The main A69 road passes tantalisingly close to Hadrianís Wall, with regular visitor signposts reminding you how close you are to one of the great Roman remains in England. On a recent business trip, my car journey took me across the Pennines from Newcastle to Carlisle, and despite being the middle of February the sun was out and the weather was remarkably mild for a winterís day.
The road was a pleasure to be driving along, with very little traffic in the middle of the day and beautiful scenery as we climbed out of the urban sprawl of the north eastern conurbations and into open countryside. After passing signs to Hadrianís Wall at the junctions for Corbridge and Hexham, I was getting intrigued by just how close I was to this World Heritage Site and whether I had enough time to take a short detour and see it in real life for the first time. I passed Chesterwood and a few miles further saw a signpost indicating I was only 2 miles from the wall and the Once Brewed visitor centre. Without further hesitation, I turned off the main road and immediately found myself climbing up narrow winding roads through small hamlets and out into the open countryside near the top of the fells.
The Once Brewed visitor centre, with its own Youth Hostel and next to the Twice Brewed pub, is well worth spending some time browsing around, with plenty of information about the rich history and scenery all around this area. Despite feeling a bit out of place in a business suit and surrounded by more appropriately dressed walkers and climbers, I decided to make the most of the occasion and asked where the nearest point was to actually see and touch the wall itself. The very helpful assistant at the centre showed me the short car drive up to the nearby car park at Steel Rigg which is on the route of the wall itself.
The views from Steel Rigg are truly inspiring, with long stretches of Hadrianís Wall snaking along the top of a granite ridge carved out by a glacier which passed down this valley. I only had time to take a short walk from the car park to the wall itself, take a few photos and then head back to the car for the rest of my journey to Carlisle. One day I will return with walking boots, rucksack and perhaps our two dogs to take a much longer walk along this most fabulous of Roman remains.
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