On with my east – west journey we start with the Roman Fort of Chesters where Hadrian’s Wall crosses the wide and shallow River North Tyne. The remains of the Roman Bridge at Chesters can be found on a short footpath just before Chollerford Bridge on the east bank of the River North Tyne. On the west bank is the bath house for Chesters Roman Fort. Our journey east progresses uphill past a long section of Hadrian’s Wall from Black Carts to Limestone Corner.
The Hadrian’s Wall Path continues to the ancient Roman Mithraic Temple at Brocolitia and to Sewingshields where it joins the rugged and undulating crags of the Whinsill Fault that define this section of Hadrian’s Wall with its iconic and dramatic scenery. The point where the Trail turns left and downwards is one of the grandest views of Hadrian’s Wall. The undulations of the crags can be seen disappearing westwards into the far distance.
From vantage points such as this it is clear to see how the topography has assisted in the effectiveness of Hadrian’s Wall as a border between the Roman Empire and the hostile peoples further to the north. The Roman Wall sweeps downwards towards Housesteads which is a well preserved example of a Roman Fort layout. From here the ups and downs of the crags take over with the next major view point at Hotbank Crags which looks over Crag Lough – the only lake adjacent to the Wall – to the distant Winshield Crags.
Hidden in the ups and downs beyond Crag Lough is the much photographed Sycamore Gap with England’s favourite tree. A short walk on to Steel Rigg gives another iconic view of Hadrian’s Wall. Moving onwards up Winshield Crags is the highest point along the Wall – again with magnificent views to the east. From Winshield Crags it is downhill past Caw Gap to Cawfields and Cawfields Quarry and the quarry pool. From here a wander over the Nine Nicks of Thirlwall takes you to the last of the crags at Walltown and eventually to the quarry with its pond. Look out for the Roman Army Museum. The final point of interest in this Middle Section of Hadrian’s Wall is the ruins of Thirlwall Castle.