Great country walks: Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland

Walk in the footsteps of Roman legionnaires alongside this world-renowned landmark

Difficulty Challenging
Distance 5.2 miles/8.2km
Typical duration 3 hours 30 minutes
Start and finish Housesteads National Trust Visitor Centre
Map OS Explorer OL43
Step-by-step details and maps

In a nutshell

Showcasing the most dramatic stretch of Hadrian’s Wall, the most ambitious structure built in Roman Britain, this walk brings history to life – it’s not hard to imagine the lives of the men who built and patrolled it more than 1,800 years ago.

The walk starts at Housesteads, Britain’s most intact Roman fort, set high on an escarpment of the world heritage site. Allow time to explore what is left of this ancient fortress and enjoy the panoramic views it offers.

Although lovely at any time of the year, the area is particularly magnificent when there’s been a dusting of snow on the moors, or just after dawn, with mist trailing from the hills and the stone lit up by early morning sunlight.

Why it’s special

When you see the path of Hadrian’s Wall, you’ll appreciate why this great structure was built there. If any hills were destined to form a border, it’s the line of Whin Sill stretching across the moors above Haltwhistle in Northumberland. This historical no man’s land is where the Romans decided to draw the north-western boundary of their empire. Here they erected a 73.5-mile battlement from coast to coast across the backbone of northern England.

The walk is steeped in history, with the sights conjuring up the atmosphere of distant times. Stride along the ramparts and you’ll be treading in the footsteps of legionnaires. Look out at the views and you’ll be gazing over the same countryside that those who manned the watchtower would have done.

But this route is not just about the history. Along the way you’ll recognise several iconic views over Broomlee Lough, Crag Lough and Steel Rigg, to name but a few. You can also combine the walk with a visit to the museum at Housesteads, where you can get even more of a taste of what it was like to live in the fort. Those feeling inspired from walking this stretch of the wall can tackle the full 84 miles of the Hadrian’s Wall Path, running from Wallsend to Bowness-on-Solway. Some sections are over boggy moorland, so wear suitable footwear.

Reward yourself

In the shadows of Steel Rigg, The Twice Brewed Inn in Bardon Mill, three miles from Housesteads, is the place to stop for a pint of ale or bitter, and hearty food is served all day.

Get there

Hadrian’s Wall bus, AD122, runs between Newcastle upon Tyne and Carlisle and stops at Housesteads and other major sites along the wall. Haltwhistle railway station, seven miles south-west, is the nearest, from where buses run to the site out of season. If travelling by car, Housesteads is best reached from the A69.

The GuardianTramp

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