Ninebanks YHA Weekend Part One – Hadrians Wall   8 comments

The annual Xmas gathering was here again and just like the last 2 years our chosen location was Ninebanks YHA in the North Pennines. The last 2 years has seen an “interesting drive” over the high roads from Penrith and Alston on snow and ice but no such fun this year with an uneventful journey and no drama – shame! The downside of the white stuff is that we’ve never been to Hadrians Wall a mere 30  minutes away, choosing sledging and walking over more scary driving.

Hadrians Wall, Steel Rigg, Peel Crags

Peel Crags from Steel Rigg

Me and D in particular were keen to see it having never been and this year was our chance. We were especially inspired as Mark and his kids had taken a summer hostel walk along the wall in the summer and were full of stories of how good it was. Armed with a plan Mark suggested we packed up the kids into the cars (I got most of them!) and headed to Steel Rigg to start the walk.

Hadrians Wall

The weather looked “mixed”, possible sunshine, possible rain but in the end we only had one spell of drizzle while we were out, which alas coincided with lunch. We passed the remains of the first turret and then scrambled up onto Peel Crags.

Peel Crags, Hadrians Wall

Peel Crags

Peel Crags, Hadrians Wall

Peel Crags

The walking was superb and just right for kids, plenty of wall related stuff, scrambles and the like to keep the kids going and some wide open views for the adults to enjoy. For me it was great to see an area I’d never been before and one of Britain’s most famous landmarks. It’s not so much the wall itself that’s impressive but the concept of the wall and the effort it must have taken to build it. Such a long and immense construction (including the turrets, Milecastles and forts) in some pretty wild and inhospitable terrain. I kept reminding the kids that these features were all 2000 years old.

Hadrians Wall, Crag Lough, Milecastle 39

Crag Lough & Milecastle 39

We stopped of at Milecastle 39 for a rather damp lunch and for the kids to play.

Hadrians Wall, Milecastle 39

L at Milecastle 39

From there we passed Sycamore Gap. I’m reliably informed that in the Kevin Costner film “Robin Hood Prince of Thieves” our hero is seen sitting at this very spot discussing what a naughty chap the old Sheriff of Nottingham is before popping over to Nottingham to teach him a lesson. Not sure why he needed to ride 300 miles from Sherwood Forest for this little chat but such is Hollywood.

Hadrians Wall, Sycamore Gap

Sycamore Gap

We continued on over a long section above Crag Lough, it’s cold dark waters looking, well, cold and dark.

Crag Lough, Hadrians Wall

Crag Lough

This was the most dramatic section for me and was the view I had in my head when thinking of the wall and it’s scenery.

Hadrians Wall, Crag Lough

D above Crag Lough

Hadrians Wall, Crag Lough, Hotbank Crags

Crag Lough from Hotbank Crags

Hadrians Wall, Crag Lough, Hotbank Crags

Crag Lough from Hotbank Crags

From there it was on to Hotbank Crags for what Mark reckoned was his favourite part of the walk he did in the summer.

Hadrians Wall, Hotbank Crags

The gang on Hotbank Crags

He was  right, it was top drawer. Easy walking along a high grassy ridge with the wall for company.

Hadrians Wall, Hotbank Crags

Wall walking along Hotbank Crags

The kids were having a great time and making light work of the walk despite the cold and windy conditions. As we approached Milecastle 37 the low sun came out lighting up the wall and it’s surroundings in a most becoming fashion.

Hadrians Wall, Hotbank Crags

Sunset at Hotbank Crags

Hadrians Wall, Hotbank Crags

Looking back along Hotbank Crags

Hadrians Wall, Hotbank Crags, Milecastle 37

Hotbank Crags and Milecastle 37

We took in a section of the wall that you can actually walk on (D was especially pleased about that part) and dropped down to one of the famous forts, Housesteads. I had it in my head that this fort would be on flat ground  down by the road but in fact it’s built on a hillside well up in the hills. It’s a huge and impressive roman site containing all the usual features you expect to see (underfloor heating, latrines, bath houses, granary).

Hadrians Wall, Housesteads

Granary at Housesteads

Hadrians Wall, Housesteads

Underfloor heating at Housesteads

Hadrians Wall, Housesteads

Barracks at Housesteads

However it was already starting to get dark when we arrived so we were only able to give it a very cursory look (most of the kids had bailed to the warmth and fun of the interactive museum) before we called it a day. We’d finally seen the Wall and what a fascinating experience it had been, cracking walk and history lesson all rolled into one. It needs alot more of my attention if this little jaunt is indicative. If you want to read more of the history of the wall etc then what you need is to read an extensive account of summer stroll along the wall, taking in all the features. Luckily I know a man who has so pop over to Mark’s blog and read his account starting here. You can also read his own account of this day if you need more.

8 responses to “Ninebanks YHA Weekend Part One – Hadrians Wall

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  1. I enjoyed very much doing the trip thru Your great photos. There were so many interesting places to be seen. Thank You for this lovely post.


  2. A top day. Your photo of the wall in late sunlight is superb. I missed that, I was hurrying S to the portaloo at Housesteads.


  3. Your walk covered a fair section of the bit Dixie and I did on the Pennine Way. Dixie was really taken with the history of it and keeps nagging at me now to take her to the Antonine Wall too – what’s left of it…


    • There were several short day walk options but Mark thought that this was the best combination of wall and fort with some great walking – and he was right!

      We talked about the Antonine Wall, by all accounts there isn’t much left!


  4. Looks great, love the sunset pic!


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