Breakout the blankets and enjoy a picnic with a view on Hadrian’s Wall this half-term!
Picnicking is one of the UK’s most enjoyable summer traditions and now the warmer weather is here, it provides a great excuse to venture outdoors and visit some of the most beautiful and interesting historic sites along the length of Hadrian’s Wall.
During the school half-term holidays why not pack up a yummy picnic and follow in the footsteps of the Romans? You’re spoilt for choice along Hadrian’s Wall where there are plenty of places to break out the blanket and take in the view, not to mention lots of events and attractions to suit the whole family.
To get you inspired, The Hadrian’s Wall Partnership has compiled its Top Ten places to picnic this summer from Arbeia Roman Fort and Museum in South Shields, all the way to Senhouse Roman Museum in Maryport and everywhere in between.
Arbeia Roman Fort and Museum, South Shields: Offers stunning full-scale reconstructions of original buildings including the commanding officer’s house, a barrack block and a gatehouse providing a unique and inspiring insight into Roman military life. The Roman fort at Arbeia once guarded the entrance to the river Tyne and served as a supply centre, receiving goods from across the North Sea and along the east coast to supply the thousands of Roman troops stationed along Hadrian’s Wall.
Birdoswald Roman Fort, Gilsland: Is the best place to see the longest surviving stretch of Hadrian’s Wall and whilst here, you can enjoy a picnic in scenic Roman surroundings. Birdoswald Roman Fort is considered to be one of the most picturesque settings along the 73 mile-long Hadrian’s Wall. Standing in a commanding position, high above the River Irthing, a Roman fort, turret and milecastle can all be seen from this excellent viewpoint. Birdoswald has its own tearoom for supplies or bring your own packed lunch. There are eight picnic benches in the Victorian courtyard, or at the South gatehouse, you can admire the view of the River Irthing where there are a further two picnic benches. There’s also Willowford Wall and Turrets, which are linked by a Roman bridge to Birdoswald. It’s a charming and romantic spot for a picnic nestled amongst the trees down by the river.
Corbridge Roman Town, Corbridge: An audio guide brings the story of the town to life and the museum has a fascinating array of finds. Walk along the main street of this ancient Roman garrison town, flanked by the remains of granaries, a fountain house, markets, workshops and temples. Corbridge was the most northerly town in the Roman Empire and one of only two on Hadrian’s Wall, the other being at Carlisle. Visitors can relax on one of five picnic benches on-site.
Cawfields Roman Wall and Milecastle, Haltwhistle: Is a dramatic stretch of Hadrian's Wall on a steep slope, one of the highest standing sections of the Wall. Within its length there are turrets and an impressive milecastle, which was probably built by the Second Legion. It is located at the site of a former quarry and cuts impressively through Hadrian’s Wall and the underlying Whin Sill. There’s a large pond teeming with wildlife and plenty of places to picnic.
Chesters Roman Fort, Chollerford: Is the most complete Roman cavalry fort in Britain - wander around one of the best military bathhouses in Britain, and the officers' quarters. Discover an amazing collection of Roman objects and inscriptions in the Clayton Museum which re-opened after an extensive refurbishment in March. This half-term, kids can also learn ‘How to be a Roman Soldier’ and experience a new family trail, 'Chesters Takeover’ which will catapult you back in time. Become a Commander, Musician, Trooper or Messenger and more as you explore the fort, picturesquely located by the North Tyne river. You can bring your own picnic or pick up some sandwiches, cakes and crisps from the tearoom.
Housesteads Roman Fort, Haydon Bridge: High up on an escarpment, Housesteads provides you with an incredible 360-degree view of Hadrian’s Wall Country and a dramatic stretch of the Wall. Wander the barrack blocks and the hospital. Peer into the ancient communal Roman toilets and admire the stunning panoramic views from this ancient fortress. The interactive museum managed by English Heritage showcases objects once belonging to Roman soldiers and the mini-cinema will take you on a journey through time. Younger visitors can meet Felix, a character of the fort who will guide them around the Museum – quite an insight into life 2,000 years ago. You pick up one of the blankets the team keep on-site for visitors and head up to the fort for a well-deserved picnic.
Lanercost Priory, Brampton: Immerse yourself in tranquillity with a perfect picnic at Lanercost Priory. Standing close to Hadrian's Wall, the Augustinian priory of Lanercost’s 13th-century church remains remarkably well-preserved, standing to its full height. Visitors can relax in peaceful surroundings and a large grassy area gives you the perfect vantage point to admire the Priory whilst you relax in the ruins of the Cloister.
Roman Vindolanda, Bardon Mill: Is one of Europe's most important Roman archaeological sites. It’s recently fully refurbished on-site museum provides a magnificent display of the many stunning objects excavated on-site. These include a remarkable and unique collection of leather and wooden objects that bring life in the fort and in the adjacent civilian settlement to life – shoes, clothing, tools, cooking, crafts like wood and metal working, military equipment and horse harness. It offers a perfectly picturesque picnic spot in the gardens with a tranquil stream and the backdrop of a replica temple.
Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum, Wallsend: Located at the eastern end of Hadrian’s Wall, the fort at Segedunum is the most completely excavated fort on Hadrian’s Wall. From a 35-metre viewing tower, you can look out across the fort to see the outlines of barrack blocks and stables, the headquarters building and the commanding officer’s house. A reconstructed part of a barrack block in the museum shows how horses and troops were housed. The museum was designed with family visitors and children in mind. There’s lots of interactive exhibits and plenty of grassy areas where you can lay out your picnic blanket.
Senhouse Roman Museum, Maryport: Dramatically sited on cliffs overlooking the Solway Firth toward the Scottish coast, this award-winning museum is next to a Roman fort probably founded in the first century AD and rebuilt during the reign of the emperor Hadrian. The museum houses collections including Roman military altars, sculptures and objects that tell the story of Roman life and beliefs on the edge of the Empire. It provides a striking coastal picnic spot, for all the family – even the dog!