We recently completed our first long-distance walk on Hadrian’s Wall Path in England. It was a wonderful trip for us, and we would do it again in a heartbeat! (now that my blisters have healed). Here are some tips and resources to help you plan your own Hadrian’s Wall Walk.
How long is Hadrian’s Wall Path?
According to my T-shirt, Hadrian’s Wall Path is 136 km (84 miles), with 80 milecastles and six Roman forts. The length will vary a bit according to where your accommodations are, and detours for food or fort visits. The actual Roman wall itself was 73 miles in length, and the trail follows the wall where it still remains, and along the original route wherever practical.
How long does it take to walk Hadrian’s Wall?
It takes 5 to 7 days to walk the full length of the path, or longer if you want rest days or time to visit attractions along the way. We decided to complete in 6 days, and were committed to the itinerary as our accommodations were booked. After our experience I would say 6 days is doable if you are reasonably fit and don’t have any issues, but it doesn’t allow much time to explore beyond the walk itself. It took longer than we expected to walk the distance each day, especially in the hilly, rugged section in the middle third of the walk. Finding accommodation that aligns with the distance you want to walk each is key to planning your own walk.
When to go?
The path is open year round, but the best weather and peak season is May to September. When we went in June it was never crowded. Most of the time we were alone on the path and we would just meet fellow walkers heading the opposite direction. Outside of peak season there may be even fewer accommodations and pubs open. During the wetter winter months walking the path is not encouraged as it can damage the archaeology of the path.
Our Hadrian’s Wall West-to-East Itinerary
Bowness-on-Solway • Carlisle • Banks • Old Repeater Station • Halton Red House • Newcastle-upon-Tyne • Wallsend
Our hotel at the start was in Carlisle, so the first morning of our walk we took bus #93 at 9:10am from Carlisle to Bowness-on-Solway. There are only a few buses per day so be sure to confirm the schedule.
One of the highlights of our walk was arriving each day at next cozy B&B. We really enjoyed the three B&B’s below, all located along the path. There are more options in Carlisle and Newcastle, but limited accommodations available along the middle. You don’t want to be stuck for a place to stay after a long day walking, so booking accommodations in advance is a must.
The National Trail website has a map that was a great help in finding accommodations along the wall.
Using a luggage transfer service made our walk much lighter, and was very affordable. We chose Hadrian’s Haul, and they picked up our luggage and had it waiting for us like magic each day at our next destination. We never saw anyone from the company in person but their system worked perfectly, and we highly recommend them.
- Firstly, don’t have a pedicure before any long walk. I did about a week before the walk, and by the end of the second day I had some nasty blisters. Baby-soft heels are not what you want on a long walk.
- Carry some duct tape and Second Skin or Compeed to treat blisters if they occur. Duct tape is also great for covering sensitive areas on your feet before blisters occur. It’s easy to carry some wrapped around a pencil instead of a whole roll.
- Bring extra socks in your daypack in case your feet get wet.
- Make sure your hiking boots are properly fitted, and break them in before your big hike. The store should have a ramp to test your boots on a downhill slope to be sure your toes don’t rub the front of the boot.
Food & Water
- Walkers don’t have cars, and our wonderful B&B hosts either drove us to dinner, or made dinner for us. Check with your accommodations about dinner options.
- There is limited food or water available along the path, so you really need to carry it with you.
- We had 2 litre water bladders that we filled the first couple sunny days. We carried a little less on the remaining cooler days.
- Each morning we had a full English breakfast, and a substantial pub dinner most nights, so a few granola bars were enough for us. We were able to stop for a drink or snack at a couple of pubs along the way, but they are few and far between, and sometimes closed.
- There are also few honesty boxes filled with chocolate bars, chips etc., and you just leave payment for what you chose, so bring a bit of cash.
There aren’t always ATMs available so you may need to bring cash with you. Some B&Bs don’t accept credit cards, so you may need enough cash to pay for these.
Hadrian Wall Path by Gordon Simm and Jacquetta Megarry was an essential guide for our trip. This book has maps and detailed descriptions of the path for west to east walkers, but it also includes notes for those walking east to west.
The National Trail Website has an abundance of info about Hadrian’s Wall Path to help plan your walk.
Transportation along Hadrian’s Wall Path If some days you do find your route is too long, it’s possible to catch a bus to your next destination. You will probably have to do some walking to get to a bus stop.