Hike the Roman Empire’s greatest wall in 6 stages — Hadrian’s Wall Path

Hiking Collection by
komoot

The Hadrian’s Wall Path follows the Roman Empire’s most famous frontier on an enchanting coast-to-coast adventure through the rolling border country of Northumberland and Cumberland.

Hadrian’s Wall was one of Rome’s greatest feats of engineering. Built between AD 122 and 128 on the orders of the emperor Hadrian, the wall stretched 73 miles (117 kilometers) across the width northern Britain.

The purpose of the wall was to protect the Empire from the unconquerable Scottish tribes. It was the northwest frontier of Rome for nearly 300 years and remains an iconic symbol of ancient history today. The wall was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

The Hadrian’s Wall Path follows the crumbling remains of the wall—past countless Roman settlements, forts, and milecastles—through some of England’s most spectacular scenery. With history every step of the way, it is an unforgettable journey into the past.

Starting from Wallsend, on the west coast, the trail travels 84 miles (135 kilometers) through the urban landscapes of Newcastle and Gateshead before emerging into the wild and atmospheric countryside of Northumberland and Cumberland. The trail finishes in Bowness-on-Solway, on the west coast.

There is no set direction to walk Hadrian’s Wall and both have their merits. This Collection opts for the west to east crossing as you get all the urban walking out of the way early and finish on the serene, wildlife-rich Solway Estuary. The only downside about west to east is that you are walking into the prevailing winds.

In this Collection, we split the route into six stages. Of course, you can split up each stage into as many days as you are comfortable with. You can also walk any single stage, or a couple of stages, in isolation.

Every stage finishes close to accommodation, even if there are only a few options nearby. However, places to stay are not always abundant so it is worth planning in advance and scheduling any rest days accordingly.

If you are planning to arrive by public transport, you can catch a train to Newcastle, which has direct trains from London, Birmingham, and Manchester, among others, and has connecting services around Britain. From the station, you can catch a tram on the Yellow line to Wallsend. Alternatively, it is a four mile (six-and-a-half kilometer) walk from the station.

To get home, you can catch the 93 bus service from Bowness-on-Solway to Carlisle. It is then a five-minute walk to the railway station, which has direct services to Newcastle, Birmingham, and London, among others, and connecting services around Britain.

If you are planning to arrive by car, your best bet is to negotiate with a hotel or B&B a rate to stay for a night either side of your hike in Newcastle. Alternatively, you could find long stay parking in the city. To get home, you can catch the 93 bus service from Bowness-on-Solway to Carlisle. It is then a five-minute walk to the railway station, which has direct services to Newcastle.

For more information about the Hadrian's Wall Path, visit: nationaltrail.co.uk/hadrians-wall-path.
For the 93 bus service, visit: stagecoachbus.com/routes/cumbria-and-north-lancashire/93a/bowness-on-solway-carlisle/xnao093a.i.
For train timetables and tickets, visit: thetrainline.com.
For Newcastle Trams, visit: thetrams.co.uk/tyneandwear/services.php.
For general information on Hadrian’s Wall, visit: english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/hadrians-wall.

On The Map

Tours & Highlights

  • Difficult
    06:32
    15.6 mi
    2.4 mph
    675 ft
    350 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The Hadrian’s Wall Path begins its epic quest along the northern frontier of the Roman Empire in Wallsend, right next to Segedunum Fort.

    Following the course of the River Tyne, the trail meanders through the cosmopolitan landscapes of Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead; exploring gentrified quaysides and some historic bridges.

    Along the way you pass some iconic sights, including: Gateshead Millennium Bridge, the first tilting bridge in the world; the Tyne Bridge, a defining symbol of Newcastle that was completed in 1928; and Newcastle Castle, a medieval fortress that gave the city its name.

    You leave the Tyne one-and-a-half miles (two-and-a-half kilometers) before the finish and make a sharp ascent to Heddon-on-the-Wall, where this stage finishes.

    Heddon-on-the-Wall has a range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, and a shop.

    NOTE: If you would like to make your Hadrian’s Wall Path adventure a full coast-to-coast, you can begin this hike from South Shields, right on the eastern coast. This will add roughly six miles (10 kilometers). Newcastle upon Tyne or Gateshead would both be good options to stay if you wish to split the extended route.

  • Difficult
    07:16
    17.0 mi
    2.3 mph
    825 ft
    1,050 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Whilst this stage takes you deep into the Hadrian's Wall World Heritage Site, the wall itself remains tantalizingly-elusive.

    However, keep a look-out for a ditch on the north side of the road and ridges in the fields to the south. The wall once stood somewhere in between these, where the B6318 is today.

    Despite the wall remaining hidden (for the time being at least), there is still some fascinating history to see along this stage.

