Hadrian's Wall Walks
Hotbank Crags & Highshield Crags
Date: 18th August 2013
Distance: 6.9 miles
Ascent: 1070 feet
Time: 4 hours 10 minutes
Start Grid Ref: NY793683
A super walk from Housesteads along arguably the most dramatic section of Hadrian's Wall.
Route Summary: Housesteads - - Cuddy's Crags - Hotbank Crags - Highshield Crags - Peel Crag - Peat Rigg - Long Side - Cuddy's Crags - Housesteads
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: This walk was very similar to the route I'd done eight years before on my first visit to Hadrian's Wall minus the detour to the top of Sewingshields Crags. This time I was with my nephew Liam who, as with our walk up on to Winshield Crags the previous evening, was once again carrying his toy Roman sword and shield that we'd bought the day before at Chesters Roman Fort.
On that previous walk back in 2005 my wife and I experienced a couple of really tasty hail showers. This time Liam and I had a couple of heavy rain showers not long after we set off from Housesteads. The downpour coupled with a strong wind, which we were walking directly into, meant that for a time we took shelter behind the remains of Milecastle 37. Despite this initial soaking Liam was still game for the walk and thankfully before we reached Hotbank Crags the sun came out and we started to dry off.
The section of Hadrian's Wall between Housesteads and Steel Rigg crosses in a quick succession of ups and downs Housesteads Crags, Cuddy's Crags, Hotbank Crags, High Shield Crags and Peel Crags. In my opinion it is one of the finest few miles of walking to be had in this country. It features a wonderful combination of historical interest, wide ranging views and the dramatic natural features created by the upthrust of Whin Sill rock.
After stopping for a short snack next to one of the most photographed trees in Britain at Sycamore Gap we continued over Peel Crags before the steep descent on the far side. Liam enjoyed this so much he wanted to climb back up just so that he could come down again! I enjoyed it too but not quite that much.
Upon reaching the car park at Steel Rigg we then took the track that passes Peatrigg Plantation and continued following this when it became a grassy path as far as Ridley Common where we climbed back up to Hadrian's wall between Hotbank Crags and Cuddy's Crags. All along this section there were nice views south to our outward route. Once back at the Wall it was then a short walk back to Housesteads. After just completing by far the longest walk that he'd yet done I would have thought Liam would be quite tired. Instead he still had the energy to spend twenty minutes running around the impressive remains of Housesteads fort before we finally headed for home and the end of a very successful two-day trip.