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Planning your own Itinerary can be an entertaining exercise. No-one doubts the pleasure to be had in mulling over a map and dividing distances into logical daily steps - however, applying the 'do-it-yourself' approach for Hadrian's Wall is not quite that simple...
It would have been wonderful if after the Romans had departed from Britain, there had been the foresight to convert their numerous milecastles and forts into varying levels of accommodation for future explorers - however that didn't happen.
The Hadrian's Wall Path National Trail has only been open since 2003, prior to which, much of what is accessible now, wasn't accessible before. The relevance of this, is that historically there has not been a string of accommodation providers conveniently placed along the length of it. The reality is that some areas are better served than others.
Unfortunately, as good as the maps might be, they're not able to tell the full story. What doesn't show up are the conditions that effect your pace and the time it takes to cover the ground - whether it be the varying types of terrain to be found underfoot, or the hilly undulations that don't register as contour lines, but you certainly realise their significance when you climb up and down them.
Whilst a good guidebook can provide inspiration of what to look out for, it's not necessarily going to indicate how much time you are likely to spend in any particular location - whether it's to admire the view, be amazed at the construction of the Wall and its ramparts, consider how the milecastles and turrets operated, or which museum or fort is most likely to grab your attention.
Having the Local Specialists set up your Itinerary for you can save a lot of grief and is not to be underestimated - especially if you're considering changing your accommodation on a frequent basis.
Adopting the 'do-it-yourself' method is fraught with difficulties. You can spend a great deal of time and effort, calculating what you would like to do each day, which location you would like to stay in each night and which accommodation appears to be the standard you prefer, only to find that having organised a couple of places for yourself, the rest aren't available for the time you want them and you also have the nagging doubt of whether those accommodations that were available are really what you expect - best to give this dilemma to the experts on the ground.
There's nothing to beat being able to tap into local expertise - especially when one of the local experts includes a Guide who is renowned for having walked the Wall more times than anyone else. Beyond that, knowing where the good and not-so good accommodations are, requires constant research.
It's not just knowing and talking to accommodation providers on a continual basis, but it also involves regularly visiting and assessing their suitability (especially if there has been a change in ownership), as well as taking on board feedback from previous clients.