Hadrian’s Wall West: Romans, Rambling and Relaxation in Historic Cumbria
Stretching east-west from Wallsend to Bowness-on-Solway, within the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Hadrian’s Wall remains one of the most remarkable accomplishments of engineering by an empire well-known for its impressive building feats. No wonder Hadrian’s Wall has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The National Trail that follows this ancient boundary measures 135km; this relaxed route focuses on the central and western sections of the path – areas rich in incident and intrigue.
It’s here, where Hadrian’s Wall crosses the wilds of northern Cumbria, that you’ll discover the formidable barrier’s longest surviving stretch of at Birdoswald; where you’ll enter vibrant Carlisle, a borderlands city with a turbulent past (and, now, great bistros and bars too); and where you can trace the wall and the river right to the coast, where 2,000 years of history slide serenely into the salt marshes and the sea. There are excellent walks to follow, splendid sites to be seen and, at the end of each day’s explorations, always cosy inns in which to rest.
The icons below highlight the distance, difficulty and theme of this itinerary.
Walks from 2km to 15km
Rolling Countryside / Connecting Villages & Towns / City Exploring / By Water
History / Food & Drink / Coastal
Activities & Experiences
Walking / Water Fun / Heritage / Hands On
Hadrian’s Wall Path: Hadrian’s Wall West
Here’s everything you need to help you plan your very own walking and exploring break in Cumbria’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.
Plot a four (or more) day adventure along the western section of Hadrian’s Wall. Spend two nights in the pretty market town of Brampton and two nights in lively Carlisle, both good bases for exploring, whether you’re travelling by car or public transport
Day 1 Haltwhistle to Hadrian’s Wall
Day 2 Bimble in Brampton
Day 3 Carlisle, Old and New
Day 4 Carlisle to the Sea
The itinerary recommends two nights in Brampton and two nights in Carlisle. There is also the option to extend your trip with a night in Haltwhistle at the start or Bowness-on-Solway at the end. Here are some suggestions depending on whether you are travelling by car or public transport.
Brampton & Carlisle
- Howard Arms, Brampton– Family-run pub in the charming market town, offering a traditional feel with modern touches.
- Hullerbank Farmouse, Talkin – Near Talkin Tarn Country Park and Gelt Woods, this is a tranquil retreat, with comfortable rooms and hearty breakfasts.
- Blacksmiths Arms, Talkinn – Situated on the pretty village green of Talkin, this traditional English country inn has delicious food, local cask ales, a cosy log fire and a beer garden.
- Farlam Hall Hotel & Restaurant, near Brampton – Luxury hall dating back to the 19th century, situated in the picturesque Cumbrian countryside overlooking sculpted grounds. Delicious afternoon teas; fine dining in the hotel’s award-winning Cedar Tree Restaurant.
- The Sally, Irthington, near Brampton– Stylish, comfortable and spacious guest rooms, each with unique dé All the mod cons, but with the personal touch, plus high-quality cuisine in the relaxed ambience of a traditional country pub.
- The Halston Aparthotel, Carlisle – Luxury home-from-home in the heart of the city, with plenty of added extras. Great food too, with light lunches at Barton’s Yard, a vibrant yet relaxed bistro and wine bar, and delicious dinners and drinks in the sophisticated Penny Blue Restaurant.
- Wallsend Guest House & Glamping Pods, Bowness-on-Solway – Tranquil site situated in the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with a guest house plus quirky, fabulously furnished glamping pods. Ideal spot to extend the adventure.
- 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.
- Birdoswald Roman Fort Cafe – Cosy tearoom; sample a Roman burger.
- Lanercost Tea Room – Delicious light bites and fresh-baked scones, with a gift shop selling local crafts.
- Boathouse Tea Rooms – Tea and cake served right on the waterfront in Talkin Tarn Country Park.
- Barton’s Yard, Carlisle – Vibrant, relaxed bistro and wine bar, perfect for a light lunch or afternoon tea.
- Penny Blue Restaurant, Carlisle – Sophisticated dinner and drinks.
- The Kings Arms, Bowness-on-Solway – Pub serving homecooked meals using locally sourced Cumbrian produce; caters well for vegetarian, vegan, gluten and dairy free diets.
There’s so much adventure potential in Cumbria’s Hadrian’s Wall Country. Walking possibilities are almost endless, while more offbeat fun is available too.
Hadrian’s Wall Path, Birdoswald, various – Circular routes possible, exploring the longest remaining stretch of Hadrian’s Wall.
- Brampton to Lanercost Priory, 6.5km – Easy linear walk; a great way to explore the area’s history.
- Talkin Tarn Country Park, 2km – Gentle circular through mature woodland and meadows.
- Hadrian’s Wall Path, Carlisle to Bowness-on-Solway, 15km – A flat route, fantastic for bird watching; takes around 4.5 hours.
- Port Carlisle to Bowness-on-Solway, 5km – Moderate circular, which starts by following the National Trail along the edge of the marsh.
Ancient history is brought to life in an array of sites and museums across Cumbria’s Hadrian’s Wall Country.
- Roman Army Museum, Greenhead – Experience what life was like for a Roman soldier on the front line; the museum is home to an impressive collection of artefacts from excavations at the museum’s sister site, Vindolanda.
- Birdoswald Roman Fort – Best-preserved Roman fort, on the longest intact section of Hadrian’s Wall.
- Lanercost Priory, near Brampton – Augustinian priory, famed for its involvement in the Anglo-Scottish wars.
- Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle – Varied permanent and changing displays, recounting the city’s history and cultural heritage.
- Carlisle Castle – Long-standing bastion; also home to Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life .
- Carlisle Cathedral – Second smallest of England’s ancient cathedrals, with an impressive ceiling and magnificent East Window.
- Ravenglass Roman Bath House, Ravenglass – Home to the tallest Roman structures in northern Britain, measuring up to four metres.
- Senhouse Roman Museum, Maryport – Clifftop museum overlooking the Solway Firth, next to a Roman fort.
- 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.
The Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) stretches from the estuary of the rivers Esk and Eden to Maryport, on the west Cumbrian coast. It encompasses a range of historic ports and hamlets, nature reserves, rippling dunes and high levels of biodiversity. To the south lie Whitehaven, St Bees (the start of the Coast to Coast trail) and Ravenglass, the only coastal town in the Lake District National Park and uniquely positioned within two UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
For further coastal walks visit England’s Coast.
For further information on cycling visit Cycle England.
Travel possible by car, bus and train. Carlisle has good public transport connections
Northern Rail services the region.
Suggested walks should take between one and four/five hours. Overall, 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.