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Hadrian's Wall and Winshield Crags

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Hadrian's Wall and Winshield Crags
Author: Claire, Published: 20 Jun 2014 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Northumberland, Haltwhistle
Walk Type: History trail
Hadrian's Wall and Winshield Crags
Length: 8 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 7.5 mile circular, and fairly strenuous, walk within the Northumberland National Park, close to the small village of Haltwhistle. The route follows one of the best preserved sections of Hadrian’s Wall before returning through the rolling hillside pastures to the south. There are magnificent views throughout as you explore the Roman remains and there is plenty of wildlife to enjoy along the way.

The walk includes many fairly steep climbs and descents throughout. The wall-side path can be fairly uneven and rocky in places and the pasture paths can get quite boggy so good boots are a must. You will need to negotiate several kissing gates plus five stiles. The stile types are three wooden ladder stiles over stone walls, one standard wooden stile and one stone stile over a stone wall. All of these should be suitable for agile dogs to negotiate. The last mile of the walk follows a quiet tarmac lane so take care of any traffic on this stretch. You will be sharing the majority of the route with sheep and cattle grazing so take care with dogs, but the fields are very large hillside pastures so you are able to keep a good distance away from any cattle if needed. Approximate time 3.5 to 4 hours.

The walk starts and finishes from the Steel Rigg National Park car park. Make your way to the small hamlet of Once Brewed on the B6318 (a few miles north east of Haltwhistle), approximate post code NE47 7AN. From Once Brewed take the side road north, signed for Steel Rigg. At the top of the hill you will find the Steel Rigg pay and display car park on the right. The fee is £4 for the whole day (correct June 2014).

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Walk Sections

Start to Trig Point
Start to Trig Point

Start point: 55.0031 lat, -2.3909 long
End point: 55.002 lat, -2.4046 long

Leave the car park via the vehicle entrance and turn left along the road. After just 50 yards turn right through the kissing gate onto the path signed to Caw Gap. (Note you are likely to come across sheep and cattle grazing from this point). Keep ahead along the right-hand field boundary with the stone wall on the right. At the top of the first field you will come to a wooden gate ahead.

Cross the stone stile alongside this and continue ahead still climbing. At the top of this second field pass through the gate ahead and a little further along the slender stone wall on your right will broaden out, a remnant of the original construction of Hadrian’s Wall.

Hadrian’s Wall was a Roman defensive fortification built from 122AD to 128AD, under the reign of the Emperor Hadrian. The wall was 73 miles long, running sea to sea, and, according to Hadrian’s biographer, was built to separate the Romans from the barbarians to the north. In addition to its military role, gates along the wall served as custom posts. Today the wall is a World Heritage Site and is the most visited tourist attraction in northern England.

Just a little further along you will come to a trig point. This marks the top of Winshield Crags, the highest point of Hadrian’s Wall at 345m above sea level.

Trig Point to Caw Gap
Trig Point to Caw Gap

Start point: 55.002 lat, -2.4046 long
End point: 54.9958 lat, -2.4281 long

Keep straight ahead following the line of the wall on the right, taking time to enjoy the splendid views from this vantage point. Look out for curlews, golden plover and kestrels which are often seen in the area. Take care along this next stretch as there are some steep climbs and descents which are rocky and slippery in parts.

The path leads you through two further gates. Soon after the second one, you will see an open gateway within the wall on the right and then, a few paces later, you will come to the remains of square wall foundations stepping out from the main wall. This is the remains of a Roman Milecastle. Milecastles were built about every Roman mile along the wall (the equivalent of about 0.9 modern miles) and were small forts, probably each holding about eight men who patrolled the wall. You will see a better example further along the route.

Continue over the next few hills, taking care as these sections are rocky and steep and eventually a kissing gate will lead you out to a quiet road at Caw Gap.

Caw Gap to Military Road
Caw Gap to Military Road

Start point: 54.9958 lat, -2.4281 long
End point: 54.9881 lat, -2.4458 long

Cross over the road and take the kissing gate opposite, signed to Cawfields Quarry. Here you will be following one of the best preserved sections of the wall. Continue past the remains of Caw Gap turret on the right, a watch tower within the wall, and then you will come to a stile ahead. Cross this (there is an easier platform stile just to the right which may be easier for larger dogs) and continue on the path.

