Walking Hadrian’s Wall Path Solo (Part two)

THE MIDDLE SECTION. UNDULATING AND BEAUTIFUL.

Day 3 / Chollerford to Haltwhistle

The term undulating sounds quite pleasant doesn’t it? In reality this oft-described undulating section is punishing. Miles of hills, after miles, after miles. However, hills aside this section does boast some of the most spectacular scenery on the path (including some massive sections of wall). The day was overcast, but the cooler temperature definitely made for a more pleasant start to the day. First port of call was Brocolita Fort, truth be told not a great deal to see here, the Mithras Temple is however quite interesting. Knowing there were better ruins further along path I did not linger here long. Unsurprisingly, the effects of too many cups of tea during breakfast were making themselves known so I was (quite desperately) on the hunt for a convenient bush. Not one to make a habit of relieving myself outside, there are times in life where you have little choice: Bush found, it didn’t take long to realise that my location of relief was in a nettle patch which resulted in some bonus nettle stings to the backside. 😂😂 Onwards. The path rose to a steady climb towards the Sewingshields Crags and the first spectacular view of the day looking towards Broomlee Lough.
View through the wall to Broomlee Lough
Not long after, the second roman fort of the day, Housesteads appeared (as well as dozens and dozens of day trippers along the path). Housesteads, built in 122AD housed 800 men and unlike other ruins along the path, you will really get a sense of what a roman fort would’ve been like –  the ruins are remarkably almost complete – I highly recommend stopping here for a poke around. Finally, the path leads you to the most iconic image on the entire path, Sycamore Gap. A large sycamore tree nestled between the crags, best known (apparently) for its appearance in the 90’s version of Robin Hood. Unsurprisingly, this is also the busiest section of the wall – the day tripper bus stop is approx. 15 min walk away, so if you want a photo without folk in it you’ll have to be patient (35 mins in my case).
Sycamore Gap
Hitting Steel Rigg, it was time for lunch and a stop off at Vindolanda. Vindolanda although not as spectacular as Housesteads, but is widely regarded to be on of the most important sites of Roman Britain. The artefacts displayed  in the museum (the writing tablets for example) are incredible, and if you are a bit of a museum nerd like me it is very easy to lose track of time (3 hours). But be aware, this detour will add not only hours but an extra 3 miles to the day.
The tavern at Vindolanda
Vindolanda done, The sun has decided to make an appearance. Making up for lost time I ignored the fact I was in a village called Once Brewed, with a pub called “Twice Brewed” (I’m probably only person who finds this HILARIOUS!) and got myself back uphill to Steel Rigg and to the path. Green Slack, the highest point on the wall at 345m was a bloody schlep to get to. But the views were worth. On a side note, this area reportedly has the cleanest air in the UK, so fill your lungs!.  From here you can see exactly what lies ahead of you – more ‘undulating’ hills. The final part of the day was definitely brightened by an appearance of an army unit coming in the opposite direction (jogging!?)
Walking along the top of Green Slack, I could see exactly how many miles of hills were left in the day.
Two hours later I was on flat ground, it was definitely time for a beer (or five). Stopping at the Milecastle Inn, it dawned on me exactly how far away (and off the path ) my accommodation for the night was, giving in to cold beer and sore feet I got a cab (technically not on path so doesn’t count). Arriving at accommodation for the evening, I had inadvertently booked a super plush, super fancy B&B with a hostel price tag – WINNER WINNER! More about my accommodation, and logistics of the whole in another post, but if find yourself in Haltwhistle stay at the Belford Arms, its proper lush! Dinner at the Black Bull Inn, Haltwhistle. I think I scared the locals by literally inhaling my food when it arrived, then had the best sleep I’ve for a least 3 months. Day 3 Stats Distance actually walked= 20.62 miles Blisters = 0 (woo hoo!) Angry Cows / Bull = 0 Detours taken = 1 (to see the fort at Vindolanda) Random Observation: An army unit jogging by after Green Slack, certainly reset my motivation for the rest of the afternoon.

