After having walked the Hadrian’s Wall Path in June 2011, I have some practical advice for anyone who is thinking about doing the same, especially fellow wild campers:
- Take as little as possible with you. This is the single most important advice. One extra kilogram to carry might not sound much, but 1 kg to carry for 135 km is a lot.
- I would strongly advise against taking too much food with you. I made that mistake and it was a big contributor to the (superfluous) weight. I ended up throwing some cans away because I was fed up with carrying something every day that I would use in 3 or 4 days. If you are camping wild, you have to take a bit of food with you because in some stretches, pubs are rare, but don’t take heavy food like cans. Take bread and sausages or chocolate for which you don’t need a stove.
- If you are camping, do however take warm clothes. Even in summer, it was terribly cold at night. The highest point of the Hadrian’s Wall Path is 345 m and the winds up there can be fierce.
- I used the guidebook from the Trailblazer series which has very detailed and helpful maps, information on all the places to eat and sleep, and even bus timetables if you don’t want to walk every stretch.
- If you do not plan to camp wild, this is enough. If you do want to camp wild, you’ll need to leave the immediate stretch of the Hadrian’s Wall Path and you might find the OS Explorer maps 85 through 88 useful.
- Don’t try to set a record. It took me 4 days to walk the whole 135 km, but I got up and started walking at 0300 on one day and walked until 2300. That’s not exactly a holiday. Also, don’t overdo it on the first day, you will regret it in the following days. I met one guy who had once done the walk in 3 days, but he only slept 2-3 hours every night.
- If you don’t have that much time, just concentrate on the middle section of the trail where there is actually some of Hadrian’s Wall left and the scenery is more spectacular. You can cut out Newcastle and anything west of Carlisle if you are very short on time.
- There is surprisingly few forest, so you’ll have a hard time to find a good campsite that is protected from wind and rain. If you find something in the early evening, set up your camp even if you are still fit enough to walk for a few hours. A good place to sleep is worth a lot. You can get up and get cracking early to make up for the time.
- Think about water. Especially in the middle section, you sometimes walk for half a day without going through a village, so take enough water. Fill up at every possible stop! There are no public taps or water pumps or anything similar, although there are some creeks and lakes which you could use in emergencies, I guess.
- Contemplate walking from West to East. This way, you won’t have to fight against the prevailing winds.