Sycamore Gap is believed to be one of the most iconic places in the North East but is it really worth the drive or walk to see it? I’ve put this post together to hopefully answer all your questions that you might have about visiting Sycamore Gap including is it worth the time, can you make a full day out of, who this walk suitable for and even the simple questions of where do you park and how much is parking? I hope this post helps to answer some of your questions you might be thinking about when it comes to visiting Sycamore Gap.
Sycamore Gap is part of a bigger site which is Hadrain’s Wall. If you live in the North East or have done any research on what to do in the north east I can guarantee that Hadrian’s Wall would have come up and I think most people have this dream of walking it all but for me I want to be able to do parts of it in nice small chunks. Hadrain’s Wall is a World Heritage site and totals a huge 110 miles from South Shields to Cumbria which is crazy to think that this was built by men.
Myself and Michael actually don’t live that far from a small section of the wall and the Vallum crossing so we are surrounded by the history of Hadrian’s wall so I was surprised that we had never made the journey up to Northumberland countryside to check it out. We decided on a rather sunny day in March to head up and see what it was like and to get away from the city.
Now lets get to the nitty gritty bit and hopefully answer your questions about Sycamore Gap.
What is Sycamore Gap?
Sycamore Gap for me is that tree that always looks beautiful in pictures that you see at a lot of Newcastle markets because it is one of those locations that photographers love to shoot. You only have to check the Sycamore Gap hashtag on Instagram to see how loved it by photographers. The tree was also in the Robin Hood film Prince of Thieves in 1991 which also brings a lot of attention to the tree. I would say that Sycamore Gap is part of a bigger walk and isn’t a stand alone landmark if that makes sense.
Is it really worth seeing?
I definitely think it worth seeing but not something worth just going to see on its own. The views on the walk to Sycamore Gap are beautiful if you go when it’s not foggy. It’s one of those walks that you will stop and just take amazing photos. The tree itself is lovely to see but definitely rather bare in the winter, I can imagine in spring, summer and autumn is even more beautiful.
Depending on your walking experience the distance will feel differently depending on where you start. I go into more details below about who this walk is suitable for but from Steel Rigg you are looking at 2 miles round trip and from Housesteads Roman Fort you’re looking at 4 miles round trip.
If you were going as a family the Sycamore Gap would be a perfect stop off area if you fancied having a picnic on a summers day. There is so much space and the tree is the perfect location to sit and take in the view.
Add this in to part of your day
I think the main thing we discovered is that you can’t just do Sycamore Gap if you do the short route from Steel Rig but you can incorporate Housesteads Roman Fort which is also situated on the wall as well. Also at the bottom of the hill that Steel Rigg is situated on you can find The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre so you can definitely make a full day out of it.
Who is this walk suitable for?
Suitable for non-experienced walkers, dogs and older children.
I think this walk is suitable for most people, you definitely don’t have to be an experienced walker and have all the latest kit but I do think that you have to be comfortable on your feet – be sure to wear sturdy shoes – and potentially have good balance. The walk is suitable for dogs we took our King Charles Cavalier Oscar who loved every moment and I would definitely say you can do it with children.
Child-Friendly but things to consider
You can definitely take children on this route but would just take in consideration the terrain and the number of hills and if you start at Steel Rigg you will be starting by climbing up the face of a hill. There is a lower route which we took on the way back which isn’t as hilly but you will still have at least one climb if your walk starts at Steel Rigg. If you start from Housesteads you still will have hills to climb but I believe you won’t have quite a hill like you do at the start of Steel Rigg so this might be the better option of you want to take younger children but remember this will be longer.
I would say the route is not buggy friendly but if you’re used to walking with a child in carrier for the distance that I mentioned above you should be okay and there is definitely lots of places where you can stop and take a break and take in the view. I did see a few families at Housestead Roman Forts with buggies but none on the wall.
(please consider I don’t have children so I’m going off what I saw on the day I travelled)
Dog Friendly but things to consider
Like I mentioned above the walk is dog friendly and we found that Oscar was loving life when we did the walk but what we did have to consider when we were at Housesteads was that it was lambing season so Oscar had to be on the lead at all times along the wall and within the Roman Fort. Also dogs are not allowed in the museum at Housesteads but can go in the visitor centre and in the seating area upstairs. There were no signs that we saw actually up on the wall at Steel Rigg but we are not sure about Housesteads to Sycamore Gap so I would recommend an extendable lead.
You will see tonnes of dogs on the route and many of them will be harmless but I think its always worth just remembering what your dog is like in these situations. We know that Oscar is always so excitable so we always watch when he is going down hills as we know that he could do down tumbling but that is just something worth thinking about.
As I’ve mentioned above you have two locations to start your walk. We started our walk at Steel Rigg car park which is quite small so maybe isn’t the best place if its a gorgeous day and you know it’s going to be busy. If you do get parked up there you have 3 main options of car parking. You can pay £3 for up to 3 hours, £10 for a whole day at Steel Rigg or you can get a £10 All day Hadrian Wall parking pass from The Sill visitor centre – for more information you can check here. We went for the £10 all day pass as we knew that we were only going to be doing the shorter route to Sycamore Gap and then drive to Housesteads Roman Fort.
Toilet and Cafe Facilities
Facilities-wise if you’re looking for toilets the only ones are at the visitors sites at either Housesteads or The Sill. There is nothing on the wall itself so I would recommend visiting a site and then heading up to the wall. Housesteads has toilets in the visitors centre at the bottom of the hill and also has them at the museum which is situated at the top of the hill.
Café facilities are quite limited at both The Sill and at Housesteads Roman Fort. The Sill has a café which use a lot of local products but is not open up to dogs. Housesteads has table and chairs available and sell sandwiches but it is pretty basic. I would recommend heading to the Twiced Brewed Inn which is both child and dog friendly. They also have large range food. I recommend the BLT Salad and Michael recommends the Steak and Ale Pie washed down with a beer from the on-site microbrewery (as long as you’re not driving)
If you would like to see more reviews of things to do as a couple in Northumberland I recommend checking out the Northumberland section to see more things to do in the area.