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.
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.
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
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.
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
There follows a short descent into Birdoswald the site of one of the
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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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I-Net Support Latest update - October 2003