Walking Hadrian’s Wall for many is their first UK national trail or long distance walk, it was certainly mine and I had the most wonderful time – you can read all about my wee adventure along the wall here.
The 84 miles of the Hadrian’s Wall Path can be completed in 5 days at a comfortable pace. It is after all not a race.
As someone that usually tends to be of the “ I’m off” school of thought – there is a little of planning required for this walk to make life a little easier for you.
The path is best done between May and October – the official season.
GUIDE BOOKS AND MAPS
There are a couple of good guide books available. The one I used is the guide by Trailblazer – this includes detail hand-drawn maps and is written with a great sense of humour. The guide takes you in follows the Wallsend (Newcastle) to Bowness on Solway direction of the path. A handy A5 size, this also fits nicely in the side pocket of your day pack for quick reference.
Hadrian’s Wall Path guide by Trailblazer can be purchased here
The other guide available is by Ciccerone and details the path going in the opposite direction.
You don’t really need an OS map for this walk, I had one but found that the paths were well marked and the guidebook had all the map detail I required.
The guide books break down each stage, I aimed to do around 15-20km each day (one of the days I with a short day on day 4 to give my feet a bit of a break.
WHAT TO PACK
In my day bag
- Opsrey Hydropack 1.5l – having plenty of water with you is a must, fill up points in sections are few and far between, so having a good supply is essential.
- Rainjacket & Fleece – British weather is notoriously unpredictable having both a rain jacket and a fleece will ensure you’re warm and dry if the weather turns.
- Hat and Sunglasses
- Spare Socks
- Phone / Go Pro etc
- First Aid Kit – aka, my blister kit – Fortunately I did not get a single blister on this trip but other walkers I met during the journey had some severe blisters (particular one bloke from Wales who didn’t break his boots in) Having a basic first aid kit that includes plasters, Anti-bac wipes, antiseptic cream etc
- Multitool – I take one with me everywhere! I use a Leatherman Rev
- Head Torch
- Guide Book & Map
- Snacks – take more than you think, if you get stuck and your planned lunch stop is closed (this happened to me twice!)
- Tissues / Zip lock Bags / spade / Imodium/ Anti-bac handgel – when nature calls or in case of disaster
- Portable Ashtray – if you are a smoker, dispose of your butts responsibly – leave no trace etc.
- Whistle – weird but if you injure yourself and need to attract attention, something good to have just in case. (not so useful to scare away cows)
- Portable Charger (for Phone) / Spare batteries (for Go Pro)
- Your accommodation details and phone numbers written down (in the event your phone dies or you’ve left it in your accommodation the night before)
The Other Bag
TOP TIP: DO NOT bring your laptop ( I took mine under the guise of blogging as I went, this was ridiculous, and weight I absolutely didn’t need)
- As this is only a 5 day walk you don’t need to bring that much with you:
- 1 pair of trousers (TBH I just used my gym leggings)
- 1 pair of shorts (we were blessed with roasting weather)
- A couple of sweat wicking tops.
- A few pairs of proper hiking socks
- Underwear (obviously)
- A pair of flip flops / trainers
- Tennis Ball (the best feeling of rolling under the balls of your feet after a long day walking)
- Toiletries (just the basics)
- Something to sleep in – I used both private and shared accommodation during this
- Spare snacks!
Using a baggage transfer service is incredibly useful if you want to travel light. For some ungodly reason I took my laptop with me (yes, stupid as hell) so I used a baggage transfer service during this walk so I could complete each stage with a day pack. Your bag is very usefully collected at your accommodation in the morning, and meets you at your next stop that evening
It’s really reasonably priced (around 5GBP per transfer) it cost around 30GBP for the whole walk.
I was quite glad I was using this service, on Day 2 I’d left my phone inside of my room at the inn and didn’t realise until I was well down the road (nightmare!)
The baggage transfer guys got this back for me, my phone met me at the next accommodation the very same evening.
Book your accommodation as well in advance as possible. I left my booking of this quite late and so a number of places directly on the path were sold out.
Staying off path, can be either a blessing or a HUGE pain in the ass – on Day 4, my accommodation was a 2 mile trot down the side of road (with zero space to walk and quite a number of trucks thundering around blind corners – certainly steel the nerves for that).
Where I stayed
Night 1 – The Black Bull Inn, Main Street, Wylam NE41 8AB
Night 2- Green Carts Farm, Humshaugh, NE46 4BW *Breakfast Included
Night 3 – Belford House, Main Street, Haltwhistle NE49 OA2 – I could not recommend this place enough, a couple of miles off path BUT incredibly luxurious (not expecting it when I booked – one of the best showers I’ve ever had in my life and cafetière coffee in the room) –The pub across the way- the Black Bull, has a cracking menu – don’t miss this place.
Night 4 – Scotch Arms Mews, 35 Main Street, Brampton CA8 15B *Breakfast Included
Night 5 – Cornerstone Guest House, Grey Street Carlisle CA1 2JP
You can also camp along the path, I did not choose to do this but there are plenty of facilities to do so along the way.
HADRIAN’S WALL PASSPORT
Prior to starting your walk pick up a path passport (about 5GBP), a simple piece of folded card that you collect your stamps on along the path, and present it at the end to get a badge and a certificate (for a small fee)
There 8 stamping stations at various points along the path, usefully located at attractions or pubs! so the stamping stations make a handy stop for a coffee or a spot of lunch.
COMPLETING THE WALK
The last stage of the Hadrian’s Wall Path between Carlisle and Bowness on Solway can be cracked out in around 4 – 5 hours. The buses back into Carlisle after you complete the walk are VERY few and far between usually 13:00 and 16:30 from memory. So time your walk to arrive in time for one of the buses and do check the timetable the night before and know which bus you want to take back into Carlisle. Leave yourself enough time for a celebratory pint and swap stories with fellow walkers – the Kings Arms in Bowness on Solway is usually full of them 😊
A NOTE ON HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR SOLO WALKERS
The path is generally busy during the spring and summer months so you are never really alone for long on the path. But a couple of tips:
- Let friends/family know your route and where you’ll be staying.
- If you come across aggressive livestock – don’t enter the field, if possible go around it, if not possible wait for other walkers to accompany you through. You can read about my run-in with a gigantic bull here.
- Some sections of the path are steep, rocky, or have sheer drops on one side – take your time, be aware of your surroundings, and don’t take unnecessary risks to get a photo for the ‘gram.
- Make trail friends!