Are you ready for a great new vacation location from Zephyr Adventures?
I had the pleasure of spending six days in May walking across England with my good friend Kent, following the route of Hadrian’s Wall. The vacation was so unique and spectacular that I ended up creating a new tour for Zephyr’s travelers.
Hadrian’s Wall was built starting in the year 122 when the Roman Emperor Hadrian visited the province of “Britannia”. This was the height of the Roman empire, which covered all of Europe, Northern Africa, and the eastern areas of what is now the Middle East, Syria, and Armenia.
Yet at this point, for the first time in Roman history, Rome decided to build a wall marking its frontier – significant because this also marked the point where and when Rome essentially stopped expanding. In Brittania, this wall was necessary because Caledonia in the northern part of the island (now Scotland) and Hibernia (now Ireland) were never conquered.
Over the next six years, tens of thousands of Roman soldiers built a stone and dirt wall that ran for 73 miles from one coast of England to the next. They built major forts in key positions, outposts every mile, and ditches on both sides of the wall. Remains of the Wall can still be seen across much of the distance.
If you like to challenge yourself, you will LOVE the idea of walking the 84-mile national Hadrian’s Wall Path trail over six days, an average of 14 miles per day. I found it exhilarating to have my entire focus of the day, for six days in a row, to be on putting down step after step on the terrain of England as I came ever closer to my goal of walking across the entire width of a country.
Another big benefit of the tour is the beauty of the area. The Wall path runs through the small city of Carlisle in the west and ends near Newcastle in the east. Beyond that, the area is rural and mostly uninhabited. You will see a variety of scenery from the low plains of the west to the rugged low hills of the center to the sheep lands and river country of the east.
Being a bit of an Anglophile, I also loved experiencing the local culture, in depth and on foot. On our tours, you will stay in country inns, B&Bs, and small hotels. You’ll have the opportunity to eat British fare, sample loads of British ales, and chat with the local citizens and other tours we find en route.
Lest I be accused of waxing too poetic about this tour, I’ll also describe a few potential pitfalls.
- First, the weather in the area is not the norm for a vacation destination. While the temps should be perfect for hiking, we are likely to experience some rain and you should be prepared for this.
- Second, while British food is going through a revitalization, that isn’t happening in many of the small towns we visit. If you are über picky, you might have a tough time.
- Third, we are very limited in our choice of lodging. This is just not a very populated area! We have worked hard to create what we think is a good mix of accommodations but don’t expect room service or bag portering.
- Fourth, the Wall doesn’t exist along the whole distance and this is not the Great Wall of China, where you can walk on top. The first and last days are mostly devoid of the Wall but the middle section will give you all the Roman thrills you need.
- Finally, you should be realistic about the distances. While most of the days are flat, 14 miles per day for six days in a row is tough – much tougher than we two strapping guys (well, at least Kent is strapping) were expecting. So while you can always jump in the support van, expect to be challenged on this tour.