When I feel like stretching my legs and leaving the Cloud for the glorious countryside of Britain, I stroll along Hadrian’s Wall. This UNESCO World Heritage site stretches right across northern England, from Wallsend near Newcastle in the east to Bowness-upon-Solway near Carlisle in the west. The 73 miles (117 km) of the trail includes all of the best of the North including countryside, quaint villages and modern cities.
Hadrian’s Wall, also known as the Roman Wall (or Vallum Hadriani in Latin), is one of the most notable remaining signs of the conquest which took place almost 2,000 years ago.
Nowadays, visitors from around the globe flock to northern England to see the remains of this impressive defensive fortification. While some strap on their walking boots and take to the hills to walk the Wall, others enjoy a bus tour (on the AD122 bus) or choose to cycle between Hadrian’s landmarks.
Here’s a Pro-tip: There’s a common misconception with many falsely believing the wall weaves its way into Scotland. This, however, is far from the truth. The closest it ever reaches toward the Scottish border is less than one mile, but the majority sits more than 40 miles south.
Hadrian’s Well? That’s a deep subject!
Reaching Hadrian’s Wall is easy with several different options. Manchester Airport is one of the largest international airports in northern England and sits just under a 2.5-hour drive south of the Wall. From the airport, you can catch a train directly to Carlisle before transferring to a smaller commuter train to Brampton. Alternatively, Newcastle International Airport is closer as it lies just an hour’s drive east of the Wall, bringing you along the trail to the heart of the Wall.
Nearby train stations to the Wall include Brampton, Wetheral, and Haltwhistle, and once there, it’s easy to use public buses to explore the area.
I wonder if Mexico paid for it?!
Here’s another Pro-tip: If you’re looking for a more active adventure, consider walking the Hadrian’s Wall Trail. The trail is a bit longer than the Wall and the 84 miles takes 6-8 days to complete, walking from end to end. Plan your trip for the summer months between May and October for the best walking weather
There is so much to explore along Hadrian’s Wall, and the 73 miles offer up an incredible selection of history and culture. I recommend starting your trip from Brampton and exploring the following sites:
- Birdoswald Roman Fort – Boasting the longest intact continuous stretch of wall with views of the rolling hills, the Fort is a great place to start your sightseeing adventures. Explore the fort and gatehouse and dive into Roman history in the museum. You can even walk to other nearby sites like Harrow’s Scar Mile Castle and the Roman Bridge Abutment.
- Walltown Crags – Located between Birdoswald Roman Fort and Housesteads ruins, this 400 yards (just over 365m) stretch of wall is a historical landmark and a great place to soak up countryside views.
- Chesters Roman Fort Museum – This former fort turned museum showcases life during the Roman empire at a northern outpost. Wander around the officers’ quarters, explore the museum with its wide collection of Roman artefacts, and discover some of the best-preserved Roman baths in the country.
- Vindolanda Fort and Museum – This active archaeological site is still rendering interesting finds – many of which are housed in the on-site museum. Vindolanda is a large site, so I recommend spending several hours there and rounding off your day with a lazy lunch at the nearby Twice Brewed Inn in Bardon Mill with a view of the iconic Sycamore Gap.
- Housesteads Roman Fort – Housesteads is one of the most dramatic locations on the Wall’s route. Located 4 miles north of Bardon Mill and 6.5 miles northeast of Haltwhistle, from here you can enjoy panoramic views of Northumberland National Park with the wall winding its way into the distance. The museum has a fascinating collection of finds excavated from the fort, and you can take tours of the site.
- St. Martin’s Church – Dating back to the 1870s, this church was built in Brampton by the famous architect Philip Webb, with William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones creating the awe-inspiring stain-glass windows. This beautiful church still stands today, holding regular services.
As Hadrian’s Wall sits in the Cumbrian countryside close to Northumberland National Park, the cuisine available very much has a focus on local farming and sustainably sourced ingredients. Foodies can find culinary highlights along Hadrian’ Wall at country pubs and a range of eateries, but my favourites are located between Hexham and Corbridge, conveniently just four miles apart
I fig-ure you’ll enjoy this!
- The Rat Inn – If you’re after a small pub full of charm, the Rat Inn in Anick is tucked down a quiet street and boasts a seasonal menu. There is a beer garden with stunning views and the indoor conservatory, so you can enjoy a lazy lunch no matter the weather. Their Sunday roasts are legendary.
- The Feathers Inn – Named best local restaurant for The Good Food Guide in 2019, this restaurant in Hedley on Hill near Corbridge focuses on sustainable produce and seasonal menus. The décor is quaint and homely, and the food is phenomenal.
- Bouchon Bistrot – A French bistro experience in the Cumbrian Countryside. Located in Hexham, this cosy restaurant offers great food, exceptional service and a relaxed atmosphere. Their braised rabbit with tarragon and tomato is delicious!
If you’re looking for a little more excitement after your evening meal, you might want to venture to a larger town or city like Carlisle or Newcastle.
- BrewDog Carlisle – BrewDog takes their passion for craft beer seriously, producing an incredible selection of cleverly named brews and flavours, like their newest “Lockdown Lager” and “Staycation Ale”. Book a table and enjoy an evening sampling different beer amongst locals and fellow travellers.
- The Lane Bar – Found in Carlisle’s historic quarter, The Lane Bar is a charming medieval bar with a beer garden, cellar, and reading room.
- Tup Tup Palace – Located in Newcastle’s Diamond Strip, this multi-level nightclub boasts extravagant indoor waterfalls, champagne lounges and dance floors decorated in a lavish Eastern style.
As Hadrian’s Wall is the most visited tourist destination in northern England, there’s an abundance of accommodation options available, including countryside cottages, B&B’s, and boutique hotels. Here are my recommendations:
Wall, wall, wall, what do we have here?!
- Lamley Cottages – This luxury self-catering cottage sits on a country estate just a short drive from Hadrian’s Wall and Northumberland National Park. It’s quintessentially English!
- Gilsland Hall Hotel – Set on 140 acres, this 19th Century hotel is in the heart of Hadrian’s Wall county, just 2.4 miles from Birdoswald Roman Fort. With warmly furnished rooms that offer spectacular views, an on-site pub, and sweeping lawns perfect for an afternoon game of croquet, this three-star hotel is a great choice.
- The Halston – This award-winning Carlisle aparthotel oozes countryside elegance. Offering self-catering apartments with all the comforts of a hotel, and boasting on-site restaurants, a garden terrace, and a spa, the Halston is perfect place to unwind and rest your head at after a day of exploring the sites.
- Langley Castle Hotel – This four-star hotel is built right inside a 14-century castle in Hexham. With grand rooms that combines modern luxuries and traditional comfort all in a medieval setting set in its own ten-acre woodland estate, you’re sure to have a truly tranquil stay.
Hadrian’s Wall is a wonderful place to explore the very best of northern England. You’ll enjoy the rolling countryside, the friendly residents and the quaint country pubs with excellent food. Who knows, you might even have a good workout if you walk it!