Crag Lough and Housesteads Roman Fort Circular Walk

Difficulty
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Moderate
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
3-4h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
11.9 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
269 m
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Directions to Trailhead
Crag Lough and Housesteads Roman Fort Circular Walk

The Crag Lough and Housesteads Roman Fort Circular Walk is an amazing adventure in Northumberland, thanks to its scenic views and fascinating ancient Roman historical sites. While out walking the trail, you will traverse the rocky outcrop of Steel Rigg and pass by the wonderfully scenic Sycamore Gap, before skirting the edge of Crag Lough on the way to the Housesteads Roman Fort. this is an exceptional walking trail for those who enjoy sweeping views of the countryside and visiting well-preserved historical sites.

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Route Description for Crag Lough and Housesteads Roman Fort Circular Walk

As the Crag Lough and Housesteads Roman Fort Circular Walk features several interesting ancient Roman sites, it is a popular walking route that will see high volumes of foot traffic. In order to secure parking and beat out some of the crowds, be sure to arrive early or on off-peak days. Additionally, you will need to wear proper walking footwear, as there are some uphill climbs along terrain that is moderately rugged. Lastly, if you are planning to explore the Housesteads Roman Fort, try booking your tickets in advance to secure the best price.

This route may be busy, but it is for good reason, as you will be able to check out one of the best-preserved Roman forts in Britain. In addition to exploring the architectural wonder of Hadrian’s Wall, you will also be able to take in the natural beauty of the Northumberland landscape, including the scenic Steel Rigg, Sycamore Gap, and Crag Lough. There is a lot packed into this intermediate length route, so it is best to strap your boots on and get ready to hit the trail!

Setting out from the Steel Rigg car park, you will make your way to the south through the tree cover and alongside the overflow parking lot in order to arrive at a junction. Once there, turn left and pass through the gate, continuing on to the east for 0.3 km to traverse a stile and pass through a kissing gate. Here, you will climb uphill and keep left at the junction to begin walking along the rugged expanse of Steel Rigg.

Take some time to appreciate the beautiful views across the Northumberland landscape, as you continue along the outcrop and arrive at Castle Nick, an outpost along the UNESCO World Heritage Site fortification of Hadrian’s Wall. Shortly after visiting this fascinating piece of Roman history, you will briefly descend the hillside into the Sycamore Gap, a depression between two hills that houses a picturesque tree. This beautifully scenic locale was featured in the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and is popular with photographers, so much so that it is often referred to as the most photographed tree in the United Kingdom.

After passing the Sycamore Gap, you will continue on to the northeast and enjoy some beautiful views across the surface of Crag Lough, before continuing on past Milecastle 38 along the wall. Just after the outpost, you will once again climb uphill and pass Milecastle 37, before arriving at the site of the Housesteads Roman Fort. Here, you can explore one of the best-preserved Roman military forts in all of Britain to learn about the history of the area.

From the fort, you will continue making your way to the northeast for 1.0 km, where you will come to a junction. Making a sharp left, you will follow the path as it leads southwest for 5.5 km, offering views of the open farmland surrounding you, as well as the rocky top of Steel Rigg, before arriving at the edge of the road. Making a left here, you will follow the road for a short distance to arrive back at the Steel Rigg car park where you began your adventure along the Crag lough and Housesteads Roman Fort Circular Walk.

Trail Highlights

Housesteads Roman Fort

Located in Northern England, near to the Housesteads Farm that lends the site its name, Housesteads Roman Fort was an auxiliary fort that was used to garrison troops along Hadrian’s Wall. Constructed of stone in 124 CE, the fort followed shortly after the building of Hadrian’s Wall in 122 CE and served to protect the northern border of the province of Britannia from the Picts. The structure - particularly its northern wall - was reconstructed several times throughout its history, until it was finally abandoned around 400 CE.

Frequently Asked Questions

When was Housesteads Roman Fort built?

Situated at roughly the halfway point along Hadrian’s Wall, the Housesteads Roman Fort was constructed around 124 CE and housed a garrison of approximately 800 troops.

Do I need to book a trip to Housesteads?

While you don’t need to book tickets in advance to visit Housesteads Roman Fort, you will receive a better price than if you show up on the day.

Insider Hints for Crag Lough and Housesteads Roman Fort Circular Walk

  • Wear proper walking boots for this adventure.
  • Try "booking your tickets for Housesteads Roman Fort in advance.
  • Be sure to keep your dog on a lead.

Getting to the Crag Lough and Housesteads Roman Fort Circular Walk Trailhead

The trailhead for the Crag Lough and Housesteads Roman Fort Circular Walk can be found at the Steel Rigg car park, just north of the village of Once Brewed.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground

    No

  • When to do

    Year-Round

  • Pets allowed

    Yes - On Leash

  • Family friendly

    Older Children only

  • Route Signage

    Average

  • Crowd Levels

    High

  • Route Type

    Circuit

Crag Lough and Housesteads Roman Fort Circular Walk Elevation Graph

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