grinsdale and Beaumont where you at last veer away from the Eden. You get good views from just north of the village to the peaks of Skiddaw and High Pike to the south and across the Solway Firth to the West. Through Burgh by Sands, a short detour takes you to the point on the marsh where Edward I died in 1307. In the vicinity of Dykesfield House, the trail joins an old railway embankment for a couple of miles before rejoining the line of "The Wall" near Glasson. From here the route follows the minor road to Bowness on Solway, the site of the Roman fort of Maia and journey's end.
Fast frequent rail services operate along the East Coast Main line between London, York, Newcastle and Edinburgh, operated by GNER with rail connections from Newcastle into the Tyne Valley. Virgin Trains operate Intercity trains between London, Manchester, Carlisle and Glasgow with rail connections from Carlisle into the Tyne Valley. Virgin Trains also operate cross country Intercity services providing links to Newcastle from Scotland, South West England, Birmingham, Sheffield and Leeds. Inter-Regional Trans-Pennine services provide frequent services to Newcastle from Liverpool, Manchester, West Yorkshire and York. Please contact National Rail Enquiries 08457 484950 for details of timings and they will pass you on to the relevant train booking numbers.
For connections from Newcastle and Carlisle: Arriva Northumbria 0191 212 3000 (685 service) or Traveline 0870 6082608. A special bus service - the Hadrian's Wall Bus - operates daily along about half of the length of the Wall throughout summer. It stops at all the key locations (including Vindolanda, Birdoswald, Chesters, Once Brewed and Housesteads) and so allows for continuous linear walks over a period of days Further details of the Hadrian's Wall Bus and ticket prices are available by telephone from Northumberland National Park Authority: 01434 344 777 or Cumbria County Council: 01228 606003.
Newcastle Airport has regular international flights from Amsterdam, Bergen, Copenhagen, Dublin, Dusseldorf, Oslo, Paris and Stavanger, as well as a regular shuttle flights from London Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. There are domestic flights to Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Southampton, Isle of Man, Jersey and Wick. Newcastle airport - flight information Tel: 0191 214 3334
There are good motorway connections to Hadrian's Wall. Access from the western side of the country is
along the M6 from the south and A74 (M) from Glasgow to Carlisle. Access from
the eastern side of the country is along the A1(M) to Newcastle, with the
option of using the A68 which links Edinburgh and Darlington to reach the
central part of Hadrian's Wall. The A69 between Newcastle & Carlisle runs
parallel to the Wall (approx 2-5 miles south) and is the main access route.
At the start of your walk: To get to Wallsend from Newcastle Central Station take a train or bus, or a Metro train on the Tyne loop via Monument. If you would rather start in the countryside, then take a bus out to Heddon on the Wall. The Tyne and Wear Omnibus Co. run a service out of Eldon Square in Newcastle to Heddon in 25 mins, it also goes on to Hexham.
At the end of your walk: Carlisle is straight forward to exit from and get onto mainline rail services. From Bowness on Solway, there are a few bus connections back to Carlisle, not sundays but it is easiest to take a taxi.