Hadrian's WallHadrian's Wall was built by the Roman Empire to protect their colony in England from the Pictish tribes in Scotland. It stretches for across the north of England from the Irish Sea to the North Sea in the counties of Cumbria, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear.
Built by Roman soldiers in the 2nd century AD, only stretches of the wall are still visible, but the wealth of archaeological research has resulted in an almost unparalleled cluster of museums and excavations. Hadrian's Wall is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Cities & towns
There is now a recognised National Trail, the long Hadrian's Wall Path, that follows (with deviations that mean the trail is longer than the wall) the whole length of the wall from Wallsend to the Solway Firth (or vice versa). The path is relatively easy going for most of its route, with the notable exception of the middle section around Steel Rigg. Here the path rises and falls steeply as it follows the escarpment. This section is however regarded as the most beautiful.
The region is well served by road and a railway runs parallel to the wall from Newcastle to Carlisle. A single ticket is approximately £13 (as of April 2010). There is a bus that runs the length of the wall from Bowness in Soloway to Newcastle (both ways) 7 days a week, circa April to September. Bus number AD122. Ideal for linear walking allowing return to a vehicle or lodging.
phone: +44 1434 344363address: Haydon Bridge, NE47 6NNThe most famous sight on the Wall, Housesteads is the most complete Roman fort in Britain, and one of the best-preserved in Europe. English Heritage are in the process of improving the visitors' centre, replacing the rather small museum.
VindolandaVindolanda is not quite as complete a ruin, but has a somewhat better museum, and features a reconstructed section of Wall. It is particularly interesting to archaeology.
phone: +44 1434 681379address: Chollerford, NE46 4EUA former Roman cavalry fort, Chesters has a fairly extensive - if rather old-fashioned - museum including exhibits excavated at Housesteads and elsewhere.
phone: +44 191 278-4217address: Buddle Street, WallsendThe remains of the Roman fort at Segedunum, eastern terminus of the Wall. It's a short walk away from the Wallsend Metro stations. In fact many of the signs at the metro station have been translated into Latin, including the aptly named Vomitorium.
MithraeumOne of the few partially preserved temples of the god Mithras in the UK.
The museums are rounded out by the Roman Army Museum.
Look out for military jets training in the skies above Kielder Forest. There is a (relatively) secret RAF base within the forest that serves as an electronic warfare training base.
- For a nice day: Breakfast at the Once Brewed YHA hostel, walk to Vindolanda, then loop north to Hadrian's Wall, walk along the wall for a few hours, then walk back to the Twice Brewed Inn for supper and real ale.
- Daytrip from Newcastle upon Tyne: Take bus AD122 from Central Station at 09:30 to Chester Roman Fort (£4.50). Visit the Roman fort and museum (Entrance fee adults £5.00/concession £4.50), then hike on the Hadrian's Wall Trail to Housesteads. Visit the Housesteads Roman Fort and museum (Entrance fee adults £5.00/concession £4.50). Walk to the road (entrance to parking lot) and flag down the bus AD122, which passes here at 17:34 back to Newcastle (£5.50; and the only direct bus to Newcastle).
- Hike the whole of it, from Bowness-on-Solway to Wallsend or vice versa. Book your accommodation couple of months in advance, for the trail is very popular, and if you just knock on the door of a random B&B on your way you'll probably find it fully booked.
Eat & drink
phone: +44 1697 747411address: Greenhead, Brampton, Cumbria, CA8 7HBThe hotel and hostel are a short distance from the wall. For the hostel, ask at the hotel.
address: Military Road, Bardon Mill, NE47 7ANThe hostel is pleasant and friendly.
phone: +44 1434 688668address: Military Road, Grindon, Haydon Bridge, NE47 6NQBed and Breakfast close to the middle section of the wall and offers very good accommodation, good food, good beer, and is a short walk from the wall.
address: Gilsland, CA8 7DATantallon House offers accommodation around 10 minutes walk from the National Trail. It also has a holiday cottage.