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Walking Hadrian’s Wall: What You Need To Know

Annabel A.

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Nestled in the northern region of England, the Hadrian’s Wall Path is a well-trodden route spanning eighty-four miles from Wallsend in the east to Bowness-on-Solway in the west. Due to the vastness of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, one must dedicate ample time to research, plan, and deliberate before embarking upon it – and yet, even with preparation, one may still feel underprepared.

Some things can only be learned through personal experience. For that reason, we have compiled a helpful post with practical advice and things we wish we knew sooner, to help you plan your journey!

Keep reading to discover some of the best pre-walk tips and the most important things to know before walking Hadrian’s Wall.

Everything to Know Before You Walk Hadrian’s Wall

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A Six-Day Hike vs. Six, Day-Long Hikes

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Something important to remember is that a six-day hike is very different from six, individual, one-day hikes.

It can be a great idea to go on several hikes before attempting to walk Hadrian’s Wall, in order to train and build endurance. However, the Hadrian’s Wall trail lasts for six consecutive days, covering between eleven and fifteen miles every day.

Long-distance hiking has a cumulative effect on your body, and hikers often experience aches and blisters on their feet after a few days. It is also common to experience these pains earlier every day, even when the morning started pain-free.

Unless you walk in the evenings as well, it can be very hard to replicate the six-day walk during training. This is especially true for people with day jobs or a tight schedule.

Without proper hiking shoes, you may get to a point where you can barely walk, and the whole experience could be spoiled. For this reason, a great pair of walking shoes is vital and can make all the difference. Many experts recommend hiking boots.

It is also important to take regular breaks where you take the weight off your feet by sitting, rather than being on your feet the entire time.

Carrying Unnecessary Weight

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Unless you’re planning on camping, there’s no reason to carry everything for the duration of the hike.

It is very important to pack light, as Osprey packs can get heavy fast, and the added weight will be worse on your feet and joints. Even a few extra kilograms can make a big difference when walking for extended periods of time. Heavy bags also make it walking up hills or climbing mountains much more difficult.

Experts recommend packing a bag that is no heavier than a fifth of your body weight, and it is preferable for it to weigh even less.

Alternatively, you could make use of local baggage transfer companies, if you’re worried about leaving vital items behind. These companies collect your baggage and transfer them from point A to point B for a small fee, on time to welcome you upon arrival. One such company, with great prices and good reviews, is Hadrian’s Haul.

If you decide to use a baggage transfer company, it is important to remember a day pack, usually a light backpack, that you can carry with you. These typically only contain items you need for the day, such as water, and everything less important gets transferred to your accommodation. It can make the whole experience of walking Hadrian’s Wall much easier and more enjoyable.

The Importance of Breakfast

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When going on long-distance walks like the Hadrian’s Wall Path, no saying can be more true than “The most important meal of the day is breakfast”.

If you plan on undertaking this journey, you will need to prepare for walking up to eight hours at a time. These long distances can burn a lot of calories, making your meals extra important. There are also not many dining options available once you have started walking, as many of the areas along the walk are very remote countryside.

Because of this, it is essential to fuel up on meals when given the chance and to make sure you sure get a good, hearty breakfast before setting off each day.

It is a good idea to book accommodation that includes breakfast in the nightly fare or to book accommodation near restaurants and eateries that offer breakfast. Bed and Breakfasts are usually not the cheapest options, at around ninety dollars per room, but often include large breakfasts that make the price well worth it.

Not All Scenic

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Many first-time visitors don’t realize that not all sections of the hike are as beautiful as the pictures claim. While there is some truly stunning scenery, from ancient forts and castles to massive lakes, copses, and grass-covered peaks, most of these can be found in the trail’s central section, between Chollerford and Walton. One popular location found here is the Sycamore Gap, a famous film site featured in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”. There is also a pleasant park alongside the River Eden, in the section between Carlisle and Bowness-On-Solway.

Unfortunately, this is not the case for the scenery at the end of the trail, and many hikers find the final day a bit boring. The good news is that hikers don’t need to walk the entire trail. You could focus your attention on the middle section of Hadrian’s Wall Walk, where everything is incredibly scenic, and skip the area from Chollerford to Wallsend. You could also stop at Heddon on the Wall or Green Carts Farm, which many local residents do as the trail runs by their homes.

The section between Heddon on the Wall and Chollerford is referred to as the Military Road, and for most of this section, there is very little of the actual wall visible. However, if you’re not hiking Hadrian’s Wall solely for the scenery, or you are a completionist, there is still a sense of achievement that awaits you at the end of the hiking tour.

Days End Tough

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Unfortunately, the signs along the route are not always entirely accurate and may leave a lot to be desired in terms of indicating how far hikers still need to walk. Signs miles apart often indicate the exact same estimated distance to the next town, which can be frustrating and confusing.

At the moment, there is consistency with distances recorded while hiking the Hadrian’s Wall Path is still lacking, which also makes it difficult to know exactly how far you’ll be walking every day.

The last “mile” of the day can end up feeling much longer as a result – especially when you are already tired and achy – and you may find yourself relying on hand-drawn maps and forums to try and make sense of it.


