Advice for First Time Hikers on Hadrian’s Wall Path

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Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail runs for some 84 miles as a long-distance coast to coast walking route and is recognised as an English Heritage site. As a first timer to this route you’ll discover the diversity of the landscapes, enjoy being in amongst nature, visiting charming villages all whilst seeing some fantastic ancient Roman remains.

The path crosses the country from East Coast to the West coast. Starting at Wallsend, near Newcastle and ending at the Solway Coast. The route of Hadrian’s Wall follows the line of the ancient wall which was built by Roman emperor Hadrianus back in AD128 to protect the northern Roman Empire.        Only some parts of the wall remain today but you will see how history and modern day have become intertwined in Northern England.

Planning your trip

This sort of trip is best booked with an organised tour company. They will know the best places to stay and you’ll have walking companions too if you book on a group tour. Taking the hike as a group will also give you the advantage of discounted overnight stays due to bulk bookings. Click to find out more about Hadrian’s Wall walking holidays.

What to pack?

There are certain things that are essential for your hiking trip, here are a few items you will need to bring along.

A comfortable back pack – If you are going to wear your back pack all day then you need a well-fitting and comfortable one. Use a backpack with waist and chest straps for additional support.

Worn in hiking boots -Brand new boots will give you blisters so make sure they are worn in before you start your hike. You might want to bring some light footwear to swap out for the evenings too

Good walking socks – Essential to keep those feet comfortable and avoid those boots from rubbing. Bring a few pairs for your trip.

Reusable water bottle – You need to keep hydrated during the hike so filling up whilst on your route is well needed. Choose a bottle that is light weight and easy to use.

Snacks – Whilst hiking you will burn a lot of calories so you’ll need to keep yourself topped up. Trail mix, Kendal mint cake and cereal bars are all good choices.

Clothing – Bringing plenty of layers and preparing for all weathers is important when hiking in the UK. Wicking layers, base thermals and a fleece are all good choices.

The route

The walk can take between 3 and 8 days depending on the route. Most of the route follows hilly countryside and moorlands without any difficult mountainous terrain, so it is classed as an easy to moderate walk.

A seven-day eight-night walk is a nice paced hike and gives you the chance to enjoy the countryside and have a rest day whilst getting to your destination. Here is an example itinerary:

Wallsend to Newburn – Follow the River Tyne past the millennium bridge and on to the outskirts of Newcastle

Newburn to Humshaugh Walk through the Tyne Valley Country Park, trekking through parkland and stopping at the villages of Wall, Chollerford and Humshaugh on-route.

Humshaugh to Twice Brewed – Enjoy some fantastic view of the wall as you follow the classic Roman wall through Northumberland National Park and on to open moorland, the South Tyne Valley and the Pennines.

Twice Brewed to Gilsland – Tours like to schedule a rest day in Twice Brewed as there are lots of ruins to explore in and around the area. Then the route continues past the rugged crags of Windshield and onto the villages of Greenhead and Gilsland.

Gilsland to Carlisle – The moors turn to farm and parkland as you continue along the path. Make your way through the pretty villages of Walton and Irthington before reaching the River Eden and the final section into the historic city of Carlisle.

Carlisle to Bowness-on-Solway – The last section of the journey takes you to some different views altogether. Walk along the banks of the Eden, then across flat salt marshes of the Solway Firth where you can see the mountains of the Lake District to the south and Scotland across the water to the north.

Getting to the path

Starting at Wallsend will mean you need to get to Newcastle to begin your journey. You can get to Newcastle by air, flying into Newcastle international airport, by train to the Central train station and of course by car. From Newcastle centre you can get the metro to Tynemouth and Wallsend.

At the end of your journey from Bowness on Solway you can take the bus to Carlisle which takes approximately 45 minutes. Then there is a train station in Carlisle to continue your travel, either back to Newcastle or onward home.

Baggage services

As you will be away for quite a long time, you might not want to carry every part of your luggage with you for the whole duration. Of course, you will pack light and bring along only essential items but these can be heavy when you have packed for seven days. Some tour operators offer luggage services, where your bags are taken from one accommodation to the next meaning you only have to carry your day pack.

Where to stay

Accommodation along the route varies from small country house hotels, guest houses, bed and breakfasts and farm houses. Depending on the location there will be a selection of options.

For example, Willow ford Farm B&B has a fantastic location on one of the longest unbroken stretches of the wall and offers characterful rooms and facilities. Also, Wallsend Old Rectory is set in lovely woodland with countryside views and located at perfect place right at the end of Hadrian’s Wall.

Hadrian’s Wall hike highlights

Along the route there are some sights that really stick out as the best things to see on the trip. The well preserved Roman wall at the Northumberland National Park and the rolling views are definitely one of the highlights. Get the cameras ready for the beautiful photo opportunities here. Another great historical place is the Brocolitia Roman fort, the remains of a third-century Roman temple to the Sun God Mithras. Also located in Northumberland.

The crags of Winshield are a unique landscape of hills, dips and summits and an amazing sight to behold, especially after all that walking. Another historic destination on the path are the remains of Great Chester’s Fort. It is the most complete Roman cavalry fort in Britain, there are well-preserved baths with steam room, and the officers’ quarters.

Do you want to take a walking holiday following Hadrian’s Wall?

If you want to combine great history, beautiful countryside, challenging (but not too challenging) hikes and warm hospitality then this is the perfect holiday for you. The best way to make the most of your trip is to book with an organised tour so they can do the hard work. However, if you are confident you can book your own accommodation and travel then there’s no reason why you can’t plan your own amazing trek along Hadrian’s Wall. Whichever way you do it, you are sure to have an adventure trekking coast to coast through history.

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