There are many crazy things I like to do in life. One is walking long distances! I have walked several long distance tracks in Australia, the UK and New Zealand now including the famed NZ Milford track.
One of my goals was to walk the width of England from the Irish Sea to the North Sea following the path of Hadrian’s wall. 84 miles (140km) long.
And I did it! It took seven days walking West to East.
To back track, Hadrian’s Wall was built in the 2nd Century AD by the order of the Roman Emperor Hadrianto protect Roman Britain from “the Barbarians”. It took about 15,000 men six years to build. In places the wall was six metres (20 feet) high. Today the wall stands fully intact in some sections and in others, there are just remnants. In some places, almost nothing remains of the wall except for some place names: Wallsend, Walton and Heddon on the Wall.
There are two ways to walk the wall:
- Walk with accommodation and schedule organised by a tour operator – you can walk individually or with a group
- Organise your own accommodation, transport, meals and baggage transfers
We looked at the various packages for the groups and concluded that we could organise it ourselves giving us more control for a lower cost. We were very happy with this decision. Every person, we met who had contracted the group programs was also very happy with their choice.
Using the internet, we planned out our daily route, then booked accommodation based on our final destination. We booked Hadrian’s Haul Baggage Service who collected our bags each morning and delivered them ready for us each afternoon. Great service. Along the way, we used the Hadrian Wall app and Henry Stedman’s book: Hadrian’s Wall Path (see clutched below).
Day One: Bowness on Solway to Carlisle (23km /14mile)
This walk took us from the coast to the city of Carlisle. It was very rural, very pretty and very quiet. We walked on the beach as much as we could and can recommend this diversion. One of the delights of the day was eating fresh berries from bushes along the path.
There was little of the actual wall to be seen on this day though some of the stones can be found in the walls of local churches and houses! Lunch was at the excellent Greyhound Inn in Burgh-By-Sands. We overnighted at the excellent IBIS Carlisle and explored this town.
Day Two: Carlisle to Irthington
A shorter leg today of “only” 16km (10 miles) with an overnight at the perfect Newtown Farm B and B. We began a slow climb reaching 100 metres above sea level. The route took us through small forests, farms and past an airport.
Day Three: Irthington to Gilsland (16km /10 miles)
Another “short stretch” in which we climbed to 150 metres above sea level (490 feet). Along the way, we diverted to visit the amazing 700 year old Lanercost Priory (check out the tea rooms) and popped into Birdoswald Roman Fort. It was on this day that we started to see significant sections of the wall. The delightful Brookside Villa Bed and Breakfast was waiting for us at the end. Delicious dinner and breakfast, superb shower and good bed!
Day Four: Gilsland-Once Brewed (13km/8 miles)
We really got into the wild country at this point. The route took us to 300 metres (984 feet) above sea level before dropping to 250 metres (820 feet). We had a look at the “Interesting” Roman Army Museum. For the evening, we crashed at one of the oldest youth hostels in England at Once Brewed. The hostel is about to be completely renovated which is a good thing. Why the place is called Once Brewed is fascinating.
Day Five: Once Brewed-Chollerfield (19.5km/11 miles)
Lots of steep ascents and descents in the morning through stunning scenery. This was probably the most spectacular part of the whole walk. We were passed by a couple of Norwegians who were attempting to run the length of the wall.
We sat for a while under the tree that appears in the film Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.
This is a very wild and remote part of England.
After a hard morning’s walking because of the hard of ups and downs, we descended steadily 200 metres through the afternoon. Our last tourist visit was to the Chesters Roman Fort and Museum, the best-preserved Roman cavalry fort in Britain.
That night we ended up at the picturesque George Hotel, where we enjoyed the heated swimming pool, spa, dinner and comfy bed!
Day Six: Chollerfield-Heddon on the Wall (26km/16miles)
This was a huge day! In the morning, we climbed again- 200 metres. My calf muscles were protesting at this stage and if I could have, I would have gladly been hauled up some of the climbs. Stopping at St Oswalds Church in Heavenfield, a building so old, it still does not have electricity! That night we slept on a working farm: Houghton North Farm and ate roast dinner at an English pub: The Swan. The wall on this day basically vanished with a few sections here and there up to Heddon on the Wall.
Day Seven: Heddon on the Wall to Wallsend (24km/14miles)
The hardest day as were getting quite tired. We started well but as we got into Newcastle, we flagged a bit hampered by the first rains of the whole walk. It was great to finally finish the walk at the Roman museum Segundum. We explored the mouth of the river where the Tyne flows out into the North Sea. It was here, we reflected on this crazy fun adventure!
I am so glad I have fulfilled this crazy dream! This is now the second country I have walked across: Lichtenstein is the other-it is much smaller! What big adventure sits on your bucket list? When will you make it a reality?