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If you plan to camp each night on the trail, it is important to remember that it would mean buying and carrying camping gear for the duration of the hike. While this is the cheapest option, there are other ways to complete the wall walk relatively inexpensively. For example, visitors often save money by staying in bunkhouses or campsites, as opposed to a private room in a hotel or guesthouse.

Many establishments such as these closed during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, which made it much harder to stick to a budget. In such cases, you may need to find accommodation a few miles from the trail, which adds a lot to your daily distances when walking to and from your accommodation. It may not seem like much, but when you spend the whole day walking, these extra miles can make a big difference. Taking taxis every day can build up additional costs, making your stay more expensive.

Another thing to consider is how far away you are from dining establishments, especially when you don’t plan on traveling by taxi.

Many people opt for choosing convenience over their budget, and it makes for a much more comfortable experience. There are slightly more expensive accommodation options right alongside the trail, which eliminates extra walking distance and taxi costs. You will have access to a hot shower, delicious food, and a comfortable bed, making the extra money well worth it.

Staying in one of these also means starting your days much faster, giving you more daylight to complete the daily distance needed.

Hike From West to East

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A great tip is to hike from west to east to avoid prevailing winds.

Most people walk from the opposite direction (from east to west) because Bowness-on-Solway is often considered a nicer location to finish your journey. The little seaside village is a great place for a celebratory drink and to take in the beautiful, coastal views. On the other hand, hiking from west to east will end the trip in Wallsend, where visitors can pose with a bronze statue, but not much else.

However, catching wet weather while in the middle of your hike is not uncommon, and you will walk right into the cold winds and sideways rain if you walk toward the west. To avoid walking into bad weather, we recommend walking from the west coast and finishing on the east coast. It is also a good idea to invest in some comfortable, waterproof shoes.

You may find yourself enjoying the Hadrian’s Wall Trek much more as a result.

Roman Forts

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There are several important Roman forts along Hadrian’s Wall. The best-preserved and most interesting forts include Vindolanda, Birdoswald, Chesters, and Housesteads Roman Fort, and they are all worth seeing. They offer an insight into what it was like in Roman Britain thousands of years ago. If you are a history buff, you may also want to spend extra time at each to truly appreciate them, and it is important to remember that this can slow down your day significantly.

Many visitors don’t realize that looking around the Roman Forts requires an appointment. This can pose a problem, however, as the schedule while walking Hadrian’s Wall Path is not set in stone, and it is difficult to predict when you will arrive at any given location or how long you will take to cover each mile you walk.

There are many factors that affect this, including the terrain’s surface, how many stops you make along the way for breaks, taking photos, eating, or hydrating.

For this reason, it is recommended to wait until you’re close to a fort you would like to visit, before trying to secure an appointment online. If you’d rather book in advance, keep in mind that you will lose money if you miss your appointment slot.

Extending The Walk

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Hadrian’s Wall runs for eighty-four miles, and if you have walked West to East, the journey ends in Wallsend (Segedunum). It is home to a Roman army museum, a café, Roman Baths, and a statue of a Roman centurion. These were closed during the pandemic, which could make the trip feel very anticlimactic.

For this reason, many people who walk from Wallsend also extend their hike to Tynemouth. There are different ways to go about this.

One way is to simply take the metro to Tynemouth and visit the seaside for a small celebration at the nearest pub before returning to your hotel in the city centre. It is also possible to hike the rest of the way, from Wallsend to the seafront – which would mean that you have walked across the country, from the North Sea to the Irish coast.

Keep in mind, however, that this would require additional organization of your days and would add additional distance to your already long-distance walk. You may find it easier to start your last day in Newburn, which would shorten your final distance to around fifteen miles. This is much less than the twenty-two miles you would walk from Wallsend to Tynemouth. Also keep in mind that this means an extra night added to your schedule, as well.


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Because the trail runs through remote areas and the countryside, it is very likely that you will pass through several cow fields when you walk Hadrian’s Wall Path. What many people don’t know is that cows can be unpredictable, and often dangerous if you get too close. Cows can suddenly chase after travelers, and this is something to be aware of on your journey.

Before you enter a pasture, be sure you have an exit strategy figured out, or stick to the established path whenever you can. If you have no other choice than to cut through a field, be sure to keep your hiking poles at the ready and try to keep as much distance between yourself and the herd.

You can also avoid visiting Hadrian’s Wall Path during the spring or summer months, as this is typically the season with calves and cows tend to be more protective.

Hadrian’s Wall Path FAQs

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Was Hadrian’s Wall named after Emperor Hadrian?

Following his visit to Britain in AD 122, Emperor Hadrian ordered the Roman army to build Hadrian’s wall as part of his Roman Empire. The wall was nearly destroyed three times by the Picts, and each time it was rebuilt. The wall was guarded and patrolled for almost two hundred and fifty years.

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What is the highest point of Hadrian’s Wall Path?

The highest point in the Hadrian’s Wall Path is the Winshields Crags, where visitors can expect to see some spectacular views of the rugged countryside.

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What is the longest hike in Northern Ireland?

The longest hike in Northern Ireland is the Northern Loop of the Kingfisher Cycle Trail. It stretches for around ninety-seven miles and takes nearly two days to hike.

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