Hadrian’s Wall Ltd –
The Activity Company On Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s Wall Ltd – The Activity Company On Hadrian’s Wall

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Hadrian’s Wall Ltd – The Activity Company On Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s Wall Ltd –
The Activity Company On Hadrian’s Wall

Holidays and Tours on Hadrian's Wall

Walkers

Holidays and Tours on Hadrian's Wall

Holidays and Tours on Hadrian's Wall

Tracey & Gary @SycamoreGap

Welcome to our Information Section

This page is designed to explain who we are and what we do, as well as provide you with more in-depth detail on how we do it and what might help you in your preparations for coming to Hadrian's Wall.

 

Six Sections

About Us - How We Do It - Making a Plan - Options - Accommodation - Preparation

Info >>

Business Beginnings - The business was formed by Gary and Tracey Reed just after the Hadrian's Wall Path opened in late 2003 - Gary being born right next to the Wall (well, 200 yards north of it to be precise) and he'd been 'waxing lyrical' in lectures on it for the previous 20 years.

Hadrian's Wall Ltd - 'The Activity Company On Hadrian's Wall' was founded with a combination of local knowledge, various academic qualifications, Gary's outdoor experience from serving in the Royal Marines, instructing in Outdoor Activities and travelling to far-flung parts leading Expeditions.

Business Inspiration - Gary & Tracey's experiences together helped shape the business - especially a rather strenuous (unsupported) Heritage Walk along the Inca Trail in Peru, twenty years ago - a lesson not just in 'how you could do it', but also 'how you can make things difficult for yourselves'.

The Team - Gary tends to run most of the Outdoor activity, with assistance from Finan & Ruairi on the Camping Treks. Tracey runs the Office side of things, abley assisted by Heidi - although they do also help out in the Great Outdoors - especially when there are particularly large groups going through and there's a need for all hands on deck.

Time Travel - Assisting folk to Take a Journey Back in Time. Visiting Hadrian's Wall is an opportunity not just to see how and where our ancestors lived, but also the chance to explore and be amazed by their endeavours.

Active Heritage - Enabling visitors to Actively Experience our Heritage Landscape. In other words, we're in the business of encouraging folk to get on their feet, breathe in the fresh air, then walk in the footsteps of Celts, Romans, Angles, Saxons, Vikings, Normans and Border Reivers. This is a place where you can stand on the same ground and touch the same stones that were so familiar to those who went before us.

Walk the Wall - Self-Guided & Part Guided Holidays along the Hadrian's Wall Path National Trail. Itineraries, Maps, Guidebooks, a choice of five different levels of Accommodation, Baggage Transfers, Kit Lists, Walking Advice, Local Info - all you need to make it happen, without the stress of organising it.

Guided Day Walks - Half a Day or a Full Day accompanied by a Local Expert. A Guide with a difference. He may have a wealth of teaching and outdoor activity knowledge and experience, but more significantly, his self-penned description of his role is probably more apt - an 'Edutainer' who specialises in bringing History, Geography & Heritage to Life.

Trek the Trail - Four, Five & Six-Days - Glamping in Vintage Style, or Backpacker Adventure with Independent Spirit. Running along the Trail each week between May and August. We provide Camps with Bed, Breakfast, Baggage Transfers and much more...

Take a Tour - A Day's Exploring in a Land Rover. For those on a tight schedule, this is how you can get to the parts that others can't reach. A unique Guided Tour of some of the best Sites along the Wall.

Accommodation Preference - When it comes to accommodation, we've long-realised that not everyone has the same preference for where they stay overnight. The accommodations booked on our clients' behalf, are hand-picked from a list of around fifty different providers that we've selected, stretching from one side of the country to the other. We don't use every accommodation that exists in the area, as not everywhere meets the standard we consider our clients will appreciate. We also don't operate a 'one size fits all' policy, but offer a choice of five different levels of accommodation, which we have labelled as our 'Denarii System'.

The 'Denarii System' - In Roman times, if you possessed a silver Denarius coin, you would consider yourself to be quite affluent. If you were fortunate enough to have a number of Denarii (the latin plural for a Denarius), you could definitely regard yourself as a person of substance. We use the Denarius to indicate a level of Accommodation & Services - ie the more Denarii you spend, the more you can expect in return.

