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Hiking England's Hadrian's Wall Path

During the second century, The Roman Empire extended into what we now call England. The Romans were there about 400 years! In 122 A.D., the Emperor Hadrian paid Brittania a visit. He found that the three legions of soldiers stationed there had little to do.

Hadrian was no fool. Tribes from what is now Scotland would raid Roman settlements periodically. A fortified wall would protect the settlements, give control over immigration, and allow collection of customs taxes. Bored soldiers cause trouble, so he gave them something to do- build a wall across the island.

Construction took six years. Hadrian's Wall was occupied until the late fourth century, when all Roman troops were recalled for what proved to be the last defense of Rome.

Looking north past the wall, toward Scotland.
Looking north past the wall, toward Scotland.

Once the Romans left, the locals realized they had an excellent source of building material, both for structures and roads. The Wall began to disappear.

During the 1800s a man named John Clayton, the classic eccentric Englishman, became enthusiastic about preserving the Wall. He bought large portions of land along which the Wall ran, and restored what he could.

Susan looks happy to be in the ruins of a Roman barracks. How many Legionnaires slept here over the course of 400 years?
Susan looks happy to be in the ruins of a Roman barracks. How many Legionnaires slept here over the course of 400 years?
The path doesn’t always follow the Wall.
The path doesn’t always follow the Wall.

The Wall was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987. It is in fact the longest, best-preserved example of Roman fortifications anywhere. In 2003 the National Footpath was opened, running the length of the Wall.

 

Susan and I hiked this path, starting in Newcastle and going west to Carlisle. When I tell people we walked across England, they "ooh" and "ahh" like it's a big deal. It's only 80 miles, folks! England is a fairly small island! We took ten days, taking it easy, stopping at pubs and tea rooms for lunch and staying at bed and breakfasts at night.

We passed many fields. The poppy fields were the best!
We passed many fields. The poppy fields were the best!
England has lots of sheep!
England has lots of sheep!
The path passes through communities.
The path passes through communities.

We would leave the B&B in the morning carrying some water, some snacks, a first aid kit, raincoats, and cameras. A company called MACS Adventure would come to the B&B some time later and pick up the rest of our luggage, then transport it to our destination for that evening. When we arrived at the next B&B, our things would already be in our rooms. It was all very civilized!

Cemetery at Lanercost zPriory.
Cemetery at Lanercost zPriory.
Susan in the ruins of the Priory. Part of the building is still in use.
Susan in the ruins of the Priory. Part of the building is still in use.
Susan climbs from the ruins of a gate. At the gate, tolls and customs taxes were collected.
Susan climbs from the ruins of a gate. At the gate, tolls and customs taxes were collected.
Be careful crossing the tracks!
Be careful crossing the tracks!
We saw lots of weather like this.
We saw lots of weather like this.

We spent a month in England and saw many fantastic historic and cultural places- Evensong Service at Westminster Abbey, a performance of the Royal Shakespeare Company, the entire city of York, the Roman baths at Bath, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Tower of London, and much more. But by far the highlight of our trip was the walk along the Hadrian's Wall Path. Highly recommended!

For more information visit https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/en_US/trails/hadrians-wall-path/  

For information about MACS Adventure, visit https://www.macsadventure.com/us/walking-tours/uk-walking-tours/england/hadrians-wall

On the trail, somewhere in England.
On the trail, somewhere in England.
When we got to Carlisle it was Roman Day! The streets were full of Centurions!
When we got to Carlisle it was Roman Day! The streets were full of Centurions!
Susan at Carlisle Castle.
Susan at Carlisle Castle.
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