Hadrian's Wall path is a unique walking trail that not only crosses the width of England, but also follows the course of Britain’s largest Roman monument – a 1,900-year-old, 73-mile long fortification that once marked the northern boundary of the Roman Empire. I can't think of many UK walks that pack this much of an historical punch.

Much of Hadrian’s Wall has disappeared over the centuries including, tragically, the iconic "Sycamore Gap tree" made famous by Kevin Costner's Robin Hood but savagely chopped down by vandals in 2023.

However significant stretches of the wall remain today, as do the ruins of many of the forts, mile castles and turrets that were once spread evenly along its length.

England Hadrians Wall

Hadrian's Wall Path, England

Walking Hadrian's Wall Path

Hadrian's Wall Path

Distance: 84 miles (135km)

Duration: Six days

Start point: Wallsend, Newcastle

End point: Bowness-on-Solway

Difficulty: Moderate to easy – well-marked route; few steep gradients; some stiles to negotiate

Suitable for: Any reasonably fit walker, including families.

Roman history buffs will need weeks to fully explore all the Wall-related sights and museums en route, but the casual walker will also adore this National Trail. Apart from the architectural and historical interest, all around the Wall is scenery of breathtaking beauty, from the wild, wind-blasted moors of Northumberland to the pastoral delights of Cumbria. What’s more, this is one of the easiest long-distance trails in Britain; a week-long romp following a well-marked path through gently rolling countryside with very few steep climbs and little more than the odd wooden stile to interrupt your flow.

Unusually for a National Trail, the authorities in charge of maintenance of Hadrian’s Wall Path request that walkers do not attempt the trail in winter (ie October to April) when the path is at its most fragile as this increases the risk of heavy walking boots accidentally disturbing unexcavated archaeological artefacts.

Chesters roman fort

Chesters Roman Fort, England

Hadrian's Wall Path route

A forgivingly flat but fascinating first stage starts outside the Roman fort of Segedunum in a suburb of Newcastle aptly named Wallsend. You then follow the River Tyne through the city’s iconic Quayside area then along the pleasant Tyne Riverside Country Park before climbing through woods to Heddon-on-the-Wall where you’ll see your first major chunk of Hadrian’s Wall.

A more modest second day passes the bird-filled lakes of Whittledene Reservoir before ending in the village of Chollerford where you’ll find Chesters Roman Fort, with its quirkily old-fashioned museum and hugely impressive Roman baths, the best-preserved on the whole trail. A glorious day three showcases the most complete section of Wall on the path (at Black Carts), the best-preserved fort (Housesteads), the most famous tree in Northumberland (at Sycamore Gap), and some of the finest views on the whole trail. The stage ends at Once Brewed where there’s a great range of accommodation, a cracking pub and a short walk to Vindolanda Fort, which contains some of Britain’s most treasured Roman artefacts, including the remarkable handwritten documents known as the Vindolanda Tablets.

Day four is almost as good, with plenty of chunks of Wall to gawp at and more great views as you climb to the highest point on the trail. This is also where you cross from Northumberland into Cumbria and where the scenery changes from windswept moors and crags to gentle rolling cultivated landscape. There are more decent chunks of Wall either side of Birdoswald Fort, but these are now stretches of turf Wall rather than the more impressive stone Wall you’ll have seen further east.

Any further remnants of Wall disappear completely as you approach the historic city of Carlisle through pretty farmland scenery before stretching your legs for the final stage, along the bird-filled flatlands of the Solway Estuary to the end of the path at the peaceful village of Bowness-on-Solway.

Hadrian's Wall Path sections

Accommodation is plentiful along the route, and includes campsites, hostels and B&Bs. Where you break for the night depends not only on how far you’re able to walk each day, but also on how interested you are in the numerous Roman sights along the way. It can take a few hours to visit a museum or the ruins of a Roman fort, but not every walker visits them all, so factor this into your plan.

Hadrian's Wall path is widely offered by walking holiday companies, typically broken out into eight to 10 day itineraries.

The following schedule is just one option of many and assumes you’ll be starting at Wallsend in Newcastle, but it’s just as easy, and popular, to walk the other way.

At a leisurely pace you could complete the entire route in eight days with the following itinerary:

Day 1: Carlisle – Bowness-on-Solway (14 miles)

Day 2: Walton – Carlisle (11.5 miles)

Day 3: Walton – Gilsand (7.5 miles)

Day 4: Gilsand – Once Brewed (9 miles)

Day 5: Once Brewed – Chollerford (12.5 miles)

Day 6: Chollerford – East Wallhouses (9 miles)

Day 7: East Wallhouses – Heddon on the Wall (9 miles)

Day 8: Heddon – Wallsend (14 miles)

The extra mile

For a taste of what it’s like to walk this trail with kids in tow, listen to this travel podcast which follows our writer Daniel McCrohan as he walks and camps his way along the length of Hadrian’s Wall Path with his family.

About the author

Hadrian's Wall Path

Daniel McCrohan

Daniel is a prolific guidebook writer who divides his time between exploring Asia for Lonely Planet and Britain for Trailblazer. As well as writing close to 50 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, he has worked on more than a dozen Trailblazer walking guides, and has hiked and camped his way across many parts of the UK, China, Mongolia and India.

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