The Roman Emperor Hadrian was having a lot of trouble with the restless natives to the north of the UK around 122AD. Those devilish blue-painted Pictish and assorted Caledonian warriors were causing mayhem across the wild Northern frontiers and hassling trade and settlement.
It became imperative for the emperor to create some kind of order and consolidate the extreme North of the Empire. Britain was left underdefended after one of the legion divisions was withdrawn from Britain to fight the German tribes. And so the wall was built “to separate Romans from Barbarians.”
The wall extends across northern Britain at its narrowest point between the Solway Firth (Irish Sea) and the North Sea. In its original form it was built in 6 years over 73 modern miles (80 Roman ones). It was extended and enhanced with impressive stone defences following natural ridge lines and with a deep ditch (The Vallum) dug alongside it.
Later, much of the stonework was mortared allowing it to survive the centuries to become one of the oldest structures in the UK today. The amount of work and finance that would have gone into the wall was immense, even with slave or conscript labour. Small forts called 'milecastles' were built every Roman Mile over the whole of the route. At intervals, huge garrison forts were constructed so that a counter attack or a raid could be organised at short notice.
The Hadrian's Wall Path is a walking route along Hadrian's Wall. It was officially opened in May 2003 after many years of negotiations with landlords and farmers to finalize the exact route. The path, a UK National Trail, stretches 83 statute miles/133 km across town and country, forest and moorland, World Heritage Site and National Park.
Tracing the line of the wall had long been popular with walkers. It is a reasonable off-road route along its length from the Irish Sea to the North Sea. Many sections of the wall are still more or less intact, walkable and very attractive, notably around the forts of Housesteads, Great Chesters, Carvoran (Walltown) and Birdoswald.
The actual building of the wall however was started as long ago as 122 AD!
Caesar Traianus Hadrianus was born (as Publius Aelius Hadrianus) on 24 January 76, probably in Italica (near modern Seville). His parents died when he was just 10 years old and together with his sister was then looked after by Emperor Trajan and his wife.
Hadrian loved hunting and physical activities. When he was 14, he moved to Rome for his educational upbringing. It was then when he earned his nickname: Graeculus, because of his interest in Greek culture and literature.
Hadrian became Emperor in 117 AD and reigned the Roman Empire until 138 AD, for nearly 21 years. Contrary to his predecessor Trajan, Hadrian wasn't one for expansion of the Roman Empire; instead he was more concerned to consolidate the boundaries of the empire. Because of this, and because of accusations of Hadrian's involvement in the death of four leading senators, his relationship with the Senate was never very good.
Hadrian visited Britain in 122 AD, and ordered a wall to be built between the Solway Firth in the west and the River Tyne in the east “to separate Romans from Barbarians”.
The Hadrian’s Wall is a defensive fortification conceived by Hadrian, who ruled the Roman Empire for more than 20 years (117-138AD). It was constructed in the province of Britannia, which at that point marked the northernmost border of the Empire. Today, the path stretches across the provinces of Cumbria, Northumberland and Tyne & Wear along the narrowest point in northern England. It's an alternative to the famed Coast to Coast route.
It is a great walk, with a lot of scenic variety from the modern, busy cityscapes of Newcastle Upon Tyne to the red sandstone hues of medieval Carlisle, from industrial Tyneside to the quiescence of Bowness on Solway. From the barren blustery heights of Highshield Crags in the Northumberland National Park; to the lime green pastoral scenes of the Eden valley. Omnipresent along the route, the Wall snakes its way. In sections interrupting a housing estate here, popping up under a road there. Then from being little more than a grassy bank it transforms into stone and rollercoasters over crag tops and down into impressive fort like structures such as at Birdoswald and Housesteads.