Our Research - We believe that location, ambience, hosts, rooms, furnishings, facilities, meals, staff, services and of course value for money, are all relevant factors - and the best way to assess accommodations is to visit them, not just once, but on a regular basis. Visiting accommodations also gives the opportunity to maintain a relationship with accommodation providers, not just over the phone, but also on a more personal level. And beyond that, naturally we listen to what our clients tell us and their feedback is then passed on to the accommodation providers themselves.

Our Method - If you were to think in terms of the Denarius having a monetary value today, then you would realise that you need to spend more of them in certain locations than you do in others. Our system takes this into account, as well as appreciating that there can be a number of alternative levels within each area - so if you book a III Denarii itinerary, you can expect to be in a mid-range accommodation for that location, in each of your overnight stays.

Denarii Definitions - Our Denarii system is the best indicator that we've managed to come up with, that provides a general overview of the standard of accommodation & services that you can expect to experience overall. It may not be a precise science, however it has proved to be the most helpful and effective way for clients to choose a budget that works for them. You can read more on the Denarii definition within each Itinerary description.

Flexibility - You should bear in mind that accommodation booking is dependent on availability and on occasion it may be necessary to use a different Denarii level in a specific location. In this instance we would normally advise you that this is the case and give you the option of choosing a grade above or below for that particular night. There is also the flexibility for you to upgrade on any individual day (eg for a special occasion) and subject to availability, we can arrange your itinerary accordingly.

Bag Moves between Accommodations - When walking the Wall and moving between accommodations, ideally your main baggage should be moved for you, rather than you carry it on your back - as apart from it being better for your back, it also means less weight on the trail itself. So all you want to be carrying with you is a small daypack containing those items that you require for the day. This being the case, unless you are being based in just the one accommodation, baggage transfer is an integral part of your accommodation booking.

Method & Timings - The way this service operates, is by vans travelling across the country daily, with the drivers collecting and dropping off your bags and those belonging to other walkers, at the various accommodations along the length of the Wall. Clients just leave their baggage in a place designated by the accommodation provider as a collection and delivery point - which is usually near or next to the accommodation's reception area. On some days, the drivers can be moving hundreds of bags, so the pick-up and drop-off times do vary from day to day. The general guidance for walkers is that their baggage should be ready for collection at 9.30am and they can expect that their bags to have reached their destination by 4pm - ie collected after you should have left your accommodation and being delivered before you are due to arrive at the next location.

Bag Labels - In order that your baggage is easily identified and arrives at the correct destination, we provide clients with a 'Baggage Label' in the 'Travel Pack' that we send out. This label displays all the necessary detail for the clients' full itinerary.

Bag Weight Limit - You should be aware that the baggage allowance (other than the Daysac you carry with you each day) is one bag per person and that there is a bag weight restriction of 15kgs per bag. This is to conform with Health & Safety Regulations and Insurance liabilities, which restrict the amount that can be lifted by one person above waist height - bearing in mind that there will be one person transporting your (and lots of other folks') baggage along the way.

Extra Bags - It is possible to bring more baggage with you if you are unable to pack all of your gear within the one bag and keep within the weight limit. Extra bags need to be booked in addition to the normal baggage transfer included with a booking. An extra bag will cost £6 per move - so if your baggage is moved six times, there will be a total additional charge of £36.

One Way - Like those walking the trail, baggage travels in the one direction. If you intend returning to your start point (or somewhere close to it) at the end of your walk, eg to pick up a vehicle, or catch a train, you will have to take all your baggage with you from your last night's accommodation. If you would like your baggage moved back across the country, it has to be booked separately and the charge is dependant on the distance between the pick-up and drop-off points.

Mapping - Planning your own Itinerary can be an entertaining exercise. No-one doubts the pleasure to be had in mulling over a map and dividing distances into logical daily steps - however, applying the 'do-it-yourself' approach for Hadrian's Wall is not quite that simple.

Terrain - Unfortunately, as good as the maps might be, they're not able to tell the full story. What doesn't show up are the conditions that effect your pace and the time it takes to cover the ground - whether it be the varying types of terrain to be found underfoot, or the hilly undulations that don't register as contour lines, but you certainly realise their significance when you climb up and down them.