Day 4 / Haltwhistle to Brampton

There is nothing like good water pressure in the morning – after an amazing sleep and an equally amazing shower I was ready for day 4. Arriving back to the path, an elderly gentleman had set a cracking pace ahead of me (it took me 2.5 hours to catch up to him). I completely aspire to move that quickly when I’m in my seventies.
It’s not a race, but i was trying to catch this guy for about 3 hours. He was in this seventies!
Wildflowers and woods everywhere – there are times during this walk that I feel like I’m in an Enid Blyton book from my childhood.
The countryside is straight out of an Enid Blyton book
By mid afternoon, my head just wasn’t in the game and as enjoyable as the scenery was I just wanted to get the day over with. Ignoring Birdsowold Fort, i got my stamp, a cup of tea and forged on. As usual, my accommodation involved another 2.5 mile walk to the village of Brampton, which involves walking down a busy B road, bordered by hedges. A test of nerve, when you’ve got to dive into a hedge with a semi thundering around a corner. Day 4 Stats Distance actually walked= 22.10 miles Blisters = 0 Insects ingested: 2 million (an overestimate, but not far off) Random Thoughts: Singing “Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond” at livestock will in fact calm them down

39 thoughts on “Walking Hadrian’s Wall Path Solo (Part two)

  1. Pingback: Walking Hadrian's Wall Path Solo (Part 1) | Meet me at the Pyramid Stage

  2. Mario says:

    Alright, you got me. For years I have successfully avoided to consider GB as a travel destination (no palm trees, no warm sea to scuba dive in shorties). My gf was always complaining about me being stubborn and that this stange island has a lot to offer. But regarding that you can do some great hiking there (in beautiful scenery)… well, I might give in next year 😉 .

    • meetmeatthepyramidstage says:

      Do it!

  3. Noraly says:

    Haha I was laughing already at the first sentence with you describing the ‘gentle undulating’ hills. I can relate! That feeling of ‘one more corner… no after that corner it will go down, no after that one more corner I will reach the guesthouse’! But well done for your accomplishment, you are doing serious distances !

    • meetmeatthepyramidstage says:

      Thanks Noraly, a wee stroll it certainly wasn’t 😂

  4. Maria Jesus says:

    You’re such an explorer! I love people taking risks to explore a place by their own. So congrats! And thanks for sharing such an interesting experience! Can’t wait to see your next adventure!

    Cheers from Argentina
    – Maria

  5. Follow My Anchor says:

    Places like Green Slack where you can get amazing views and breathe clean air are exaclty the things I look for when I travel. Amazing post!

    • meetmeatthepyramidstage says:

      Thanks!

  6. E says:

    Yay! Part Two! This sounds like such an interesting hike! Except for the nettle bush… whoops! Hope you are okay! At least it makes for a great travel story!

    • meetmeatthepyramidstage says:

      Thanks! I can now say I know exactly what a nettle plant looks like now- in that “Fool me once” kind of way 😂

  7. Gonca says:

    I know that feeling of reaching out the place and it’s not ending. It’s really tough when you’re alone. So many times I was motivated by my friends and I could continue. Otherwise, I was gonna stop and won’t walk that day.

    • meetmeatthepyramidstage says:

      The advantage of being by yourself , it’s just own motivation (determination even) that gets you through. It certainly built mental resilience that’s for sure

  8. Zenja | Bearly Here says:

    I love your photos in this article, they look so enigmatic. And I think that’s a great idea to do a walk like that solo, it teaches you a lot about yourself and certainly provides a very unique experience.

  9. Jenn | By Land and Sea says:

    Perfect timing on this post! We are in the beginning stages of planning a trip to Scotland and Hadrian’s wall is one of the places we have looked into. Saving this for later!

