The Hadrian’s Wall Path is an 84 mile (135 Km) long National Trail stretching coast to coast across northern England, from Wallsend, Newcastle upon Tyne in the east to Bowness-on-Solway on the west coast.
The Trail follows the line of Hadrian’s Wall, along the way passing through some of the most beautiful parts of England – from rolling fields and rugged moorland to the vibrant cities of Newcastle and Carlisle.
Wallsend to Heddon-on-the-Wall
Not since the end of the Roman occupation of Britain, some 1600 years ago, has it been possible to walk along the entire length of Hadrian’s Wall. Just imagine that as you set off from the Roman Fort of Segedunum. The Wall was 80 Roman miles long, the National Trail is 84, the odd detour hopefully forgiven.
Tyneside is an experience in itself; the River Tyne beckons with its Quaysides, Baltic Arts Centre and historic bridges. At low tide in the river mud the decaying ribs of Victorian coal “wherries” are another layer in this historic odyssey.
Tyneside is also the cradle of the railway industry; George Stephenson’s birth place cottage (National Trust) is only half a mile to the west as you cross the Wylam Waggonway bound for Heddon-on-the-Wall.
Heddon-on-the-Wall to Chollerford
With not much in the way of gradients this shouldn’t be too taxing a section along mostly the edges of arable farmland. It is all World Heritage Site but with a distinct absence of Wall – or so you might think. The trick is to look for a ditch, impressive in places, on the north side of the road, and the occasional ridge in the fields to the south. Somewhere in the middle is Hadrian’s Wall, and if you’ve read the guidebook you’ll realise that it lies under the modern B6318. Today it is dubbed the military road, not on account of the Romans, rather General Wade, builder of military supply roads in the 18th century in response to the Jacobite rebellion. In a few places, however, look up towards the road and you might spot the occasional Roman stone in the embankment, a pretty good foundation.
Chollerford to Steel Rigg
The Wall landscape begins to change now. Higher, wilder, unimproved pasture, expansive views, the Roman Vallum and north ditch is unmissable. From Wall-mile 35 the classic picture postcard “switchback” comes into view; take your time, it’s tougher than you might think. On a fine day there is little protection from the sun but enjoy the breeze against your face, if you are lucky you might catch the fragrance of wild thyme. Pause to reflect on the sheer achievement of the Roman engineers and builders, but also our Victorian forebears, so instrumental in establishing our interest in conservation. Not much has changed since the Victorian times.
Steel Rigg to Walton
The great Whin Sill reaches its highest point at Windshields Crags, only 1131 feet (345 metres) above sea level yet the aspect is upland Britain at its best. There isn’t very much between yourself and the Shetlands, a wasteland occupied by “The Barbarians”, or so the Romans called them, two millennia ago. Roughly half way along the Trail, at Walltown Crags, you can not only see southern Scotland and the north Pennines, but also your ultimate destination, Bowness-on-Solway, and the land will gradually fall away until your arrival there. Greenhead and Gilsland provide welcome refreshments to relieve the physical, and maybe you will be inspired by the new footbridge at Willowford, fabricated out of the same “weathering” steel as the Angel of the North. A modern structure but one that respects the past, we hope, it might even become tomorrow’s heritage, perhaps. The last piece of upstanding Wall (if you are going west) is at Hare Hill. Savour it.
Walton to Carlisle
By now the lack of masonry won’t concern you. Spotting the humps and bumps in the ground; Vallum here, Wall ditch there, the buried Wall even, will be second nature. It’s all World Heritage Site, however, and just as important as the classic calendar shots of the Whin Sill. Being nearer to sea-level the gradients are gentle, the climate is also kinder and the occasional woodland a welcome diversion from the more open aspect of Northumberland. It all seems to go hand-in-hand with preparing you for the Solway estuary beyond Carlisle, because that is a section not to hurry.
Carlisle to Bowness-on-Solway
With barely a gradient worth mentioning the walking should be comfortable today, but don’t hurry, enjoy the expansive vistas into Scotland as they come into view. Save for the welcome sounds of birdlife, the River Eden and Solway estuary marshes offer peace and solitude and a time to reflect on your journey as you near your destination, Bowness-on-Solway (or Trail’s-end as some have dubbed it). Segedunum to Maia, fort to fort, a Roman odyssey, but we hope that the landscape will have revealed to you some of its many other stories. Now, collect your last passport stamp and buy your well-earned achievers’ badge and certificate in the King’s Arms….together with a pint or two perhaps.
The Solway coast between Dykesfield and Drumburgh, also between Port Carlisle and Bowness-on-Solway, is at sea level. These areas can be affected by tidal flooding. You must be aware of when this is likely to occur and allow sufficient time for a safe walk Information is provided for your benefit in two ways.
Select the port of Silloth (this is the nearest port to the Solway coast section of Trail). You are interested in high tides with heights of 9 metres and above which may cause the affected parts of the Trail to flood.
However, because the prediction is for the nearest port of Silloth you will need to do a conversion for the Trail as follows:
– During Greenwich Mean time (also known as winter time) add on one hour.
– During British Summer Time add on two hours.
You will now have a time for high tide adjusted for the Trail. Finally, allow for an hour either side of high tide when the sections affected should be avoided.
Do bear in mind that these are tidal predictions and that many conditions, for example wind speed and atmospheric pressure, can influence the likelihood of the Solway marshes flooding.
Also, there is no car parking in Bowness-on-Solway, so please use the No 93 bus to get to or leave the village.