Last minute: Hadrian's Wall

May 31st, 2013, 08:34 AM
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Last minute: Hadrian's Wall

We are finishing up a fine holiday in Scotland and are driving back to Derby tomorrow/Saturday. It wouldn't take us too far out of our way to stop at Hadrian's Wall and it might be a nice break mid-way through the drive.

Question: Hadrian's Wall is not a single place, right? Is there a suggested place to stop for some info and a short walk around? It appears the English Heritage has a visitor's center outside of Hexham at the Housestead's Roman Fort. Is that as good as any?

Leaving in 15 hours . . . any last minute tips for this unplanned excursion?

indy_dad is offline  
May 31st, 2013, 08:59 AM
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Indy it's long and thin . so basically a couple of visitor's centres joined by a long walk
bilboburgler is offline  
May 31st, 2013, 09:00 AM
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Housesteads is free if you're National Trust or English Heritage members. There's a bit of a hike up the hill from the car park to the museum and site. When I was last there around 5 years ago the only refreshments were from a hut by the car park with outside seating, and a vending machine in the museum. There may be better catering facilities now.

Vindolanda is a bigger site with a proper cafe and (imo) better museum, although that also entails a short hike down/up a hill. If you go there, I wouldn't bother with the combined entrance to the Roman Army Museum - not really worth it.
anicecupoftea is offline  
May 31st, 2013, 09:11 AM
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About 3 miles further west of Housesteads is Once Brewed. There's a car park, not at the visitor centre, but nearer the Wall. Park there and you can go for a walk along some of the most spectacular sections above Crag Lough.
sofarsogood is offline  
May 31st, 2013, 09:39 AM
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That's great walk!
Fra_Diavolo is online now  
May 31st, 2013, 09:48 AM
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If Housesteads is too long a stop (it is very large and quite a walk from the car park) - then Vindolanda or Chesters are very good stops.

If you are coming in from the Carlisle/M6 end - Vindolanda would be good - and enroute you'll see some great segments of the Wall.
janisj is online now  
May 31st, 2013, 11:21 AM
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We were just there, and visited Vindolanda and the Roman Army Museum. These are on B6318, which runs parallel to the Wall. You can visit both on one ticket. Ask at the Roman Army Museum and they will point the way to a walk up to one of the best preserved sections of the Wall.

BTW--this last is important. We met a couple of hikers at lunch near this and they said they had been walking for five days west to east along the track of the Wall, and this was the first they had seen anything. Further west, the Romans built with turf and it has all eroded away.
dwdvagamundo is offline  
May 31st, 2013, 01:23 PM
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Thanks All.

After a week of touring I sense the troops are ready to get home. I'm looking for a ~60 minute (maybe 90 tops) stop. I like the English Heritage/National Trust option since we are members. Looks like it is a 0.5 mile walk or so -- I think we can swing that.

Penny wise and pound foolish or a reasonable quick(ish) stop?
indy_dad is offline  
May 31st, 2013, 01:54 PM
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It is not really a long walk at Housesteads. A bit steep, but plenty of people less fit than you and yours get up there. I really enjoyed it, and things are well labelled to explain what is what.

There is a refreshment kiosk, but if you want more there are good pubs nearby.
hetismij2 is offline  
May 31st, 2013, 03:52 PM
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Definitely Housesteads, indy_dad, I'd say, based on your other adventures. It has terrific views, plenty of scrambling around space, and places to stand on the wall--you can spend 30 minutes or several hours. Have a blast!! (Chesters is also cool but not so much "the wall" as I envisioned it twisting over hill and crag, like you can see at Housesteads. We didn't make it to Vinolanda. We began at Birdoswald, which is also great although it seems to get little press, but we enjoyed Housesteads more.) Enjoy! I get to go back, with students, 2 weeks from today!!!!
texasbookworm is online now  
May 31st, 2013, 06:05 PM
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When I took two of my nephews (11 and 14) to the UK we stopped at Housesteads. the lads loved it! They did buy toy swords which I wanted to break by the end of the trip! One neat memory is that BBC was doing a special on the Wall and interviewed the boys and asked their thoughts as Americans. We never did get to hear/see the special as it was planned for several months down the road. But long story, short; DO stop even if you just have an hour or so.

Looking forward to the trip report!
irishface is offline  
May 31st, 2013, 06:14 PM
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I agree that Housesteads is best - my suggestions were only if you end up w/ limited time. They would be quicker visits. So you can wait til you are there and judge how much time you want to spend.
janisj is online now  
May 31st, 2013, 11:52 PM
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Coming a bit late to this, but if the children are stir-crazy from travel and museums, Housesteads is more fun, it really isn't too far to walk up to the wall, and when you get there, there's a fairly dramatic sweep of views that makes it possible to imagine your way into the life of soldiers on the wall (imagine a bit like forts in the old Western films). Vindolanda is absorbing but it's a lot of stuff in museum cases, and the ruins themselves rather less interesting.

Whereas Housesteads has this sort of thing, which tends to appeal to the juvenile imagination:
PatrickLondon is offline  
Jun 1st, 2013, 01:26 PM
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Thanks everyone. Housesteads was perfect -- just what we were looking for. Though a touch out of the way, it was a nice break from our long drive. Enjoyed the setting and seeing a bit of history. I didn't realize that they had set up forts along the wall though that makes perfect sense.

We spent about 75 minutes there including watching the short video and a quick stroll through the museum.
indy_dad is offline  

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