Stretching right across Northern England, from Bowness-on-Solway near Carlisle to Wallsend in Newcastle, Hadrian’s Wall is one of the most impressive feats of Roman architecture in Britain. Why not visit it by coach?
Hadrian’s Wall is a Roman fortification in northern England. The building of the wall started in year 122 under Emperor Hadrian, and much of it remains to this day. It’s often described as being the northernmost limit of the Roman Empire, built to keep out the Caledonians of what we now call Scotland. That’s not strictly true, as the Romans also built the Antonine Wall more than 100km to the north. That defence was soon abandoned though, while Hadrian’s Wall continued to hold firm.
The wall starts in the west of Northern England near the modern Scottish border and winds its way east all the way to Newcastle-upon-Tyne. If you’re interested in Roman or British history, or just love the beautiful open countryside in the North of England, Hadrian’s Wall simply has to be on your itinerary. This UNESCO World Heritage Site draws thousands of visitors a year including many school trips and hikers.
There are lots of ways to visit the wall and learn more about its fascinating story:
The great thing about Hadrian’s Wall is that you can see as much or as little of it as you want. If you just want a flavour of the wall, you can see parts of it in Carlisle or Newcastle without having to leave the city. If you want to get a feel for what it would have been like for the Romans posted in this cold, damp part of the Empire far from home, head out into the countryside and find one of the forts, or a section of the wall that would have been patrolled by soldiers. It’s great for sparking kids’ imaginations.
You may find yourself far from civilisation if you’re exploring some of the more remote parts of the wall, so you’ll need to dress in full walking gear with good boots. Taking clothing for all weathers and food and drink for the day is recommended. The museum and Vindolanda both have excellent cafes, too.
When you’re visiting Hadrian’s Wall there’s a fantastic bus service called the AD122 that runs hourly from Hexham to Haltwhistle, stopping off at all the main wall attractions such as the museum, Vindolanda and Housesteads Roman Fort. It runs from 12 April to 31 October. To reach Hexham from Newcastle, simply catch the X84 service, which runs from Eldon Square, five minutes’ walk from the FlixBus stop at John Dobson Street. If you’re starting from Carlisle, use the Border Rambler Bus.
By car, you can come and go as you please, visiting the wall attractions or just admiring any part you come across. You can drive along 2,000-year-old Roman roads (fortunately now tarmacked) before stopping off at a country pub and enjoying a bite to eat.
By train, you can go to Newcastle and follow the instructions above to reach Hexham (Eldon Square is a 15-minute walk or a ten-minute taxi journey from Newcastle Station), or you can go straight to Hexham Station on the train and pick up the AD122 from the town itself.
FlixBus is a convenient and cost effective way to zip around the whole of Europe. They pick up and drop off right in the heart of things, and are much better value than trains or even driving. Best of all, with FlixBus, once you’re on board, there are toilets, power points and even Wi-Fi to take advantage of, so whether you’re sightseeing through the window or buried in your laptop, you’ll have a stress-free journey.
To grab the best ticket prices to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, find your nearest start point in Europe or the UK, then visit the destination page or the general booking page and enter your location in the “From” box. Enter your dates and how many people are travelling, and you’ll be given a fantastic price.
The stop is on John Dobson Street, near Newcastle City Library.
The Roman Army Museum and Vindolanda are about halfway between the two cities, but Newcastle is better for the AD122 bus service, which is a great way to visit all the historic attractions.
If you’re staying for a few days, you can also sample the cultural highlights in and around Newcastle and Gateshead, from the Angel of the North to the famous nightlife. For quieter days, Northumberland National Park and Kielder Forest Park are just north of the wall, while the North Pennines lie to the south.