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day trip to Hadrian's Wall from Glasgow or Edinburgh

Hi all! I'm planning a trip to Scotland in September and I'd like to take an afternoon and walk a mile or so of Hadrian's Wall. I'm wondering if anyone can suggest a good section of the wall, or perhaps a town with a visitor's center or museum pertaining to the wall? I've been exploring Carlisle a little bit, but it doesn't look like it has quite what I'm looking for...

Posted by
1577 posts

In terms of getting there would you be using a car or public transport? The best fort is Vindolanda at Hexham in Northumbria but equally accessible from the Carlisle end. It also has a good museum about the wall and life for the Roman garrisons on the furthest reaches of the Roman world.

If driving, the links are better to Carlisle from Glasgow, straight down the M74 for an hour and a half. By rail probably similar,

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks, MC! I'll have a car... likely driving in from Glasgow, although I could approach from Edinburgh as well... my research so far looks like it's a shorter route from Glasgow, though.

Are you saying there's a good museum in Carlisle? What about a segment of the wall itself? It's my understanding there's not actually anything left of it in Carlisle, but I could be mistaken.

Posted by
1577 posts

Hi Jason

By car the best approach is down from Glasgow, simply because the road is better being a motorway the whole way. There is a museum with Roman heritage remains under Carlisle City Council

It might be worth checking out English Heritage which is the government body in charge of these types of remains south of the border and controls large chunks of the wall,

Birdoswald fort is not far from Carlisle, and Vindolanda not much further at Hexham. The best bits of the wall are further into Cumbria and Northumbria where it is quite remote. But in my opinion Carlisle is often over looked as a city given its pivotal role in Scottish and English history.

Posted by
5677 posts

Hi Jason, I assume that you've found this website and this one? I did a very short walk not far from Housesteads. It was a while ago. You might want to search for Ed from Pensacola. He's hiked the wall a couple of time I think. You can PM him. If you google search Hadrian's Wall hikes Rick Steves forums, some of the earlier posts that he has made come up. I am pretty sure that what I did was walk the wall East from Housesteads for a mile or so and then walked back along the road that the bus goes on. I didn't know about the bus back then!

If you're driving down, you might also want to explore the area north of the wall a bit. I will admit that I got thoroughly lost driving around in the Debatable Lands, but that was half the fun. Hermitage Castle is amazing! It's been a rowdy part of Great Britain for a long time!


Posted by
279 posts

Vindolanda fort and museum is very cool, and I wish I had gone to Birdoswald, where there is also an outline of a post-Roman Anglo Saxon hall that they have only found in the past few decades (see the British documentary Britain AD on YouTube for an interesting look at it). I also wish I had stopped at the abbey in Hexham, which has a 7th century Saxon crypt still intact.

Posted by
791 posts

We spent a couple of days along Hadrian's wall 2 years ago. We walked from Steel Rigg east to Housesteads (3.1 miles one way) and Steel Rigg west to Cawfields Quarry (2.6 miles one way). Steel Rigg is up the hill from Twice Brewed. Both sections are very scenic. You walk right along the wall (which may be reconstructed) but you can also see the trenches in the valley. Along the wall are forts. Not much is left of the forts but it is cool to see them. If you walk east from Steel Rigg you get to Sycamore Gap, which they promote locally as Robin Hood's, from the movie. The lone sycamore tree is very scenic. The gaps can be quite steep, so if mobility is an issue, going down a gap might not be a good idea. I would ask locally for a good walk -- because each section is different. The areas I mention are high so you get good views from both.

As far as museums/sites, Housesteads is right on the wall and English Heritage has a nice book that explains the site in details. Vindolanda is very close by. It is not directly on the wall, but the ruins are extensive and very interesting. The Roman Army museum is skippable. We also visited the Chester Fort (also English Heritage), also interesting but I would go to Housesteads or Vindolanda first.