OK, I admit it. I am obsessed with a Roman Emperor who died some 1,900 years ago. I’m not sure where this came from, exactly. Growing up in Europe where you still trip over Roman history everywhere you turn? Years of taking Latin in secondary school? My technical fascination with Roman engineering? Their unheard-of military prowess; their Eagles? However it happened, Hadrian rules my life. Ask my wife and our twins: I made us all hike Hadrian’s Wall Path, a UK National Trail, in 2004… In my defense, ‘twas an awesome adventure that has shaped our family life – for the better!
Hadrian’s Wall is 84 miles coast to coast and goes along Wall segments, Milecastles, through farm fields, forests and little villages. We refueled in pubs and overnighted in some lovely B&Bs. The weather was “bog-standard British”: a mix of rain, sunshine, fog and wind. And that was in August! As we lumbered up the crags and down the hills, enjoying stunning views, we wondered how on earth those Romans managed to build this. And, how their legions marched and fought here in full armor, without space age hiking gear.
Hadrian built his famous Wall at the northern end of what is now England in 112 AD. And in those days, no “Centurion Inn” pub for a break! The Wall was the far-flung outer edge of the Roman Empire in Britain. Like the straight-as-an-arrow Roman roads throughout England, it was a marvel of engineering. It served actively for hundreds of years and impressive remnants can be seen to this day. Hey, “Game of Thrones” fans: remember The Wall, Jon Snow and The Night’s Watch? This will look eerily similar….
And, you don’t have to hike to visit it! We’ve been back several times by car. The Wall has a number of easily accessible sites where one can drive to, park, and see and touch large remnants of Wall, even stand on it. Places like my favorite Birdoswald, or the Roman Fort at Vindolanda, to mention a few, are just a short drive from major cities like Newcastle or Carlisle – or Edinburgh!
Traveling to Scotland with us? Have a few days in Edinburgh? We can book you a fabulous day tour to Hadrian’s Wall and the Scottish Borders, famed for its many abbeys. No driving, no hiking, no marching, suitable for all, even the kids. Oh, and score some awesome Dad or Mom points by whispering them the legend of the “Legio IX Hispana”, the lost Ninth Legion that mysteriously disappeared without a trace – and how some locals swear that on a dark and stormy night, you can still hear their marching footsteps… Who knows, maybe it will inspire them one day to become a Hadrianic Maniac too!