THE MILLIONS of feet that tread Hadrian’s Wall every year are in danger of causing serious wear and tear.
The 2,000-year-old wall and 10-year-old national trail path attract around 14 million tourists each year.
But the World Heritage Site, a jewel in the crown of the North East, is in danger of being seriously eroded, warns Hadrian’s Wall Trust sustainable access officer Bryan Scott.
Now a plea is going out to Wall-walkers: follow the code and save our heritage.
Under the slogan Every Footstep Counts – Help Preserve Hadrian’s Wall, visitors are being asked to make sure damage is minimised.
Mr Scott said: “The seven-point code is to help preserve the Wall for future generations. There’s a lot to enjoy – the sites, landscape and the award-winning Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail.
“We look forward to welcoming more visitors to Hadrian’s Wall Country this year. But we’ve also got to give the area some tender loving care – after all, the Wall is almost 2,000 years old – so we ask people walking the trail to follow our Every Footstep Counts countryside code.
“You can help by not standing on it, and by not walking in single file.
“In the rural sections the path is maintained as a grass sward to help preserve the archaeology which may be underneath, and it’s better if people walk side by side to spread the load.”
The trust is also advising those planning walks with 40 or more people to get in touch in advance so they can help plan routes that are most suited to them.
Dr Nigel Mills, director of world heritage and access at the trust, added: “We are concerned about the increasing number of people wanting to organise quite large charity walks and runs, and wanting to organise outdoor challenge events which can involve several hundred people.
“If we get a large number of people coming along together, particularly if we have bad weather and the path surface is very wet and muddy, it can rapidly turn into a quagmire and that can take years to repair.
“We would advise people who are thinking of doing a large walk to contact us and we will provide advice about the sort of routes to use. There are other routes through Hadrian’s Wall Country which follow the line but which are more distant from it and have much firmer surfaces so you can still enjoy it without posing a threat to the archeology.”
The Every Footstep Counts code is:
:: always keep to the signed paths
:: visit the more robust organised paying sites
:: avoid walking on the wall as this may cause it to collapse
:: respect livestock and land
:: keep dogs on a lead and under close control
:: use public transport whenever you can
:: please cycle only on legal routes – bridgeways, byways, roads and cyclepaths. Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail is a footpath only.
Volunteer wardens regularly walk nominated sections of the national trail, checking on ground condition, archaeology, gates and fences, and advising walkers.
The UK network of national trails, of which Hadrian’s Wall became the 15th, attracts 14 million visitors a year. In September, The Ramblers proposed a charitable National Trails Trust to secure “these precious assets” and bring them to their full potential.
The Hadrian’s Wall Path, opened in 2003, almost doubled the number of walkers on the Wallsend-to-Solway route.