Hadrian’s Wall is a great place to walk if you have the slightest interest in the history of these islands and any sort of imaginative faculty whatsoever.

It’s not bad for a ‘my first trail walk’ either; the ups and downs are pretty gentle, routefinding is a doddle, but there’s a grand sense of space and, away from the main attractions, still a remarkable loneliness.

Well, that’s true of the ‘bit in the middle’, where the Wall really is a wall, well-preserved Roman artefacts and some seriously good interpretative museums dot the landscape, and the Whin Sill outcrop lends drama to views both near and far. That stretch, alas, is barely a third of the total 84 miles of Hadrian’s Wall Path. What of the rest?

To my mind, it’s that variety which makes Hadrian’s Wall Path such a good excursion. Starting in the east (which most people don’t; they’re sensible, and keep the prevailing wind behind them), there’s city walking through one of our most characterful cities, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, river walking by the Tyne itself, and an early introduction to Wall by means of its extant ditch, or Vallum.


The visitor centre at Wallsend

Then comes the Whin Sill; airy walking above crags, beside one of the great linear monuments of the world. Once it dissipates beyond the Gilsland Gap, there’s charming pastoral walking, with friendly farms offering refreshments and a nice village or two. Slowly the path drops down to the flood-plain of the River Eden, and the border city of Carlisle, before the path’s last few miles head out towards the Solway Firth and the estuary views over to Scotland.

In summary then: big city, river, Wall, fields, river, little city, estuary. Splendid variety.

See how I walked Hadrian’s Wall Path


With major rail stations at Newcastle and Carlisle, it’s easy to get close to either end of Hadrian’s Wall Path from almost anywhere in Britain. Wallsend has a metro station linking it to Newcastle city centre, and Bowness-on-Solway has a few buses a day to Carlisle.

There are good rail and bus services between Newcastle and Carlisle; for the most part, these run a few miles south of the Path. But from Easter to September, the AD122 bus service links the two major towns on these services – Hexham and Haltwhistle – with the major sites on the Wall itself.

Otherwise, there are almost no bus services other than the extremely useful Bellingham to Hexham service at Chollerford – I used it in 2017 – and infrequent buses serving the B6318 near the Errington Arms and linking Haltwhistle to Gilsland.


You probably won’t do it how I did it.

I started with the bit in the middle, in 2007, as a half-term treat for my history-obsessed son Adrian, then 15. Ten years later, I wanted to complete the trail to help boost my tally of National Trails – but would this mean two visits, one for each end? No. In 2017 I went up to the AGM of the Mountain Bothies Association, which that year was in Langwathby, south of Carlisle. I reckoned I could polish off the Newcastle sections in two days, travel by bus and train to Carlisle, and use that as a base for the remaining stretch west of Gilsland – two more days. It worked out fine.

Hadrian’s Wall Path is one of the most-walked of all National Trails. It fits nicely into a week, and balances landscape with history and variety, so its popularity should be no surprise. Alongside that has come a well-developed tourist infrastructure, and in particular there are plenty of places to stay, campsites, bunkhouses, hostels, B&Bs and hotels. Some walkers use luggage transfers – there are plenty of companies offering; no doubt this means they can posh up a bit in the evenings, but deep down they know it’s a cheat, and hardly cheap either.

To help plan your visit try:

  • the National Trail site, with a very clever interactive map that can inter-relate the main attractions to accomodation and transport links; and
  • the Hadrian’s Wall Country site, more sober and plain but everything’s there.


On Newcastle’s outskirts, I stayed at the Keelman’s Lodge in Newburn. It was a comfortable and welcoming place, with good food and beer.

We had three overnights on the Whin Sill: the bunkhouse at Green Carts farm, where the very helpful landlady happily drove us to and from the local pub for dinner; Saughy Rigg farm, which as of 2021 was only available to large groups, and Brookside Villa in Gilsland – which in 2007 we decided was just about the best B&B we’ve ever stayed in – great food, properly served beer, and loads of nice extra touches in the rooms. The landlady gave us a lift into Brampton the next morning too.

For the final stretch, I stayed both nights at the Carlisle City Hostel. I’ve been there before, for an overnight on my way south before the High Pennines stage of my cross-England walk, and I had no compunction about coming back; all the facilities you need, helpful host, and round the corner from the city centre.