Hadrian's Wall Path Core Section (Lanercost to Halton Chesters) walk

The most scenic and feature-heavy central section of Hadrian's Wall described as day walks from train stations or bus stops

Milecastle 39 (Castle Nick) SWC Walk 413 - Hadrian's Wall Path Core Section (Lanercost to Halton Chesters)
Milecastle 39 (Castle Nick)

SWC Walk 413 - Hadrian's Wall Path Core Section (Lanercost to Halton Chesters)

Apr-23 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Willowford Bridge Abutment SWC Walk 413 - Hadrian's Wall Path Core Section (Lanercost to Halton Chesters)
Willowford Bridge Abutment

SWC Walk 413 - Hadrian's Wall Path Core Section (Lanercost to Halton Chesters)

Apr-23 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Centurial Stone at Willowford Farm (with plaque with English translation) SWC Walk 413 - Hadrian's Wall Path Core Section (Lanercost to Halton Chesters)
Centurial Stone at Willowford Farm (with plaque with English translation)

SWC Walk 413 - Hadrian's Wall Path Core Section (Lanercost to Halton Chesters)

Apr-23 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Turret 41A (Caw Gap) SWC Walk 413 - Hadrian's Wall Path Core Section (Lanercost to Halton Chesters)
Turret 41A (Caw Gap)

SWC Walk 413 - Hadrian's Wall Path Core Section (Lanercost to Halton Chesters)

Apr-23 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Sycamore Gap SWC Walk 413 - Hadrian's Wall Path Core Section (Lanercost to Halton Chesters)
Sycamore Gap

SWC Walk 413 - Hadrian's Wall Path Core Section (Lanercost to Halton Chesters)

Apr-23 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Milecastle 37 (the one with part of the northern arch still in place) on Housestead Crags SWC Walk 413 - Hadrian's Wall Path Core Section (Lanercost to Halton Chesters)
Milecastle 37 (the one with part of the northern arch still in place) on Housestead Crags

SWC Walk 413 - Hadrian's Wall Path Core Section (Lanercost to Halton Chesters)

Apr-23 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Sweeping Backview from Sewingshields Crags with Broomlee Lough SWC Walk 413 - Hadrian's Wall Path Core Section (Lanercost to Halton Chesters)
Sweeping Backview from Sewingshields Crags with Broomlee Lough

SWC Walk 413 - Hadrian's Wall Path Core Section (Lanercost to Halton Chesters)

Apr-23 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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54.0 km (33.6 mi), with 961/865m ascent/descent. For using link routes from train or bus stations to create day walks, see below Walk Options and Example Daywalks.


10 out of 10, with 13 hours walking time.

Walk Notes

The 135 km (84 miles) long Hadrian’s Wall Path (HWP) is usually walked either in stages, often with luggage transport and accommodation pre-booked, or on short walks from car parks nearby. But as long stretches of the HWP lead through flat country or large towns without notable amounts of Roman era remains, this can feel an unnecessarily long endeavour, as well as a bit samey after a while. This route thus covers just the core section of the HWP that contains most of the extant pieces of the wall and its assorted support structures (forts, milecastles, turrets, signal towers, vallum, military road), while also leading through a scenic landscape attractive to walkers with rolling hills and pastureland, imposing north facing crags, deep cut valleys and some upland moorland.

The area covered stretches from Brampton, not far east of Carlisle, via the busy market towns of Haltwhistle and Hexham to another fine historic town: Corbridge, with the latter three all being in commuting distance from the Newcastle/Gateshead Conurbation. Link Routes from train or bus stations enable public transport based day walks, combining stages of the HWP with attractive routes to or from towns and villages with accommodation and/or cafés, pubs and restaurants.

The HWP is very well marked and signed (and all sights have copious info panels), so that only the main characteristics of the individual HWP stretches are described. For detailed directions try these books: ‘Trekking the Hadrian’s Wall Path’ (Knife Edge) or ‘Walking Hadrian’s Wall Path’ (Cicerone). The Link Routes though are described in detail in both directions to enable total flexibility.