  10. Chris says:

    Hadrian’s wall path looks incredible, such beautiful scenery, I especially love the sycamore gap. I’d love to hike it one day and explore the old ruins, it must be awesome to hike it solo as well!

  11. Jimmy says:

    Sometimes to get a great photo you just have to wait your turn. I am glad you! Great shot of Sycamore Gap.

  12. Laurence says:

    You learned some history about Hadrians I assume. Kudos to you for walking this path solo. I can’t do a hike let alone do it on my own.

  13. federica says:

    What an incredible hiking destination you have chosen! As an archeologist, I can bet you had a truly fascinating experience there.

  14. jen says:

    Omg, what an experience. My boyfriend has to let go after every morning coffee and sometimes when we are out hiking or stranded on a deserted island, the world becomes your toilet. ANyway, great hiking experience for you and thank you for being honest.

  15. Smita Chandra says:

    I’d read and commented on your first post on Hadrian’s wall and this had me enthralled too! I love that part of GB and love ancient Roman ruins. Will definitely walk some of this the next time we visit those parts!

  16. Paulina A Klimkiewicz says:

    Sounds like this was quite the adventure! such beautiful scenery too!

  17. Richa says:

    Looks like the gentle ‘undulating’ hills gave you a lovely time 😉 LOL I liked the way you have labelled the stats 😛

  18. Christine Rogador says:

    This is impressive! I read something similar in the travel group I’m in where female travellers are walking from one country to another. I am too lazy to even go to the kitchen so this is really impressive. Kudos to you guys!

  19. Inna says:

    Was looking forward for part two! Once Brewed and Twice Brewed are hilarious indeed! Great story 🙂

  20. The Travel Bunny says:

    Robin Hood or not, tge Sycamore Gap is quite a sight. The tree looks tall and old in tge photo. I am curious: how tall is it actually?

    • meetmeatthepyramidstage says:

      Hmmm not entirely sure 10-15m I think

  21. Anki Trvel says:

    Interesting blog post. I like your pictures on this blog. Hadrian’s wall path looks amazing.

  22. Yukti says:

    I never knew about Hadrian’s wall before reading your post and thanks for sharing it and introducing a very peaceful and offbeat destination to us. The Photo of Green Slack looks like a painting.

  23. Bharat Bhushan Sharma says:

    I personally like your style of expressing your experiences. It’s pleasure to read this post. Adventurous and learning experiences.. I had never heard about this hike before reading your post . Photographs complement your words. 😀

    • meetmeatthepyramidstage says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words!

  24. Navita says:

    Walking in the hills on a day with an overcast could have its own risk but glad the cooler temperatures were helpful for you. Walking the Hadrian’s Wall Path looks just like an experience I would love to have. Looking at the ruins, soaking in the history and enjoying the spectacular scenery on the path! Wow.

  25. Daniel says:

    Some people say I’m weird because of it but I’m always up for a solo trip/walk. Thanks for sharing this, I could definitely fit this in for my upcoming England trip

  26. Maria says:

    Thank you for yet another amazing read! Both fun and informative, as always! I’ve told you before how much I admire you for hiking long distances on your own. Whenever Katerina and I go on a hike just the two of us (and for way shorter trails of course) we always look behind our backs fearful of stray dogs (Katerina) and creepy/dangerous guys (myself). So, yes, I admire your courage above all! Thank you for inspiring us!

  27. Sinjana Ghosh says:

    Wow you walked a LOT! Andi can see it was worth it. The views are amazing and finding enid blyton’s books come alive! what could be more rewarding?

  28. Alex Trembath says:

    Enjoyed reading this to find that you went past the famous tree from the Robin Hood film – I think I mentioned that when I commented on part one! Would love to go back to this part of the UK. Great to read your story!

  29. Kelsey says:

    This looks like such a great experience! I would love to get to see this area of the country some day!

    • meetmeatthepyramidstage says:

      Thank you for your kind words

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