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Heart of Hadrian's Wall

...a day is never long enough

Walltown Crags

Walltown Crags

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Judy & Alan Clark

Judy & Alan Clark choose their favourite walk, just a few minutes from Holmhead Guest House………..

The views from Walltown Crags are as good as you'll get anywhere in Hadrian's Wall country – or if you're as biased as I am, anywhere in the UK. The panorama doesn't creep up on you, it's suddenly there after you've either slogged your way along the Hadrians Wall or Pennine Way National Trails or Wainwright's Pennine Journey.

Having climbed the steep hill from the west (or taken a more leisurely stroll up from the car park at Walltown), the view suddenly opens up in all directions. To the south is the spectacular South Tyne Valley, the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and in the distance the highest two Pennine tops, Cross Fell and Great Dun Fell. To the north is the vast wilderness of the Northumberland National Park. Turn to the east and the horizon is somewhat closer – you can see as far as Windshields Crag – the highest point on the Wall. On a good clear day, look west and you can see the Solway Firth and the hills of Dumfries and Galloway.

It's easy to speculate why the Romans built the wall here. This is the very edge of the Great Whin Sill, the igneous rock formation that stretches from Lindisfarne to the North Pennines and at Walltown, its exposed face provides a magnificent sheer defence. In more whimsical moments, you might think to yourself that that the Romans reached this point and thought 'Why bother going any further? This is just right'.

For walkers on the trails, this too is a significant point. Depending on which direction you're going, it's either the start or the end of the classic central section of the Hadrians Wall Trail. If you're heading for Bowness-on-Solway, everything is (more or less) downhill from here, but if your destination is east, you have a lot of ups and downs to look forward to. Pennine Way walkers can either glance back and remember the hard slog over Cross Fell or feel some trepidation at its challenge in the next day or so.

Either way, the views can be stunning and you go away feeling that, even in our crowded little island, you can still find a magnificent uncrowded vista like this.