Helping us to look after Hadrianís Wall
Hadrianís Wall is a very sensitive place, a fragile piece of our heritage. Almost everywhere that you walk is archaeologically important, the many excavations have shown this to be the case, so we all have a responsibility to make sure that the surviving remains are preserved for future generations. Hadrianís Wall Path seeks to achieve an appropriate balance between the needs of recreation, conservation, economic development and farming.
When the National Trail received government approval for its creation it was decided that it should be managed as a green sward path. A green sward, or grass path, is important for three reasons. Firstly, by maintaining a healthy green surface and not damaging or breaking into it, any buried archaeological deposits will be protected. Secondly, it provides the most sympathetic setting possible for the Wall and its associated earthworks, and finally, most walkers will agree that a grass path is the most pleasant and comfortable of surfaces to walk upon.
This decision, supported by English Heritage, means that the management and marketing of Hadrianís Wall Path is different to that of recreational routes elsewhere in the UK. A grass path requires more intensive management compared with one that has been engineered; and understanding the dynamics of footfall, soil type, precipitation and drainage is as much an art as a science. In the wet winter months the soils become waterlogged and this is when the archaeology underfoot is especially vulnerable to damage. For this reason, the need to protect the very thing that people come from all over the world to visit, the National Trail is promoted as a spring, summer and autumn destination, but not as a winter one. We hope that you will understand, therefore, why our National Trail passport season runs only from the 1st May to the end of October each year. You can collect your passport stamps only within this period.
By walking the Trail in the drier months, you will make a significant contribution to the well-being of the World Heritage Site, the latter has its own code of respect, Every Footstep Counts. Please do your best to follow the code, by doing so everyone connected with the Wall will appreciate your help.
When out on the Trail there are a few very simple things that you can do that will not only help to conserve the historic landscape, but also protect farmersí grazing and give you a more pleasant surface to walk on. Everyone wins!
Tip number 1
You will come across small pictorial notices along the Trail that ask you to avoid walking in any worn lines in the grass, instead simply walk alongside them. If you are walking with someone or in a group please walk side-by-side instead of in single file.
Tip number 2
Keep to level ground and avoid the temptation to walk on anything that resembles a ridge. When the Trail was being designed the basic rule of thumb was to avoid as many of the lumps and bumps - earthwork archaeology - as possible. It generally tries to follow level ground and has been waymarked as such. Sometimes, however, you might be tempted to seek a better view by walking on an adjacent grassy ridge or a piece of raised ground but, if you do, you will almost certainly be walking on a sensitive archaeological earthwork.
Tip number 3
Please resist the temptation to walk on Hadrianís Wall itself. The legal right of way is on the ground alongside the Wall and there is the added risk of injury from tripping on the uneven surface Ė every summer the local air ambulance has to rescue casualties from the Wall. Hadrianís Wall is also a fragile monument. The section rebuilt by John Clayton in the nineteenth century, still referred to as Clayton Wall, has almost no load bearing capacity and from time-to-time sections have collapsed. Please do your bit to help conserve the Wall for future generations by admiring it from alongside. Thank you.