Edinburgh and Glasgow offer excellent and worthwhile day tours outside of the city. The most popular ones go to the Highlands, but I chose to do something more history related and visit Hadrian’s Wall. I went with Rabbie’s as they seemed to have the most reasonable prices as well as a variety of tour choices. Rabbie’s also has a cafe where the tour bus departs from, so you have a chance to get food and use the washroom before your tour leaves.
My tour guide was very friendly, knowledgeable and funny, so it made the tour more fun. Our first stop was Jedburgh, a historic town not too far from Edinburgh in the Scottish Borders. We stopped at the Jedburgh Abbey, which like Holyrood Abbey, is in ruins. This Augustinian Abbey was established in the 12th century. Although I didn’t have time to go in, I did see its beauty from the outside.
The town is quite small, but other than the Abbey, there was not much I could see or do with the short time we had there. After all, our main attraction to visit was Hadrian's Wall.
A portion of Hadrian's Wall. The square stone base would have been a milecastle or fort at some point
The building of Hadrian’s Wall began in 122 CE during the reign of Emperor Hadrian, and marked the northern limit of the Roman Empire. A good portion of the wall still exists and runs 117.5 km across northern England. In the picture below the wall looks short, but during its use by the Romans, the wall would have been up to 20ft high with ditches on the north side. This was to prevent enemies from getting over the wall.
My group went to Steel Rigg where I got to touch the wall and see where it went as far as my eyes could see. There are also walking trails that you can do along the wall, though I don’t know how far they go. After this, we went to Vindolanda.
During its use, milecastles and forts were built along the wall, however they are all in ruins with some stone bases surviving. I went to Vindolanda, which was a large fort used during the occupation of the wall. It is an active archaeological site and the entry fee gets you into the site as well as a museum that displays some of the archaeological finds. There is also a small cafe in the museum.
One of my favourite things to do when visiting sites like this is to walk through and imagine what it would have looked like when it was being used; imagining all the people walking around attending to their daily tasks. I know, so nerdy of me, but it’s true and it’s part of what makes trips like this much more exciting for me. Vindolanda was the last stop on the tour. We had a very long drive back to Edinburgh, but the scenery was incredible. I would definitely recommend doing day tours when visiting Edinburgh or Glasgow. It will be well worth it.