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SECTION 1: Introduction

- Visiting Rome’s Northern Frontier

- Components of the Frontier

SECTION 2: History of the Wall

- Empire Without Limits

- A Frontier - but Where?

- Holding the Line

SECTION 3: The Wall east to west as it exists today

- South Shields to Benwell Hill (including Newcastle)

- Benwell Hill to Rudchester (including Heddon-on-the-Wall)

- Rudchester to Halton Chesters

- Halton Chesters to Chesters

- Chesters to Carrawburgh

- Carrawburgh to Housesteads

- Housesteads to Great Chesters (including Steel Rigg/Cawfields)

- Great Chesters to Birdoswald (including Walltown)

- Birdoswald to Castlesteads

- Castlesteads to Stanwix

- Stanwix to Burgh-by-Sands (including Carlisle)

- Burgh-by-Sands to Bowness-on-Solway

- Western Sea Defences


The bulk of this length of this walk is in a rural area walking on grass/non-vehicular footpaths. There are dedicated pay and displays cars parks at Housesteads, Steel Rigg and Cawfields Quarry.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION (Opens in new window)

On this section of the wall there is one staffed site. Click the links below for more information (links open in new window):

- Housesteads Roman Fort

- Hadrian’s Wall Path: Official National Trail

The high crags near Steel Rigg give spectacular views and are only a short walk from Milecastle 39 and Sycamore Gap.


Milecastle 37 (Housesteads):





Housesteads Roman Fort (Vercovicium)

55.0099N 2.3236W

NY 7940268419

NE47 6NN

Milecastle 37 (Housesteads)

55.0124N 2.3376W

NY 7850868696


Milecastle 38


55.0073N 2.3568W

NY 7727668135


Milecastle 39

(Castle Nick)

55.0035N 2.3758W

NY 7606367734


Peel Gap Turret

55.0013N 2.3872W

NY 7532967485


Milecastle 40


55.0021N 2.3991W

NY 7457067580


Milecastle 41

54.9974N 2.4228W

NY 7304967067


Turret 41A

(Caw Gap)

54.9958N 2.4306W

NY 7255266885


Milecastle 42 (Cawfields)

54.9940N 2.4457W

NY 7158266692


Haltwhistle Burn Roman Fort

54.9890N 2.4476W

NY 7145566133


Milecastle 38 (Hotbanks):

Milecastle 39 (Castle Nick):

Milecastle 40 (Windshields):

RELATED SITES NEARBY (Opens in new window)

Vindolanda Roman Fort

Milecastle 41:


Milecastle 42 (Cawfields):

Milecastle 42 - Cawfields

Lat/Long:  54.9940N 2.4457W

Grid Ref:   NY 7158266692

Postcode: N/A

Milecastle 41

Lat/Long:  54.9974N 2.4228W

Grid Ref:   NY 7304967067

Postcode: N/A

Milecastle 40 - Windshields

Lat/Long:  55.0021N 2.3991W

Grid Ref:   NY 7457067580

Postcode: N/A

Milecastle 39 - Castle Nick

Lat/Long:  55.0035N 2.3758W

Grid Ref:   NY 7606367734

Postcode: N/A

Milecastle 38 - Hotbanks

Lat/Long:  55.0073N 2.3568W

Grid Ref:   NY 7727668135

Postcode: N/A

Milecastle 37 - Housesteads

Lat/Long:  55.0124N 2.3376W

Grid Ref:   NY 7850868696

Postcode: N/A

Articles > Hadrian’s Wall HADRIAN’S WALL: THE REAL ROUTE Part 12: Housesteads to Great Chesters (including Steel Rigg and Cawfields)

Key: BLUE MARKER = Fort Location    RED MARKER = Known Milecastle/Milefort Location    GREEN MARKER = Point of Interest


What Can Be Seen

This article takes you from Housesteads through to Great Chesters encompassing Milecastles 37 through to 42 and runs along the crags of the Whin Sill. This is Hadrain’s Wall at its very best - if you walk any part of the Wall do this bit. The scenic views, the iconic sycamore gap, the stone Milecastles and the hugely impressive Housesteads fort make this a must see. The National Trail follows the line of the Wall exactly at this stage.