Sites of Interest - Whilst a good guidebook can provide inspiration of what to look out for, it's not neccesarily going to indicate how much time you are likely to spend in any particular location - whether it's to admire the view, be amazed at the construction of the Wall and its ramparts, consider how the milecastles and turrets operated, or which museum or fort is most likely to grab your attention.

Accommodation - It would have been wonderful if after the Romans had departed from Britain, there had been the foresight to convert their numerous milecastles and forts into varying levels of accommodation for future explorers - however that didn't happen. The Hadrian's Wall Path National Trail has only been open for 12 years, prior to which, much of what is accessible now, wasn't accessible before. The relevance of this, is that historically there has not been a string of accommodation providers conveniently placed along the length of it. The reality is that some areas are better served than others.

Stress-free - Having the Local Specialists set up your Itinerary for you can save a lot of grief and is not to be underestimated - especially if you're considering changing your accommodation on a frequent basis. Adopting the 'do-it-yourself' method is fraught with difficulties. You can spend a great deal of time and effort, calculating what you would like to do each day, which location you would like to stay in each night and which accommodation appears to be the standard you prefer, only to find that having organised a couple of places for yourself, the rest aren't available for the time you want them and you also have the nagging doubt of whether those accommodations that were available are really what you expect - best to give this dilemma to the experts on the ground.

Local Knowledge - There's nothing to beat being able to tap into local expertise - especially when one of the local experts includes a Guide who is renowned for having walked the Wall more times than anyone else. Beyond that, knowing where the good and not-so good accommodations are, requires constant research. It's not just knowing and talking to accommodation providers on a continual basis, but it also involves regularly visiting and assessing their suitability (especially if there has been a change in ownership), as well as taking on board feedback from previous clients.

Personal Time Availability

Based on an average walking pace of approximately 2 miles (3 kms) an hour, we have a rough guide on what's possible. Destinations are given running west to east, but these routes can be walked in either direction -

1 Day
Birdoswald to Walltown - 2 hours
Roman Army Museum Visit - 1-2 hours
Walltown to Steel Rigg - 3 hours
Steel Rigg to Housesteads - 2 hours

2 Days
Lanercost to Birdoswald - 2 hours
Birdoswald to Walltown - 2 hours
Roman Army Museum Visit - 1-2 hours
Walltown to Steel Rigg - 3 hours
Steel Rigg to Housesteads - 2 hours
Steel Rigg to Vindolanda - 1 hour
Housesteads to Vindolanda - 1 hour

4 Days
'Best of the Wall 30 Miler'
Banks to Limestone Corner
'Best of the Wall 50 Miler'
Carlisle to Chollerford
'Trail Challenge 84 Miler'
Bowness-on-Solway to Wallsend

6 Days
'Six Day Trail Walk'
84 Miles - Bowness-on-Solway to Wallsend
70 Miles - Bowness to Heddon-on-the-Wall
55 Miles - Carlisle to Heddon-on-the Wall
Shorter mileages allow more time for visiting Sites of Interest, such as the Roman Army Museum and Vindolanda

7 Days
'Seven Day Explorer'
84 Miles - Bowness-on-Solway to Wallsend
Allowing more time for visiting Sites of Interest, such as the Roman Army Museum and Vindolanda
90 Miles - Bowness-on-Solway to Tynemouth
Coast to Coast - Irish Sea to North Sea

Sites of Interest

It would be fair to say that the whole of Hadrian's Wall by virtue of it being a World Heritage Site is technically a Site of Interest, however there are places along its length (and close to it) that offer good reason for further exploration.

Wall Sites
Banks Turret
Willowford Bridge Abutment
Poltross Burn Milecastle
Walltown
Aesica Fort
Cawfields Quarry & Milecastle
Cawfields Crags
Winshields Crags & Trigpoint
Steel Rigg
Peel Crag & Crag Lough
Milecastle 39
Sycamore Gap
Housesteads Crags
Sewingshields Crags & Trigpoint
Brocolitia Fort & Mithraic Temple
Limestone Corner & Trigpoint
Chesters Fort
Planetrees & Heavenfield
Port Gate

Some of the places on the list below have free entry and others have a cost element. It's also worth noting that not all of the Sites are open or accessible all year round, so it's advisable to check opening times before you come.

