Hadrian's Wall Path National Trail runs for some 84 miles as a signposted long distance coast to coast walking route, from Wallsend in the east to the salt marsh of the Solway Estuary with the highest point being Whinshields Crag 345m (1130ft).
It crosses a wide variety of countryside with the theme of history underfoot and in sight. Most walkers complete the route in a seven day holiday - backpacking or B&B - though extra time can be well spent exploring sites and museums along the way including the Roman forts of Segedunum (Wallsend), Chesters, Housesteads and Birdoswald. The contact for all information is Hadrian's Wall Information Line - 01434 322002.
UNESCO designated Hadrian's Wall a World Heritage Site in 1987 and the opening of the National Trail provided superb opportunities for walking and also responsibilities to cherish and sustain the archaeology that dates back 2000 years. Research has indicated that the best way of protecting it is to keep the Trail as a natural grass surface - a green sward path.
A green sward, or grass path, is important for three reasons. First, by preserving a healthy green surface and not damaging or breaking into it, any buried archaeological deposits are protected. Second, it provides the most sympathetic visual setting possible for the Wall and its associated earthworks. Finally, most walkers will agree that a grass path is the most pleasant and comfortable of surfaces to walk upon.
In wet weather, at its worst between November and April, this surface can become waterlogged and the risks of damage and erosion are greatest. The National Trail is promoted as a spring, summer and autumn destination but not as a winter one so the National Trail passport season runs only from the 1st May to the end of October each year; you can collect passport stamps only within this period.
Overuse of the Trail, particularly by large groups of sponsored and challenge walkers, is discouraged. In fact, Hadrian's Wall's has its own country code, Every Footstep Counts, devised for the Trail in partnership with all of the projects and organisations associated with the World Heritage Site. Available on the National Trail's website, it offers detailed guidelines about how visitors can help to look after the Wall for themselves and future generations.
On parts of the Trail which have a grass surface walking side by side rather than single file helps to keep the grass surface intact; this is the layer which protects any buried archaeology.
When the Trail was being established, the simple rule of thumb was to avoid as many of the lumps, bumps and grassy ridges as possible as they may be buried archaeology; walkers should avoid them as well.
Despite its size, Hadrian's Wall is a fragile monument to Roman engineering and building. To help conserve it, don’t walk or climb on the Wall; the legal right of way is on the ground alongside.