Hadrians Wall

Hadrian’s Wall

Route: Hadrian’s Wall and Vindolanda

Area: Northumberland

Date of walk: 28th August 2021

Walkers: Andrew and James 

Distance: 7.5 miles

Ascent: 1,200 feet

Weather: Sunny

Hadrian’s Wall is 73 miles long and stretches from coast to coast. It was built by the Roman Army on the orders of Emperor Hadrian following his visit to Britain in AD 122 and its purpose was to guard the north-west frontier of the Roman Empire. Today’s walk covers what is considered to be the most scenic section of the wall

We started from the car park at The Sill, a discovery centre at Once Brewed in the Northumberland National Park, where there is a shop, a café and much more besides. The walk could be started just as conveniently from the nearby Steel Rigg car park. Either way, charges apply

After crossing the road we headed north uphill, following a waymarked path towards Hadrian’s Wall. We then arrived arrived at the wall, and followed its course steeply uphill to the top of Peel Crags. The rollercoaster path continued to Milecastle 39. Milecastles were small forts (fortlets), and were placed at intervals of approximately one Roman mile along the wall. We then passed over Highshield Crags, where there are sharp drops down to a lake known as Crag Lough. We continued as far as ‘Turret 37a’ shown on the OS map and at this point we bid a reluctant farewell to Hadrian’s Wall in order to include the Roman fort of Vindolanda in our circuit

We descended south, initially beside a dry stone wall. The path was quite faint, and took us down to the B6318 which we followed for a few yards, and then crossed over to join a lane. Most of the remainder of the walk was on tarmac from this point, not a major issue as these are quiet lanes with very little traffic. Just before the limekiln at Crindledykes we were able to leave the lane briefly and take a short cut along a path through fields. We arrived at the entrance to the museum at Vindolanda, which is also the entrance to the fort. The museum is a fascinating place and is well worth a visit. It is full of artefacts uncovered during the excavations at the fort (which are still ongoing), and gives an insight into what daily life was like for the inhabitants of Vindolanda

We then wandered around the atmospheric ruins of the fort before leaving via the west exit and following lanes back to the start. It had been a wonderful walk, full of interest throughout

I should mention that about half the mileage is along tarmac. This is a price worth paying if the intention is to visit Vindolanda, but not otherwise. If the fort is not on the agenda it would be more satisfactory to plan a linear route along Hadrian’s Wall, taking advantage of the amusingly named AD122 bus service, which runs a regular shuttle between various points along the wall

Click on the icon below for the route map (subscribers to OS Maps can view detailed maps of the route, visualise it in aerial 3D, and download the GPX file. Non-subscribers will see a base map)

Scroll down – or click on any photo to enlarge it and you can then view as a slideshow

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