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Best Of The Hadrian’s Wall Walk In 1 Day

Best Of The Hadrian’s Wall Walk In 1 Day

Best Of The Hadrian’s Wall Walk In 1 Day

Hadrian’s Wall stretches for 73 miles and walking the entire length takes 5 to 7 days. But the highlights are all quite compact; here’s how to see the best of the Hadrian’s Wall Walk in one day.

Hadrian’s Wall stretches from coast to coast along undulating countryside in northern England. Built by the Romans to defend the furthest north-western edges of their empire, the defensive fortification consisted of a 10-foot wall with forts and turrets backed by a massive ditch.

Set amongst beautiful rolling hills, glacial lakes, and rocky crags, it’s one of the finest Roman remains in the country.

Walking the entire length of the Hadrian’s Wall path takes 5 to 7 days. But the best-preserved sections of wall, most dramatic viewpoints and the finest scenery are all found in a relatively compact central section. Therefore, you can collect all the highlights of the Hadrian’s Wall Walk in just one day, capturing some of the best experiences in Northumberland.

Our guide to the Hadrian’s Wall highlights includes a map of the best sections to walk, our favourite scenic spots and where to grab refreshments. If you have time to explore a little longer, we have some recommendations on where to stay in Northumberland.

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A lone sycamore tree between a roman wall.

HADRIAN’S WALL FACTS

Emperor Hadrian commanded the wall be built to defend the wild northwest frontier of the Roman Empire. Construction began in AD122, and it is thought to have taken only 10 years to complete.

The main defensive fortification was a 10-foot wall comprising 158 turrets, 80 guarded posts and 17 larger forts. The forts were built to station the local Roman legionaries who patrolled the border. The guarded posts (called milecastles with one built every Roman mile) allowed for the controlled movement of people across the wall. Between each milecastle, two turrets were positioned from where soldiers could spy any invading forces.

Today the wall, milecastles and forts lie in ruin. In some places, the wall has completely disappeared but in others, it rises to 5 feet or more as it undulates across the countryside. The forts and milecastles are in similar ruin but ancient floor plans of this once remarkable construction persist in a few locations.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE HADRIAN’S WALL PATH

The Hadrian’s Wall Walk is a path stretching the length of the wall as it divides the countryside in the north of England between Wallsend in Newcastle upon Tyne and Bowness in Cumbria. There are plenty of highlights along the route, but here are our favourite sections.

01 – BEST PRESERVED SECTION OF HADRIAN’S WALL

In many places along its near eighty-mile journey, the wall has completely disappeared, but in others, it is a solid ribbon of rock. Ominous and foreboding, it rises above the bucolic countryside.

WALLTOWN CRAGS

In our opinion, the best section is on top of Walltown Crags. Here the wall has been restored, rising to around 8 feet high in places as it looms over the landscape and winds its way up and over rocky crests. This section is not particularly long, but it’s the most imposing fragment that gives the best representation of what the wall looked like in its prime. The scenery is also excellent.

CAWFIELD CRAGS

Another good section of the wall is on Cawfield Crags. The wall is lower here, 4 to 5 feet high, but it is continuous and stretches for a mile or two along beautifully undulating hilltops.

Both Walltown and Cawfield Crags require a 15 to 20-minute walk from the nearest parking. If walking is not for you then there is also a well-preserved section of the wall just 100 metres from the carpark at Birdoswald.  


Read Next — Excellent coastal walks in Northumberland

02 – BEST SCENERY & PHOTOGRAPHY SPOTS ON THE HADRIAN’S WALL WALK

Walking Hadrian’s Wall, we were genuinely surprised by the scenery along the 15 to 20 miles from Greenhead to Chesters. You aren’t just hiking along fields, but up and down steeply rising crags, along rocky edges and past glacial lakes. The continuous up and down makes walking more difficult, but the rewards are stunning views making it one of the best places to visit in Northumberland.

In our opinion, the best photos spots and iconic scenery are found in these locations.

SYCAMORE GAP

A lone sycamore tree in a gap in the wall, set between U-shaped hills, was made famous by Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. It’s one of the most picturesque locations along Hadrian’s Wall.

HOTBANK’S CRAG VIEW

This is the view of Hadrian’s Wall seen in most brochures with a long well-preserved section of the wall winding its way over hills and trailing off into the distance.

STEEL RIG

From any number of spots near Steel Rigg Car Park, the views to Peel and Highshields Crags, show just what a challenging route the Romans chose to build the wall.

SEWINGSHIELD’S CRAG

From nowhere else can you see such a long line of wall perched on top of breaking waves of hills disappearing into the never-ending horizon.


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03 – BEST PRESERVED FORT & MILECASTLES

Originally there were 17 forts and 80 milecastles built along the wall. Many are in disrepair but others allow you to get an idea of what life might have been like here. 

NUMBER 37

The best-preserved milecastle is number 37. Little more than a small square of low-lying wall, its northern gate still reveals the signs of an archway peering over the wild Northumberland landscape.

HOUSESTEADS

There are a few decent forts to explore from Birdoswald Roman Fort in the east to Chesters Roman Fort in the west, but the best-preserved is Housesteads. Located amongst the finest scenery, you can still make out the purpose of some of the buildings. Check out the columns rising from the floor of the granary, and the latrines where the Romans went about their business.


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