A stretch of Hadrian’s Wall, the famous fortification in northern England that for centuries marked the northernmost boundary of the Roman Empire, has been repaired.
After 2,000 years, parts of the fortification meant to keep out northern barbarians are in pretty bad shape. People have stolen stones over the past several centuries and you can see parts of the wall in local farmhouses and churches. Weathering and animals have done damage too.
Now Natural England has stepped in and reconstructed a stretch of the wall between Great Chesters and Housesteads Roman forts. Natural England is a government organization that protects and improves England’s natural environment and encourages people to enjoy and get involved in it.
Hiking along the wall is certainly a good way to do that. You can hike the entire length, 84 miles from sea to sea. Many of the forts along the way are open as museums, and you pass through some amazing countryside on the border of England and Scotland. I did this a couple of years ago and it’s a fun hike. Read more about hiking Hadrian’s Wall here.
Last year for my annual “Oh crap another birthday I need to prove my youth” long-distance hiking adventure, I chose Scotland’s East Highland Way. It runs 78 miles from Ft. William through some beautiful countryside to Aviemore. The route had just been created by hiker Kevin Langan, and was so new there wasn’t a guidebook. Kevin was kind enough to send me maps and a summary preprint of his book and I set off. Check out the link above to follow my adventures.
Now Kevin’s book has been published by independent Scottish publisher Luath Press, Ltd. The East Highland Way is a detailed guide to the route with lots of information on wildlife and history. It’s also richly illustrated with clear maps and photos of Scotland’s beautiful countryside. Full disclosure: I contributed several photos. I didn’t ask for payment, and I don’t receive any royalties. I gave Kevin free photos because I believe in promoting this trail.
I’ve never read a guidebook after going somewhere, yet this strange experience didn’t diminish my enjoyment. Kevin gives lots of detail about side trips I missed and information about Scotland’s nature I wished I’d known before I headed out. I highly recommend the book. Of course, if you’re planning on hiking this route there’s no other book about it, so my recommendation is unnecessary, but it’s nice to know the only game in town has been well played.
The East Highland Way starts at the junction of the West Highland Way and Great Glen Way, both very popular (some would say too popular) routes. It ends at the start of Speyside Way, another popular route. If you want an enjoyable hike that isn’t overrun by walkers, consider the East Highland Way. When I went last year I hardly bumped into anyone. The only other person I heard was doing the hike was a German guy walking a day ahead of me. I never caught up with him and that’s just fine. I loved having the Highlands to myself.