Hadrian’s Wall Path: Your Complete Guide
Stretching for 80 miles across northern England, Hadrian's Wall is an ancient Roman fortification that dates back nearly 2000 years.
Named after the Roman emperor Emperor Hadrian who ordered its construction (in order to keep out Celtic Tribes who lived in what is today Southern Scotland) after his visit to Britain in AD 122, the wall represented the northwestern frontier of the Roman Empire for nearly three centuries, whilst today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and considered one of the UK's most fascinating historical landmarks.
After the Romans departure from these shores, the wall gradually disappeared, its stones repurposed for the construction of new edifices, including, numerous churches, monasteries and roads. However, in spite of this, more than 10 miles of the original wall still remain intact, in sections of varying sizes across the full breadth of the country, and in 2003, National Trails opened the Hadrian’s Wall Path, an 84-mile long, coast to coast trail following that follows the original route of the wall.
How long does it take?
This depends on how quickly you want to walk, some particularly avid hikers complete it in just four days, but typically people will take between 6-8 days, allowing for time to properly enjoy its many highlights.
How difficult is it?
The walk is fairly straightforward, suitable for anyone who is comfortable with rambling. The landscape is relatively flat, peaking at just 350 metres, and the few hills that you will encounter, undulate gently, so you won’t have to tackle any steep climbs.
When is the best time of year to do it?
Anyone who lives in the UK will know that the weather can be erratic at the best of times, and nobody wants to walk 80 miles in the pouring rain and cold! Therefore we recommend the late spring or early summer.
What are the main highlights?
As you would expect from a trail so rich in history, there are numerous sites of interest along the way, not to mention some thoroughly picturesque scenery. Expect verdant landscapes, stunning panoramic views, and a wealth of well-preserved Roman landmarks.
Birdoswald boasts the longest remaining stretch of wall, plus the remains of a Roman fort, a turret and a milecastle.
- Steel Rigg and Sycamore Gap
Steel Rigg is considered one of the most scenic parts of the trail, thanks to its striking vistas of the rugged cliffs of Peel Crags, with the wall cresting above them. A mile further east Sycamore Gap features a striking scene, a single sycamore set within a dramatic dip, and has, over the years, been used as a location for numerous films, including the Kevin Costner-starring 1991 epic, Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves.
- Brocolitia - The Temple of Mithras
Situated in one of the most picturesque sections of the walk, Brocolitia once housed a Roman Fort. Though little of the fort remains, the site is home to one of the most fascinating landmarks on the route, the Temple of Mithras, which was dedicated to the god beloved by Roman soldiers.
Do I need a guide?
Though the walk can be done solo, this requires a fair amount of planning and preparation, and so, for the best experience, we recommend joining a guided group tour.
They will take care of every detail, from the transport to (and from) the start and finish points, your, meals and accommodation. On top of that, you’ll get some fascinating insights from your knowledgeable guide, and meet some like-minded adventurers!