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Hadrian's Wall Guide

Hadrian's Wall Guide, Northumberland
One of the most popular reasons for visiting the area from Hexham through to Haltwhistle is for Hadrian's Wall. It is an absolutely stunning part of Northumberland and to reach the most famous parts of the wall you need to head West, further inland from Hexham along the A69 towards Haltwhistle. The most popular attractions along this stretch of Hadrian's Wall are the Roman Vindolanda and Roman Army Museum which are both run by the Vindolanda Charitable Trust (separate sites) and Housesteads Roman Fort and Chesters Roman Fort both of which are English Heritage sites. The area offers a fascinating glimpse through history, many beautiful small Villages and Towns to explore, excellent walking and cycling opportunities and a friendly welcome from the locals. Buy a Northumberland Guide.

The information below covers the parts of Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland, there are other Roman Forts and attractions in Cumbria and Tyne and Wear.

Getting There
Hexham and Hadrian's Wall to the West is easily accessible by road, being just a short distance from the A69 that runs from a junction at the A1 at Newcastle right through Hadrian's Wall Country to Carlisle. Running almost parallel to the A69 throughout the area is the B6318, known locally as the Military Road. This road runs along Hadrian's Wall for most of it's very straight run from Heddon on the Wall in the East to Greenhead in the West. As you will see from the map above all of the most popular attractions along Hadrian's Wall are, rather unsurprisingly, very close to this road.

By Public Transport, Arriva run a regular bus service from Newcastle to Carlisle that stops in Hexham, Haydon Bridge, Bardon Mill, Haltwhistle, Greenhead and Gilsland. There is also an Hadrian's Wall Country bus that covers a lot of the area surrounding Hexham. It runs from Easter until the end of October each year, details of the various routes can be found on the Hadrian's Wall Country website and we can recommend this service as an excellent way of exploring the area. Go North East also run a bus between Hexham and Newcastle that calls at Corbridge, Stocksfield, the Metrocentre and Prudhoe amongst other places. There is a Train Station in Hexham with a regular service to Newcastle in the East and Carlisle in the West. This line has stops at Haltwhistle, Hexham and the Metrocentre.

Visit our Hexham and Hadrian's Wall accommodation page for a range of hotels, B&B's and self catering.

Attractions, Museums and Things To Do
Hadrian's Wall Guide, Northumberland
Roman Vindolanda and Roman Army Museum
Run by the Vindolanda Trust the Roman Army Museum is just outside Greenhead (marked far left in blue on the map above) and the Roman Vindolanda is just North of Bardon Mill (marked second from the left in blue on the map above). The Roman Army Museum is based at the site of Carvoran Roman Fort and situated next to a glorious stretch of Hadrian's Wall. Often Museums attempt to bring history to life and I can honestly say that the Vindolanda Trust have done an amazing job here that includes objects excavated along Hadrian's Wall and an exclusive 3D Edge of Empire film that must be seen. It is a modern museum that will excite and educate with it's 3 different galleries, each exploring a different aspect of the Roman history. Postcode for your SatNav: CA8 7JB. 

The Roman Vindolanda is one of the North-East's key sites of historical interest and home of Britain's 'Top Treasure' the Vindolanda Writing Tablets. Here you can explore a Roman Fort like nowhere else and there is often live excavation going on when you visit. The Fort was occupied for over 300 years and was the first Roman frontier in the North and lies just South of Hadrian's Wall. In the museum you can see the extraordinary Vindolanda Writing Tablets, tiny thin slivers of wood covered in ink writing, a fascinating glimpse into the past. Postcode for your SatNav: NE47 7JN.

