This page is designed to explain who we are and what we do, as well as provide you with more in-depth detail on how we do it and what might help you in your preparations for coming to Hadrian's Wall.
Business Beginnings - The business was formed by Gary and Tracey Reed just after the Hadrian's Wall Path opened in late 2003 - Gary being born right next to the Wall (well, 200 yards north of it to be precise) and he'd been 'waxing lyrical' in lectures on it for the previous 20 years.
Hadrian's Wall Ltd - 'The Activity Company On Hadrian's Wall' was founded with a combination of local knowledge, various academic qualifications, Gary's outdoor experience from serving in the Royal Marines, instructing in Outdoor Activities and travelling to far-flung parts leading Expeditions.
Business Inspiration - Gary & Tracey's experiences together helped shape the business - especially a rather strenuous (unsupported) Heritage Walk along the Inca Trail in Peru, twenty years ago - a lesson not just in 'how you could do it', but also 'how you can make things difficult for yourselves'.
The Team - Gary tends to run most of the Outdoor activity, with assistance from Finan & Ruairi on the Camping Treks. Tracey runs the Office side of things, abley assisted by Heidi - although they do also help out in the Great Outdoors - especially when there are particularly large groups going through and there's a need for all hands on deck.
Time Travel - Assisting folk to Take a Journey Back in Time. Visiting Hadrian's Wall is an opportunity not just to see how and where our ancestors lived, but also the chance to explore and be amazed by their endeavours.
Active Heritage - Enabling visitors to Actively Experience our Heritage Landscape. In other words, we're in the business of encouraging folk to get on their feet, breathe in the fresh air, then walk in the footsteps of Celts, Romans, Angles, Saxons, Vikings, Normans and Border Reivers. This is a place where you can stand on the same ground and touch the same stones that were so familiar to those who went before us.
Walk the Wall - Self-Guided & Part Guided Holidays along the Hadrian's Wall Path National Trail. Itineraries, Maps, Guidebooks, a choice of five different levels of Accommodation, Baggage Transfers, Kit Lists, Walking Advice, Local Info - all you need to make it happen, without the stress of organising it.
Guided Day Walks - Half a Day or a Full Day accompanied by a Local Expert. A Guide with a difference. He may have a wealth of teaching and outdoor activity knowledge and experience, but more significantly, his self-penned description of his role is probably more apt - an 'Edutainer' who specialises in bringing History, Geography & Heritage to Life.
Trek the Trail - Five or Six Days on a Backpacker Adventure with Independent Spirit. Running along the Trail on selected dates between May and August. We provide, set up and move Tents, along with Baggage between Campsites.
Take a Tour - A Day's Exploring in a Land Rover. For those on a tight schedule, this is how you can get to the parts that others can't reach. A unique Guided Tour of some of the best Sites along the Wall.
Accommodation Preference - When it comes to accommodation, we've long-realised that not everyone has the same preference for where they stay overnight. The accommodations booked on our clients' behalf, are hand-picked from a list of around fifty different providers that we've selected, stretching from one side of the country to the other. We don't use every accommodation that exists in the area, as not everywhere meets the standard we consider our clients will appreciate. We also don't operate a 'one size fits all' policy, but offer a choice of five different levels of accommodation, which we have labelled as our 'Denarii System'.
The 'Denarii System' - In Roman times, if you possessed a silver Denarius coin, you would consider yourself to be quite affluent. If you were fortunate enough to have a number of Denarii (the latin plural for a Denarius), you could definitely regard yourself as a person of substance. We use the Denarius to indicate a level of Accommodation & Services - ie the more Denarii you spend, the more you can expect in return.
Our Research - We believe that location, ambience, hosts, rooms, furnishings, facilities, meals, staff, services and of course value for money, are all relevant factors - and the best way to assess accommodations is to visit them, not just once, but on a regular basis. Visiting accommodations also gives the opportunity to maintain a relationship with accommodation providers, not just over the phone, but also on a more personal level. And beyond that, naturally we listen to what our clients tell us and their feedback is then passed on to the accommodation providers themselves.
Our Method - If you were to think in terms of the Denarius having a monetary value today, then you would realise that you need to spend more of them in certain locations than you do in others. Our system takes this into account, as well as appreciating that there can be a number of alternative levels within each area - so if you book a III Denarii itinerary, you can expect to be in a mid-range accommodation for that location, in each of your overnight stays.
Denarii Definitions - Our Denarii system is the best indicator that we've managed to come up with, that provides a general overview of the standard of accommodation & services that you can expect to experience overall. It may not be a precise science, however it has proved to be the most helpful and effective way for clients to choose a budget that works for them. You can read more on the Denarii definition within each Itinerary description.
