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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 August, 2003, 15:35 GMT 16:35 UK
Roman trail proves hit with tourists
Hadrian's Wall coast-to-coast path
The route offers an unbroken, signposted trek of the wall
Visitors to Hadrian's wall have shot up since the opening of a coast-to-coast walk route.

More than 700 people have walked the length of the Roman structure since the full route opened in May - the first time it has been possible for 1,600 years.

The Countryside Agency says the 84-mile Hadrian's Wall Path National Trail, from Wallsend to Bowness on Solway, is now proving a massive tourist hit.

Parts of the wall were always open to the public, but large parts had crumbled and the complete right of way had disappeared.

But a 6m grant from the agency and Heritage Lottery Fund, has restored the route - apart from in a couple of places where the wall is buried under a road.

The agency said more than 700 people walked the trail in the four weeks after its official opening on 23 May.

Overall visitor numbers at sites along the World Heritage site are up by 29% on the previous year.

David McGlade, the National Trail officer at the Countryside Agency, said: "These figures are fantastic news and show that the investment we made in the Hadrian's Wall Trail is already paying dividends for the communities along the Wall.

"We printed 25,000 Trail information leaflets, but interest was so great that these were all used before the launch and we had to print 30,000 more to meet demand.

"The AD122 Hadrian's Wall public bus is carrying 70% more passengers than it did last year on its Wallsend to Bowness service.

Keith Bartlett, of the Heritage Lottery Fund, added: "We have invested over 11m in projects which span the length of the Wall, with over 3m for the path itself.

"It's fantastic to see what an impact its opening has already made in terms of helping to regenerate local communities and pulling in visitors to this beautiful area of the UK, which has so much to offer."

The Countryside Agency has predicted that 20,000 people a year will walk the route by 2006.

The wall itself was 80 Roman miles (73 miles) when first built. Hadrian is thought to have ordered its construction when he visited Britain in AD 122 on a tour of his empire.

It took six years to build and involved three legions of soldiers from Rome plus auxiliary troops from around the empire.

The wall, which marked the northern frontier of the empire beyond which lay the "barbarian" tribes of what is now Scotland, was well defended with look-out posts, forts and deep ditches.

Roman trail re-opens
23 May 03  |  Cumbria
Walking the wall
23 May 03  |  England
Hadrian's Wall: Roman power symbol
23 May 03  |  England

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