Tullie House Trust
Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery

English Heritage Sites
Carlisle Castle
Lanercost Priory
Birdoswald Fort
Housesteads Fort
Chesters Fort
Tynemouth Castle

Vindolanda Trust Sites
Roman Army Museum
Vindolanda

Tyne & Wear Museums
Great North Museum
Segedunum Fort
Arbeia Fort

Accommodation Availability

Time of Year - Certain times of year are busier than others. Some folk will book as much as a year in advance.

Group Size - The larger the group size, the earlier you need to book. It's more difficult to find accommodation for large groups.

Main Season - The main season runs between May and September. The earlier you book for this period, the better the accommodation choice.

Start Day - Weekend or Weekday - Avoiding a weekend start day can give a better choice.

Last-Minute Booking - Even late bookings can usually be accommodated in some way.

 

 

10 Accommodation Realities
or
What we're aware of - What we consider
What we solve

1. Accommodations are not all the same size
2. Not all rooms are identical in the same establishment
3. Not all accommodations have the same facilities
4. Not all accommodations have the same level of service
5. Accommodations are not always located precisely where you might like them to be
6. Some locations have more options - some have less
7. Accommodation websites can be a bit misleading
8. Accommodation '*Star ratings' can be a bit misleading
9. Accommodations don't all charge the same rate
10.Accommodations don't always have rooms available

Accommodation Providers - Hadrian's Wall doesn't have a group chain of Accommodation Providers (eg Hilton, Marriott, Travelodge, Premier Inns, etc...) running along it. Each accommodation is different - not just in relation to location, but also in terms of the standard of facilities, rooms, meals, the service they provide and of course in terms of their cost.

Levels of Accommodation - Some accommodation providers along Hadrian's Wall have invited different agencies (eg AA, RAC, Visit Britain, etc...) to send along one of their representatives, to give them a grade, which is recognised as a ‘*Star' rating. The problem is that these gradings can be very misleading and the same can be said of many accommodation providers' websites - a good website doesn't necessarily indicate good accommodation and vice versa.

Misleading Gradings - It does occur where accommodations have been assessed just on the standard of one or two rooms - rather than the varying standard of rooms that may be available in the same establishment. The gradings may take into account the number of tables and chairs, however they rarely consider the quality of the furnishings. They are also unable to give consideration for various other services - including those that are particularly useful to walkers (eg drying facilities, or pick-ups and drop-offs when needed), or what alternatives are to be had within the local area (bearing in mind that *star ratings don't give an indication to price comparison).

Booking Accommodation - It goes without saying that you can source your own accommodation and if you like an element of surprise (be it good or bad), then you can always make your own arrangements. However, if you prefer some kind of reassurance that someone has already checked out the suitability of your accommodation beforehand, then you will appreciate our Accommodation Booking Service.

Local Specialist Knowledge - The key to finding the accommodations that are best suited to your needs, is to tap in to folk who thoroughly know the area and what each location has to offer - setting up accommodations convenient to where you will be at the end of each day, that provide the level of accommodation you are most comfortable with (be it a Bunkhouse, Guest House, Hostel, Hotel, Farmhouse, Country Inn, Country House, or even a Castle).

Health & Fitness

It doesn't matter if you're not a world-class athlete, however, you do need to be in good health. If you want to walk a long-distance trail and cover a number of miles, over varying terrains, on consecutive days, you are advised to check out your personal fitness for such an endeavour beforehand.

Insurance

If you're booking a holiday, including making travel arrangements to and from it, having some kind of Travel Insurance is a wise move. Personal health is something we can all take for granted, until it goes wrong - having insurance cover to reimburse you for this and other unforeseen circumstances is much appreciated when it's needed.

Personal Kit

Map - It is possible to walk the Wall without using a map, however, you will probably have depended on either following someone else who knows the way (and is probably using a map), or you have been able to find all the waymarker signs and they're all pointing the way they're supposed to. A map though, doesn't just give you some idea of which direction you should be going in, it's also able to give you some idea of your present location and how far you have to go.

Guidebook - There have been various guidebooks written on Hadrian's Wall and some are better than others. Ideally you want something that gives you an overview of what to look out for on the day ahead and can also be easily referred to as you make your way along the trail.

