Sycamore Gap is a spot along Hadrian’s wall and home to, you guessed it, a sycamore tree. But not just a normal tree, this one is famous. It has won ‘Tree of the Year’, it is the most photographed place in the whole of Northumberland (possibly the most photographed tree in the world some claim!) and has stared in various tv shows and films such as Robin Hood and Vera.
The spot is something of a natural phenomenon as it is nestled perfectly in between two hills in which the wall runs along. At one point there will have been more trees here, however only one remains today.
Disclaimer: I know I have posted this during a national lockdown however I am not at all recommending or suggesting anyone breaks lockdown rules to go visit this place. I am merely posting it now so people can plan ahead for the summer and have something to look forward too. PLEASE STAY AT HOME!
Not only was this place significant to the Romans, but there are also Bronze Age artefacts found nearby too which suggests that this site has had cultural significance throughout history. Right now though, it is simply a beautiful sight to behold and honestly worthy of its title ‘tree of the year!
Where to park for Sycamore Gap?
There are a few different places you could park, depending on how much of a walk you want to do. The most convenient is to park at Steel Rig Carpark.
Postcode: Henshaw, Northumberland NE47 7AN
It is a pay and display parking, If I remember rightly, it was £3 for 3 hours (bring cash). There was also a coffee van here when we went so give that a try if you need a caffeine boost! Although there weren’t any toilets here so that is something to think about.
When we visited, this is where we parked. My main thing to consider with this place is that there really wasn’t that many spaces, so have a backup place in mind encase it is full. Or get here early to guarantee a space.
Alternatively you could park at the Twice Brewed Inn, which is a pub just a little bit further from the gap, but a perfect place to grab some refreshment before or after your walk. It is also a pay and display carpark here. And of course there will be toilets available if you visit the pub.
Postcode: Bardon Mill, Hexham NE47 7AN
And your final option is to combine your visit with the Roman Fort of Housesteads. This is arguably one of the best forts on the wall and is highly recommended. It is an English Heritage site and has a great museum there too. It is one of the best surviving forts along the wall and enable you to really envision what life was like along the wall. We visited back in 2019 and it was a really good place to visit.
Postcode: Haydon Bridge, B6318, Bardon Mill, Hexham NE47 6NN
You will have to pay to gain access to the fort, and to park here too. Information on ticket prices can be found at their website as well as open times etc.
It was a few years ago when we visited Housesteads. It was quite interesting, but I would like to go back again now because I feel I would appreciate it a lot more now.
How long will it take?
Depending on the parking spot you choose, depends on how long the walk will take. From Steel Rig carpark, it is around a 20 minute walk to the gap, however, it is very hilly terrain and you pass by mile marker 39 which is the remnants of a turret along the wall where you might want to stop.
There are loads of hidden wonders like this along the wall. If you are interested in history it really is a dream place to visit! And Hadrian’s wall is such a huge part of Northern history too.
From Housesteads Fort it is around a 45 minute walk, but that doesn’t factor in the time it takes from the carpark there (which is 500meters downhill from the fort) and any time exploring the fort itself. There are more services here though such as toilets and a small café if I remember correctly. There is also a mile marker on the way to the gap which you will pass on this route too.
Overall though you can make this a part of a much larger trip and I highly recommend taking a picnic with you. And take plenty of water because, as I have said many times, it is very hilly! Just remember to take any rubbish home with you!
How difficult is the walk?
It is defiantly not an easy walk by any stretch. If you have any knowledge of Hadrian’s wall then you’ll know that the terrain is very hilly, the path is loose, scrambly and in some places non-existent. It is absolutely not accessibility friendly, pushchairs will be no good here and you will defiantly need hiking boots.
Is it worth it?
In a word, yes. The gap is absolutely surreal and the views over the landscape along the wall are truly phenomenal. In another post where I walk more about Hadrian’s Wall I make the joke that Hadrian chose this spot to build the wall purely because it is a beautiful place.
When you are here, you can completely see why it is tree of the year, and the most photopraphed place in Northumberland. And it gives you a chance to connect and learn about the mesmerising history of the Romans and this Edge of Empire.
Stay Safe and Happy Adventuring
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