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Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian’s Wall crosses England at its narrowest east-west point from the North Sea to the Irish Sea. It is a microcosm of England. It contains two great regional cities – Newcastle / Gateshead in the east and Carlisle in the west. The Newcastle-Gateshead quayside is a focus of cultural activities and art with the Sage Gateshead and the Baltic Art Gallery. With its abundance of good pubs, restaurants and magnificent Georgian architecture it is well worth a visit. To the east is the thriving Port of Tyne. Carlisle is a smaller but influential city supporting a rural area. Its centre is attractive and with a fascinating history is a delight to visit. Both cities are on the course of Hadrian’s Wall and are included in the Hadrian’s Wall National Trail.

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The two coastlines are poles apart in character. The River Tyne enters the North Sea at the towns of Tynemouth and South Shields and has much shipping in and out of the Port of Tyne. The immediate coast line is rocky with cliffs and sandy bays. To the west the Solway Firth is a large expanse of marshes and mud flats – it has its own wild beauty and is transformed by the rise and fall of the tides. It is principally an area of small hamlets and villages.

The journey along the course of the Wall from Newcastle and Carlisle is farmland. Leaving Newcastle, Hadrian’s Wall diverges from the rural River Tyne and begins a gentle climb through attractive farmland. To the south the views are of towering skies, hills and eventually the moors of the North Pennines. The first high point is at Milecastle 24 from which there is a steep decline into North Tynedale.

From the River North Tyne at Chollerford Hadrian’s Wall passes the Roman fort of Chesters and rises to Limestone Corner where, to the north, is a panoramic view of the lower section of North Tynedale.

After a level stretch of the Roman Wall, including the Mithraic Temple at Brocolitia, the course of the Wall meets the first of the crags of the Whinsill Fault at Sewingshields. This geological phenomenon creates the north facing crags (cliffs) that define Hadrian’s Wall to many. In this higher section just livestock is farmed typical of the uplands. This terrain continues with its twists, turns and undulations to Walltown Crags where the Wall drops to the lower and flatter landscape of Cumbria.

The Northern Counties of England and the Scottish Borders have a very long history of violence. Much was because of the power struggles of the different kings and their aspirations of greater power, but, there were three hundred years of carnage and mayhem of family against family, bands of Rievers and private armies. This resulted in a plethora of fortified buildings from castles and forts to fortified manor houses and farm houses, bastles and pele towers.

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