Hello! My name is Abbie. I’m a presenter, filmmaker, and mountain leader with a passion for tying well-being to expeditions and adventures in the natural world. I am also the founder of Spend More Time In The WILD. Ultimately, I am on a life-long mission to empower people to get outside for the benefit of mental and physical health, whilst also giving back to nature to leave the planet in a better place than when we arrived. I have hiked and filmed my travels along long-distance trails all over the globe; do check out my YouTube channel if you’d like to find out more! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6ekNjZZWhx7NG2zHmG7IEA
One of the first trails I ever backpacked was the Hadrian’s Wall Path in 2014, and I recently decided to return to the trail in order to rediscover the magic of the walk.
Hadrian’s Wall Path: The Route
The 84 mile (134 km) route is significant as it follows the original route of the ancient Hadrian’s Wall, built by the Roman Army under Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD as a border between England to the south and Scotland to the north. It is now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers an incredible array of archaeological and geographical sights for those heading out to explore the trail.
When I last walked the route I completed it in 4 days and used B&Bs as my main form of accommodation. Nowadays I am a seasoned camper but I certainly had some soggy weather during my recent hike, so opted for a mixture of campsites and bunkhouses this time. I also decided to give myself an extra day on the trail. If you have ever walked the route you will understand when I say that there is almost too much to see! Stuffing a day with a 15-20 mile hike plus sightseeing can be a challenge. There are forts and museums and cafes galore on this path, and it should be savoured as an experience! So the extra day was designed to ease off the pressure and allow for a steadier walk.
Here is my itinerary for my recent trek:
Day One: Wallsend, Newcastle to Heddon On The Wall, 15 miles
Accommodation: Houghton North Farm
Day Two: Heddon On The Wall to Chollerford, 15 miles
Accommodation: Riverside Campsite
Day Three: Chollerford to Once Brewed, 14 miles
Accommodation: The Sill YHA
Day Four: Once Brewed to Walton, 15 miles
Accommodation: Sandysike Campsite and Bunkhouse
Day Five: Walton to Beaumont, 17.5 miles
Accommodation: Roman Wall Lodges and Campsite
Day Six: Beaumont to Bowness On Solway, 8.5 miles
It is worth noting that the Hadrian’s Wall Path is described as one of the easiest National Trails in the UK due to the great array of amenities and options, best seen using the Hiiker App ‘accommodation’ and ‘amenities’ markers. There are also very few climbs and descents of serious grade, and thus this route is an ideal starting point for those looking to get into long-distance hiking. You can also choose which direction you travel, either from west to east, or east to west, as I did. Sticking with my recent itinerary, here is a selection of my personal daily highlights.
Day One: the first day at 15 miles was a nice way to ease into the route and the profile was almost completely flat, as visible on the elevation graph on the Hiiker App that I was using. Day one was also my travel day, and I arrived at the start of the walk at Wallsend outside of Segedunum at 1pm ready to start my hike. The fact that the walk starts at a museum is brilliant in my opinion, as it gives hikers the chance to shed the stresses and strains of ‘normal life’ and ease into the simplicity of life on the trail. Outside was a huge metal sculpture of the Roman centurion and a few signs saying ‘I Walked The Wall’ for those who hiked the path in the opposite direction.
Now the day ahead may seem tedious for some due to the tarmac underfoot and urban surroundings, as the Way follows the banks of the River Tyne through Newcastle. However, arming yourself with some facts about the environment around you makes for a more interesting walk; there is an endless succession of historical bridges spanning the river, including the famed Millenium Bridge; Victorian flour mills; modern architecture; and plenty of wading wildlife when the tide is out. Plus, it is worth digging deep into your imagination to reflect on the hustle and bustle of the place during the time of the Wall – using the layers feature in the Hiiker App will allow you to view the ancient mapping of the area.
Eventually, though you will out-walk the urban surroundings to arrive in the quaint and quiet countryside encompassing Heddon-On-The-Wall, a village that hosts the first tangible piece of Wall.
Day two to Chollerford is again an easier day in terms of elevation and undulation, and for 90% of its course it follows the line of a busy road which happens to be built right on top of the original military road which would have run alongside the Wall. However, this doesn’t impact the quality of the walk too much as there is still plenty to see, including the Vallum, an immense earthwork consisting of a ditch and banks that run almost the full length of the wall as an added mechanism of defence. Other notable sights on this day’s walk include Halton Chesters Fort, the 7th century St Oswalds Church and the site of the Battle of Heavenfield, Brunton Turret 26B, and Chesters Fort at Chollerford itself.
For me, day three is where the excitement really begins. There are some brilliant sections of the Wall, both of the broad and narrow kind, as well as turrets, Brocolitia Roman Fort, home to the mystery religion of Mithraism, Housesteads fort, and some fantastic stretches of Wall and walking along The Sill, an impressive natural geological feature that rises up dramatically from the lands around it. It is easy to see why the Romans built on top of the Sill as it provided a substantial extra defence against invasion.