Flexibility - You should bear in mind that accommodation booking is dependent on availability and on occasion it may be necessary to use a different Denarii level in a specific location. In this instance we would normally advise you that this is the case and give you the option of choosing a grade above or below for that particular night. There is also the flexibility for you to upgrade on any individual day (eg for a special occasion) and subject to availability, we can arrange your itinerary accordingly.
Bag Moves between Accommodations - When walking the Wall and moving between accommodations, ideally your main baggage should be moved for you, rather than you carry it on your back - as apart from it being better for your back, it also means less weight on the trail itself. So all you want to be carrying with you is a small daypack containing those items that you require for the day. This being the case, unless you are being based in just the one accommodation, baggage transfer is an integral part of your accommodation booking.
Method & Timings - The way this service operates, is by vans travelling across the country daily, with the drivers collecting and dropping off your bags and those belonging to other walkers, at the various accommodations along the length of the Wall. Clients just leave their baggage in a place designated by the accommodation provider as a collection and delivery point - which is usually near or next to the accommodation's reception area. On some days, the drivers can be moving hundreds of bags, so the pick-up and drop-off times do vary from day to day. The general guidance for walkers is that their baggage should be ready for collection at 9.30am and they can expect that their bags to have reached their destination by 4pm - ie collected after you should have left your accommodation and being delivered before you are due to arrive at the next location.
Bag Labels - In order that your baggage is easily identified and arrives at the correct destination, we provide clients with a 'Baggage Label' in the 'Travel Pack' that we send out. This label displays all the necessary detail for the clients' full itinerary.
Bag Weight Limit - You should be aware that the baggage allowance (other than the Daysac you carry with you each day) is one bag per person and that there is a bag weight restriction of 15kgs per bag. This is to conform with Health & Safety Regulations and Insurance liabilities, which restrict the amount that can be lifted by one person above waist height - bearing in mind that there will be one person transporting your (and lots of other folks') baggage along the way.
Extra Bags - It is possible to bring more baggage with you if you are unable to pack all of your gear within the one bag and keep within the weight limit. Extra bags need to be booked in addition to the normal baggage transfer included with a booking. An extra bag will cost £6 per move - so if your baggage is moved six times, there will be a total additional charge of £36.
One Way - Like those walking the trail, baggage travels in the one direction. If you intend returning to your start point (or somewhere close to it) at the end of your walk, eg to pick up a vehicle, or catch a train, you will have to take all your baggage with you from your last night's accommodation. If you would like your baggage moved back across the country, it has to be booked separately and the charge is dependant on the distance between the pick-up and drop-off points.
Mapping - Planning your own Itinerary can be an entertaining exercise. No-one doubts the pleasure to be had in mulling over a map and dividing distances into logical daily steps - however, applying the 'do-it-yourself' approach for Hadrian's Wall is not quite that simple.
Terrain - Unfortunately, as good as the maps might be, they're not able to tell the full story. What doesn't show up are the conditions that effect your pace and the time it takes to cover the ground - whether it be the varying types of terrain to be found underfoot, or the hilly undulations that don't register as contour lines, but you certainly realise their significance when you climb up and down them.
Sites of Interest - Whilst a good guidebook can provide inspiration of what to look out for, it's not neccesarily going to indicate how much time you are likely to spend in any particular location - whether it's to admire the view, be amazed at the construction of the Wall and its ramparts, consider how the milecastles and turrets operated, or which museum or fort is most likely to grab your attention.
Accommodation - It would have been wonderful if after the Romans had departed from Britain, there had been the foresight to convert their numerous milecastles and forts into varying levels of accommodation for future explorers - however that didn't happen. The Hadrian's Wall Path National Trail has only been open since 2003, prior to which, much of what is accessible now, wasn't accessible before. The relevance of this, is that historically there has not been a string of accommodation providers conveniently placed along the length of it. The reality is that some areas are better served than others.
Stress-free - Having the Local Specialists set up your Itinerary for you can save a lot of grief and is not to be underestimated - especially if you're considering changing your accommodation on a frequent basis. Adopting the 'do-it-yourself' method is fraught with difficulties. You can spend a great deal of time and effort, calculating what you would like to do each day, which location you would like to stay in each night and which accommodation appears to be the standard you prefer, only to find that having organised a couple of places for yourself, the rest aren't available for the time you want them and you also have the nagging doubt of whether those accommodations that were available are really what you expect - best to give this dilemma to the experts on the ground.
Local Knowledge - There's nothing to beat being able to tap into local expertise - especially when one of the local experts includes a Guide who is renowned for having walked the Wall more times than anyone else. Beyond that, knowing where the good and not-so good accommodations are, requires constant research. It's not just knowing and talking to accommodation providers on a continual basis, but it also involves regularly visiting and assessing their suitability (especially if there has been a change in ownership), as well as taking on board feedback from previous clients.