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Hadrian's Wall may be a 'big' name, however Hadrian's Wall Ltd, is in fact a small family-run local business, based next to the Wall, working in partnership with other local businesses and employing folk in the local area.
It may help in giving a better understanding of who we are, when we explain how it is that we have become known as 'the Specialists On Hadrian's Wall'.
The company was formed by myself (Gary Reed) and my wife Tracey just after the Hadrian's Wall Path opened in late 2003. I was born right next to the Wall (well, 200 yards north of it to be precise) and I'd been 'waxing lyrical' in lectures on it for the previous 20 years.
Back in the early 1980s I would run up and down the Wall as part of my fitness-training and rarely see a soul. I'd be asked after talks on the subject, whether anything of the Wall still existed and from then on, I realised that some day I was destined to find a way of encouraging folk to come and see for themselves.
It wasn't until the Hadrian's Wall Path National Trail opened that visitor access to much of the Wall was possible. So, with a combination of local knowledge, various academic qualifications, a number of years in the Royal Marines, followed by instructing in Outdoor Activities and travelling to far-flung parts as an Expedition Leader; 'Hadrian's Wall - the company' finally became a reality.
You could say I was 'hard-wired' to be involved with the Wall on various levels - being the great-great-grandson of an amateur archaeologist who worked on it (and whose interest infiltrated through the subsequent generations - yes, including my brother Jerry, another former Royal Marine and teacher, who also helps out on our Guided Walks, as well as our parents - given that they walked between Steel Rigg and Housesteads on their first date back in the early 1950s).
My passion for the area and a love of the outdoors, is shared by Tracey and the direction of the business has been very much influenced by our travels together - especially our experience on a rather strenuous (unsupported) Heritage Walk along the Inca Trail in Peru, in the mid-1990s. Yes, a lesson not just in 'how you could do it', but also 'how you can make things difficult for yourselves'.
Tracey now runs the Office side of things, while I run most of the Outside bits, being occasionally assisted by our eldest son Finan and various other able hands. Our two youngest sons (Ruairi & Fergus) are steadily picking up the ropes (literally - on our Camping Treks) and they often wonder whether life is easier when they are at school.
Suffice to say, we probably know the Wall better than most. It's generally accepted that I've walked it more than anyone else and we personally know, as well as regularly visit the numerous Accommodation Providers from one end of the Wall to the other.
If we had to put a label on 'what we do', I like to think of it as 'Time Travel', or should I say 'Travelling Back In Time' - but there again, that could be perceived as standing still in another dimension. So, in order to emphasise that we're in the business of encouraging folk to physically engage in what's here, it's probably more helpful to say 'Active Heritage' - that is, enabling people to 'Actively Experience our Heritage Landscape'.
It's because of our local knowledge and experience, that we've been able to innovate on -
Just a few reasons why we are 'the Specialists On Hadrian's Wall'...