OS Landranger: 86 (Haltwhistle & Brampton) & 87 (Hexham & Haltwhistle)
OS Explorer: 315 (Carlisle), OL43 (Hadrian’s Wall) & 316 Newcastle-upon-Tyne (the very easterly end)
Harvey XT40: Hadrian’s Wall Path


Haytongate/Lanercost Turnoff, map reference NY 553 645, is 422 km northwest of Charing Cross, 18 km northeast of Carlisle, 93m above sea level and in Cumbria. Down Hill, by Halton Chesters, map reference NZ 004 684, is 409 km north northwest of Charing Cross, 25 km west northwest of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 189m above sea level and in Northumberland. For using link routes from train or bus stations to create day walks, see below Walk Options.

Neither start nor finish of this linear route have nearby public transport options, but 8 link routes are described from 6 locations, either stations on the Tyne Valley Line (Newcastle – Carlisle), with frequent trains at all those stations, or from corresponding bus stops on the frequent Line 685 (Carlisle – Newcastle).

Saturday Walkers’ Club: Daywalks from bases in the area are possible when using the link routes.

HWP Stages

Haytongate/Lanercost Turnoff (for Brampton) to Tipalt Burn (for Greenhead Bypass): 12.2 km/7.6 mi, 170/132m ascent/descent

Pastures with some woods, mildly undulating apart from the crossings of Banks Burn and River Irthing. The section west of the River Irthing was originally constructed as a Turf Wall, 6m wide at its base, and between Milecastles 49 and 51 the Stone Wall later followed a line north of the Turf Wall. Sights: fine stretches of Vallum and Turf Wall, some signal towers and turret bases, the highest surviving piece of Wall (only short and partly rebuilt though); Birdoswald/Banna Fort (ticketed), Willowford Bridge = the stranded bridge (the river has changed course), some fine bits of Wall, in places with Broad Wall base topped with Narrow Wall; Milecastle 48 at Gilsland, the best-preserved of all.

Tipalt Burn (for Greenhead Bypass) to Cawfield Quarry (for Haltwhistle): 6.6 km/4.1 mi, 157/112m ascent/descent

Steady ascent out of Walltown Quarry onto the Walltown Crags, then gentle descent into the cut created by the Haltwhistle Burn. Sights: Thirlwall Castle ruins (12th century, mainly using stones from the Wall), Carvoran/Magnis Fort, Roman Army Museum, Great Chesters/Aesica Fort; long stretches of Wall, the Vallum is mostly well away from the Wall though.

Cawfield Quarry (for Haltwhistle) to Housesteads (for Bardon Mill): 8.6 km/5.4 mi, 243/154m

Steady ascent to the highest point on the HWP, at Winshield Crags, followed by undulating route along a steady line of crags, with dramatic views north across commons and moors, as well as to the south across pastures. Sights: the famous ‘Sycamore Gap’ with the ‘Robin Hood Tree’, Crag Lough, Housesteads/ Borcovicium Fort (interior ticketed but can be walked around); high presence of Roman structures due to the remoteness of the area and its inaccessibility for the ‘recycling’ of rocks in farms, roads, ecclesiastical and private buildings.

Housesteads (for Bardon Mill) to B6318 near Walwick (for Hexham): 13.8 km/8.6 mi, 132/302m ascent/descent

Initial ascent onto the very scenic Sewingshields Crags, followed by long and gentle descent into the North Tyne Valley. Sights: high presence of old structures initially (although the long section of ‘Clayton Wall’ between Housesteads and Steel Rigg has been rebuilt in the 1830s), then becoming rarer as HWP runs close to Vallum and Military Road along a broad ridge, but with the late highlight of Carrowburgh/Brocolitia Fort, Mithraeum and Well. Later still: Black Carts Turret and long stretch of Wall.

