Much of the walk from Heddon to Corbridge is parallel to the B6318 which was built directly on top of Hadrian’s Wall. You will see that a series of mounds and ditches provided additional defence to the wall.
Much of this walk parallels the B6318 or ‘Military Road’ for the simple reason that this road was built directly on top of Hadrian’s Wall. Therefore, every time you cross the Military Road, you also cross the historic frontier of the Roman Empire. I felt like a soldier patrolling the wall, with the Roman Empire stretching to the Mediterranean on my left, and the wild lands of Scotland on my right. I couldn’t help but stiffen my legs into a march, swing my arms and scan the horizon for would-be invaders!
While the wall made life easy for the road-builders, providing a straight route and good fortification, it means there isn’t much wall to see in this section, however some of the other measures that supplemented the wall’s defences are obvious. In addition to the wall, there was a ditch just outside the Roman Empire to the north, and a series of mounds and a vallum (a ditch) just to the south. These are still obvious along the route; today sheep shelter from the wind, oblivious to the historical significance of the ditches they lie in, wildflowers grow and streams trickle through these creases, and waves of farmers’ crops ripple like waves over the defensive mounds.
The Robin Hood Inn is almost exactly halfway and makes a nice stop for lunch after collecting your passport stamp.
There are several stretches where you must walk on the road as there is no pavement or verge. Walk on the right side facing the oncoming traffic unless there is a right-hand turn, in which case you should cross to the outside edge to allow drivers the maximum chance to see you.
Some of the path is along rocky steps; be careful as these may be slippery, especially when wet.
This footpath frequently crosses the Military Road. This road is straight and therefore the cars travel fast, so take care to double-check it is safe before crossing.
Such is the way of British hiking, that you need to be prepared for all seasons and weathers; sturdy hiking boots, warm clothes and a waterproof/wind-break layer are all required, as is plenty of sun-cream and a healthy respect for the sun.
Walking poles will be a big advantage on some of these ascents and descents.
Ensure your phone is fully charged; if you doubt the battery will last throughout the hike, it might be beneficial to bring a power bank.
This walk is isolated with limited opportunities to buy food or water, so be sure to bring enough with you.
Points of Interest
Longest Section of ‘broad’ Wall
Hadrian’s Wall was planned to be built to a gargantuan width of 3 metres, and many of the foundations were dug as such, however perhaps due to an urge to save time and resources, this was abandoned and a slightly more modest wall was built. At Heddon-on-the-Wall, just 60 metres from the main trail, you can discover the longest surviving section of this ‘broad’ Wall, over 100 metres long.
Shortly before reaching Corbridge (at 19 kilometres) you will pass the remains of a pottery industry, with two mysteriously-shaped turrets poking above the trees and nearby houses. These were bottlehouse kilns, and there is public access which even allows you inside. The pottery opened in 1840, and closed sometime before 1914. Clay was mined 250 metres away and carried on wagons to these kilns.
Food and Drink
After leaving Heddon-on-the-Wall there are limited opportunities for food, so be sure to bring enough provisions with you.
There is the Robin Hood Inn and Vallum Café after 10 kilometres, which is the halfway point and a pleasant stop,
Corbridge has a variety of pubs and cafes, as wall as a small village supermarket.