market town and civil parish in Northumberland, England

Hexham is a small market town in the Tyne valley of Northumberland, 24 miles west of Newcastle. It's an attractive place with a medieval abbey and jail, and a good base for exploring Hadrian's Wall to the northwest. Also within a short drive are Northumberland National Park and North Pennines AONB. In 2021 Hexham had a population of 10,941.

Understand edit

Her wæs Alfwald Norðhymbra cyning ofslægen fram Sigan on .viiii. Kalendas Octobris, 7.
- King Alfwald was murdered by Sicga at Chesters and buried at Hexham in 788 AD, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

"Hagustaldes ham" meant the sorry bit of land that a younger son had to make do with, because the firstborn son inherited the farm. The River Tyne has north and south branches which here unite to create a fertile valley trending east to Newcastle. Only a low rise at Haltwhistle separates this from the Irthing valley west to Carlisle, so Hexham grew as a market town on this coast-to-coast route and confluence of lesser valleys. The Romans built Hadrian's Wall and Chesters fort along the ridge five miles north of the Tyne-Irthing corridor. Hexham acquired an abbey and other medieval buildings, and agricultural industry such as leather-making for gloves. Today its major employer is Egger wood-pulp factory making chipboard panels, and you'll see its plume of steam from afar.

The Tourist Information Centre is within Queen's Hall on Beaumont St by the abbey. It's open M-Sa 09:00-17:00.

Get in edit

Trains run every 30 min from Newcastle upon Tyne, taking 40 min via Metrocentre and Prudhoe, and continuing west to Haltwhistle and Carlisle, another 50 min. Some trains start from Morpeth or from Nunthorpe near Middlesbrough. Change at Newcastle for London Kings Cross, Leeds, York and Edinburgh. Change at Carlisle for Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham.

The 1 railway station is a quarter-mile northeast of town centre. It has a staffed ticket office and machines, toilets and a dog-friendly cafe-bar. There is step-free access to the Carlisle-bound platform, and a ramp from the north car park to the Newcastle-bound platform. Plusbus tickets are available for this station.

Tynedale Bus X84 / 85 runs from Newcastle Eldon Square M-Sa every 30 min, taking an hour via Denton, Throckley, Heddon on the Wall, Wylam, Ovington and Corbridge. There's only two on Sunday.

Bus 10 runs from Newcastle Eldon Square via the railway station, Metro Centre, Blaydon, Prudhoe, Riding Mill and Corbridge. It's every 30 min M-Sa and hourly on Sunday.

Bus 74 runs from Newcastle Eldon Square every three hours M-Sa via Westerhope, Ponteland and Matfen. It doesn't serve Newcastle Airport a mile east of Ponteland.

Stagecoach Bus 685 runs from Carlisle (hourly M-Sa, every two hours on Sunday) to Brampton, Greenhead, Haltwhistle, Hexham (90 min) and Newcastle Eldon Square.

Bus 685 runs twice M-Sa from Consett, taking just under an hour via Shotley Bridge, Ebchester, Minsteracres and Slaley.

Tynedale Bus 680 runs from Bellingham every two hours M-Sa via Wark, Humshaugh and Acomb. Buses from other little villages such as Byrness are just school buses with one inbound run in the morning and return in the afternoon.

The 2 bus station is on Dene Ave east side of town centre. It's modern, completed in 2016, but the toilets and cafe are usually closed and there's no departure board. Buses make other stops along the main street.

By road follow A69 between Newcastle and Carlisle: it's a low-level coast-to-coast highway that stays open in the worst of weather, and is mostly a fast dual carriageway. Bicycles are permitted but cyclists are safer using loops of the former main road through Heddon and Corbridge. The A68 from Darlington to Jedburgh and Edinburgh intersects it at Corbridge.

Newcastle Airport (NCL IATA) is 20 miles away on A696 near Ponteland. This is northwest of the city so you can get onto A69 to Hexham without going through city centre. By public transport, take the Metro from the airport to city centre for buses or trains to Hexham. A taxi from the airport in 2023 costs about £45.

Get around edit

Bus AD122 parallels Hadrian's Wall between Hexham and Haltwhistle, ideal for one-way hikes then a ride back to your vehicle or lodging. It runs two-hourly, daily mid-Apr to Oct, weekends mid-Feb to mid-Apr and Nov to mid-Dec. The main stops from Hexham are Chesters, Housesteads, The Sill, Vindolanda, Walltown, Greenhead and Haltwhistle.

Taxi firms are EcoCabs (+44 1434 600600) and Advanced (+44 1434 606565).

