BRITAIN'S HADRIAN'S WALL PATH NATIONAL TRAIL is open to walkers, cyclists and horse riders. It runs for about 135 km between Newcastle-on-Tyne and Bowness-on-Solway. The route follows the wall that Hadrian had built in 122 AD.
MARK RICHARDS wrote one of the original guidebooks ‘Hadrian's Wall Path’, which is a useful illustrated booklet, with line-drawings, detailed maps and route directions.
HADRIAN'S WALL PATH ROUTE is 135 km long and for those contemplating this hiking trail for their walking holiday in England, a certain amount of planning is required. Although the path is well marked, always take a guidebook, map and compass with you. The English weather is unpredictable and needs to be catered for.
HISTORY: In 122AD Roman Emperor Hadrian initiated the construction of a massive wall. According to Historia Augusta the wall was built "to separate Romans from barbarians". It deterred attacks on Roman territory and controlled cross border trade and immigration. Unlike the Germanic limes, built of wood palisades, the lack of suitable wood in the area required a stone construction. The western third of the wall, from modern-day Carlisle to the River Irthing, was built of turf because of the lack of suitable building stone. The lack of suitable stone in the area also led to the narrowing of the width of the wall, from the original 12 feet to 7.
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE WALK: Hadrian's Wall Path: Starting from Roman and medieval Necastle, the 135 km trail wends its way westwards and ends at Bowness-on-Solway, the site of the Roman fort of Maia, the most remote of the forts. Most of the hiking trail provides fairly easy walking, there are some stiffer sections across Sewingshields Crags. Hadrian's Wall Path attracts walkers and visitors from around the globe seeking to experience Roman life on the edge of the Empire.
SOME HIGHLIGHTS: There are so many places to visit on this walk including: Newcastle's bridges, Chesters Roman complex near Chollerford, Housteads Roman fort, Birdoswald, Limestone Corner, Steel Rigg, Carlisle and Burgh-by-Sands.
WALKING ROUTE PLANNER: The number of days required depends on how fit and how quickly or leisurely you want your walking holiday to be. Work out the average number of kilometres you are prepared to do in a day, taking into account the landscape and the town or village in which you will end your day. It's also nice to plan on arriving a little earlier in a village if there are interesting attractions you may like to visit, such as in Wall (close to Chesters) or Carlisle (Carlisle Castle). We did the walk in 12 days, however it's also possible to do it in about 9 days.
LUGGAGE TRANSFER: This efficient service is readily available and can be organized through a number of tour operators on the ‘self-guided’ itineraries. It is usually included as part of the escorted and self-guided itineraries.
YOUR HADRIAN'S WALL ACCOMMODATION: This is usually in B&Bs or inns and should be booked in advance.
FOOD: Mostly good quality traditional English food is served up at B&Bs and village inns and there are wide choices in their menu. Cider and ale are common. Most B&B owners can cater for vegetarians or people with other food preferences if given sufficient notice.
WHEN TO GO: The northern Spring or Autumn seasons are recommended as accommodation is easier to obtain and the tourist numbers are lower.
WALKING GEAR: Good walking boots and socks are critical. Your shoes should have been broken in. Also important is what rain gear to take. Make sure it’s made from a breathable material.
The following is an outline of the 12-day walk itinerary that we chose. We decided on this itinerary because of the reasonable distances and the available accommodation.