Hiking along Hadrian’s Wall

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
7
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
8
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
7
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
8
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
8
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
9
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
80 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
Europe
country
UK
Length of time
3-4 days
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 250
Time of year visited
July
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
40th/334 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 20% SUMMARY RATING: World Class

Summary

Hadrian’s Wall runs 117km/73miles all the way across the narrow neck of England from the Irish Sea to the North Sea and was an immense engineering statement representing the furthest northern boundary of the Roman Empire.  Today, a walk along the still well preserved sections of the wall, seeing the old forts and milecastles, staying in Bed & Breakfasts and eating in local pubs along the way is the best way to get a feel for the wall and to see the beautiful Northumbrian countryside.  It also brings about that wonderful moment of trying to briefly imagine what it must have been like all those years ago as a cold, guarding, far from home Roman soldier to be looking out northwards from the wall into the dark forests and far off hills of a distant, unknown and unconquered barbarian land.  Great experience

 

 

Top tip – don’t walk the whole length of the wall, which takes 6/7 days.  The sections west of Lanercost / Walton are flat and with relatively little Roman pieces to see, and west of Chollerford / Heddon-on-the-Wall are basically walking along a road / west end Newcastle.  The sections between are the highlights with the best preserved Roman sites and the beautiful Northumberland countryside, and you need only 2 or 3 days to walk them.  Our route was to start in Lanercost, walk the first day to Once Brewed and then walk the second day to Collerford.  You could extend this by a day by starting in Walton and walking to Heddon-on-the-Wall.  Either options let you see the highlights

 

 

Interesting fact – whilst many people imagine the wall as being a defensive structure to keep the dangerous, marauding, barbaric Scots out of the Roman Empire (and indeed it was built to repel defensively if needed), it was actually more of an administrative boundary.  When Hadrian started to build the wall in 122AD, the age of the Roman expansion had largely ended and instead the empire was consolidating its vast land area that spread from the Atlantic to Syria, and from the Rhine and Danube rivers to the Sahara.  North of the wall were still farms and Roman towns built by people who felt safe enough to do so just by proximity to the northern point of this vast empire.  The Romans, who at the time were the European superpower with simply no rivals, had little interest in the land to the north, which had little minerals compared to the tin in Wales and Cornwall, and were certainly not fearful of the Scottish tribes.  The Wall was really to slow down any raiding parties stealing from farms in what is now Northern England and as a symbol from Hadrian that the growth should stop (sorry, proud Scottish folk)

highlights

#1 Stopping at the famous Sycamore Gap, right in the middle of Hadrian's Wall

#2 The walks out along the rock escarpments where you can get a great view across the central Northumberland countryside and imagine what it was like to be a Roman soldier stationed here nearly 2000 years ago

#4 The walk itself - at around 21km / 13 miles a day it is harder than many people expect!

#4 Checking out some of the pretty forests, clean air and very few fellow tourists on the way through the central countryside

#5 Finishing in one of the many pretty pubs along the way, in particular The Angel in the beautiful village of Corbridge

Rough itinerary

Day 0 – arrive at Lanercost Country B&B for the evening with the option of having dinner in nearby Talkin

Day 1 – walk from Lanercost along the wall for lunch at Gisland.  In the afternoon you’ll see the main rock escarpment with some of the best views of the surrounding area.  Finish at the famous Sycamore Gap and have a rewarding meal and drinks at Twice Brewed, where you will stay

Day 2 – bring a packed lunch and walk to Houseteads to see one the best preserved of the Roman Forts.  Continue on to either Cholerford (staying at The George Hotel) or, if have the energy, to Heddon-on-the-wall.  Eat that evening in Corbridge

Day 3 – depart

Travel Tips

  • Accommodation – this will largely depend on your route, but the key is to stay as close to the wall as possible so as to avoid an extra walk at the end of the day.  We stayed in: Lanercost – the Lanercost Country B&B which was beautiful, highly recommend; Once Brewed – the Twice Brewed Inn which is kind of the must do as it is close to Sycamore Gap and a good place for some local ales; Chollerford – The George Hotel, with its lovely grounds next to the river is the one you want
  • Lunch – there are various villages along the way that give you local pub or cafe food.   Main tip though is to plan ahead as there are a few sections where there are no villages and you’ll be without food until the accommodation stop
  • How hard is it – its a light to moderate hike, but it’s spread throughout the day so be prepared for each day to be a full day of walking.  In our route, the first day Lanercost to Once Brewed was 23.5km / 14.5miles, with total incline of 450m / 1470ft and equivalent to around 30k steps.  The second day, Once Brewed to Chollerford was a bit easier at 19.5km / 12miles, with total incline of 370m / 1220ft and equivalent to around 26k steps.  So, it’s quite a lot of walking with a few mildly steep sections, and generally low undulating hills
  • Navigating – its pretty straightforward as there are clear signposts along the way.  Best back up is to just use google maps, which has the route clearly shown
  • What to bring – key thing is to bring waterproof footwear you’re comfortable with and a waterproof in case.  It can rain all year round so just be prepared for it
  • Corbridge – the small town of Corbridge on the River Tyne and towards the end of your walk is a lovely place to have dinner at the end.  Head for the Angel Hotel restaurant which has a great location
  • Cost – your only costs are basically accommodation and food.  Northumberland is one of the cheapest parts of England.  B&Bs should be around £70 a night, the hotels a bit more, pub meal £15 including drinks.  You can make the whole thing cheaper if you stay in some of the dorm rooms available at places like Twice Brewed
  • Detailed map – there are many detailed maps out there.  This site has a good set of descriptions to follow:  Following Hadrian route map

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone