Camping Inspiration: Where To Go Walking And Camping Along Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian's Wall in the north of England is a great walk, whether you decide to do it all in one go or break it down into sections.
You can either walk it over a series of weekends or camp in one place and walk a section at a time during a two week holiday. Backpacking the entire route is possible, although campsites can be few and far between in places.
The Hadrian’s Wall National Trail is 84 miles long and passes through some of the most dramatic scenery there is in the north of England. Along the way you will cross farmland, rugged moorlands, elevated crags and always the ruins of the historic wall will be your companion. Sometimes these are highly visible, in other places they have to be looked for carefully but are always there.
The route passes along the southern edge of the Northumberland National Park and a little north of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is essentially a hill walk with lots of ups and downs, and, being a National Trail it is well signposted throughout and easy to follow with good paths and tracks.
If you are fit and used to walking 10 miles plus a day then you should be able to walk the trail in about six to seven days. If you want to spend time on visits to the Roman sites you pass you should allow longer as they usually have interesting museums that will keep you occupied. The trail itself is not too demanding apart from the 23 mile section between Chollerford and Birdoswald.
It can be walked in both directions but west to east has the advantage of keeping the prevailing wind mostly at your back. As Hadrian’s Wall traverses some quite high ground you need to go prepared with full hill walking gear, a guidebook and the correct maps. And be sure you are able to navigate in case the mist comes down and the weather turns foul.
Historically Hadrian’s Wall was a defensive fortification which was started in 122 AD during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian to mark the northern limits of the Roman Empire in the province of Britannia. Although there is no exact historical proof as to why the wall was built, it is widely believed that it was to put a heavily armed barricade between the Romans and the ‘Barbarians’ who inhabited the lands to the north (Scotland) and these included Ancient Britons and Picts.
The wall took advantage of the elevated dolerite volcanic ridge that ran roughly west to east here and gave a height advantage before a stone was laid in place. The height and width of the wall varied from place to place but at its highest it stood around 20ft high and was around 10ft wide. It was a formidable structure and was the largest Roman building project undertaken in our country. Every mile there was a milecastle with two turrets in between each of them.
There was a fort about every five miles and these held garrisons of infantry and cavalry. In front of the wall was ditch to make it awkward for attackers and on the south side of the wall there was a military way for the rapid movement of troops, and beyond this was the Vallum which was another ditch. Today, the ruins of Hadrian’s Wall are one of the major tourist attractions in the UK and attract visitors summer and winter alike.
Words and pictures by Steve Goodier
WHERE TO CAMP
ROMAN WALL LODGES
Beaumont, Carlisle, Cumbria CA5 6ED
Roman Wall Lodges is actually set next to the line of Hadrian’s Wall and is only 400 metres from the National Trail. It is a true walker’s campsite that would particularly suit backpackers. It does not take caravans or campervans and is best suited to small to medium sized tents. It’s worth noting that cars are not allowed on the camping field and have to be parked on the surfaced track adjacent to it. This is because of the close proximity to Hadrian’s Wall and the fact that it is a National Monument and there have been Roman artefacts found in the vicinity. The campsite is set remotely down quiet country lanes and is near the village of Monkhill where you will find the Drovers Rest Inn (it’s a five minute walk from your tent). The camping field is sheltered by low bushes and is long and narrow and on the right side of the track that runs down the field. A low bank separates the field from the track. On the left of the track are a few camping pods and a wooden chalet – all of which can be hired. Reception is in another wooden chalet and in this you will find the toilets and showers/bathrooms for the site. There are only a limited number of each but they are clean and tidy. Also in this building there is a small camper’s kitchen, a games room, a library and common room where you can eat if it is wet. The site allows open fires in fire pits and there are a limited number of these (plus barbeques) available from reception. For exploring the western areas of the National Trail, Roman Wall Lodges is well located.
Roman Wall Lodges Campsite only takes tents and has no electric hook-ups
HALTWHISTLE CAMPING AND CARAVANNING CLUB SITE
Burnfoot Park Village, Haltwhistle, Northumberland NE49 0JP
Haltwhistle Camping and Caravanning Club Site is located a five miles drive away from Hadrian’s Wall and the National Trail. It makes a good base for exploring the central and western areas of the footpath and for visiting some of the historic sites, such as Housesteads Roman Fort which is the most complete fort on the wall. The site has 45 pitches and takes tents, caravans and campervans on a mixture of hard standing and grass pitches with plenty of electric hook-ups available for those who need them. Non-members are welcome and pay an additional pitching fee to stay. The campsite is found down quiet lanes with the final half mile being particularly narrow and tight. The caravan and camping areas are flat and spacious. And there’s a small shop for campers to buy essentials. The campsite is set in a clearing in Bellister Wood (which is now managed by the National Trust) and there are trees and bushes scattered around the camping field so it is very sheltered but still gets some sun. Due to the surrounding forest there are plenty of wildlife and birds present and woodpeckers and bullfinches are often spotted. There are odd picnic benches around the camping field. The toilets and showers are clean and tidy and there is a launderette facility. The campsite offers Wi-Fi. Haltwhistle is well landscaped and laid out and is well run and pleasant to stay on. The town of Haltwhistle is only a short walk away from the campsite and here you will find restaurants, pubs and cafes.
If you like fishing, the River Tyne runs adjacent to the site so bring your tackle and rod licence along
GREENCARTS CAMPING SITE
Humshaugh, Northumberland, NE46 4BW
Greencarts Camping Site is located a little north of Hadrian’s Wall and the National Trail and is often used by walkers following it. The campsite is well located for exploring the central and eastern areas of the wall and the trail. Also close by are Kielder Water and the southern regions of the Northumberland National Park.
The campsite is located on a working farm in the lovely Tyne Valley and the town of Hexham is about seven miles away. The farm also offers bed and breakfast and has a camping barn which walkers can stay in. The owners here are very helpful and know the local area well. The campsite itself can take up to 30 units and is located alongside the rising track to the farmhouse. The camping field is on the right side of the track and is all grass which is well cut and very open with some odd trees and bushes around the edge. There are only limited electric hook-ups available for tents so you will need to book one in advance if you need one. Entrance to the field is at the top of the drive near the farmhouse and a little gate before this gives pedestrian access to the camping areas from the drive. Campers are allowed to use picnic benches that the farm provides. There is a clean and tidy toilet and shower facility with two toilets and two showers for each sex. Alongside the access track to the left is a backpack field for Hadrian’s Wall National Trail users and general long distance walkers. There is also a field with a few pre-erected tents. The site allows fires in fire boxes. Greencarts Campsite gets very busy at weekends but is quieter during the week.
The tents, caravans and campervans all use the same grass field – however, there is plenty of space to spread out
NEED TO KNOW
NEED TO DO
Corbridge Roman Town
A Walk Along The Wall by Hunter Davies
A Pennine Journey by Alfred Wainwright
Hadrian’s Wall Path by Mark Richards
Hadrian’s Wall Path by Anthony Burton
Hadrian’s Wall Path by Henry Stedman
Harvey’s Hadrian’s Wall Path Map
Hadrian’s Wall Map Booklet by Mark Richards
Adventure Series Hadrian’s Wall Path A – Z for walkers
Ordnance Survey OL Explorer 43 – Hadrian’s Wall
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