B6318 near Walwick (for Hexham) to Planetrees (for Hexham): 4.5 km/2.8 mi, 129/62m ascent/descent

Mostly road pavement with some fast traffic including crossing the North Tyne on a road bridge. Sights: Chesters/Cilurnum Fort & Museum (ticketed); abutment of Chesters Roman Bridge over North Tyne (750m off route); two good, long pieces of Wall and Wall footings in fields, showing the change from Broad Wall to Narrow Wall, one also including Turret 26B (the Brunton Turret), the best-preserved one with a freestanding altar.

Planetrees (for Hexham) to Down Hill, by Halton Chesters (for Corbridge): 8.3 km/5.2 mi, 125/99m ascent/descent

HWP runs along or close to the (modern) Military Road along a broad ridge with views to the South into the Tyne Valley and to the North along the North Tyne Valley to the forests of the Borderlands and to the Cheviots. Sights: very good and long piece of Wall, showing evidence of the change from the 3.0 metre-wide Broad Wall to the 2.4 metre-wide Narrow Wall (to save time); at Port Gate, Dere Street, the main Roman Road to Scotland crossed HW (now the A68); route passes wooden cross and St. Oswald’s Church at Heavenfield, site of a 7th century battle (Christian Northumbria vs Pagan Welsh); good evidence of the Vallum, but Wall mostly buried under the B6318; some Wall platforms at Milecastle 24; Halton Chesters/Hunnum Fort is just grassy mounds.

Link Routes

Brampton to Haytongate/Lanercost Turnoff

7.7 km with 113/148m ascent/descent from Brampton Station or 1.5 km and 54m descent less from Brampton, Shoulder of Mutton or Sands Bus Stops. Quiet route up to Brampton Ridge (with a view of the ridge holding Hadrian's Wall) and down through the wooded Quarrybeck Gorge to Lanercost Old Bridge across the River Irthing and past Lanercost Priory up to Haytongate.

Greenhead to Tipalt Burn

1.0 km with negligible ascent/descent from Greenhead Bypass Bus Stop (Lines 685 and AD122). Flat along the Tipalt Burn to the meeting with the Paw Charney Burn tributary.

Haltwhistle to Cawfield Quarry

4.0 km with 83/21m ascent/descent from Haltwhistle Station or slightly less from Haltwhistle Market Place Bus Stop. Up out of the South Tyne Valley through the heart of the historic market town and up the Burn Gorge, full of remnants of a thick industrial past based on mining, brickworks and the power of the fast flowing water. Then across the open upland through the Roman Military Zone, with impressive traces of Stanegate Roman Road, Haltwhistle Burn Roman Fortlet, Roman Marching Camps and Cemeteries.

Bardon Mill to Housesteads

5.7 km with 261/84m ascent/descent from Bardon Mill Station via Thorngrafton Common or 6.9 km with 242/65m ascent descent via Vindolanda Roman Fort. Or slightly shorter from Bardon Mill Bowes Hotel Bus Stop. Out of Bardon Mill village along country lanes and up Thorngrafton's grassy common onto Barcombe Hill, with stunning views across an upland plateau to the undulating craggy landscape that is the core and most scenic part of Hadrian's Wall Path. An alternative route up the Chainley Burn gorge and past Vindolanda Roman Fort (which preceded Hadrian's Wall) avoids the hill ascent.

Hexham to B6318 near Walwick

9.1 km with 123/62m ascent/descent from Hexham Station or slightly longer from Hexham Bus Station. From the outskirts of Hexham along the River Tyne to the Watersmeet, the confluence of South and North Tyne, then up along a quiet country lane out of the Tyne Valley to the course of Hadrian's Wall.