Since our third day proved to be a bit of a washout we opted to spontaneously end our hike at The Sill National Park centre and Youth Hostel, which we found using the Hiiker App ‘accommodation’ selection. Thankfully they had a room for my friend and I and we managed to dry off that evening in comfort!
Despite the rainy start to day four we enjoyed yet another brilliant day on the Path, kicking off with the highest point on Winshields Crag, Green Slack at 345m. From here there were extensive views in every direction that made for a personal highlight on the entire walk. The trail also crossed from Northumberland into Cumbria, although this was not super obvious on the ground. There were also a few re-routed sections due to erosion and windfall, which actually in the autumnal weather proved to be really enjoyable as the ancient birch forests we found ourselves in boasted an extensive array of colourful fungi!
Another personal highlight for the day was Birdoswald Fort. I feel that both Birdoswold and Chesters are well worth a visit, and for us, Birdoswold arrived just in time – a perfect place to step out of the rain and regroup with coffee and cake. Plus the museum here is extensive and the sections of the wall in the area are some of the last on the Way.
From Walton to Carlisle and beyond there are very few sections of wall left due to communities using the stone to build houses and churches. Actually, it is worth ducking into some of the churches as they often have fascinating displays showcasing the history of the region and their role within the countryside. This penultimate day took us through Carlisle, a good resupply point, and along the River Eden. It was a blissful leg of walking with wildflowers growing in abundance due to the highly fertilised soil.
Then from the pretty village of Beaumont there remains less than 10 miles of walking to the end of the trek to Bowness On Solway. We opted to hike on the quiet road due to the easier going underfoot – one of the days we had endured 4 inches of rain so everywhere was rather soggy! Thankfully through this final day saw the sun come out proper and we enjoyed extensive views over the Solway Firth to Scotland. This final leg really is a pleasant one and makes for a great reflective space to recall the adventure that is almost complete. The endpoint of the Way sits on The Banks and there is a small hut offering a rewarding fanfare for the accomplished walker having completed the 84 mile trail from east to west.
I am really glad to have had the opportunity to walk the Hadrian’s Wall Path for a second time. At first I was a little tentative, worrying that the route was going to be ‘boring’ in that it is largely undramatic and unchallenging. However, I’m pleased to say that these worries were for nothing. The variety of historical and archaeological sites keeps each day on the trail fresh and exciting and the cafes with some planning mean one does not have to lug around days of food, thus my pack stayed pretty light. That being said, I would never get complacent with this hike. Just because it is urban at times and almost always near a road for a quick exit, it can feel remote and wild, and especially up on the Sill it is very exposed in poor weather. Some basic navigational skills are certainly desirable and planning ahead with accommodation will make for a smoother journey.
My gear List for camping:
- Rucksack (I use a ZPacks); waterproof cover (I love the Osprey covers!)
- Tent (I used my trusty Hilleberg Enan)
- Sleeping bag, liner, mat (Thermarest bag and mat for me)
- Stove, gas, cooking pot, spork, lighter
- First aid kit
- Head Torch and batteries
- Water filter
- Guidebook and map as backup
- Camp shoes
- sleeping clothes + warm socks
- Coffee and more coffee
- Snacks and meals
- Wallet, cash, emergency contacts, notepad and pen
- Hat, gloves
- Walking clothes, spare socks, boots
- Walking poles
- Water Bottles and filter
- Waterproofs and warm layers
- Toilet kit, wash kit
- Portable charger, charging plug and leads
- All my filming kit (why is it so heavy?!)
If you’re new to long-distance hiking, my best piece of advice is to start small. Figure out what takes your interest – is it history and archaeology? Geology and geography? Nature and wildlife? Is it covering big distances or something else? Then have a browse through the Hiiker map and see what trails are available to quench this interest. There is guaranteed to be a route that gets you pumped! Get your kit sorted (don’t overthink this), plan your itinerary, train your body and mind, and then go for it! Take it slow and enjoy!
Below: Get Up, Get Out, and Spend More Time In The WILD!
Thank you Abbie for the insite into Hadriens wall. I’m planning on walikng it in the next couple of months and this along with your Utube video have given me some great tips.
Your a great inspiration for us all, keeping it real and pushing through those immotional challenges. Stay strong, do what YOU love to do, keep smiling and be kind to yourself. 👣🤩
My husband and I “stumbled” upon your YouTube videos and we absolutely love watching you. You’re style of capturing the beauty around you, your zeal and excitement make it a joy watching. Thanks for sharing your life, different places, historical facts, and your emotions, … just everything. We’ll keep watching.