- Hadrian’s Wall is one of the most iconic sites in England and is visited by around 100,000 people every year.
- If you're an avid hiker, there are plenty of beautiful places to pass at this gorgeous heritage site.
- See the beautiful Northumberland National Park, and explore the sites that lie across it at your visit to the wall.
- Learn about Roman history at a variety of sites at the border, like Housesteads Roman Fort or the Vindolanda.
Hadrian’s Wall is a UNESCO World Heritage site in Cumbria, England, running from the banks of the River Tyne and the village of Wallsend to Solway Firth in a total of 73 miles. It is recommended that walkers take seven days to walk the entire route. The width and height of the wall vary depending on where the section was built. It is believed to have taken six years to build and work was still in progress in AD 122 when Roman Emperor Hadrian arrived to visit. It included 80 milecastles, numerous observation towers and 17 larger Roman forts. It was built as the northern limit of the Roman Empire, marking the boundary of unconquered Caledonia and Roman Britain, and is believed to be 1,892 years old. Many people believe that Hadrian’s Wall is the divide between Scotland and England, but most of what comprises north of the wall is Northumberland, England's largest county. There is no set reason why Hadrian’s Wall was built as sources differ, but it was likely to be border control, to stop people from Caledonia coming into Roman Britain. It was abandoned only 25 years after it was built in favour of the Antonine Wall. Excavations on the wall are still happening today, with new things still being discovered. Today it is the home of attractions like Housesteads Roman Fort; walks and bike rides in beautiful countryside; and more. If you're interested in heritage like Wordsworth House and Muncaster Castle or just looking for a reason to visit Northumberland, this is a fantastic site to visit.
The Hadrian's Wall Walk or path is a National Trail and is split up into different sections depending on what you're interested in exploring. The main hike is seven days long, and relatively easy apart from the area between Chollerford and Birdoswald. It is slightly unstable, so walkers will need to be careful during certain weather conditions, but you will be able to see the gorgeous countryside. Some highlights include the River Tyne bridges, Whin Sill escarpment and the Roman Fort of Segedunum (Wallsend), Roman Fort of Chesters, Roman Fort of Housesteads and Roman Fort of Birdoswald. The route is clearly marked, and you can walk East to West or West to East depending on whether you want to walk the traditional route or would prefer better weather. You will also walk past many of the attractions, so the walk will enable you to combine lots of trips in one. The Coast To Coast Hike goes from Tynemouth to Bowness on Solway, and is only six days and will allow accommodation stops as you go. The Chollerford to Carlisle walk is four days and will let you cross ancient bridges, see ruins of castles, and explore beautiful wildlife. There is also day walks from Newcastle, where you'll be able to walk to different parts of the wall before exploring Newcastle at the same time. If you'd prefer to stay in your car while you see the wall, there is a Hadrian's Wall tourist route from the A69 which will allow you to drive past and sometimes on top of the wall. It takes you past the coastal defences west of Carlisle, through the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to Maryport. There is also a Motorhome variation, which is nine days of hiking to Hadrian's Wall while using your motorhome as a base.
Hadrian's Wall borders several villages, like Bardon Mill and Hexham, as well as many other attractions. Hexham is a market town along the wall and is the home of the Chesters Roman Fort and the Vindolanda. The Vindolanda was formerly a key military post, and now its ruins are available to explore. Bardon Mill offers The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre, which is one of the newest attractions for Northumberland National Park. The Sill has exhibitions, a shop selling local goods, and much more. Northumberland National Park stretches 1,050 square kilometres but is a hidden gem as it is currently the least visited National Park in the UK. It's getting busier, so enjoy it while the crowds aren't there! It is home to the cleanest rivers, air and darkest skies, and it is often part of the Northumberland National Park that you see when walking the Hadrian's Wall World Heritage Site. If you enjoy Chesters, you also might like Housesteads Roman Fort in Bardon Mill, the most complete Roman fort in Britain. Garrisoned by an 800-strong infantry regiment, excavators have discovered buildings, defences, and civilian settlements just outside its wall. Whether it's the fort itself you enjoy, or the museum detailing Roman history, Housesteads Roman Fort is a unique place to visit. You can also find the Roman Army Museum, Corbridge Roman Town and Ravenglass Roman Bathhouse, all well worth a visit while you're exploring the wall.
There's so much to see at Hadrian's Wall that one visit isn't enough. Luckily, there are lots of places to stay, whether you want to stay in Cumbria, Northumberland, or Tyne and Wear. In Cumbria, there's the Midtown Farm Bed and Breakfast, a quiet property near the wall, or Long Byres at Talkin Head which is perfect for families and children of any age. In Northumberland, the Red Lion Inn dates back to the 1190s or Wormald House is a popular stop for hikers on the trail. In Tyne & Wear you could stay somewhere more luxurious like the Newcastle Gateshead Marriott Hotel MetroCentre or the Malmaison Newcastle, giving you access to the city as well as Hadrian's Wall. For places to eat during your visit, there's Lanercost Tearoom near the 12th century Lanercost Priory, serving lunches, snacks, cakes and hot drinks and much more. The 1750's coaching house The Errington Arms can fill you up with delicious, hearty and traditional delicacies.
What to know before you go
- The wall is free to visit, but expert-led tours require a ticket.
- Different attractions have different opening times, so check what's available for you when you go.
- The majority of Hadrian's Wall itself is on undulating and rough terrain so it may be challenging to visit while using a wheelchair. Some of the sites along the wall have disabled access.
- There are no public toilets along the route, but attractions have different rules.
- There are several ways to get to Hadrian's Wall depending where you're coming from, which attraction you're interested in, and which end you want to start at, but the majority will require some walking.
- By car, the A69 between Newcastle and Carlisle runs parallel to Hadrian's Wall and is the main access route. Car parking is available at The Sill in Northumberland, which has parking across the length of the wall.
- By train, there is a regular service along the Tyne Valley Railway, with connections at Carlisle and Newcastle.
- By bus, you can get the AD122 Hadrian's Wall Bus between Hexham, Northumberland and Haltwhistle, Northumberland. There are also buses to go to specific Hadrian's Wall sites such as Go North East's 185 service to Birdoswald Roman Fort.