Steel Rigg to Vindolanda

A walk from the cliffs of Hadrians Wall, down past The Sill (The National Landscape Discovery Centre) and on to Vindolanda Museum. The route is combination of well maintained tracks, roadside walking and field crossings.

Circular | 8.14km (5.1 miles) | Difficulty: Medium

Please note that the route given is a rough guide and should not be relied upon solely when planning a walk. Remember to plan ahead, get a proper map and ensure you have the right equipment.

This route starts from Steel Rigg on Hadrian’s wall where there is a car park. The route could be started at The Sill or the Vindolanda where this is more parking. There are a number of buses which stop at The Sill too. The climbs and descents of the route are the same no matter which way round you follow it – in this post the route is written as being followed anti-clockwise. Even in damp weather the only challenge on this walk are some of the prolonged, but still fairly gentle, climbs. There are sections of roads to walk along though which require a lot of caution and vigilance when busy.

1: The route leaves the car park via the southern gate and heads down hill. When it reaches the first wall walkers should head left and follow the foot path. Keep an eye out for a gate in the wall to the right which the route heads through. There is a path on the other side which heads towards a cottage, this should be followed until it and meets another path. At this other path turn right and follow it to the road. The route then follows the path on the side of the road all the way down hill. At the bottom the route crosses the road to The Sill.

2: At the Sill walkers can stop for a break and can follow the rooftop path which offers a good view of the area. When finished at The Sill walkers can resume the route by heading out of its car park and following the road heading South which climbs uphill. Though this road can be quiet, caution is advised as there is only a verge to walk on at the sides and there are a number of bends which obscure your view of oncoming traffic.

3: At the top of the hill the route follows the road on the left which heads towards Vindolanda. Again, this requires walking a long a road but it is quieter than the last and is straight, making it easier to spot cars coming from a distance. Along this stretch walkers will pass Causeway House – the only farmhouse in Northumberland thatched in heather.

4: Walkers will have a choice to make when reaching the car park at Vindolanda. If they do not wish to go into the museum then they can keep on the road they are on and head downhill into the village. If heading through the museum, walkers can take any route they please through the site as they can exit it on the far side (where the cafe is). After leaving the museum walkers will need to head uphill, rejoining the road they left when entering, and head left.

5: There is a gate on the North side of the road in the village which will lead walkers into a field. The route follows a lightly worn path uphill through the field and heads towards the farmhouses at the top. Before reaching the buildings there is a wall, on the far right of the wall is a stile which should be crossed. On the other side is a path which heads straight ahead, eventually crossing another stile and following a path past the farm buildings. The route follows this then crosses another stile on the right when the path bends left. The route crosses this next field North-Easterly to a stile on the far side which will deposit walkers on the main road.

6: The route heads right and follows the road in an Easterly direction. Again, there is no path along this road but there is a large verge. The route turns left at the first track heading off it to the left. Following the track here brings walkers further uphill and back to the cliffs which Hadrian’s wall runs along.

7: When the wall is reached the route turns left. The route doesn’t cross the wall but instead winds uphill talking walkers to the ‘military road’ – a track which is more gentle than the one which follows alongside the wall.

8: Eventually the route passes the iconic Sycamore Gap. Walkers can stop here to drink in the view and can choose to swap to or from the cliff-top path. The route then continues along Westward until it eventually joins back up with the section walks between points 1 and 2. Walkers can then retrace their steps uphill back to the car park.

You can extend this route by following the wall at points 7 and/or 8 – however, some sections of these paths have been temporarily closed recently due to storm damage. Note that following the wall will mean a lot more climbing and descending of steps as it goes up and down several clifftops. There are plenty of places to stop along the way for food. The Sill and Vindolanda both have cafes, plus there is The Twice Brewed Inn next to The Sill which serves hot meals. Sometimes there is even a mobile tea and coffee kiosk present at the Steel Rigg car park.

Adapted from Walking in Northumberland

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