See edit

Within Hexham Abbey
  • 1 Hexham Abbey, Beaumont St, Hexham NE46 3NB, +44 1434 602031. M-Sa 10AM-4PM, Su 11AM-3PM. This was founded in 674 AD and the original Saxon crypt and cathedra (bishop's seat) survive, but most was destroyed by the Vikings. It was rebuilt in Early English style from 1170 and again in the late 19th century, when the long-lost nave was re-created to the earlier style. The Abbey escaped wrecking at the Dissolution by becoming the Anglican parish church, and remains so. A Roman inscription in the crypt has had the name of Emperor Geta (189-211) erased - he was murdered by his brother, who sought to obliterate his legacy. Crypt £2.    
  • Moot Hall on Hallgate near the jail was the medieval courthouse, used until 1838. It's now council offices.
  • 2 Hexham Old Gaol, Hallgate NE46 1XD, +44 1670 624523. Apr-Oct: W-Su 10AM-4PM. Probably England's first purpose-built prison, this was built in 1333 using stone from the Roman fort at Corbridge. It's now a museum of Borders history, with a lift to all floors and dogs are welcome. Adult £5, conc £4, child free.    
  • Hexham Bridge carries the A6079 north from town to the bypass. It was completed in 1793 by Smeaton after the Tyne had swiftly demolished previous attempts: their stumps are still visible. Ferry Lane just east indicates how you got across in earlier centuries; it's an industrial zone dominated by the wood pulp factory.
  • 3 Battle of Hexham was part of the Wars of the Roses, fought at Linnels three miles south of town on 15 May 1464. The Yorkists had allied with the Scots so the Lancastrians were trying to drive a wedge between them. The battle was relatively bloodless, and the slaughter came later: many Lancastrians fled when they saw the Yorkist onrush, leaving their companions to be tamely captured. The captives were butchered that night in Market Square; their leader Henry VI escaped but the Lancastrian cause was broken in the north. There are no traces of the battlefield but there are pleasant woods and riverbanks for walking the dog.
  • Hadrian's Wall passes 4 miles north of town, with a footpath along its entire length coast to coast. The eastern section from Wallsend through Newcastle to Corbridge has points of interest but almost all the masonry has gone, with just a low course of stonework approaching the river at Chollerford and Chesters. Further west the wall and forts are better preserved, and the route strides across great scenery, with the best of it above Haltwhistle. Then it dwindles again into farm tracks towards Brampton, Carlisle and the Solway Firth.
  • 4 Chesters Roman Fort guarded the River North Tyne crossing 6 miles north of Hexham. See Hadrian's Wall for details of this and other features along the wall.
  • 5 Temple to Mithras is the main remnant of the fort of Brocolitia five miles west of Chesters.

Do edit

The Old Gaol
  • What's on? Read Hexham Courant or listen to BBC Radio Newcastle on 95.4FM.
  • 1 Queen's Hall, Beaumont St, +44 1434 652477. Box Office is open M-Sa 10AM-noon, 1-4PM. a performance venue and art gallery. It's an Italianate building completed in 1866, which has variously been the town hall, ballroom and bingo hall.    
  • Forum Cinema in the Market Place is Art Deco.
  • Wentworth Leisure Centre is by the railway station, open M-F 6:30AM-10PM, Sa Su 8AM-6PM. It has bowling alleys, a 25-m pool and gym.
  • Hike: use Landranger Map OS87 for trails near town, and OS86 for the best sections of Hadrian's Wall to the west. These maps also cover the Pennine Way, which comes north through the scenic South Tyne valley to join Hadrian's Wall at Greenhead, then marches east with it sinister-dexter to Housesteads Roman fort before diverging north again through forestry plantations towards Bellingham and the Cheviots.
  • Golf: Hexham GC and Tynedale GC are both north side of town near the river.
  • 2 Hexham Racecourse (two miles south of town, up the hill on Yarridge Road). a National Hunt (jumps) course with races March-Dec.    
  • Fishing: the Tyne has trout, pike and salmon. Buy permits from the Post Office on the main street.
  • Throssel Hall is a Buddhist Abbey in the Soto Zen tradition, out in the hills at Carrshield ten miles southwest of Hexham. It's not for casual callers but they give talks on Buddhism at introductory level, and offer spiritual retreats.
  • Hexham Book Festival is in spring, with the next on 11 March 2023.
  • Hexham Jazz Festival is next held on 12-14 May 2023.

Buy edit

  • Farmer's Market is held on the second and fourth Saturday of the month 09:00-13:30 in the Market Place.
  • Vintage Emporium in Market Place by the Abbey has floor floors of antiques small traders, open M-Sa 09:30-16PM.
  • Supermarkets are on the retail park north near the station, with Aldi, Tesco, Lidl and Waitrose. For big-ticket shopping, head to the Metro Centre west edge of Newcastle.

