Britain’s best known Roman monument is Hadrian’s Wall.
It was built on the orders of the Emperor Hadrian, not only to keep control of the marauding Scottish tribes, but also to mark the northernmost edge of his empire which stretched across Europe, Asia and Africa.
There is evidence that the Emperor travelled to North Britannia from Rome to inspect it himself in AD 122.
That must have been one hell of a journey for those poor Italian lads who had orders to build it, and it must have seemed such a long way from home. The incredible thing is that large sections of this wall still exist and new discoveries are still being dug out of the earth today, despite excavations that have been going on for 200 years.
For about eighty miles it runs from coast to coast from South Shields in the east, to Ravensglass in the West. Whether you prefer to walk, ride a bike or climb into a chariot, there are so many things to see and entertain all age groups.
There are three main routes from the south to Hadrian’s Wall Country.
One is via the M6 to Cumbria up the left hand side. Another is via the A1(M) to Newcastle up the right hand side, but if you’re like me, and prefer a more relaxed route with stunning scenery through County Durham and Northumberland, then it’s up the middle for you. (If you are a marauding Scot or Pict then follow the route from the south in reverse!!)
Heading north it will take you along the lesser known A68, by the North Pennines area of natural beauty, which is probably the way those Italian boys walked, all those centuries ago.
If you do choose my preferred route you are in for an extravaganza of spectacular views, switchback hills, huge forests and beautiful river crossings, including the great rivers of the North East of England; the Tees, the Wear and the Tyne.
The National Trust, who manages the Roman Wall, is well represented in Northumberland with 11 of the most interesting sites and properties to keep your attention.
Also, a must for Harry Potter fans, will be a visit to Alnwick Castle and its spectacular gardens.
The panoramic views of Bamburgh Castle and it’s deserted beach are bound to take your breath away.
Kielder Forest is the largest man made forest in Europe, and is a favourite destination for walkers, mountain bikers and people who like messing about in boats.
When the sun goes down the stars come out, and there is no better place to see them than in this part of the county, where the distracting elements of electric light are non-existent. Northumberland is also the best place in England to see our native red squirrel.
Newcastle upon Tyne is as vibrant as any other city I have ever visited with an enormous variety of theatres, art galleries and museums. If you’re a party animal you will be thrilled with the choice of traditional pubs, wine bars, and restaurants in a relaxed and non-threatening party atmosphere.
If retail therapy is your thing then you need look no further than Newcastle or to the largest shopping experience in Europe, the famous Metro Centre.
The natives of this region are recognised as some of the most sociable in the world. If you have ever met a ‘Geordie’ at play, at work or on holiday you will know what I’m talking about.
Student of astronomy or history or not. Hadrian’s Wall Country has everything you could wish for.
Colin Wills visited the area whilst he was a guest blogger at the Battlesteads Hotel & Restaurant. Read his review.