6 unmissable sights on the Hadrian’s Wall Path 

6 unmissable sights on the Hadrian’s Wall Path 

Follow in the footsteps of Romans and uncover thousands of years of history on the Hadrian’s Wall Path. 

It’s safe to say Roman Emperor, Hadrian knew a thing or two about building things. He was more interested in strengthening and expanding his empire than fighting and conquering, and Hadrian’s Wall was his greatest achievement. But it’s so much more than a wall . It was a land border, a bustling settlement and a marker of the north-western frontier of the Roman Empire – for just under 300 years.  The Wall stretches 73 miles (135 km) from coast to coast across northern England and took 15,000 men six years to build.

Fast forward two thousand years and Hadrian’s Wall has earned its place as one of the Great Walks of Europe. From exploring fort and temple ruins to discovering artefacts from ancient bathhouses and hospitals, the Hadrian’s Wall Path is littered with fascinating sights that’ll make your imagination run wild. You might even stumble across a live excavation site (not literally, we hope). 

Lace up your hiking boots and get ready to uncover the history of Hadrian’s Wall.

1. Sycamore Gap 

Why is a tree on this list, we hear you ask. Well, no disrespect for trees, but this isn’t your typical tree. This lone sycamore sits perfectly between a striking dip in the hill, and it comes as no surprise that it’s the most photographed tree in the country. You might even recognise it from the 1991 blockbuster Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman. The steep uphill walk to Sycamore Gap will get your heart pumping, but the views are totally worth it. 


2. Thirwall Castle  

Sat on the banks of the Tipalt River, the ruins of 12th century Thirwall Castle look like they belong in a fairytale. But life was far from a fairytale in the Middle Ages. Cross border raids, violent robberies and bloody battles were just another day in the office along the border. The rich Thirwall family built this fortified home to protect themselves in these turbulent times using materials the Romans sourced for Hadrian’s Wall. If these crumbling castle walls could talk, we bet they’d have some crazy stories to tell. 

3. Birdoswald Fort  

Birdoswald Fort (or ‘Banna’ as it was called by Roman soldiers) is a dream come true for history lovers. It’s located on one of the most well-preserved sections of the path and Hadrian’s Wall stretches as far as your eye can see. The fort was originally a Roman military base and housed up to 1,000 men in its heyday. The Romans left Britain in 400AD, but heaps of archaeological evidence shows life continued here long after. After you’ve finished exploring the excavations, check out the museum to learn about Birdoswald’s bloody battles, discover ancient burial urns, or maybe even watch archeologists at work as they try to uncover more of the site’s fascinating history. 

4. Housesteads Fort 

Built on a dramatic escarpment about halfway along the trail, Housesteads Fort is one of Britain’s most impressive and complete examples of a Roman fort. As well as marvelling at walls that reach up to 10 feet tall in sections, you can also see the ruins of a barracks block where 800 soldiers lived, a hospital, bathhouses and flushable communal toilets. The sweeping views of Northumberland National Park from the top of the crag aren’t too bad, either! Check out the museum after to see a bunch of treasures excavated from the site including altars, jewellery and tools. 

5. Chesters Fort  

The Romans had a reputation for their elaborate bathhouses that featured hot and cold rooms, swimming pools and social areas. Chesters Fort is the most complete Roman cavalry fort in Britain with a very well-preserved officers’ quarters, bathhouse and steam room. Walking around the site gives you a taste of what Roman spas would’ve looked like.

6. Vindolanda  

Vindolanda was built long before Hadrian’s Wall, but it was an important garrison and construction base for the Wall. Only 24% of Vindolanda has been excavated (meaning there are still 150 years of work to do!) but you can already see the ruins of the fort walls, the Commanding Officer’s house, barracks and more.  

There are excavations every year with new items added to the collection including jewellery, religious relics, leather shoes and pottery. The most prized discovery was the wooden writing tablets (voted one of Britain’s top archaeological treasures). Soldiers used them to write diary entries, troop deployments, party invitations, and letters requesting undies and socks. 

If you’re planning a trip between May and October, don’t forget to buy your Hadrian’s Wall Path Passport. By the time you reach the end of the walk, you’ll have seven stamps and can claim your well-earned certificate of completion. Plus, your proceeds will go towards the maintenance of these incredible sites. Double pat on the back for you. 


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