Driving Hadrian’s Wall: the Minor Car Parks V (Walltown)

Walltown (EH)

Location: N54.989116, W2.509743 Facilities: none

This is another small car park (no charge), with room for around a dozen cars (or one badly parked motorhome extravagantly towing a small car), that affords access to the Wall at Walltown Crags. It is located less than 1km east of the Roman Army Museum Carvoran.

Advice

As ever, be aware that there are car thieves operating, as there are at all of the car parks along the Wall. Stout footwear is advisable.

Walltown minor car park planZone 2 (500m)

Heading north from the car park across the designated ‘access land’ brings the visitor to a fine stretch of curtain wall on Walltown Crags (1); one that has featured on many book covers. Walltown Turret (T45a) (2) can be inspected by heading slightly eastwards.

Zone 3 (1km)

A slightly longer walk eastwards reveals first an exposed yet not consolidated length of curtain wall and then the robbed-out site of Milecastle 45 (3), now just humps and bumps (to use the memorably contentious phrase of one former chairman of English Heritage). Further on, the visitor can witness how the course of the curtain wall (4, here a ruinous, grass-covered mound) deals tactically with the many ‘nicks’ or ‘gaps’, by means of a re-entrant.

Zone 4 (2km)

To the east, climbing Mucklebank Crags via the precipitous steps leads to Mucklebank Turret (T44b) (5). Two more re-entrants follow in the line of the curtain wall (6, 7) before the site of Allolee Milecastle (MC44) (8), again robbed out, are reached.

To the west, the intrepid explorer can see the ditch (9) with its upcast mound beyond Walltown Quarry as well as a fine view to the west. Venturing downhill to see the tribal levy stone or Thirlwall Castle may seem like folly when there is Thirlwall View car park to exploit, but some may enjoy the challenge of the steep walk back afterwards.

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Driving Hadrian’s Wall: the Minor Car Parks IV (Thirlwall View)

Thirlwall View (NNP)

Location: N54.986259, W2.536535 Facilities: none

This tiny car park (no charge, room for 5 cars) lies midway between the village of Greenhead and the hamlet of Longbyre. It is intended to provide the motorist with parking for a visit to Thirlwall Castle but can also be used to explore neighbouring components of the Wall.

Advice

As ever, be aware that there are car thieves operating, as there are at all of the car parks along the Wall. Stout footwear is advisable.

Thirlwall View car park planZone 2 (500m)

Cross the road and follow the Pennine Way westwards onto the golf course to see part of the Vallum (1). Alternatively, head north along the road to see a short length of curtain wall (2) perched on the top of the cutting.

Heading north and then east and crossing the railway line brings one to Thirlwall Castle (3) with vague hints of the ditch (4) just visible in the field to the west. At Holmhead guest house there is a tribal corvee inscription (5).

Zone 3 (1 km)

Venturing further westwards is rewarded with another fine length of ditch (6). albeit one that is abruptly truncated by medieval and later agricultural activity.

To the east, a stiff climb up Greenhead Bank has the ditch to the right (7) and, near the site of Milecastle 46 (8), a fine view back across Gilsland towards Birdoswald and (on a good day) even further to the Solway Firth. You might prefer to drive to Walltown Quarry car park for a shorter walk to see these.

Driving Hadrian’s Wall: the Minor Car Parks III (Gilsland)

Gilsland (CCC)

Location: 54.989225, -2.579466 Facilities: none

This modest but useful little car park (with space for 22 cars at no charge currently) allows access to one of the best-preserved sections of Hadrian’s Wall and can form the basis for a good outing that takes in two milecastles, two turrets, a bridge abutment (all free!), and a fort (you have to pay for that one), as well as lots of curtain wall. Arguably, no other car park on the Wall is as rewarding as this one.

Advice

As ever, be aware that there are car thieves operating, as there are at all of the car parks along the Wall. Stout footwear is advisable. Note that the B6318 approaching Gilsland from the east has a bridge with a height restriction of 3.58m (11ft 9in).

Gilsland car park planZone 1 (100m)

The curtain wall between the car p ark and Turret 48a (1) is accessible through a small gate next to the cattle grid.