Housesteads Roman Fort

Take the time to enjoy Housesteads fort, known to the Romans as Vercovicium, which housed an infantry garrison used to patrol the central sector. Of particular note within you will find the remains of Turret 36B which was demolished when the decision was made to move the forts to the line of the Wall. You will also note that Housesteads is unusual in that only one gateway allows access to the north - as we have seen most other forts had three of the four gateways to the north. Clearly with the Wall being built first, geography prevented that here as at the north wall the ground drops sharply. Once you’ve finished at the fort head out towards the trees to the west where you will pickup the National Trail. This actually runs on top of the Wall for a short period although walkers are always requested to take the adjacent footpath. After a short period in woodland you’ll break out to some excellent views. Follow the path along towards Steel Rigg.

Footpath towards Milecastle 37

Line of Wall - looking west

Line of Wall - looking east back towards Milecastle 37

Peel Gap Turret

Due to the local geography creating an area that evaded observation, a third turret was added between Milecastles 39 and 40. This has been dubbed the Peel Gap turret and sat between T39A and T39B neither of which exist anymore.

Heading west towards Milecastle 38

Line of Wall west from Steel Rigg

Crag Lough near Steel Rigg

Sycamore Gap

Peel Gap Turret

Line of Wall - looking west near Steel Rigg car park

Milecastle 39

Line of Wall - looking west

Gateways at Milecastle 37

Fighting Ditch re-appears

Line of Wall - looking back east

Milecastle 41 position

Line of Wall - looking west

Approaching Peel Gap

Whin Sill Crags

Milecastle 40 position at Windshields

Milecastle 42 - Cawfields

Haltwhistle Burn Roman Fort

Housesteads Roman Fort (Vercovicium)

See Webpage

An infantry fort built atop the crags of the Whin Sill to house a garrison of around 500 soldiers. Nicely preserved due to occupation for extended periods by Border Reivers, it is the most complete fort on the Wall.

Steel Rigg and Sycamore Gap

If there is one enduring and iconic image of Hadrian’s Wall then it is sycamore gap. This is found here at Steel Rigg where two ‘gaps’ in the cliff are occupied by a sycamore tree and Milecastle 39 (see additional info right) respectively!

Sycamore Gap

Towards Windshields

The National Trail remains aligned to the route of the Wall. As you pass Peel Gap turret keep going beyond the car park and the Fighting Ditch makes a re-appearance. Progress further and you’ll pass the site of Milecastles 40 and 41; built upon Windshields Crags - the name ‘shields’ again implying shelter which the ancient Milecastle surely offered to local shepherds.

Cawfields Quarry

Once passed Caw Gap and Turret 41A you are moving along the Cawfield Crags. Turret 41B no longer exists but you quickly come to Milecastle 42. This structure normally raises eyebrows amongst visitors and many think the site, on a side of hill, is a demonstration of Roman intransigence suggesting they were fixated on building their Milecastles a precise Roman mile apart. It seems obvious to many that a much better location would be a few dozen metres to the west where there is a gap in the crags. But such commentators have missed something. When the Wall was initially built it was designed to rely on the forts on the Stanegate Road to supply reinforcements. Milecastle 42 was built were it was to enable its tower to communicate with the Roman Fort at Haltwhistle Burn just 500 metres to the south. The earthworks of that fort are directly adjacent to the road leading to Cawfields car park and are overlooked by virtually every visitor to the Wall!

Fighting Ditch makes a re-appearance again

Turret 41A - Caw Gap Turret

Cawfields Quarry

After Milecastle 42 the scenery becomes confused as much of the crag has been quarried away. We should be grateful that it was only this small section that suffered - original plans were much more extensive. Keep following the National Trail towards Great Chesters.

Cawfields Quarry - Wall ran direct towards camera from peak

Vallum - taking the low ground

Looking back east towards Cawfields


Breeze, D.J (2011). The Frontiers of Imperial Rome. Pen and Sword Books Ltd, Barnsley.

Burton, A (2010). Hadrian's Wall Path. Aurum Press Ltd, London.

Crow, J (1989). Housesteads Roman Fort. English Heritage, London.

English Heritage (2010). An Archaeological Map of Hadrian's Wall, 1:25,000 Scale. English Heritage, London.

Hodgson, N (2011). Chesters Roman Fort. English Heritage, London.

Moffat, A (2009). The Wall. Birlinn Ltd, Edinburgh.

Wilmott, T (2010). Birdoswald Roman Fort. English Heritage, London.

Bedoyere, G (2010). Roman Britain: A New History. Thames and Hudson Ltd, London.

Dando-Collins, S (2010). Legions of Rome. Quercus, London.

Hobbs, R and Jackson, R (2010). Roman Britain. British Museum Company Ltd, London.

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