This is the longer version of the our Hadrians Wall walk, not longer in length, but with the addition of a couple of extra days it generally lessens the length of some days, thus making it better for slower walkers, or perhaps those who want to spend more time visiting museums and historical sites.
The Walk was officially opened in May 2003 after many years of negotiations with landlords and farmers to finalize the exact route which stretches 83 statute miles/133 km across town and country, forest and moorland, World Heritage Site and National Park.The actual wall however was started as long ago as 122 A.D! At this time The Roman Emperor; Hadrian was having a lot of trouble with the restless natives to the north; those devilish blue painted Pictish and assorted Caledonian warriors were causing mayhem across the wild Northern frontiers and hassling trade and settlement.
It became imperative to create some kind of order and consolidate the extreme North of the Empire, especially after one of the legion divisions was withdrawn from Britain to fight the German tribes leaving Britain under defended.The wall was built “to separate Romans from Barbarians,” across northern Britain at its narrowest point between the Solway Firth and the North Sea. In its original form it was built in 6 years over 73 modern miles (80 Roman ones). It was extended and enhanced with impressive stone defences following natural ridge lines and with a deep ditch (The Vallum) dug alongside it. Later much of the stonework was mortared allowing it to survive the centuries to become one of the oldest structures in the country today.The amount of work and finance that would have gone into the wall was immense; even with slave or conscript labour. Small forts called "Milecastles" were built every Roman Mile over the whole of the route. At intervals huge garrison forts were built so that a counter attack or a raid could be organised at short notice.
Things are more peaceful today and much of the imposing defensive structures were dismantled and used for building and field wall stone. This means that you can enjoy “walking the wall” unmolested by Romans or barbarians, on this alternative Coast-to-Coast route. It is a great walk, with a lot of scenic variety from the modern, busy cityscapes of Newcastle Upon Tyne to the red sandstone hues of medieval Carlisle, from industrial Tyneside to the quiescence of Bowness on Solway. From the barren blustery heights of Highshields Crags in the Northumberland National Park; to the lime green pastoral scenes of the Eden valley. Omnipotent along the route the Wall snakes its way. In sections interrupting a housing estate here, popping up under a road there. Then from being little more than a grassy bank it transforms into stone and rollercoasters over crag tops and down into impressive fort like structures such as at Birdoswald and Housesteads.
Moderate. Only 1 long day of 15 miles, there are short steep climbs and descents. Generally however undulating. Mixed weather can be expected at anytime.
Travel to Newcastle and then onto Whitley Bay. Stretch your legs and take the time to visit St Mary's Island, Lighthouse and Visitor Centre where you will experience spectaluar coastal views.
Accommodation: The Metropolitan is a contemporary styled 4 star B&B.
Today you take the 15 minute train from Whitley Bay to Wallsend and the start of the walk. If you have time before setting off take a close look at the remains of the Roman fort of Segedunum which marks the beginning of the route today. This is a multi award-winning site, with reconstructions of a Roman Bath House and an excellent interactive museum. 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 old Tyne to Blyth railway line, now a footpath through to Walker where you join the River Tyne at the Riverside Park and pass Byker. You come into the riverside area of downtown Newcastle upon Tyne with vistas of the elegant Tyne Bridges and of the Newcastle skyline including St. Nicholas Cathedral. There should be time to climb up to Newcastle Keep. Walk out of the city alongside the river. There is plenty of evidence of present and former industrial activity. As you get to the old village of Newburn, the countryside really begins to open up. You are now in the county of Northumberland. Just before you would cross the River Tyne for Heddon on the Wall, on the trail, we turn off for Wylam and our overnight stop at the end of this flattish day.
Accommodation: Overnight in a nice Victorian country house which has been noted by English heritage.
Start the day with a nice steep stroll up to Heddon, where you can examine a good surviving section of the wall. The National Trail follows beside the road, often along the vallum, the ditch created as a defensive feature when The Roman Wall was built. After about 1 mile, you soon come off the road to follow the footpath by its side. Look out for remains of Vindobala Fort and the reservoirs around Welton which are good for birdlife. Reach a pub called the Robin Hoods Inn at East Wallhouses after about 8 miles, and maybe after a pint, you have a short walk up to your accommodation.
Accommodation: The guesthouse is about a mile north of the pub in East Wall Houses along a footpath. A spacious stone-built former farmhouse dating from 1735. With well-kept gardens beautifully situated in the Northumberland Countryside. There is a Farm Brewery next door.Their Visitor Centre has a shop, bar, award winning tearoom & restaurant.
