Hadrian’s Wall Walk – using OS Explorer Maps 314, 315, 316, and OL43
Guest blog by Ordnance Survey’s Gwyn Hughes-Jones
This is a six day, 84 mile, trip along the remains of Hadrian’s Wall. The wall, a roman masterpiece of engineering, stretches from Wallsend in Newcastle (East) to Bowness on Solway (West) and takes in some of the most stunning scenery and historical sights in the north of England.
This is how I did it with five of my walking friends:
Day One does not actually follow the line of the wall but takes you up the Tyne valley. On setting off from Wallsend, we followed the banks of the Tyne through Newcastle before a last push uphill towards the Wall at Heddon. The walk takes in many of the great sights of Newcastle and Gateshead including the three bridges across the Tyne, The Baltic Art Gallery, the Sage Concert Hall, and the site of the Vickers Tank Factory among many others. In addition, there are also ample opportunities for stopping along the route to sample the many pubs.
Tip of the day – We started the day leisurely with a look around the museum at Wallsend which is at the site of Segedunum fort. In my opinion it is well worth a visit for the roman bathhouse alone.
Day Two was from Heddon-on-the-Wall to Chollerford following the B6318. Parts of this road were built on top of the Wall and for most of the day the only remains of the Wall itself is the Vallum (Roman defensive ditch to the south of the wall). The path is fairly flat with no great ascents or descents and ends with the first major roman fort – Chesters.
Tip of the day – Around elevenses we stopped at the Robin Hood Inn which proved an enjoyable and handy place for a mid-morning rest.
Day 3 took us from Chollerford to Once Brewed. This part of the walk offers a lot more of the actual Wall to look at however the terrain is a bit more challenging, indeed ‘undulating’ appeared to be the word most used to explain the days walk later on that evening. This stretch includes a Mithraeum (Roman Temple to the Persian mystery god Mithras), Housesteads Roman Fort and Sycamore Gap (made famous in the film Robin Hood Prince of Thieves). We had a fantastic day with blue skies and magnificent views up towards Kielder Forest.
Tip of the day – It is well worth doing the 3km walk down towards Vindolanda Roman Fort whilst staying at Once Brewed. Vindolanda has been partially reconstructed and is the home of the oldest surviving handwritten documents in Britain, known as the Vindolanda Tablets. A fascinating insight into the everyday life of a Roman soldier.
Day 4 was the day that broke us(!) covering the stretch from Once Brewed to Walton. Undulating terrain (again) and the longest walk yet. It was, however, another beautiful day with clear skies and fantastic scenery and the wall was, again, very visible as it carries on following the natural boundary provided by the geography of the land. Sites to visit along this route are Aesica Roman Fort, the Roman Army Museum at Greenhead and Birdoswald Roman Fort. We ended the day at the fantastic Sandysike Bunkhouse which provided the best cooked breakfast of the route.
Tip of the day – The village of Gilsland offers the comforts of a much needed pub and shops to replenish dwindling supplies halfway along this route.
Day 5 was our easy day. From Walton to Carlisle, it is a shorter walk to balance the previous day’s trek. The terrain on this day is slightly less undulating although traces of the wall are difficult to see in parts. The last few kilometres of the walk take you away from the Wall entering Carlisle along the River Eden. The path rejoins the wall on the other side of Carlisle at Beaumont.
Tip of the day – If camping out of season, do make sure that the campsite you plan to stay at is open for your visit! My thanks go out to the lone camper who helped us out when we arrived to find ours shut!
DAY 6- 23.8KM
The last day of the walk was from Carlisle to Bowness-on-Solway. The terrain along this stretch is very flat, which proved a blessing as our feet were feeling quite sore by then! Unfortunately, there are no traces of the Wall to see on this last day but you can see glimpses of the Vallum. The Churches at Beaumont and Burgh by Sands are built from the left over stones from the wall by the Normans. Burgh by Sands also has a monument to Edward 1st who died of dysentery whilst waiting to cross the Solway Firth. Whilst this day has very few Roman sites the views south towards the Hills of the Lake District and the views over to Scotland are stunning. The day, and the walk, ends at Bowness-on-Solway, very different from the hustle and bustle of Newcastle. We ended our trip with a pint (or maybe two) in the Kings Arms in Bowness before catching the last bus back to Carlisle.
Tip of the day – The last few kilometres to Bowness take you along a series of roads that are liable to flooding so it is advisable to seek up to date information on the tide times at the tourist information office at Silloth.
Overall, a great trip was had by all. Fantastic to follow the path of the Roman Wall through some of the best countryside in the North of England for walking. Tho our feet took a few weeks to recover! More information can be found at-