Hexham to Planetrees

6.7 km with 208/80m ascent/descent from Hexham Station or slightly longer from Hexham Bus Station. From the outskirts of Hexham across the River Tyne and up to the lofty church of St. Peter Lee. Down and up to Acomb village and down and up to a quiet country lane with fine views into the North Tyne Valley and through the Crag House Estate to a fascinating stretch of Wall at Planetrees.

Corbridge to Down Hill by Halton Chesters

6.7 km with 188/33m ascent/descent from Corbridge Station or slightly shorter from Corbridge Angel Inn Bus Stop. Through the very pretty Corbridge with its many historic buildings out of the Tyne Valley and past historic Aydon Castle via a quiet country lane to Halton Church and Castle, both built from Wall Stone, then onto the line of the Wall itself.

Walk Options

The whole route is easily doable as a two or three-day walk, with accommodation options near the wall listed in the books mentioned above.
Day walks based on Public Transport can be made using the link routes above from train or bus stations with frequent service and combining them with sections of the HWP. See details below for example routes.

Buses connecting parts of the route or the link routes with train stations or with Bus Line 685 are (as of 07/23):
· Border Rambler 3 (Brampton - Laversdale); stops Lanercost, Banks, Birdoswald, Gilsland (Wed only);
· Line 74 (Hexham - Newcastle), stops near Errington Coffee House and Halton Red House (Mon-Sat);
· Line AD122 (Haltwhistle - Hexham), stops at all noteworthy sites from Greenhead to Hexham (daily);
· Line 680 (Hexham – Bellingham), stops Acomb, Wall, Brunton Crossroads and Chollerford (Mon-Sat);
· Line 681 (Alston – Haltwhistle – Birdoswald), stops Greenhead, Gilsland (Mon-Sat).
These routes get altered frequently or may be seasonal; they should not be relied upon without checking.

Example Daywalks

Brampton Station to Greenhead, 19.4 km/12.1 mi, 285/285m ascent/descent, 4/10 rating;
Brampton Station to Haltwhistle, 28.9 km/18.0 mi, 461/475m ascent/descent, 7/10 rating;
Haltwhistle to Bardon Mill, 18.3 km/11.4 mi, 410/436m ascent/descent, 5/10 rating;
Bardon Mill to Hexham, 28.6 km/17.8 mi, 455/509m ascent/descent, 7/10 rating;
Hexham Circular (HWP: Walwick to Planetrees), 20.3 km/12.6 mi, 332m ascent/descent, 4/10 rating;
Hexham to Corbridge, 21.7 km/13.5 mi, 366/367m ascent/descent, 5/10 rating.

Eat and Drink

On or close to the HWP: (details last updated 07/23)
Haytongate Farm Snack Hut (seasonal), at the start of the route; Coombe Crag Farm Honesty Snack Shack (seasonal), at km 4.0; Birdoswald Fort Café (non-ticketed area), at km 7.1; House of Meg Café, Samson Inn and Bridge Inn in Gilsland, a short walk into the village off km 9.9; Greenhead Hotel and Ye Olde Forge Tea Room in Greenhead, a short walk into the village off km 12.3; Roman Army Museum Tea Room in Walltown Quarry, a short walk off km 13.6; Milecastle Inn, 10 mins off km 18.9; Twice Brewed Inn and Once Brewed Coffee and Bakehouse at The Sill, 7 mins off km 23.4; Housesteads Fort Café, 900m off km 27.6; Corbridge Coffee Company, a mobile coffee company in the car park at Brocolitia Fort at km 35.8; Walwick Hall Hotel, a few minutes off km 40.4; Chesters Fort Café (non-ticketed area), at km 42.0; Riverside Kitchen Café and George Hotel in Chollerford, at km 42.7; Hadrian Hotel in Wall, a few minutes off km 44.6; The Errington Coffee House, at km 52.5.

