The wall: Newburn to East Wallhouses – June 17

Today’s walk: 9.5 miles / 15 km in 5 hours

I slept poorly in the night. I’m not sure how or why I could have trouble sleeping after such a long and tiring day, but it made for a difficult morning.

We set off walking after a good breakfast. The trail at first continued along the river, then veered inland to follow the route of an old disused railroad for a while.

The old railroad line, now a shady green trail for walkers and bicycles

Finally it took a long climb up out of the Tyne valley at Heddon-on-the-Wall.

The way is marked with wooden signposts like this one

Heddon is where the wall becomes visible again. A stretch about 50 yards long stands, robbed out and fallen down but visible on the surface, running just east of the town. We took a short detour off our walking path to visit it. This is the longest continuous visible section of what is called the “broad wall.”


From study of the remains, scholars have concluded that the original plan for the wall was to build the wall to a width of 10 Roman feet (just under 10 British feet– Romans apparently had small feet). Construction was begun to this standard starting from the eastern end, but later, perhaps after the first building season was finished, plans were revised to build the wall only to a width of 8 feet. We don’t know why the plans were changed, but probably the work was going slower than expected. Accordingly, the section of wall built to the 10-foot plan is known today as the “broad wall” and the section built to the 8-foot plan is known as the “narrow wall,” even though 8 feet is still pretty substantial.

More of the Heddon wall. You can see the poor condition of the remains, but even so it is exciting to see so much still standing

Fom Heddon-on-the-wall, the path runs west along the line of the wall, although there a few visible remains because the major east-west road here, the B6318 “military road,” was built on the foundations of the wall itself. The path runs partway along the roadside itself, and then verges off to run through fields and pastures next to the road.

The trail as a mown/trodden path across the pasture

The road did not have heavy traffic, at least not while we were walking, and we were able to enjoy a quiet countryside walk as we passed by cows and sheep in their pastures.

In many places we passed sheep who seemed to have young lambs or yearlings tagging along with them

The weather was cool but mostly dry. The skies were partly cloudy and we got a little sprinkle here and there, but no real rain.

Our day’s walk ended at East Wallhouses, a tiny village– barely more than a few houses clustered along the road, but boasting a pub. Our lodging for the night was actually located back in Heddon-on-the-Wall, so we had to call once we arrived to get a lift back to the town.

Looking down into the Tyne valley from Heddon-on-the-Wall

The place where we stayed was quite a tiny affair, in fact it was a private house where the extra bedrooms had been furnished for guests. Our host was a chatty older lady who was nice enough, but sadly her housekeeping left something to be desired. The room was cramped and damp and set both of our allergies going. At least we were the only guests there that night, so we weren’t bothering anyone else.

Happily, the place we went for dinner was much better. It served locally farmed food and locally brewed ales, all of which was delicious. I would certainly go back to Heddon-on-the-Wall for the food and the archaeological interest, but I’d rather stay someplace else.



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