In the summer of 2016 my wife and I walked the length of Hadrian’s Wall from Wallsend in Newcastle Upon Tyne to Bowness on Solway on the West Coast of England, near the border with Scotland.
The UK has some fantastic walking holidays. I mentioned the Cumbria Way walk in a previous blog post. The Hadrian’s Wall walk was very different, but enjoyable for different reasons. The wall itself is fascinating, dating back to AD 122 in the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian.
We did the Hadrian’s Wall walk in four days. A company called Contours arranged the accommodation and transport for our bags. This took a lot of pressure off and made it into a proper holiday, although it did mean that we needed to stick to the pre-arranged itinerary. I would highly recommend this walk and the service provided by the company. Here are some suggestions I would make to anyone considering this walk based on my experience:
- Length of Holiday: Four days was way too short. On most days we walked well over 20 miles which makes for very long days and very sore feet. When you get up and repeat this the following day sore feet very quickly turn into blisters. I would suggest at least five days and maybe an extra rest day in the middle somewhere. This would also allow more time to enjoy some of the historical sites and the villages along the way.
- Footwear: Much of the walk, especially in and around Newcastle and Carlisle is on pavement/hard surfaces. On days like that comfortable shoes rather than hiking boots were a lifesaver. The middle of the walk was the most picturesque but also the most tiring due to its hilly nature. Many places were muddy and/or rocky. Hiking boots worked well for that.
- Direction: We went from East to West. Personally I enjoyed this direction, but there are some advantages in going the other way. Firstly, the winds tend to blow from West to East. Secondly, for some walkers it might be preferable to end in a big city rather than a tiny village.
- Lastly, it is worth noting that you don’t see very much of the wall except for the middle day or two of the walk. The trail is fairly well marked but you do need to keep your eyes open for signs. Our guidebook was helpful.
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