On the Link Routes: (details last updated 07/23)
Brampton: Nags Head Hotel, The Howard Arms, Mr. Brown’s, Capon Tree café, Shoulder of Mutton, Off the Wall coffee shop; Lanercost: Lanercost Tea Room; Greenhead: see above; Haltwhistle: numerous options; Chesterholm: Vindolanda Fort Café (ticketed area); Bardon Mill: The Bowes Hotel and Bardon Mill Village Store and Tea Room; Acomb: The Miners Arms, The Sun Inn, The Queens Arms Hotel; Bridge End: The Boatside Inn; Hexham and Corbridge: numerous options.


Hadrian’s Wall/Vallum Aelium, Stanegate, The Vallum
Hadrian's Wall (HW), also known as the Roman Wall, is a former defensive fortification of the Roman province of Britannia, begun in AD122 in the reign of the Emperor Hadrian (whose family name was Aelius, explaining the Roman name for it), although it was probably planned before his visit to Britain in AD122. It marked the boundary between Roman Britannia and unconquered Caledonia to the north, running from Wallsend on the River Tyne in the east to Bowness-on-Solway in the west.
Early Roman military campaigns in the second half of the first century AD in northern England and into Scotland had shown the Tyne-Solway route across the Pennines to be of high importance for defensive purposes. The Romans therefore built a military road (Stanegate (i.e.: stone road in Northumbrian dialect)) along this route with a series of forts between Carlisle/Luguvalium and Corbridge/Corstopitum, which both lay on important north/south routeways (other intermittent major forts were: Vindolanda, Magnis, Nether Denton, Brampton). This position was consolidated a few decades later by building HW, a little further north than Stanegate though, initially with the existing forts continuing to house the troops.
HW was a 4 metre high stone wall made from locally quarried limestone and sandstone, with a defensive ditch in front of it (about 10m wide and 3m deep). The primary purpose of HW was not as a continuously-embattled defensive line but as a physical barrier to slow the crossing of raiders, people intent on crossing its line for animals, treasure, or slaves, and then returning with their loot. In addition, its gates may have been customs posts as well as an observation point that could alert Romans of an incoming attack and slow down enemy forces so that additional troops could arrive for support. At last, it was also a symbolic statement of Rome's imperial power, marking the border between the so called civilized world and the unconquered barbarian wilderness. Roman boundaries usually follow natural features and part of the central section of the wall were built on cliffs on an escarpment of the Whin Sill rock formation.
Not long after construction began on the wall, it was decided to include forts in the line of the wall rather than having them in the hinterland to facilitate quicker troop movement to trouble spots; and to save on building materials the wall’s width was reduced from the planned 10 Roman feet (about 3.0m = Broad Wall) to 8 Roman feet (about 2.4m = Narrow Wall), or even less depending on the terrain. Also, from Milecastle 49 (by the River Irthing) to the western terminus at Bowness-on-Solway, the curtain wall was originally constructed from turf (6 metres wide at its base), possibly due to the absence of local limestone for the manufacture of mortar. Later, the turf wall was demolished and replaced with a stone wall (as Narrow Wall). HW had to cross a few rivers and the Wall continued across the river bridges. The Vallum, a 3-metre deep, ditch-like construction with two parallel mounds running north and south of it, runs just south of the Wall, more or less in parallel for almost the entire length of it. Its function is unclear, but all finds suggest it was constructed at about the same time as the Wall and may have performed a protective function to the rear of the Wall, ensuring that HW could only be crossed through the forts. Initially no roadway linked the forts and castles along the wall, so later the Military Way was built in the area between Wall and Vallum.
At a length of 117.5 km (73 mi or 80 Roman miles), HW is the largest Roman archaeological feature in Britain. Three full Roman legions plus assorted other soldiers (about 15,000 in total) took six years to build most of HW. After completion, and when fully manned, almost 10,000 soldiers are thought to have been stationed on the Wall, made up not of the legions who built it but by regiments of auxiliary infantry and cavalry drawn from the Roman provinces. Soldiers were garrisoned along the line of the wall in large forts, mostly 7 1/3 Roman miles apart (each housing 600 men), smaller gatehouses (‘milecastles’, a Roman mile apart, operated by up to 20 men) and two observation towers between the gatehouses, a third of a Roman mile apart (‘turrets’).
After Hadrian's death in AD138, a couple of subsequent emperors tried to move the boundary of the Empire north, supported by the building of the Antonine Wall in the Scottish Lowlands, but inconclusive military campaigns up to the early 3rd century meant that the Romans withdrew back to HW. After the end of Roman Britain, the wall may have briefly had continuous use by local Britons, but almost all of the standing masonry of the Wall was removed in early modern times to be used for farmhouses, castles and churches, as well as later for roads, especially in the 18th century by General Wade to build a military road to crush the Jacobite rising of 1745 (now the B6318 and the longest B-road in the country).
Much of the footings, some stretches of wall and a few partially-rebuilt segments can still be seen though and many of the excavated forts on or near the Wall are open to the public, while several local museums present its history. HW was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, and in 2005 became part of the transnational "Frontiers of the Roman Empire" World Heritage Site, which also includes sites in Germany.

