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Planning your holiday

Willowford is a great base for a holiday in this fascinating and beautiful area. There are fanastic walks and bike rides starting from our doorstep that take in hugely contrasting landscapes - from vast, open moorland dotted with crags and loughs, to steep, wooded river valleys and spectacular waterfalls. Onto this canvas is painted 2000 years of history - castles, viaducts, mines, the border reivers, and of course, the Romans. And then there's the wildlife...

Walking the Wall?

Why not stay at Willowford Farm B&B for more than one night? No need to pack and unpack every day or carry your luggage on the Trail. Allow your walking itinerary some flexibility by using the Hadrian's Wall Bus - jump on and off at various points along the Wall. Unwind each evening in our comfortable rooms and replenish your energy with our delicious homecooked food.

Example itinerary:

  • Day 1 Walk from Brampton to Willowford (8 miles), via Lanercost Priory and Birdoswald Fort
  • Day 2 Walk from Willowford to Steel Rigg / Once Brewed (8 miles) and catch the Hadrian's Wall Bus back to Gilsland
  • Day 3 Rest day. Either have a gentle stroll up the spectacular Irthing Gorge in Gilsland, watch Eric make his speciality Birdoswald cheese at Slack House Farm (Sundays only), or catch the bus to Vindolanda. Or do nothing!
  • Day 4 Catch the bus to Steel Rigg and walk on to your next destination

Off the Wall

There are miles of wonderful walks off Hadrian's Wall - here are two that start from Willowford, but there are many more circular routes that begin just a short bus ride away.

The Irthing Gorge and Crammel Linn

From Willowford, walk into Gilsland and then follow the footpath along the River Irthing, crossing after about 1 mile via the stepping stones. Soon you will enter the spectacular Irthing Gorge with its steep wooded sides sheltering the 'popping stone', where Sir Walter Scott proposed to his fiance. Continue upstream to Crammel Linn, an impressive 5m waterfall - a perfect place to enjoy a picnic.

Then, retrace your steps or strike off over the moors to Longbyre and Thirlwall Castle, before returning to Willowford.

6-9 miles (3-4 hrs); moderate difficulty

Coomb Crags

Follow the Trail from Willowford to Birdoswald Roman Fort and continue westwards, with the wall to your north and the beautiful Irthing Valley below to the south. At Wall Bowers (Milecastle 51) turn south and follow the path into Coomb Crags woods and down to the River Irthing. Here you can enjoy the river cutting through spectacular crags, a profusion of wildlife and a Roman quarry.

Once you reach the river, take the path upstream and continue walking to Lanerton Farm. From here you can either turn north and return via the Trail and Birdoswald, or cross the river by the footbridge and make your way back along the quiet road.

8 miles (3 hrs): easy/ moderate difficulty

Guided walks

Described as 'the hairless Billy Connolly', or as he prefers, 'the perfect wall expert' (The Guardian 12/04/08), Gary Reed is a well qualified expedition leader based just over the border in Northumberland who specialises in guiding along and around Hadrian's Wall. A native Northumbrian of Border Reiver descent, he has a deep knowledge of and keen enthusiasm for the area and its history, geology and wildlife.

Guided walks can be tailored to your interests and last for half a day (£100) or a full day (£150); rates are for a group of 2 to 20 people.

Alternatively, Gary also organises Adventure Tours that use a Landrover Discovery to give a safari-style tour of the wall and the surrounding country. Again, these are flexible and can include walking, wildlife spotting or just touring through the evocative landscape. Prices are £30 per person for half a day and £50 per person for a full day, for a group size of 6 or less.

Please ask us about booking these.

Self-guided walks

Over the years we have been here we have built up many good relationships with companies who specialise in organising walking holidays along Hadrian's Wall. They book the accommodation, organise for your luggage to be transferred from stop to stop, provide a walking itinerary with maps and advice on where to stop and what to see, and organise transport links to and from the trail.

We can thoroughly recommend the following companies:

Contours - for more details of their Hadrian's Wall walking packages see this page of their website.

Sycamore gap

Sycamore Gap (Joan Thirlaway)

Cuddy's Crag

Cuddy's Crag (Joan Thirlaway)

Crammel Linn

Crammel Linn (Joan Thirlaway)

Coomb Crags

Coomb Crags (Joan Thirlaway)

Walkers on Hotbank

The Trail at Hotbank (Joan Thirlaway)

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