Zone 2 (500m)

To the west, Willowford East Turret (T48a) (2) can be examined, together with more of the curtain wall (3) and sections of the ditch (4).

To the east, the Trail path climbs the side of the railway embankment to afford good views of an inaccessible length of curtain wall (5), before the railway line is crossed (please exercise great care and observe the instructions) and Poltross Burn Milecastle (MC48) (6) reached.

Zone 3 (1km)

Further walking takes in a long stretch of the curtain wall (7), with the farm track now in the ditch, before reaching Willowford West Turret (T48b) (8). A little further on, there is a centurial inscription built into an outbuilding (9). Finally, the descent of another length of the curtain wall (10) onto the flood plain is rewarded with Willowford Bridge Abutment (11).

Heading east provides views of the ditch east of the Poltross Burn (12) and then, having crossed two small roads, the chance to walk along one of the finest sections of the Hadrian’s Wall ditch (13) to be seen anywhere.

Zone 4 (2km)

Continuing westwards along the Trail and over the Millennium Bridge brings the visitor to Harrow’s Scar Milecastle (MC49) (14), albeit by way of a not inconsiderable slope. Continuing westwards will take in another long section of curtain wall (15 with its phalluses and inscriptions) and finally Birdoswald fort (16).

Driving Hadrian’s Wall: the Minor Car Parks II (Banks East)

Banks East (CCC)

Location: N54.975471, W2.665153 Facilities: None

Advice

Always be aware of the possibility of thieves operating in the car park. Follow signs for the Hadrian’s Wall Path to access sites to either side of Banks East. Stout footwear is advisable. There is currently no charge for parking.

Banks car park planZone 1 (100m)

This small car park (with space for about nine cars) is immediately next to Banks East Turret (T51a) (1) and the short length of curtain wall on either side of it, whilst a fine length of ditch is visible on the northern side of the road.

Zone 2 (500m)

A short walk up the hill to the east brings the visitor to Pike Hill Signal Tower (2).

Zone 3 (1km)

Leahill Turret (T51b) (3) is displayed immediately to the north of the road and the ditch in front is clearly visible.

Zone 4 (2km)

To the west, Hare Hill curtain wall (4) falls within this zone.

To the east, Piper Sike Turret (T51a) (5) is further along the road to Birdoswald and the ditch is again clear to the north of it, whilst the earthworks of the Vallum can be seen to the south. Continuing eastwards and then south along the Trail takes the visitor down to the line of the Vallum.

Driving Hadrian’s Wall: the Minor Car Parks I (Bowness)

Bowness-on-Solway (CCC)

Location: N54.952247, W3.220201 Facilities: none

There is only space for a handful of cars, and you must be careful not to obstruct the bus turning area, but this spot immediately west of Bowness fort affords an opportunity to survey both the likely site of the western Wall terminus and the platform of the neighbouring Maia fort, perched on its drumlinoid protuberance.

Bowness minor car park

Driving Hadrian’s Wall: the Main Car Parks VII (Chesters)

Chesters (EH)

Coordinates: N55.028771, W2.138364 Facilities: none

Chesters is well-signposted on the B6318 Military Road travelling from both the east and west. The English Heritage car park immediately east of Chesters fort is primarily designed for visitors to that monument. That much is clear from the fact that you can get the cost of your parking (£3 in 2015 according to the EH website) reimbursed when you visit the fort. However, you can also use it as the starting point for for a short walk to explore the bridge abutment over the river (although there is another, closer, alternative).

Advice

As ever, be aware that there are car thieves operating, as there are at all of the car parks along the Wall. To get to the bridge abutment, leave the car park and walk back to the main road. Cross over (taking care of course) and, turning right, follow the pavement to the roundabout at Chollerford. Go across the bridge over the North Tyne and then turn right into the small pedestrian gate immediately east of the bridge. Go down the steps and then follow the footpath to the pair of kissing gates, and then down to the riverside where the bridge abutment is situated. Stout footwear is not necessary but is advisable.

Chesters car parkZone 1 (100m)

Chesters fort

Zone 4 (2km)

Chesters Bridge Abutment