From East Wallhouses, continue along the roadside path. A slight deviation to Halton after 3 miles might be in order to admire the old keep there. Very near to the end of the walk, you pass Heavenfields where Oswald King of Northumberland defeated the Welsh hordes in 633 AD. If you are staying at Wall this is an attractive little village, with a pretty green slightly off route before you reach Chollerford with another pub. Walk into Chollerford with its handsome five-arched stone bridge from 1775. Or take footpaths down to the River Tyne to examine the foundation stones of the original Roman bridge which are well preserved.
Accommodation: The Hadrian Hotel is situated close to Hadrian's Wall this cosy pub is an ideal spot for walkers to relax. It is possible that you may be staying instead another mile further up the road at Chollerford in a pub hotel.
The Walk continues on through Chollerford crossing the tyne over a beautiful stone bridge. You may have time to visit the Chesters Roman Museum which has Wall artefacts and great gardens with remains of the baths. The path still lingers beside the road as far as Fozy Moss, where the road veers off The Wall as it reaches the crags of the Whin Sill Escarpment. You walk past Brocolita Roman Fortress. Nearby there is a 3rd century mithric temple with replica deity figures of the Persian God Mithras and his associates. This stage rollercoasters to Housesteads, with its famed fort and National Trust Museum. There are excellent views over 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 your accommodation at Once Brewed or at Saughy Rigg.
Accommodation: This is either at Once Brewed or a mile and a half to the north of the wall at Saughy Rigg which has its own bar /restauraunt all rooms are ensuite on a quiet farm.
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.
Accommodation: Your accommodation dates back to 1830, on a farm a short walk out of Gilsland on the route. It is the only place where you stay which is directly on the Wall. It has ensuite bedrooms that are decorated to a high standard. They also retain many of their original character, with exposed wooden beams, local Westmorland slate flooring and antique furniture.
Today is a shorter day giving you the chance to see the remains at the Roman site called Birdoswald where you can see the longest continuous remaining stretch of Hadrian's Wall. Explore the extensive remains of the Roman fort and discover interactive displays, artefacts and a model of the wall in their fascinating exhibition. With delicious locally made cakes and treats in the tearoom, it is the ideal place to stop and relax. Cross the River Irthing into Cumbria, and follow the trail to Banks and another signal tower turret. You can then turn off to visit Lanercost Priory which has a café. If you are staying at Abbey Bridge, Lanercost this is 2 miles or so before Walton, and a mile off the Hadrian’s Wall trail. However, it is yet another three miles of some of the best cross-country walking of the entire trek, until you reach Walton.
Accommodation: A small private hotel set in 10 acres of grounds just outside of Brampton in Lanercost. If you are staying at Walton this will be in a rural farm a mile to the north of the village.
The route continues undulating across country. After crossing the very attractive Cam beck, you briefly join the road at Newtown Village near the green before skipping across the fields. Here you are following the wall line via Old Wall, Blea head and Wall head farms, before detouring on a little “sandy lane” that takes you down to The Stanegate, the old Roman road that leads into Crosby on Eden and the river Eden. Now you will be riverside walking for about a mile. At Linstock there is a medieval ‘pele’, Peel Tower that rang in times of danger so that the locals could congregate within its fortifications. Next come to Rickerby which has, in contrast, a Victorian folly tower. Finally cross the River Eden towards Stanwix, then up into Carlisle - a very interesting historical city, with a castle founded by Henry I, extensive wall and other Roman remains and then there is the cathedral. The town has changed hands several times between Scotland and England and this is reflected in parts of the town’s structure. Carlisle is quite a bit smaller than Newcastle. A lot of the buildings such as the castle and the Old Town Hall are made of fine red sandstone. Beer fans will not want to miss out a couple of drams, as this is the centre for the Theakstone’s Brewery. Visit the Tullie House Museum for a fine collection of Roman remains. The inner city has been pedestrianised making exploration enjoyable around the market square.
Accommodation: For two nights, our small 3* AA graded hotel was built in the 1850's and it has its foundations literally on Hadrians Wall and has proved a popular stay with our walkers.
As you have a second night in Carlisle, the final walk today can be done in either direction. Take a morning bus to Bowness On Solway and walk back to Carlisle or walk and then bus or taxi back. The walk itself from Carlisle follows at first the Southern side of the River Eden. 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.
Trip concludes after breakfast.
Great experience but hard work. However, the feeling of "we did it", made it all worth while!
M. Murphy, Tewantin, QLD, 08 Aug 2017
Per Person, Twin Share