Hadrian's Wall Guide, Northumberland
Housesteads Roman Fort
This is the part of Hadrian's Wall that I remember fondest from my childhood, the excitement of the small museum on entry and walking on the great wall. I also remember falling off said wall while holding my dad's new and expensive camera, but that's another story entirely! This is the only stretch of the Wall that you are allowed to walk on, as it is a scheduled ancient monument it is illegal to walk on the vast majority of the Wall. This is arguably the most popular part of Hadrian's Wall to visit and walk from, the panoramic vistas are simply stunning. The fort is perched up high on a ridge and is now the most complete Roman Fort in Britain and is the ideal place to experience how the Romans lived. If I was forced to choose one place on Hadrian's Wall to visit above all others then it would have to be Housesteads, English Heritage members enter free, visit their website for more information. Postcode for your SatNav: NE47 6NN.

Chesters Roman Fort and Museum
Almost 2,000 years ago Chesters Roman Fort was built as an army garrison to protect the nearby bridge that crossed the River Tyne and is now widely accepted as the best preserved Roman Cavalry Fort in the Country. There is lots to see and do here as you wander the fort with the preserved baths and steam room, collections of items found in the excavation, the restored Victorian museum and the fantastic viewing platform of the Roman bridge and the river. Chesters Fort, like Housesteads is looked after by the English Heritage and members enter free, visit their website for more information. Postcode for your SatNav: NE46 4EU.

Join the National Trust

Corbridge Roman Town
Visit the fascinating remains of a Roman garrison town, here you can explore the granaries, markets, workshops and temples and learn how the Romans lived. The first Fort was built in Corbridge around 85AD and some point in the second century it was replaced with a town, the remains of which you can now visit. A large number of items that were found while excavating the site are now housed within the museum. This is an English Heritage site, so access to the remains of the town and the museum are free if you are members. It's easier to see the layout of the town from above, the picture on the right is a google satellite image showing how large the site is. The building to the left of the picture is the museum. Corbridge Roman Town is located just outside the town centre, to the West on the banks of the river. For more information visit the English Heritage Website. Postcode for your SatNav: NE45 5NT.

Hadrian's Wall Guide, Northumberland
Sycamore Gap
An absolutely beautiful spot a pleasant walk West from Housesteads Crag is Sycamore Gap. It was made famous by the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and if you've seen the film you no doubt recognise the picture to the left. This walk from Housesteads is my favourite part of the Wall to have a short walk along, the scenery and panoramic views just can't be beaten.

Brunton Turret
Another English Heritage site, Brunton Turret is about quarter of a mile south of the Hamlet of Low Brunton of the A6079 which is close to Chesters Roman Fort. It's one of the few surviving pieces of turret left on the Wall, stands at 2.5 metres tall and was built by men of the Twentieth Legion.

Walking the Wall
'Walking the Wall' as it has become known is very popular in the warmer months of the year and the Hadrian's Wall Path National Trail stretches the whole 84 miles of the Wall. In winter the paths can become eroded and difficult to walk, so other routes that explore the museums and surrounding countryside are encouraged at that time of year. Between May and October the National Trail runs a 'passport' that allows you to collect seven stamps along the way from 'stamping stations', you can then collect a completion badge and certificate to prove you have walked the wall! Passports can be ordered on the National Trail website.

If you are planning a walk in Hadrian's Wall Country please read 'Every Footstep Counts - The Trail's Country Code' before setting off and please remember, never climb or walk on the Wall. The Hadrian's Wall Country website has downloadable circular walking routes if you don't fancy walking the whole path and are highly recommended, with my favourite walks being:

A fairly recent addition is Hadrian's Cycleway and it has quickly established itself as one of the top long distance cycle paths in the Country. It runs from the Roman Fort of Arberia in South Shields, right through Northumberland and finishes in Ravenglass on the Cumbrian coast some 174 miles away. It is a National Cycle Route (Number 72) and mainly runs on quiet country lanes that pass close by all the sights and attractions listed above. Cycle shops close to the route in Northumberland (should you need them) include Activ Cycles in Corbridge.

The absolutely stunning photographs shown on this page belong to Joan Thirlaway, more of her beautiful pictures can be seen by visiting her website After the Rain or click on any of the images. We are very grateful that she has allowed us to use these special images.

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