Clothing & Equipment - This is down to personal preference, previous experience and whatever expertise you're able to call upon. The general view to consider is -
'Don't bring what you don't need and don't leave behind what you do'.

Top 10 Tips

This list is intended as 'food for thought' and may seem like commonsense to many, however every item on this list is either overlooked or ignored on a regular basis by walkers coming to the area. This results not just in discomfort or inconvenience, but unfortunately for some, an inability to complete the task they set out to achieve.
1. Don't underestimate the difficulty - It might not look much on a map, but if you are thinking of walking the whole of the Hadrian's Wall Path National Trail, you will be crossing from one side of the country to the other and as such traversing a mix of terrain including part of the Pennine Way. We send out a 'Walkers Advice on Time & Distance' as part of clients' 'Booking Pack'.
2. Make sure you are properly equipped - This is not the same as 'walking to the shops'. Clothing, footwear, equipment - they are all vitally important. We send out a 'Walkers Kit List' with the initial 'Booking Pack'.
3. Bring some Cash - Some places you may like to visit, (including shops, pubs and accommodation) don't accept plastic cards and the only Cash Machines on the Wall are in either Newcastle or Carlisle.
4. You need a Map - Unless you believe the signposts will always be where you want to see them and you're not concerned about your exact location should unforeseen circumstances arise (let alone have a general interest in where you are at any given time) - you need a Map. We send out a map with every 'Booking Pack'.
5. Correct Footwear is a Must - Footwear (socks as well as boots) that performs on all kinds of terrain and in all kinds of weather conditions is a tall order. You don't need 'heavy boots' to walk on miles of flat hard ground and shoes are not ideal for clambering up and down grassy or rocky slopes. Top tip is to make sure your feet are cushioned well. Our 'Walkers Kit List' provides further advice on this.
6. Bringing Dogs is difficult - Most Accommodation Providers will not accept dogs and the same goes for some of the places you might like to eat or drink. Also be aware that this is 'sheep country' (requiring dogs to be on leads) and not all dogs appreciate long walks day after day (especially on the harder ground) - it does happen where the owner fails to complete the distance because the dog isn't up to it! We can cater for those wanting to 'Walk the Wall' with their dog, on our weekly Camping Treks, between May - August.
7. Kids - Covering a Long-Distance Trail with Kids in a short timescale, is not ideal. Dragging young children over long daily distances is really not a wise move and in some circumstances, can be dangerous. Hadrian's Wall is a great place for children to visit and walk along. However, walking the entire 84-mile length of the Trail, covering a distance equivalent to a half-marathon each day, is not the wisest move. If you're coming with young children, there's lots to interest them and walking short selective sections of the Path will be far more inspiring for them than a hard daily slog.
8. Consult Local Knowledge - Like everything else in the world - 'things change'. Accommodation, Pubs, Places to Eat - they open-up, close down and change hands. Sometimes it's for the better and occasionally it's for the worse. Beyond that, paths can get diverted and there are some things that you would not have wanted to miss. If you had to inform anyone about your local area, would you suggest asking someone a hundred miles away? We are based next to the Wall - seeing and talking to folk who live, work, visit it, everyday.
9. Itinerary Planning Service - Making use of one can save a lot of grief - especially if you're considering changing your accommodation on a frequent basis. Adopting the 'do-it-yourself' approach is fraught with difficulties. Those of us unfortunate enough to have been taken in by the accommodation provider assuring us that they are "only five minutes away" from our intended destination, only to find that they were actually talking about a 'five-minute drive at 100mph assuming the road is completely clear', makes you cautious not to repeat the experience. Calling upon the expertise of an organisation with a reputation to maintain makes sense. We have been putting itineraries together since the Trail opened in 2003. We don't use a 'one size fits all' system, but tailor itineraries to clients' personal preferences and aspirations - whether it be a special regard for accommodation, budget, daily walking distances, places to explore en-route, or consideration and assistance for how folk get to and from here.
10. Local Specialists - If they exist, you should make use of them. Apart from the advantage of their local knowledge and experience, you also have the satisfaction of knowing that you're supporting the local economy of the place you're visiting, rather than elsewhere - And who knows, you might just appreciate some local support when you least expect it...

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