Hadrian’s Wall Path
The Hadrian’s Wall Path (HWP) is a 135 km (84 mi) waymarked linear Long-Distance Path, which in 2003 became the 15th National Trail. It runs close to the remains of Hadrian’s Wall across the north of England, from Bowness-on-Solway on the west coast to Wallsend on the east coast. Most of the Wall runs through remote countryside but there are sections that pass through the cities and suburbs of Newcastle and Carlisle. The central section between Walton (north of Brampton) and Chollerford (by the crossing of the North Tyne) is the highest and wildest part of the path; it is also where the Wall is most visible, and includes several important Roman forts. Trains and buses between Carlisle and Newcastle run broadly parallel to the south of the Wall and the central section near Hexham and Haltwhistle is served by a year-round bus (as of 2022), line AD122.

A Pennine Journey
The Pennine Journey is a 391 km (243 mi) waymarked circular Long-Distance Path from Settle up through North Yorkshire, Durham, Northumberland and over to Cumbria and back to Settle. It was developed by David Pitt of the Wainwright Society and is a recreation of a solitary walk Alfred Wainwright made in 1938 through the Pennines, but adapted for today's roads and rights-of-way, i.e.: taking a route that Wainwright might have chosen today. The route traverses the Yorkshire Dales and Durham moorlands to follow Hadrian’s Wall for a while and heading back south along the western Pennines, up the Eden Valley and along the Howgill Fells. https://penninejourney.org/

Whin Sill
The Whin Sill is a dolerite intrusion of late Carboniferous age which underlies much of the North Pennines and northeast England and is one of its key natural features. A major outcrop is at the High Force waterfall in Teesdale, another one at High Cup Nick on the Pennine ridge; and Bamburgh Castle, Dunstanburgh Castle, Lindisfarne Castle and stretches of Hadrian's Wall all strategically take advantage of high, rocky cliff lines formed by the sill.

It was formed when fresh magma intruded in spaces opened up by tectonic movements of existing crust layers and then – on cooling – crystallised and solidified.

The Pennine Way
The Pennine Way is a waymarked 429 km (267 mi) National Trail running along the Pennine hills, sometimes described as the ‘backbone of England’. It starts in Edale in the Peak District National Park and runs north through the Yorkshire Dales and the Northumberland National Park and ends at Kirk Yetholm, just inside the Scottish border, and features 287 gates, 249 timber stiles, 183 stone stiles and 204 bridges.

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By Car

Start Lanercost, Cumbria, CA8 2HL Map Directions

Finish Down Hill, Corbridge, NE45 5QA Map Directions


National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Traveline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234


Apr-24 Thomas G

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Walk Directions

Full directions for this walk are in a PDF file (link above) which you can print, or download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.

This is just the introduction. This walk's detailed directions are in a PDF available from wwww.walkingclub.org.uk