Cycling & Hiking Hadrian's Wall

Surprisingly, I'm rarely asked which method is best? I think that's because most people have a preference for either one or the other and once selected, that one becomes the focus and the sole method to undertake the challenge.... So, which is best, cycling or walking?

Both represent a fair physical challenge, with the walking option taking longer due to the speed advantages that a bicycle can offer. Time (or lack of it) is often a key factor, as not everyone can afford the additional time required to walk from Bowness-on-Solway to Segedunum Fort/Wallsend? Therefore, from that perspective, tackling the journey by Bike would appear to be the more attractive proposition.

The biggest drawback with undertaking the journey purely by bike is that some the best preserved sections of Hadrian's Wall are only accessible on foot. This is because Hadrian's Wall Path is a non-cycling, national footpath (it forms part of the Pennine Way) and attempting  to take a bike along the path would just result in having a bike for a backpack along with unwanted attention from the land owners & Park Rangers - not an attractive proposition!

Over recent years, a combination of cycling the less interesting sections with walking the more interesting parts has become more popular, as it allows for quicker access to the better preserved parts of the Wall (between Greenhead and Sewingshields Crags for example), which are the sections I would recommend to be walked.

Does this mean that purely cycling the Wall route is a bad thing? No, of course not and by being aware of the location of some of the 'must see' places along the Wall, you can modify your route to pick them off as you go and, there are other places the cycle route passes (Vindolanda, Lanercost Priory, Corbridge Roman Town, etc) that the walking path does not pass.

For the Walkers/Hikers, the walk before and after the best preserved section is just that, with little of Roman interest to engage the senses. So it might be worth considering adding a day or two of cycling at the beginning/end to allow quicker access to the best bits of the Wall and this might pay just you back, by cutting down the amount of overnight stops required?

What do I recommend?... Well, definitely good planning to help identify what you want to see/achieve on the journey and probably the most important element if it's a once in a lifetime experience. Also, setting a sensible timeline (don't trust Google Maps, it's not accurate) and remembering to pack everything (including wallets & especially underwear, etc) twice in sealed plastic bags!.. I can't advise what the weather will be like, but can say you'll be traversing rugged and exposed countryside, particularly when you reach the Pennines and can guarantee that the wind will not be your friend, no matter which way it's blowing! ;-)