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.


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).