Housesteads to Steel Rigg circular walk

Walking trail

Explore Hadrian's Wall Country on this 8-mile circular walk starting at Housesteads Fort.

One of the richest parts of the country for Roman archaeology

Head west along the Wall built in AD122 before returning north of the Wall to appreciate the stunning surroundings and impressive Whin Sill the Wall was built on.

A view over Housesteads Fort at Hadrians Wall


Housesteads to Steel Rigg walk


Housesteads Visitor Centre, grid ref: NY793684


Leave Housesteads Visitor Centre and take the main path up to Housesteads Fort. Keep to the left of the fort and join the Hadrian’s Wall Trail at the top of the hill heading west.

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After passing Hotbank Farm on the north side of the Wall and the earthworks of Milecastle 38, cross over the farm track at the bottom of the hill and switch to the north side of the wall following the path through Crag Lough woods. (For a shorter walk, follow the footpath north past the farm above the Milecastle and pick up from step 6)

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As you drop down the crag to walk through the Wall at Sycamore Gap, or Robin Hood’s tree as it’s also known after its appearance in the ‘Prince of Thieves’ film, look out for the large lumps of mortar on the face of the stones on the north side of the Wall. This mortar is all that remains of a render that would’ve covered the entire Wall. From here keep following the trail west to Steel Rigg car park.

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Leave Steel Rigg car park and head right following the road down the hill for 109yd (100m).


The footpath is signposted on the right going over the stile and along the track and then field path to Hotbank farm. As you pass Peatrigg plantation on your left, the earthworks on the slope to your right are of the original Steel Rigg Farm from the 17th century.


At Hotbank Farm keep on the track heading away from the buildings and follow the public footpath waymarkers heading east. Stay to the north of the plantation and on the top of the ridge you will see the remains of a large cross shaped stone wall, this was a shelter for livestock from the harsh conditions in these exposed areas. You will also pass the remains of a lime kiln; this was used to heat the lime stone that was quarried from the area to make lime mortar. Keep going east along the farm trail heading to the centre of the next plantation.


Just before heading through the plantation you can see a dry stone walled circle in the middle of the field, this ‘Sheepfold’ was a pen a shepherd could gather his flock in for routine checks and examinations. As you leave the plantation follow the public footpath waymarkers towards the gate through the wall to the south east.


This dip in the crags is called Kings Wicket, or Busy Gap and has a strong association with local folklore, ‘Busy Gap Rogue’ was a term of abuse in 16th-century Newcastle to describe rough Borderers and thieves. From here cross to the south side of the Wall and follow the path back to Housesteads Fort and then take the main footpath back down the hill to the Visitor Centre.


Housesteads Visitor Centre, grid ref: NY793684

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Housesteads to Steel Rigg circular walk


Established public footpaths with some steep climbs and descents along stone pitched paths. Can be muddy at times.

Housesteads to Steel Rigg circular walk

Contact us

Housesteads to Steel Rigg circular walk

How to get here

Housesteads Fort, Bardon Mill, NE47 6NN
By train

Haltwhistle 8 miles (13km) from Housesteads Visitor Centre.

By road

Housesteads Visitor Centre is on the B6318.

By bus

The AD122 runs between Carlisle and Newcastle throughout the summer.

Housesteads to Steel Rigg circular walk

Facilities and access

  • Visitor centre
  • Café
  • Shop
  • Picnic area
  • Toilets
  • Car park (charge applies)