Difference between revisions of "Hadrian's Wall"
Revision as of 20:12, 11 May 2012
Hadrian's Wall  was built by the Romans to protect their colony in England from the Pictish tribes in Scotland. It stretches for 87 miles across the north of England from the Irish Sea to the North Sea in the counties of Cumbria, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear.
Built by Roman soldiers in the second century A.D., only stretches of the wall are still visible, but the wealth of archaeological research has resulted in an almost unparalleled cluster of museums and excavations.
Cities & Towns
All these towns are near to the Wall, but the Wall itself is strung out in the countryside.
Hadrian's Wall was one of Ancient Rome's fortified borders, which gave the late Roman Empire security against the barbarians at its gates. Constructed and later garrisoned by soldiers drawn from all over the Roman world, the wall preserves an immense amount of military and civilian day-to-day life.
By road (perhaps bus) from main roads or transport hubs at Carlisle or Newcastle. Part of the wall is also on the Pennine Way long-distance footpath.
There is now a recognised national path that follows (with slight deviation) the whole length of the wall from Wallsend to the Solway Firth. The path is relatively easy going for most of its route, with the notable exception of the middle section around Steel Rigg. Here the path rises and falls steeply as it follows the escarpment. This section is however regarded as the most beautiful.
The region is well served by road and a railway runs parallel to the wall from Newcastle to Carlisle. A single ticket is approximately £13 (as of April 2010). There is a bus that runs the length of the wall from Bowness in Soloway to Newcastle (both ways) 7 days a week. Bus number AD122. Ideal for linear walking allowing return to a vehicle or lodging.
There are excavated Roman forts at Vindolanda, Housteads, and Chesters. Housesteads is the most famous and has the most complete ruins. Vindolanda features the better reconstructions. Chesters has the best headquarters building and commandant's house. Each has a museum; the museum at Chesters, while the least modern and child-friendly, has the widest range of artefacts from the excavations.
There are numerous smaller forts and milecastles, though many are little more than lumps in the ground. The small Temple of Mithras at Procolita is well worth seeing.
The museums are rounded out by the Roman Army Museum.
Look out for military jets training in the skies above Kielder Forest. There is a (relatively) secret RAF base within the forest that serves as an electronic warfare training base.
Eat & Drink
Most of the larger attractions on the forts serve refreshments of some description. There are also hotels and public houses in most of the villages dotted around the area.
There is a range of accommodation from hotels to B&B's, to Bunk barns to campsites. A new B&B (which is also part of the youth hostel network) has opened close to the middle section of the wall - 'The Repeater Station'. It offers very good accommodation, good food, good beer and is only a short walk from the wall.
Once Brewed YHA hostel is pleasant and friendly.
Tantallon House also offers accommodation around 10 minutes walk from the National Trail. it has a B&B and a Holiday Cottage
There is a very slight risk of thieves looking for easy pickings at ill-attended tourist carparks. A locked car is precaution enough. Otherwise, the worst hazard is a sharp rainshower.