East to West or West to East? That is the question. One of the walker’s biggest conundrums is which way to traverse the coast-to-coast trail of Hadrian’s Wall.
West to east walkers will start at travel into Carlisle and start their walk at Bowness-on-Solway; the east to westers will begin at Wallsend. The wall was built in the east-to-west direction, with the milecastles being numbered in the east-west sequence. But on the flip side, “Wallsend” on the east side, was first recorded around a millennium later in 1085 by people clearly preferring to see it as a west-east affair!
But there’s more to deciding which direction to choose than a roll of the dice. We’ll explore the east-west route so you’re better informed as to whether this is the route for you.
The Advantages of Walking Hadrian’s Wall East to West
1. You Get a Picturesque Finale
One of the main reasons walkers traverse the wall from east to west is that they get to finish their walk in a beautiful seaside location. Rather than reaching their final destination among the Newcastle suburban sprawl, many prefer getting the ugly urban part of the wall out of the way first and reaching the end of their walk on the Solway coastline with an ice-cream on the beach.
2. You Get Shorter Walking Days at the Start
Because of the density of accommodation options, an east-to-west route makes it easier for you to do shorter days at the start of your trip when you might still be a little rusty. By contrast, accommodation on the west-to-east route is much more sparse at the start, so walkers are in at the deep end in times of miles per day.
3. You Benefit from the Visitor Centre
Finally, the Segedunum Roman Fort and Museum at Wallsend is worth doing, and even better if you can do it at the start of your walk. Here, you can explore tonnes of information about the wall and its history, as well as things to look out for on the route.
The Downsides of Walking Hadrian’s Wall East to West
1. The Prevailing Wind
The most common reason people choose to go west to east is that they get the help of the westerly wind propelling them forward. Walking into it from the other direction can be a battle, especially on a windy/stormy day. That said, if you’re walking in the summer months, you might be glad of a cool wind on your face!
2. Limited Transport Links/Accommodation in Bowness
It goes without saying that Bowness-on-Solway and its surrounding area are far less populated than the city of Newcastle, and so accommodation isn’t quite as easy to come by. By finishing your walk here, especially if you’ve mistimed your walking schedule, you may find it harder to find somewhere to stay. This will, of course, depend on how busy the wall is, and in which season you’re doing it. Added to this, the western reach of the work is less well-connected than Newcastle, so getting away after a long-tiring walk may be a logistical problem too far.
There are advantages and disadvantages of walking Hadrian’s Wall from east to west, and many will depend on the time of year you take on the wall. That being said, whichever way around you walk the wall, it doesn’t really matter; either way, you’ll be met with breathtaking views, historical hotspots, a physical and mental challenge and, most of all, memories you’ll treasure for a long time.