Kickstart your epic Hadrian’s Wall Adventure with a first day distinctly lacking Hadrian’s Wall! (few sections survived Newcastle’s industrial expansion), none the less a beautiful walk along the River Tyne and through Newcastle awaits you.
Your adventure begins at Segedunum Fort which housed 600 Roman soldiers to defend the eastern extremity of the wall and is the most excavated fort anywhere along the wall. Be sure to stop in to learn more about life in the times of Hadrian’s Wall, and to get your Hadrian’s Way passport stamped!
Little evidence of Hadrian’s Wall survived Newcastle’s industrial expansion (plenty awaits in the days ahead!), but there is a more recent history to discover on today’s walk, with information boards enriching the journey throughout. You will walk past relics of Newcastle’s industrial past – this region once produced 25% of the world’s ships, managing to pump out 84 warships in 30 years! You will enjoy flat, straight paths which were some of the world’s earliest railroads, in the infancy of steam trains, and you will learn about local heroes such as George Stephenson and William Armstrong, who played key roles in Newcastle’s industrial expansion.
It is the wide rolling mass of the River Tyne, and not Hadrian’s Wall, that is a constant companion during today’s walk, allowing you to cut through the centre of Newcastle with ease, and then escape the last industrial clutches of the city. You will eventually turn your back on the river and head up to Heddon-on-the-Wall, a peaceful village to spend the night with an intact 100 metre stretch of Hadrian’s Broad Wall.
Visit the Great North Museum: Hancock before leaving Newcastle; it will provide lots of history, information and context for the walk ahead.
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.
For much of the walk you share the path with cyclists; stay alert for riders who may be coming from behind. Be courteous – if walking in a group, prepare to move to the side to allow any cyclists to pass.
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.
Whilst there is ample opportunites to buy food and water as you pass through Newcastle - be sure to bring enough with you to last until Heddon-on-the-wall.
Points of Interest
The Great North Museum: Hancock
In the Great North Museum: Hancock you can walk the entirety of Hadrian’s Wall in only a dozen or so steps… Okay, it’s just an interactive, scaled-down model of the wall, but it sets the scene nicely for the route you are about to embark on. Nearby exhibitions detail the history and significance of the wall and archaeological finds along it. The museum is free, and the perfect prologue to your walk.
More information available here: https://greatnorthmuseum.org.uk/
Though Castle Keep, which dates to the 12th century, could hardly be called ‘new’, it is the castle after which Newcastle was named. This Norman fortress has witnessed, and now documents, Newcastle’s tumultuous history. Before the current castle, there was a motte-and-bailey (a wooden tower on a earthen mound) castle dating to William the Conqueror in around 1080, and long before that there a Roman fort defending the Pons Aelius bridge across the River Tyne.
More information available here: http://www.newcastlecastle.co.uk/
Segedunum, which means ‘Strong Fort’, was the outpost for the eastern extremity of Hadrian’s Wall, housing up to 600 Roman soldiers. It is the most excavated section along the wall, and a museum, 35-metre tall viewing tower and reconstructed cavalry barracks and Roman baths allows you to whiz back through history and understand how life would have been. Segedunum Fort is where the Hadrian’s Wall hike begins; be sure to get your passport stamped!
More information available here: https://segedunumromanfort.org.uk/
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.
Food and Drink
Newcastle is the biggest settlement along the route, and the last place to stock up on snacks and supplies before heading into the villages of rural England. There is an abundance of cafes, restaurants and shops.
The Lemington Community Tearoom is a popular stop after 17 kilometres.
There is a café beside the water after 19.5 kilometres.
Heddon-on-the-Wall has a couple of pubs and cafes where you can enjoy an evening meal.