Hadrians’s Wall Day IV – Once Brewed to Brocolitia


Resplendent in freshly laundered gear we climbed the lane from Once Brewed back up to the Wall, pausing only to admire this very obliging butterfly, which I think might be a ringlet. It was already fairly warm, if a little hazy. We would be back at Once Brewed that night, so the kids were able to leave their rucksacks at the hostel, and despite the addition of their water-proofs to my bag, I was able to lighten my load too.

Back on the Wall - more up and down 

Today’s walk would mostly be more of the roller-coaster ups and downs of the Whin Sill.

The Wall over Peel Crags, Crag Lough and Hotbank behind 

Along Peel Crags, overlooked by Milecastle 39….

Milecastle 39 

…to the famous Sycamore Gap, which, as Hollywood knows, is perched on the outskirts of Nottingham.

Sycamore Gap 

I’d expected this part of the Wall to be busy, but we had it all to ourselves.

Sycamore Gap, looking back to Winshields Crags 

The sun-lit cliff-top walk above Crag Lough was perhaps my favourite single section of our walk. I’ve walked this way before, but I’d forgotten how beautiful it is.

Above Crag Lough 

On the climb up Hotbank we were distracted by what, this time, was unmistakably a ringlet…


We were revelling in the views. Back over Crag Lough to Winshields Crags with Cross Fell still dominating in the distance…

Crag Lough, Peel Crags, Winshields Crags 

…and forward to Broomlee Lough and the final fling of the Whin Sill at Sewingshields Crags, which we would climb later in the day.

Distant views of Broomlee Lough and Sewingshields Crags 

To me, this is one of the great pleasures of a linear, multi-day walk: the satisfaction of looking back to distant places already walked through or past or over and likewise the anticipation of looking ahead to landmarks on the route to come.

B in a hurry 

So the sun shone. We slowly reeled in Sewingshields Crags. It’s a very simple pleasure.

Roller-coaster Wall 

Every so often the Wall threw in a bit of a distraction to give us an excuse for a pause. Milecastle 38 had been an undistinguished mound in a boggy spot on Hotbanks crag. Milecastle 37 was a little more interesting…

Milecastle 37 

Unlike other milecastles we passed, this retains some evidence of internal walls…

Some interior walls 

…and the remnants of an arched gateway on the northern side.

A hint of an arched gateway 

We did finally meet the crowds, when, at around eleven, we arrived at Housesteads.


We had a lengthy stop here, to watch a short  film and examine the exhibits at the museum, take a good look around…

Housesteads - a granary? 

…play a bit of hide and seek….

B in a gatehouse 

….lunch on ice cream…

A well-earned ice-cream 

…and cool and dress feet, both children having developed some red spots which suggested rubbing and foreshadowed blisters. Fortunately, a combination of Compeed and surgical tape seemed to do the job and any further problems were avoided.

Soon enough, we were looking back on Broomlee lough….

Broomlee Lough 

..and topped out on Sewingshields Crags, at 325m not much lower then our high point of the previous day.

Sewingshields crags 

From there a long steady descent to Sewingshields…..

The onward route from Sewingsheilds crags 

….is followed by Fozy Moss. A slightly rising path, shadowing the road, took us across rather bleak, featureless moorland. It might have been rather dispiriting. In fact we passed several large groups of teenagers, heavily laden and heading in the opposite direction to us, presumably D of E victims, some of whom were singing to keep up their spirits, and some of whom were openly weeping. It was saved for us, bizarrely, by the fact that we regularly had to negotiate wet and muddy ditches running across the path, which the kids found perversely enjoyable.

At Carraw, where the path diverts slightly away from the road around a farm and a small woodland, the flagged path was bordered with nettles and the nettles were festooned with snails.

Copse snail? 

Rich brown, striped and flecked in pale yellow, I thought they were rather handsome.

Copse snail 

I think that they might be copse snails?

I’d originally planned to finish at Chester’s, but it had soon become apparent that this was much too ambitious. That would have made for a much longer day then any of the others and time was against us. Whether we dawdled or, as I thought we had today, generally kept moving, we seemed to pretty consistently manage a mile and a half an hour. So, we chose a new destination: Brocolitia.

Brocolitia is another Roman fort. There isn’t too much to see – the grassy mound on the right of this picture shows how the unexcavated outer walls look. But outside the fort there is a small temple to Mithras, a god popular with Roman soldiers. The site is boggy and the conditions preserved the timber pillars, replaced now with concrete casts, as have been the three altar stones and a small headless statue.

Brocolitia - Mithraeum

More importantly for us, Brocolitia has a bus-stop for the AD122, which took us back to Once Brewed, where we would eventually get fed and watered and reconvene our card school.

Hadrians’s Wall Day IV – Once Brewed to Brocolitia

8 thoughts on “Hadrians’s Wall Day IV – Once Brewed to Brocolitia

  1. Cracking stuff, as you say pleasures of simple, easy walking with lots to see and entertain. If there is a better a walk to get kids interested in a bit longer distance walking then I can’t think of it.

      1. I suppose a coastal walk with some beaches is a possible so long as the weather was good and the days short to allow some beach time. In terms of castles/roman remains the only other place would be the Channel Islands

        1. beatingthebounds says:

          Yes, I’ve thought that might work. I’d love to go back to the Channel Islands, but it might be a tad expensive.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      You’re more than welcome to share our little walk.
      A campaign to protect our National Trails sounds like an excellent idea.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      I found the petition and have signed up. I already follow the Ramblers blogs, but now I’ve also been investigating your facebook page: there’s plenty there to read!

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