Eat edit

Chesters Roman Fort
  • Indus Valley at the railway station is open W-M 4:30-11PM.
  • Bunters is a coffee shop by the Old Gaol, open M-Sa 9AM-4:30PM.
  • Vercelli, 36 Priestpopple NE46 1PQ (opposite County Hotel), +44 1434 603350. Tu-F noon-2PM, 5-8PM; Sa noon-8:30PM. Pleasant Italian on main street.
  • Saathi, 28 Priestpopple NE46 1PQ (next to Vercelli), +44 1434 603509. Daily 5-11PM. Reliable Indian on main street.
  • Stalida, 9A Battle Hill (main street near Beaumont Hotel), +44 1434 609900. M-Sa 6-10:30PM. Lively family-run Greek taverna.
  • Hextol Tans, 11 St Mary's Chare NE46 1NQ, +44 1434 604205. M-Sa 10AM-3:30PM. Cosy vegetarian restaurant, assistance dogs only.
  • Buongiorno is a pizzeria opposite Hextol Tans at 12 St Mary's Chare, open M-Th noon-9PM, F Sa noon-10PM.
  • 1 Danielle's Bistro, 13 Eastgate NE46 1BH, +44 1434 601122. Tu-F noon-1:30PM, 5:30-8:30PM, Sa 5:30-9PM. Mostly trad British cuisine with a hint of Italian.
  • 2 Bouchon Bistrot, 4-6 Gilesgate NE46 3NJ, +44 1434 609943. Tu-Sa noon-2PM, 6-9PM. French restaurant with good menu selection, lots of vegan choices. The fixed price menu is better value than the a la carte.
  • 3 Dipton Mill Inn, Dipton Mill Rd NE46 1YA, +44 1434 606577. M-Sa noon-2:30PM, 6-11PM, Su noon-3PM. Atmospheric country pub with its own brewery and good grub.
  • 4 Carts Bog Inn, Langley NE47 5NW, +44 1434 684338. F noon-3PM, 5-11PM, Sa Su noon-11PM. Ivy-clad country pub, popular for Sunday roast.
  • 5 The Rat, Anick NE46 4LN, +44 1434 602814. Tu-Th noon-10PM, F Sa noon-11PM, Su noon-6PM. Good gastropub in the lanes north of town.  

Drink edit

Before the Battle of Hexham
  • 1 Grapes Hotel, 1 St Mary's Chare (by Queen's Hall). M-Sa 10AM-10PM, Su noon-10PM.  
  • 2 Heart of Northumberland, 5 Market St NE46 3NS (north side of abbey), +44 1434 608013. M W-Sa noon-11PM, Tu 4-11PM, Su noon-9PM. Pub serving hearty trad fare.
  • 3 The Victorian Tap (formerly Tap & Spile), Battle Hill NE46 1BH, +44 1434 622046. M-Th 3-11PM, F Sa noon-midnight, Su noon-10PM. Trad main street pub with cask ales, food and live music, plus four rooms en suite. B&B double £100.
  • 4 Globe Inn, 7 Battle Hill (opposite Victoria Tap). M-Th 11AM-11PM, F Sa 11:00-midnight, Su noon-11PM.  
  • 5 The Coach and Horses, 32 Priestpopple, NE46 1PQ, +44 1434 600 492. has rooms  
  • Mr Ant's is a cocktail bar at 22 Priestpopple, open M-Th noon-11PM, F Sa noon-midnight, Su 3-11PM.
  • Dipton Mill Inn has its own micro-brewery, see above.

Sleep edit

  • Station Inn is a basic place at the railway station, tel +44 1434 603155.
  • 1 The Beaumont, Beaumont Street, Hexham NE46 3LT, +44 1434 602331. Hotel with 33 rooms in Victorian building in town centre, with good restaurant. No dogs. B&B double £120.
  • 2 County Hotel, Priestpopple, Hexham NE46 1TS, +44 1434 608444. Comfy hotel, some rooms dog-friendly. B&B double £130.
  • Travelodge, Gate Retail Park, Hexham NE46 3PJ (200 yards west of station), +44 871 984 8484. Opened in 2022 so it's still fresh and clean. Comfy enough, rooms small, and it would have been nice to put the wheelchair-friendly rooms on the ground floor. B&B double £80.
Langley Castle Hotel
  • 3 Langley Castle Hotel, Langley NE47 5LU, +44 1434 688888. This is an H-plan turret built around 1350, smashed up in 1405 by Henry IV but rebuilt from the 1880s. In modern times it's been a barracks and a girls school, and was converted into a hotel in 1986. It's atmospheric (think rickety steps and head-knocking low corners) but scores well for atmosphere, service and comfort, and is often a wedding venue. B&B double £130.  
  • 4 Slaley Hall Hotel, Coal Rd, Slaley NE47 0BX, +44 1434 673350. Plush golf resort hotel in a modern building with cod-medieval trimmings. B&B double £140.  
  • 5 George Hotel, Chollerford NE46 4EW, +44 1434 681611. Friendly comfy country hotel right on Hadrian's Wall. B&B double £90.
  • 6 Walwick Hall, Humshaugh NE46 4BJ, +44 1434 620156. Smart country hotel with spa on Hadrian's Wall. B&B double £90.
  • Hadrian's Wall lists other places more convenient for the wall than town.

Connect edit

As of Feb 2023, Hexham and its approach roads have 4G from all UK carriers. 5G has not yet reached town.

Go next edit

  • Corbridge is a pleasant small market town four miles east, with the Roman fort of Corstopitum.
  • Haltwhistle west is near the best sections of Hadrian's Wall, with Housesteads Fort and The Sill.
  • Kielder Water northwest is a large reservoir for fishing and boating, with trails through the forest.
  • Allen valley south is an old lead-mining area.
  • Alston is a small town 20 miles southwest on the A686 to Penrith. It has a narrow gauge steam railway and the Hub museum.

This city travel guide to Hexham is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.