Our Walking Hadrian’s Wall tour introduces you to some of the most awe-inspiring and historic landscapes anywhere in Britain. Building on our experience with Exploring Hadrian’s Wall, and our long expertise in the area, in this tour we offer a different take on the region, aimed to give those who want to hike more of this extraordinarily beautiful countryside the chance to experience its raw beauty, while still visiting the historic sites with the expert guidance that is our hallmark.
Walking Hadrian’s Wall overlaps with its sister tour, but is no mere extension of it: each has sites unique to it, which tell the long history of the Wall region in their own way. Nor is it simply one of those end-to-end hikes of all the Wall that so many others do. We see no point in taking you to areas where you can see neither Wall nor Vallum and where the landscape is lacking. We’ll bring you the majesty of the scenery that the Wall threads through, follow its undulating and snaking trace and visit its forts, turrets and milecastles, explaining their history, monuments and archaeology as we go, bringing out the less-obvious features on the way. We’ll bring you the longer history of the area, too – the bastle houses hunched against whatever might come out of the darkness, the romantic ruin of embattled Lanercost priory and the wall-thieving sentinel, Thirlwall Castle.
Unlike other tours, we’ll also set the Roman Wall in its wider context and take the opportunity to roam some outstanding country north and south which helps explain the story. We follow a trail in the beautiful Alston valley to visit the earthwork remains of the fort at Whitley Castle, and head north to the remote outpost fort at Bewcastle, nestled under a mediaeval castle and church, and a rare Anglo-Saxon cross in its original position – and we’ll ascend the outstanding hillfort at Burnswark, where new research is reasserting the idea that the two Roman forts underneath mark a bloody assault in the second century, and take in its magnificent views. And, of course, we’ll not omit the superlative Roman site of Vindolanda, where unparalleled preservation gives us the deepest insight into the lives of the soldiers in garrison, and their families in the surrounding town.
We’re proud of this tour and its unique take on one of the most breath-taking regions in Britain and the Roman Empire. We know you’ll fall in love with every crag, rigg and nick, and take away memories of standing on its heights looking down at the millennia of tangled history below to inspire you long after.
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After a splendid lunch, we drive north to the amazing Roman Stanegate fort and settlement at Vindolanda. One of the best-preserved Roman sites anywhere, it has a wealth of organic remains – shoes, shopping bags, wooden doors, animal skulls used for target practice – and imposing stone remains still under excavation. There’s no better place to gain an understanding of those who lived on the Wall, or what their forts were like in life.
Fortified, we make the climb back up to the Wall, set in fine and varied landscape past Haytongate and the vantage point of Craggle Hill. The Wall now emerges in earnest, with its lofty section (and a little puzzle) at Hare Hill and on to feast on our first turrets and signal towers and the long stretch of visible curtain that brings us up to our destination, Birdoswald fort. Situated in a site of startling beauty on a spur over the winding Irthing valley, it has a unique history in its Roman buildings, but even more so in the story of what happened in the Dark Age afterglow of occupation, and into the perilous times of the Reivers. Beyond lies a fantastic section of preserved Wall – but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for that.
We now reach the Wall’s most dramatic stretch, taking to the rugged crags to hike its renowned centre section. We’ve finally made it to the Whin Sill! Our hike takes us past some of the most sublime views to be had on the monument’s length, at Walltown Crags. In the distance, we can see the wall rising and falling as it marches along the edge of the crags for miles ahead. The rest of this fine day takes us along the awesome heights to the fort at Great Chesters, brilliantly-preserved, and down past a flurry of Roman marching camps to end the day with a glad look back at what we’ve achieved.
After lunch, we drive just over the border into Scotland and the extraordinary site at Burnswark, to climb its unique remains. Here, a hillfort stands high and proud, visible for miles, while around it stand the remains of two sizeable Roman camps, their earthworks and deadly intent clear as we hike over them. The summit of this green earthwork Masada commands excellent views down to the coast and back towards England.
In the afternoon, we begin with the steep climb at Planetrees, and a famous section of Wall, and then up to the lovely Heavenfield Church, reputed site of a famous battle in Northumbrian history, but certainly the site of one of the finest views north of anywhere on the Wall. Carrying on west, we leave the stone wall behind, but are rewarded with outstanding lengths of Vallum and ditch set about with gorse. We cross the great Roman road of Dere Street and finally come to the end of our journey at Haltonchesters fort, still largely slumbering beneath grass, and the fine ancient church and castle nearby.
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Arrival and Departure Information
Arrival Airport – Newcastle International Airport
Departure Airport – Newcastle International Airport
Arrival Train Station – Newcastle Central Station
Departure Train Station – Newcastle Central Station
Our transfer vehicle will collect from Newcastle International Airport at 16.30, and Newcastle Central Station at 17.00, should you wish your arrival at your hotel to be organised by us. If you prefer to arrange your own arrival, check in time is set for 14.30.
Check out time is 10.30. We will arrange a transfer from your hotel to Newcastle Train Station and Newcastle Airport leaving from your hotel at 09.30.
The cheapest way to book flights to join this tour in the United Kingdom is directly with the airline online.
If you prefer to book with a travel agent, we are happy to recommend specialists in a number of countries around the world, please contact our office for more details.
We consider adequate travel insurance to be essential. You should ensure that you take out a suitable policy, to make sure that your trip is properly covered. Please be advised some insurers may require you to take out a policy within 15-20 days of booking your holiday to receive all of their insurance benefits.
If you are not from an EEA country you must have a valid passport to enter the UK. It must be valid for the whole of your stay. You may also need a visa, depending on which country you are from. You can check if you need a visa by using the link below.
Further information about the Walking
Unlike our standard land tours, there is a significant amount of hiking on our Walking Hadrian’s Wall tour. The hikes we do are for the most part long sections of the Wall and it is widely regarded as one of the best hiking trails in the UK and a superb way to explore and understand the Wall and its environs while experiencing stunning scenery, and the archaeological sites that populate the wall and further afield.
Please be aware that the terrain is often uneven, rocky, and rugged with loose stones underfoot or can be wet or muddy grass and therefore slippery. There are some long stretches of uphill and downhill hiking. It is certainly not a walk in the park and you do need to be fit, with a good sense of balance and be used to hiking off the beaten track.
Across the week, we cover distances up to approx. 18km/11 miles per day, split over the day with breaks, with each section up to approx. 3 hours. But it is not really the distance that you need to bear in mind, but the terrain. We take all the hikes at a good pace, across some spectacular countryside, and although there are flat stretches where we follow the wall path, it is also hilly, uneven and often rough and muddy ground. Burnswark is a good 2 hour climb over hillocky grass and earthwork mounds. Starting at sea level the summit is 287 metres. Spadeadam to Bewcastle is over tussocky fields and marshy ground and where we cross farmland to Whitley Castle it can be very muddy if the weather has been poor.
It is, of course, perfectly possible for guests to skip a day’s walk if they so wish, and simply relax at the hotel.
If you are thinking of extending your trip to the United Kingdom to include visits to London, South-Western England, Wales or further afield, please contact our office for advice and suggestions for bespoke travel plans.