Follow the path for some distance, descending a flight of steep stone steps along the way. A lake will become visible ahead, the remnants of Cawfields Quarry. Pass to the left of the remains of Milecastle 42, the best preserved example of a Milecastle that you can explore should you wish.

Immediately after the Milecastle, do NOT continue on the fenced wall-side fence. Instead, turn left onto the subtle grass path which heads into the open pasture. Over the brow of the first slope, the path swings right and you will see it more clearly, striking out across the pasture to reach a gate within the stone wall by the road (at the centre of the various buildings ahead).

At the end of the pasture, pass through the kissing gate to emerge to the minor road. Turn left along the road, taking care of any traffic, and it will lead you to a crossroads with the B6318 Military Road.

Military Road to Tarmac Lane
Military Road to Tarmac Lane

Start point: 54.9881 lat, -2.4458 long
End point: 54.9846 lat, -2.4223 long

Cross over with care and take the small road opposite, passing the pub on the left. Follow the road climbing steadily passing Bridge House on the right and Park Cottage on the left at the top of the hill. After the next left-hand bend, take the footpath on the left over the ladder stile, signed to Hallpeatmoss.

Beyond the stile keep straight ahead on the subtle grass vehicle track which heads through the centre of the sheep pasture. Stay on the main wide track, ignoring any small paths off left and right. On the right you will pass the rocky outcrop known as Oaky Knowe Crags. The track swings left towards a stone wall. Ignore the ladder stile over this, just continue on the grass track which swings right and heads directly for the buildings of Hall Peat Moss Farm on the hillside ahead.

Follow this path for some distance with the farm ahead, the stone wall running across to the left and a woodland on top of the ridge at about 2 o’clock. A little way along, the wall on the left steps back further and the grass vehicle track swings right and peters out to become a narrower path. Follow this path which heads for the left-hand edge of the ridge-top woodland.

Take care towards the end of the path where you will need to cross a fairly marshy ditch. The path leads you to a ladder stile over the wall. Cross this and keep ahead on the marshy path which steadily swings left with the steep rocky grass slopes up to the right. You will meet a wall coming in from the left, keep ahead on the path with the grass slopes to the right and the wall to the left. The gate at the far end leads you out to a tarmac lane.

Tarmac Lane to Vindolanda
Tarmac Lane to Vindolanda

Start point: 54.9846 lat, -2.4223 long
End point: 54.9898 lat, -2.3845 long

Turn right following the lane uphill. At the top of the slope, just before the road swings hard right, you will see two footpaths signed to the left. Take the second of these, across a ladder stile, to join the farm track. Take this farm track ahead which follows the line of the stone wall on the left.

At the end of the first field, ignore the ladder stile on the left, simply go ahead through the gate to continue on the farm track. Pass through the next gate ahead and the track will lead you to the buildings of Cranberry Brow Farm on the right. Continue ahead along the tarmac access lane for the farm.

Continue to the end where you will come to a T-junction with a minor road. Turn left along this, taking care of any traffic. Follow the lane for some distance and you will pass the entrance signs for Vindolanda on the right. Vindolanda was an auxiliary Roman fort which guarded the Roman Road from the River Tyne to the Solway Firth. It was here in 1973 that the Vindolanda Tablets were discovered, the oldest surviving handwritten documents in Britain. Thin, post-card sized wooden leaf-tablets with carbon-based ink, they provide important accounts of life on Hadrian’s Wall. The tablets are held at the British Museum.

Vindolanda to End
Vindolanda to End

Start point: 54.9898 lat, -2.3845 long
End point: 55.0032 lat, -2.3909 long

Continue ahead on the tarmac lane, passing the property Smith’s Shield on the right. Much further along you will come to the National Park visitor centre at Once Brewed on the left. There are public toilets here should you need them.

Just beyond the centre you will come to the T-junction with the main B6318. Cross over with care, turn right for a few paces and then take the first side road on the left. Follow this fairly steeply uphill and it will lead you to the Steel Rigg car park where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2014 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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