Our team have first-hand experience walking and cycling along the Hadrian’s Wall Path and this gives you, when travelling with us, some extra benefits:
- Great value for money: included in your package are comprehensive route notes, maps & guide books along with bag transfers and locally run accommodation
- Daily luggage transfers; only carry what you need and your main luggage is already at your next accommodation when you arrive
- Detailed route notes with lots of extra background information on history, sites and places to eat & drink
- We personally know your hosts and they know your expectations as a Walkers’ Britain traveller
- Official Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail Passport included
- Enjoy the hospitality of country B&Bs, handpicked by our team, and that are brimming with personality & local charm
- We have been operating active self guided holidays since 1973
- Daily departures on all Hadrian’s Wall trips to give you extra flexibility
- Option to build in extra days to visit the ancient sites or for rest days, just speak to us
- Contact with a dedicated member of our team, so you will always know who you are dealing with
- Trace the history of the north as you walk alongside this iconic monument
- The barren, blustery heights of Highshield Crags in the Northumberland National Park
- Roman Vindolanda Fort & Museum
- The scenic variety of northern England
- England's most photographed tree at Sycamore Gap
- The hospitality of country B&Bs - brimming with personality & local charm
- The modern cityscapes of Newcastle Upon Tyne, red sandstone hues of medieval Carlisle, and the quiescence of Bowness on Solway
- The lime green pastoral scenes of the Eden valley
- Solway Coast: an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Visits to the museums, open air or otherwise, can take up much of your time and you should decide locally whether you have the time and energy to visit them. Admissions vary and apply to Segedunum, Vindolanda, Housesteads, Birdoswald, and Chesters. The last three are run by English Heritage and it might be worth your while to become a member of them or buy an overseas visitor pass (9- or 16-day options).
If you would like to build in extra time to visit these sites, please talk to a member of our team and they can help you tailor the trip to your wishes.
The year of 2022 marks the 1900th anniversary of Hadrian’s Wall. The construction of the wall started in 122 AD in the reign of the emperor Hadrian, who wanted to ensure that the new structure would keep “intact the empire”. Today it is the largest Roman archaeological feature in Britain and has been protected by UNESCO since 1987. During the anniversary lots of event and activities are organised along the route.
The year-long festival features an impressive calendar of special events and activities, such as: spectacular re-enactments, archery and cavalry shows; digital art projections and illuminations; theatre and dance productions; short talks and book festivals; special themed exhibitions; and historic guided tours. There will also be falconry displays, a bunting challenge, as well as a Roman Big Birthday Bash. All of these celebrations make it extra special to complete the path in 2022.
Learn more about the Hadrian's Wall 1900 anniversary.
There is an impressive line-up of special events taking place throughout all of 2022. Think cavalry shows, falconry displays, a Roman big birthday bash and much more. As they are connected to the 1900th anniversary of the wall, these events will not return and are only here until 23 December 2022. It's a unique chance to get fully immersed in Roman history in Britain.
The Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail Passport, its official name, is a personal document that marks the entire route and details on the exact stamping locations.
If you’ve successfully collected all seven stamps, you are entitled to buy the exclusive purple enamel badge and/or achiever’s certificate. The design of the pin badge is based on a Sestertius (roman coin) of Hadrian that was found in the River Tyne, Newcastle.
The passport and proceeds of it help maintain the Hadrian’s Wall Path and its associated archaeology.
If you book your Hadrian’s Wall trip with Walkers’ Britain you will receive the passport as part of your final documentation, maps and guidebook. Hikers who collect all seven stamps at the stamping stations found along the way, are entitled to buy the achievers’ enamel badge and certificate at the end of their walk in Bowness-on-Solway (available at the King’s Arms pub and the Wallsend Guest House).
Collect your stamps at:
- The Banks Promenade (Bowness-on-Solway)
- Sands Centre (Carlisle)
- Birdoswald Roman Fort (near Gilsland)
- Housesteads Roman Fort
- Chesters Roman Fort & Museum (Chollerford)
- Robin Hood Inn (Whittledene)
- Segedunum Roman Fort (Wallsend)
Scattered around England and Wales are 16 UK National Trails. Marked by the iconic acorn symbol, these are walking (and sometimes cycling) routes designated by the British Government. The conditions along the trail are looked after by a dedicated officer whose task it is to keep the trails maintained to a standard that truly sets them apart.
A National Trail is a fantastic option to discover some of the best that the UK has to offer to outdoor enthusiasts. Trails often wind their way through Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and National Parks. Each trail is a long-distance walk, so you should allow a week or two to fully immerse yourself in the British countryside.
Hadrian's Wall actually features on two official National Trails: the Hadrian's Wall Path and also on the Pennine Way.