Steel Rigg - Banks / Walton
This section of the Way is 13miles (21 Km) to Banks or 16.5 miles
(26 Km) to Walton. The section quickly reaches the highest point on
Hadrian's Wall at 345 metres an constant descent to Thirlwall then
gradual drop to finish at an altitude of 125 m or 75 m from Banks and
Please note that several of the images were taken when walking in the
From the Steel Rigg carpark the walk for the first kilometre is uphill
to the highest point on Hadrian's Wall at Windshields Crags. From
here the walker will see west to the Solway Firth and east towards
Sewingshield Crags. North the view is towards the Scottish border
(dependent on visibility) and south over the line of the Vallum and the
ever present military road (B 6318) whilst behind are the northern
Although the predominant level of the Way is down allow time for the
next sections to Walltown Quarry. The Way stays close
to the Crags and the wall remains, which are well preserved in these
part. With the wall sticking to the cliff edge they combined to provide
a wonderful defensive line for the Romans.
Having descended into Cawfield Quarry, which is an attractively developed
recreational area, there is a gradual ascent to Aesica Fort, now only
visible in outline beside the farm buildings. Passing through the woods
at Cockmount Hill the next crags are at Walltown. The views to the
Solway Firth and the ultimate destination of this route are clearly
visible on a good day.
The way then arrives at Walltown Quarry the
second such quarry developed in Roman times to produce the stone for
the wall, turrets and milecastles.
A little further west the path decends down the side of wide open
fields to a wood and then a twisting path over a small bridge by
attractive cottages to arrive at the side of Thirlwell Castle.
From Thirlwall Castle walk along the path to the Tipalt Burn, cross
this and the railway line, with caution, and proceed to the road
ahead. At the B6318 the Way turns right for about 50 metres before
turning left to rejoin the line of the Wall. The Pennine Way at the
road crosses and heads WSW and then south.
There now follows a field walk to Gilsland entering the village on
the Northumberland side.
At the Station Inn the way follows a path by the side of the railway
viaduct and a small pedestrian bridge crossing the burn that acts as
the boundary between Northumberland and Cumbria. The path again crosses
the railway line on the SW side of Gilsland and follows round the outside
of the school. Cross the road and pick up the line of Hadrian's Wall
again as it proceeds to the River Irthing.
The river is crossed by a modern metal pedestrian bridge with
its own unique beauty, this just after one of the most photographed
sections of the Hadrian's Wall at Willowford.
From Willowford to Birdoswald there are interesting and significant
remains of the Roman Wall. Where the line crosses the Irthing River at
Willowford there are interesting Milecastles and Turrets, although the
Roman Bridge is no longer visible. This is a significant valley to
cross and the route demands a zigzag ascent from the bridge back up to the
line of the Wall.
Birdoswald is the site of one of the principal Roman Forts and is
worth stopping to look at the remains and the information centre.
As the route progresses west the way starts to slightly diverge from
the road rising gradually towards a directional change close to High
House. From here the Way is following the line of what was initially a turf
The Turf Wall line now starts to merge with the road that runs from Birdoswald to Banks.
Every so often the path crosses a field or re-enters onto the roadway
to allow the path to progress round a house or farm. There are some
good sections of wall and turrets closer to the village of Banks.
Banks is a small Cumbrian village sitting to the north of the Irthing
River directly on the line of Hadrian's Wall. There is a short walk on
the road as it curves in a semicircle away from the wall then back
across its line at the village green. Continue down this road for a
further 100 metres then take the right hand fork as waymarked to pick
up the section to Walton. Alternatively stop in Banks and split the
distances of this section and the next to Carlisle in almost equal
This section of the Way sees within the first hour a significant change
in the route. It turns north and picks up the waymarking of the
Pennine Way, and it leaves behind the Roman Heritage of Hadrian's Wall
as the walker heads into "Caledonia and the land of the warring Picts".
From the safety of the south side of the Wall the route north through
the Wark Forest can be identified. (Red dots on the photo)
Whether approaching from the West (Bowness - Yellow line) or the East
(Wallsend - Red line) the initial walk is on the line of the wall above
the crags. Between Hotbank and Cuddy's Crags there is a dip and a path
leading north across the line of the Wall and out onto the lower and
flatter moorland to the north is the one to follow.
Navigate to each section of the walk using this
link or the right hand section
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I-Net Support Latest update - October 2003