Walton / Banks - Steel Rigg

This section of the Way is 13miles (21 Km) to Steel Rigg starting from Banks or 16.5 miles (26 Km) if starting from Walton. The section reaches the highest point on Hadrian's Wall at 345 metres with the starting altitude of 125 m or 75 m from Banks and Walton respectively.

As this section becomes increasingly demanding we recommend the route is started from Banks whenever possible.

Looking to the route north from the Roman Wall

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)

Junction point as route turn North

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.

Banks with village green ahead

Banks is a small Cumbrian village sitting to the north of the Irthing River directly on the line of Hadrian's Wall. At the village green keep to the road past the phone box as it curves to the right. This soon straightens out and runs alongside the straight road towards Birdoswald.

Turret 52 to east of Banks

There are some good sections of wall and turrets close to the village. 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. At one point the way starts down a public right of way, but do make sure you pick up the turning left through the wood.

Birdoswald Roman Fort and information centre

As the route progresses east the way starts to slightly diverge from the road rising gradually towards a directional change close to High House. Here the Way is following the line of what was initially a turf wall.
There follows a short descent into Birdoswald the site of one of the Roman Forts.

Milecastle 49 overlooking Willowford

From Birdoswald to Gilsland there are interesting and significant remains of the Roman Wall. Where the line crosses the Irthing River at Willowford there are well preserved Milecastles and Turrets, although the Roman Bridge is no longer visible. This is a significant valley to cross and the route demands a zigzag decent to the water.

Modern bridge over the Irthing River at Willowford

The River Irthing is crossed by a modern metal pedestrian bridge with its own unique beauty, before coming to one of the most photographed sections of the Hadrian's Wall at Willowford. Shortly the path reached the western corner of Gilsland, cross the road go round the side of the school then shortly cross the railway line with caution. The path drops down to cross a small stream by the side of the railway viaduct then rises to enter the eastern section and Northumberland part of Gilsland.

Thirlwall Castle

From Gilsland the walk start to enter slightly more open moorland and ahead can be seen the rising landscape as it heads towards the many crags that will be dominant in the rest of this section. After passing a golf course the way briefly touches on the B 6318 road then again crosses the Carlisle to Newcastle railway line. It is at the road crossing that the Pennine Way joins the path.
Immediately across the railway and burn the ruins of Thirlwall Castle are dominant, the Way running right to the castle mound.

Walltown Quarry

From Thirlwall the walk starts its more strenuous phase climbing all the way till the last half hour of the days walk. The walk is however much more attractive and varied at this stage with crags, quarry ponds, well preserved wall, turrets & milecastles and panoramic views. The first quarry, opened up by the Romans and used for the stone needed on the walk, is at Walltown. It has now been developed as an attractive picnic and walking area.

Cawfield Quarry

Climbing out of the quarry the Way stays on the southern side of the Wall and Walltown Crags, passing by Cockmount Hill before a slight drop to Aesica Fort now only visible in outline beside the farm buildings. Ahead are views to Cawfield and Windshields Crags. The path again crosses a small road and enters Cawfield Quarry, another attractively developed recreational area.

Cawfield Crags looking towards Windshields Crags

Allow time for the next section to Steel Riggs. The Way remains close to the Crags and Wall, the 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.

Looking towards Crag Lough from Trig point on Windshields Crags

The highest point on Hadrian's Wall is on Windshields Crags and 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 the road are the northern Pennine peaks.

From the Trig Point the walk is about a further 1 Km to the car park at Steel Rigg. From here a 5 minute walk will take you to Once Brewed where there are an information centre, youth hostel, inn and connecting transport.

Navigate to each section of the walk using this link or the right hand section buttons.

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