Hadrian’s Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, stretches 73 miles (117 kilometers) across the north of England, all the way from the Irish Sea to the North Sea. Built in AD 122 under Emperor Hadrian’s orders and finished four years later, the wall marked the northern boundary of the Roman Empire in Britain.
Many sections of Hadrian’s Wall draw sightseeing crowds. Visit the Ravenglass Roman Bath House ruins, browse Vindolanda fort and the Roman Army Museum near Haltwhistle, or explore the reconstructed Arbeia Roman Fort in South Shields. Active travelers may want to trek part of the Hadrian’s Wall Path, a long-distance walking route stretching from Wallsend on the east coast to Bowness-on-Solway on the west coast.
Many visitors join full-day sightseeing tours from Edinburgh, which also make stops in the Scottish Borders at sights such as Rosslyn Chapel and Melrose Abbey. In addition to the Scottish Borders and Northumberland, longer multi-day tours from Edinburgh typically cover parts of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales, too.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Hadrian’s Wall is a must-see site for history buffs.
- Wear sturdy hiking boots, as much of the terrain near the wall is undulating and uneven.
- Wear layers and bring rain gear in case of wet weather.
- Some Roman attractions near the wall, such as the Roman Army Museum, are fully wheelchair accessible. The adjacent Vindolanda fort is partially accessible too, with around 70 percent of the paths suitable for wheelchairs.
How to Get There
The wall is accessible from the west end via Carlisle and from the east end via Newcastle upon Tyne. Hexham railway station, on the Tyne Valley Line, connects Carlisle to Newcastle upon Tyne, while the Hadrian’s Wall Country Bus runs between May and September, stopping at major sights along the corridor. From Edinburgh, it’s about a 2.5-hour drive to the wall.
When to Get There
The best time to visit Hadrian’s Wall is in summer when the typically warmer and drier weather make it more pleasant to wander around the ruins. July and August are peak visitor season; go in early morning or late afternoon to avoid crowds.
Must-See Museums and Sights Along the Wall
Among the must-visit Roman sites along the wall is Birdoswald Fort, which served as a key military base for the Romans. Vindolanda fort, located just south of the wall, is thought to predate the wall itself, and its museum contains a fascinating array of artifacts, including the Vindolanda Tablets, a written record of life in Roman times.