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Visit Hadrian’s Wall from Newcastle

Thursday 23 March 2023

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One of the most historic and iconic landmarks in Britain, Hadrian’s Wall routinely tops the list of must-visit attractions in the UK. Lucky for us, it’s close to Newcastle and reachable by train!

Hadrian’s Wall is an astonishing feat of engineering on an enormous scale, built on the orders of Roman Emperor Hadrian in 122AD to mark the North-Western frontier of the Roman Empire. With such historical significance, no wonder so many of us flock to visit. The wall itself runs for 73 miles from Solway Firth in the West to Wallsend in the East, and along the way you will find forts, barracks, and museums to explore.

If you’re interested in following in the footsteps of Roman centurions and discovering more about this legendary landmark, CrossCountry is here to help – with the assistance of Blue Badge tour guide Laura Rhodes. Laura regularly organises personalised tours to this UNESCO World Heritage Site, so she is an excellent guide – whether you’re a keen hiker or looking for an accessible spot along the wall.

Laura’s top tips for walking the wall:

  • Be prepared for all kinds of weather. In summer, bring water, a hat, and sun cream. Whatever the season, brings waterproofs and proper hiking footwear.
  • Avoid the wall path in wet weather. Walking along water-logged ground can cause damage to the monument, so in wet-weather conditions, it is advisable to walk one of the circular routes instead.
  • You have to hike to the best parts of the wall. Housesteads in particular is a hilly walk away from the bus stop, and other sites also require some countryside walking to reach – so be ready to walk!
  • Never climb or walk on top of the wall. Ever.
  • Make the most of the AD122 hop-on, hop-off bus. Check the bus route and times in advance, and take advantage of hopping on and off to see the sights!

Aerial view of Hadrian’s Wall at Sycamore Gap, with the sun setting over green grassland. Roman fort ruins visible along the path.

Hadrian’s Wall Walk from Hexham

As Newcastle has developed so much since the Roman occupation of Britain over a thousand years ago, there is not much of the wall to find within the modern city. However, a short trip outside of the city places you right on the wall’s path. Laura recommends a day trip from Newcastle to see the most important sights. Start your day by taking a 25-minute train from Newcastle to Hexham. From here, you can catch Hadrian's Wall Country Bus AD122 (named after the year the wall was built).

Laura tells us that “you could do three or four of the sites along this route. The bus travels along Military Road from Chesters Fort; where you can visit the forts of Houseteads and Vindolanda, the Roman Army Museum near Greenhead, and then head back into the town of Haltwhistle.”

Visit the Vindolanda Fort

The fort of Vindolanda  is the site where famous Roman writing tablets were discovered in the 1970s, and the excellently preserved fort ruins are a real must-see for history buffs. The ancient tablets are considered the oldest surviving handwritten documents in Britain, and they offer us a glimpse into the lives of the Vindolanda community almost two-thousand years ago.

According to Laura, the unique appeal of Vindolanda is that “it’s a live archaeological site where they are still excavating Roman artefacts. You’ll find archaeologists living and working on the site… and there are very few places along Hadrian’s Wall where they are still digging.

Admire the views from Housesteads

A visit to Housesteads Roman Fort offers an insightful look into life on a Roman fort, as well as breathtaking panoramic views of Hadrian’s Wall. Housesteads is known to be one of the best-preserved examples of a Roman fort, with plenty of original features including a barracks block, hospital, granaries, and even communal toilets! In fact, these toilets are some of the best preserved examples of early flushing toilets in the UK.

When you’re visiting, make sure to take in the dramatic landscape and view of Hadrian’s Wall itself from the North Wall of the Fort.

Hadrian’s Wall running through green grassland over hills, with trees lining parts of the path. 

Explore Segedunum & Arbeia near Newcastle

While heading to the countryside is the best way to see the wall at its rugged best, there are some great Hadrian’s Wall forts and museums that don’t require a rural visit. Among the best are Segedunum and Arbeia; and located in Wallsend and South Shields respectively, they are both easily reached by Metro.

Segedunum:

The fort of Segedunum was built to defend the eastern tip of Hadrian’s Wall and is located right at the end. The name translates as ‘Strong Fort’ and has proved itself to be just that, standing the test of time since 122 AD. During its heyday, it housed six-hundred soldiers and operated as a garrison at the mouth of the River Tyne.

Segedunum is the most extensively excavated fort along Hadrian’s Wall, and features a full-sized reconstructed Roman bath house complete with frescoed walls and Roman toilets. At Segedunum, you can also see an 80m stretch of the original remains of the wall – the highest surviving section still visible to the public in Tyneside.

Arbeia:

Overlooking the River Tyne, the fort of Arbeia was built to defend the main sea route to Hadrian’s Wall. It quickly became the main maritime supply fort for the entire wall.

The fort now contains reconstructed Roman buildings including a Commanding Officer’s House, a soldier’s barrack block, and a full-sized gatehouse. For a real glimpse at what Roman life along Hadrian’s Wall would have looked like, Arbeia also hosts recreations of gladiator battles.

Discover the Great North Museum

If you only have time to visit one thing, Laura recommends the Great North Museum. With so much in one place, it may be the best way to pack in as much Hadrian’s Wall as possible in one short burst.

Featuring an authentic reconstruction of the wall, as well as a permanent exhibition dedicated to Hadrian’s Wall, the Great North Museum really is a wealth of information. The exhibition includes a scale model running along the entire gallery, as well as interactive displays and an impressive collection of sculptures and inscriptions.

The Great North Museum is located in the centre of Newcastle upon Tyne, and can be easily reached from Newcastle station.

If you’re planning a visit to Hadrian’s Wall from Newcastle, don’t forget to book an Advance ticket via our website or the CrossCountry app. If you need more information, you can contact us here.

Written by Julia

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