    From Heddon-on-the-Wall, the trail climbs gradually through arable farmland and eventually reaches Heavenfield, the site of an ancient battle.

    The Battle of Heavenfield was fought around 633 AD between the Northumbrians and the Welsh. St Oswald's Church was built at the site of the battle where King (later Saint) Oswald of Northumbria raised a cross before defeating King Cadwallon ap Cadfan of Gwynedd.

    A short time later, you reach Chesters Roman Bridge Abutment; the crumbling remains of a Roman bridge across the River Tyne and one of the most remarkable survivals on Hadrian's Wall.

    This stage finishes in Chollerford, which has some accommodation options and places to eat and drink.

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  • Difficult
    05:22
    12.2 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,250 ft
    625 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The landscape becomes wilder, the views stretch further, and the wall comes into sharp focus along this spellbinding stage.

    From Chollerford, you pass Chesters Roman Fort and soon enter Northumberland National Park; home to England’s cleanest rivers, clearest air, and darkest skies.

    As the trail climbs gradually through the national park, you will notice the landscape change from lush lowland to a more rugged upland terrain.

    Along this section of the wall, you pass some awe-inspiring sights, including: Housesteads, the most complete Roman fort that survives in Britain; Sycamore Gap, a tree in a dip in the wall that has become and iconic image of Hadrian's Wall and also featured in the movie Robin Hood Prince of Thieves; Milecastle 39, known as Castle Nick; and Steel Rigg; a cliff-face that demonstrates how the Romans used the natural world to their advantage.

    This stage finishes at Steel Rigg. From there, it is only a quarter of a mile (half a kilometer) to the village of Once Brewed, which has options for accommodation and food and drink.

  • Difficult
    07:19
    16.8 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,000 ft
    1,600 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The highlights come thick-and-fast along this enchanting section of Hadrian’s Wall.

    With 17 miles (27 kilometers) of distance to contend with and 1,000 feet (305 meters) of climbing, this is the hardest stage on the entire trail and will really test your fitness and stamina.

    You begin with a short ascent over Winshields Crags and then descend to Milecastle 42, a very well-preserved Roman fort.

    From there, it is a short step to Aesica Roman Fort, which was completed in 128 AD to guard the Caw Gap, and onto the tall crags of Walltown Quarry.

    Not long after Walltown Quarry you reach the impressive ruins of Thirlwall Castle, which was built during the 12th century using stones from Hadrian’s Wall.

    You continue along the wall and pass a great deal of Roman heritage, including Birdoswald Fort, as well as countless Mile Castles and turrets.

    This stage finishes in Walton. There is not very much in Walton but there are some accommodation options.

  • Intermediate
    04:54
    11.9 mi
    2.4 mph
    200 ft
    375 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The Roman heritage on this section of the wall might not be as obvious as others but it is literally everywhere for you to see.

    From Walton, the trail descends very slightly through patchwork farmland and joins the River Eden just past the village of Low Crosby.

    You then follow the course of the river all the way to the historic city of Carlisle, where this stage finishes.

    As this stage is relatively short and almost flat, it is well worth a brief walking tour around Carlisle to take in a couple of its key attractions (as this route does).

    Highlights in the city include: Carlisle Cathedral, which was founded as an Augustinian priory in 1122 and became a cathedral in 1133; and Carlisle Castle, which was founded in 1092 by William II as the main fortress on England’s northwestern border with Scotland until the crowns of both countries were united in 1603.

    Carlisle has an excellent range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.

  • Difficult
    06:05
    14.9 mi
    2.4 mph
    200 ft
    225 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The final stage of the Hadrian’s Wall Path affords fine views into Scotland, serene walking, and some wildlife-spotting opportunities.

    You begin by following the River Eden out of the urbanized landscape of Carlisle and soon emerge into lush farmland.

    When you reach the village of Beaumont, it is worth paying a visit to St Mary’s Church, which was built out of stone from Hadrian’s Wall by the Normans in 1296.

    At the next village, Burgh by Sands, there is another fascinating church to visit, St Michael’s, which is Grade I-listed. Built from stone from Hadrian’s Wall in the 12th century, fortified towers were added to the west and east of the church during the 14th century.

    The marshes along the River Eden and Solway estuary afford utter serenity and plenty of bird-spotting opportunities.

    This stage finishes in Bowness-on-Solway, which has options for accommodation and food and drink.

    NOTE: Please be aware, the sections between Dykesfield and Drumburgh, and Port Carlisle and Bowness-on-Solway, are at sea level and can be affected by tidal flooding. There are typically boards that tell you about tidal predictions. However, it is advisable to check online, too. For more information, visit: ukho.gov.uk/easytide/EasyTide/index.aspx.

Collection Stats

  • Tours
    6
  • Distance
    88.3 mi
  • Duration
    37:27 h
  • Elevation
    4,125 ft4,225 ft

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