Last week the sign appeared. It looked innocuous until you read it. It announced the…
Hadrian’s Wall Path ends in Wallsend. If you are looking for a walk to get some exercise why not stroll from Wallsend to St Peter’s Basin?
On a sunny day what could be nicer than taking a walk in the country with your family or dog? When you live in a city it can be hard to find a way to escape the city streets and catch a glimpse of greenery.
Recently I found out that the end of Hadrian’s Wall Path is in Wallsend. This is an 84 mile National Trail which follows the line of Hadrian’s Wall from Wallsend in Newcastle to Bowness-on-Solway on the west coast. It passes through some beautiful scenery, rugged moorland, rolling hills and the city areas of Newcastle and Carlisle.
Whilst walking the whole 84 miles would around a week the first few miles are worth exploring. It is an adventure on the doorstep. It also gave me the chance to try out my new walking boots.
Read more: Lowa Renegade Mid walking boots
The end of Hadrian’s Wall Path
Hadrian’s wall ends at Wallsend, a small town in North Tyneside. At the end of the wall on the banks of the river Tyne stands Segedunum Roman Fort. This was in use as a Roman garrison for around 300 years from 122 AD. You can still see the ruins of the fort today at Segedunum museum.
It is well worth visiting as the museum shows you what life was like in Roman times. Across the road is a reconstruction of Hadrian’s wall which really brings it to life.
Read more: A visit to Segedunum Roman Fort.
Hadrian’s wall path begins just behind the Segedunum fort. It is also the start of Hadrian’s way cycle path.
Walking Hadrian’s Wall Path
The start (or end) of the path meanders below Segedunum Roman fort. You will find part of Hadrian’s wall at the beginning of the path and the reconstructed Roman bath house looms above you.
These remains of Roman times mix with reminders of the industrial heritage of Tyneside. The path overlooks the river Tyne and the shipyards of Wallsend. These once busy shipyards are now quiet, a reminder of the many iconic ships that were once built here. You can still see the cranes of the shipyards in the distance.
The path is easy underfoot and well signposted.
Excavated Roman Baths
Spotting a sign for Roman baths I left the trail to investigate. I knew that Segedunum had a reconstruction of a Roman bath house on site. This is really interesting. Sadly at the moment it is not open to the public.
I hadn’t realised that the site of the original Roman baths at the fort was visible. You get a really good view of them from above. The baths have been lost since 1814 when clergyman John Hodgson gave an account of seeing them after they were uncovered during work to build coal staiths.
For years the Ship in the Hole pub stood above the Roman baths and after it was knocked down they were rediscovered.
Bathing was an important part of Roman life and every fort on Hadrian’s wall has a bath house. They were places where people could exercise and socialise as well as bathing.
The bath houses at the Hadrian’s wall forts have a unique design not found anywhere else in the Roman empire. The blocks for the baths are in a ring shape so you can go around them without retracing your steps. They have a lobby and three warm rooms. There is also a cold room and hot room to complete the bathing experience.
Read more: Housestead’s Roman Fort
Walking Hadrian’s Wall Path
Going back onto the trail you enter a woodland oasis of calm. The trail follows the river and you know that on either side of you are industrial estates and the shipyards. You wouldn’t know, on either side of the path are trees. It feels like walking through a park.
There is plenty of birdsong. Insects are buzzing and the occasional butterfly flutters past. There are occasional reminders you are in a city. The trail crosses some main roads but mostly it is easy calm walking. A lovely escape in the centre of the city.
There are benches made from steel girders at various places along the path. These give you a chance to stop but are also a reminder of the industrial shipbuilding heritage of the Tyne.
Part of the trail crosses the waggonways of North Tyneside. This historic 19th century network was once used to haul coal to ships on the River Tyne from dozens of coal mines across the North East. Reminders of this network are spread across the North East.
Reaching St Peter’s Basin.
Eventually the path heading towards the river and you get a few glimpses of the river side through the trees. You can tell you are coming into a built up area as the path goes past some houses at the bottom of the Byker wall estate.
The path splits into two, a set of step stairs lead down to the quayside or you can continue on the main path. Both paths lead into St Peter’s Basin, a residential enclave surrounding a marina.
The approach to St Peter’s Basin reflects the industrial origins of the quayside. There is evidence of manufacturing and warehouses on the land which open up to reveal the marina. This is full of boats and there is a pub beside the marina where you can end your walk.
I chose to end the trail here but you can continue on Hadrian’s Wall Path past the Ouseburn and into Newcastle Quayside. This is an experience in itself with its historic bridges, the Baltic Arts Centre and the bustling pub and dining culture along the banks of the river. If you are really keen you can keep walking the entire 84 miles of Hadrian’s Wall Path.
Read more: Newcastle quayside
If you are looking for a short walk for a sunny day in and around Newcastle this walk is ideal. This trail took me just over an hour at an average walking pace.
If you are looking for other ideas for walks then why not visit the Rising Sun Country Park in North Tyneside? They have a number of walking trails of varying difficulty.
Do you have any favourite walks around Newcastle? Let me know below.
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