Hadrian’s wall is a feat of engineering like no other. It is world UNESCO site and features some of the most beautiful landscapes in the North of England. The path starts in Bowness-in-Solway and finishes in Wallsend in Newcastle covering 85 miles. The path itself follows the original Roman wall and covers beautiful hills, farmland, riverside trails, and plenty of the beautiful and staggering wall itself.
For my hike I opted to start in Carlisle and finish at Newcastle train station as it made sense logistically, however meant I only covered 66 miles of the 85. The sections I missed were mainly road walking and a bit of river walking but made no real difference to the overall trail and in my opinion, are worth missing out.
I completed the walk in November 2021 in a total time of 46 hours and 30 minutes.
I started the trail in beautiful sunshine, taking a steady walk out of Carlisle and down the river following the signposted pathway. The scenery was beautiful from the onset but was a little tough on the feet fairly fast as it was just road walking. After about 5-10 miles the trail led into some farmland and it was plain to see by how straight the path was, it was following the wall at this point and the landscape had scars from its construction. The wall itself wasn’t really visible at this point and most of the stone was presumably stolen for farms and maybe the Priory not far from there.
As the day went on, the Autumn chill was present and with the speed, I was going I soon found myself running short on water. The water situation was quite a problem for the whole trail as the farmland just seemed to contaminate any water sources I could have used.
As I headed through Walton, I had some beautiful views south towards Cross fell and looked forward to heading into some hills and getting to see the wall proper.
Hadrian’s wall really comes into its own around the 30-mile mark and soon joins with the Pennine Way. It was beginning to get a little dark by the time I hit some of the main sections of the wall, but I scored some awesome photos and spoke to cool people along the way. I carried on cruising along into the night and soon found a place to pitch near Walltown Crags about 10m from the wall itself. Once pitched I sorted some food out and had a little wander around taking in the scale of the wall. In the dark, it was easy to see what type of challenges the Roman soldiers must have faced patrolling the wall.
I finally went to sleep around 10pm and slept really well until about 5am.
I made myself a drink and headed into the fog, visibility was very poor, and I was left with the damp morning air surrounded by thick fog and my own thoughts. I plodded along keeping a straight path next to the wall and past sheep (at one point I thought a sheep lying down was some type of bear, luckily it wasn’t). I chose a spot for breakfast in one of the old roman towers which seemed like a good shelter from the wind. I quickly made my breakfast, brushed my teeth, and carried on my way. I reached Cawfields lake where I was able to fill my water bottles back up as they were getting desperately low. I spotted someone in the distance at this point ascending the hill towards Thorny Doors and was determined to catch up.
After ascending the hill I managed to catch up to the person I spotted earlier and spent my time chatting to him and we hiked along together. Turns out he was walking The Pennine Way solo which is quite a challenge in November I would imagine. We walked along, barely getting a glimpse of Sycamore Gap due to poor weather and visibility, but the company was great. Eventually, we parted ways and he went North into Kielder, I fantasized about joining him in his journey North but didn’t have the time.
As I headed East the weather began to clear and I saw some daunting-looking hills in the distance and knew I would have to ascend them at some point. I managed to get some good visibility at one of the old Roman Villas and spent a little bit of time exploring the ruins before carrying on my journey, I was still awe-struck at the scale of Hadrian’s Wall.
I was hitting around the 50-mile point of the journey now and nearing Chollerford where I hoped to score a pub meal or something of the like. Unfortunately, I was out of luck but a few miles further down the road in the fading light, I had spotted the Robin Hood Inn on the Hiiker app. I hoped this would be open and thinking of a nice cold pint and some good food spurred me on to crush the 5 miles or so to my destination.
I was in luck and scored an awesome burger, 3 pints of beer and 2 pints of coca-cola which quite honestly bloated me to no end and made me feel quite sick. Luckily, I would burn it off fairly soon.
I headed East and hoped to pitch up near Whittle burn reservoir so carried on with my journey in the cold. It was getting late, and I was walking next to a busy road. I eventually arrived at the reservoir and lucked out as there was a bird watching shelter that I took full advantage of or so I thought…
At around midnight I was woken a loud bang and a 4×4 revving its engine, I had a lookout of the window and spotted a guy breaking the gate to the reserve open and the driver of the 4×4 wheel spinning into the grounds. At this point, I was just thinking why do people behave like that. I hoped I would be sharing the shelter with some bird watchers. Turns out I was wrong!
3 guys got out of the vehicle and began having a loud chat about setting fireworks off whilst the 4th proceeded to fire rockets into the sky. I could hear the wildlife in the area and all of the birds screaming in a fit of panic as their tranquil night had been broken. The next part came fairly quickly with one of them saying they were going to fire loads of fireworks into the shelter so they could have a bonfire. At this point I was quite frankly scared out of my mind but decided to don my head torch and go to the door, luckily this worked as they must not have expected anyone to be there and they left without even a word. This experience was the worst I have ever had whilst out hiking!
I didn’t get much sleep but cooked some breakfast about 4 am and set on my way towards Harlow Hill which was only about a mile away. I carried on to Heddon on the Wall and scored some snacks from the garage there as well as a drink which boosted my morale for the last part of the journey.
I descended through a golf course and hiked along the beautiful River Tyne speaking to the dog walkers along the way and reflecting on my journey. The path became boring quite quickly as it was just a path walking near the road for the most part. Eventually, I reached Newcastle and found my way to the train station where I had decided before the walk to end my journey.
I found Hadrian’s wall walk worth doing but I think the middle 30 miles where there are hills are the only worthwhile sections as all the sights happen here and the parts before and after are simply paths across fields and next to roads which really take it out of your feet.
I hope you enjoyed the blog and wish you all the best out there.
Nice read that brings back some memories!