Hadrian’s Wall East: Five Days & Two Millennia of History in Wild Northumberland
It may be 2,000 years old but Hadrian’s Wall – once the northern frontier of the Roman Empire – remains a formidable barrier. The 135km-long National Trail that follows it, from Wallsend in the east to Bowness-on-Solway (within the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) in the west, is unique in providing unfettered public access to this precious UNESCO-listed landscape. In few places is history so open, on such a large scale. Which makes it an excellent focus for a fascinating short break.
The east-central section of the wall wends across Northumberland, one of England’s wildest and least-populated counties. It is here that the wall performs some of its most dramatic manoeuvres, diving down valleys and climbing up hills, affording big views. It is also home to some of the most astonishing archaeology: excavated sites, with their garrisons, bath houses, even communal toilets, reveal what day-to-day life was like in Roman Britain. And, as well as all the wonderful walks and historical insights, there are plenty of welcoming places where you can stop for a proper pint and a great pub meal. An excellent ancient adventure awaits.
The icons below highlight the distance, difficulty and theme of this itinerary.
Walks from 4km to 10km
Easy / Moderate
High Hills & Moorland / Rolling Countryside
History / Food & Drink
Activities & Experiences
Walking / Heritage / Hands On
Hadrian’s Wall Path: Hadrian’s Wall East
Here’s everything you need to help you plan your very own walking and exploring break in Northumberland’s Hadrian’s Wall Country. Click on the blue arrow tabs below for more information. To save this itinerary to view later, use the Save to My Rucksack button at the top of the page.
Plan a five-day escape in Northumberland to explore the east-central section of Hadrian’s Wall. Base yourself between the market town of Hexham and the village of Once Brewed/Twice Brewed, just south of the wall. Both have public transport links.
Day 1 Hexham, The Best Market Town
Day 2 Corbridge & Castles
Day 3 Chesters Roman Fort
Day 4 Housesteads and Vindolanda
Day 5 Sycamore Gap & Beyond
The itinerary recommends two nights in Hexham and two nights in Once Brewed/Twice Brewed. Here are some suggestions depending on whether you are travelling by car or public transport.
- The Beaumont Hexham – Victorian townhouse with splendid views of Hexham Abbey. Tastefully furnished bedrooms are cosy and comfortable. The open-plan restaurant, lounge and bar serve delicious local seasonal produce.
- Hadrian Hotel – Set in rolling countryside, a ten-minute drive from Hexham. Serves homecooked, local-sourced food in the fire-warmed bar or beer garden. Also has a small fine-dining restaurant, Hjem, serving a tasting menu of Northumbrian produce four nights a week.
Once Brewed/Twice Brewed
- Twice Brewed Inn – Delightful country pub and B&B serving hearty pub dinners and local ale Has an onsite Brew House and a Dark Skies Observatory.
- YHA The Sill – High-spec hostel including 18 en-suite bedrooms, based at The Sill Landscape Discovery C Well located for exploring Hadrian’s Wall.
- Centre of Britain Hotel & Restaurant, Haltwhistle – Traditional hotel combining contemporary style and buckets of history – the oldest part of the hotel, dating to the 15th century, served as a Border Reivers Pele Tower. Individually designed rooms and delicious food.
Food & Drink
Many of the pubs and hotels listed under the Accommodation section also offer food, from pub classics to fine dining. Additionally, seek out some of the region’s characterful cafes.
There’s plenty of excellent walking in Northumberland’s Hadrian’s Wall Country. Many of the heritage sites are quite close – it’s possible to walk between them, or follow circuits.
- Corbridge & Aydon Castle Circular, 10km – Moderate walk taking in historical highlights including Corbridge Roman Town.
- Chester’s Roman Fort Circular, 4km – Gentle loop via the pretty village of Humshaugh; takes about an hour.
- Steel Rigg, Sycamore Gap and Crag Lough Circular, 6.5km – A 2.5-hour loop via one of the most scenic sections of Hadrian’s Wall; moderate, with some short, sharp ascents.
For further walking inspiration visit The Outdoor Guide.
There’s heritage aplenty in this region. As well as Roman sites, take in ancient abbeys and state-of-the-art centres and museums.
- Hexham Abbey – Impressive abbey, founded by Northumbrian saint and bishop Wilfrid in AD 674.
- Queen’s Hall Arts Centre, Hexham – Magnificent Victorian venue hosting a range of cultural events.
- Aydon Castle, Corbridge – One of the finest and least altered 13th-century manor houses in England, set in lovely Northumberland woodland.
- Corbridge Roman Town – Remnants of a Roman town; also home to the Corbridge Collection of artefacts, the largest of the Hadrian’s Wall collections.
- Chesters Roman Fort & Museum– Most complete Roman cavalry fort in Britain.
- Housesteads Roman Fort – Impressive archaeology, high on an escarpment.
- Vindolanda – Huge Roman construction and garrison base; extensive archaeological site and world-class museum.
- The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre – National Park centre with interactive exhibits, rooftop viewing platform and great access to the countryside.
- Twice Brewed Brewhouse – Brewery offering tours and tastings.
- Great Guided Tours – offering guided tours of Hadrian’s Wall, Carlisle & The Borderlands.
- Cumbria Tourist Guides – guiding you around Cumbria.
- North East Guides – delivers outdoor activity packages around Northumberland and the North East.
For further information on cycling visit Cycle England.
Travel possible by car, bus and train. Northern Rail services the region.
Suggested walks should take between one and four hours. They are graded fairly gentle to moderate.
We advise that you check opening times and booking restrictions before travelling.
Please check out these links for latest advice when in the countryside
Click here to access the interactive map
Maps, Guidebooks & Merchandise
The official guidebook and map for the Trail are available from the National Trails Shop along with a wide range of gifts and other merchandise.