Whether you’re a keen cyclist searching for a cycling holiday destination that combines your love of cycling and travel, or simply looking for an active getaway, the stunning northern county of Northumberland is for you. From the world-famous coast-to-coast (C2C) cycling route to mountain biking the trails of the Northumberland National Park, there’s something for everyone.
Today, we’re taking you through some of the region’s best cycling trails – as well as giving you all of the insider information you’ll need for your trip.
Kielder Water is the country’s largest reservoir, set in the heart of the Northumberland National Park. With a mixture of shoreside cycle paths and off-road routes through the surrounding forest, Kielder is a popular cycling holiday destination for keen cyclists, amateurs and families alike – with its varied terrain offering options for all tastes.
Kielder’s main draw is its 27-mile Lakeside Way cycle trail. Looping the entire reservoir, this lengthy cycle path provides the ultimate day trip challenge. With spectacular views across the lake as you make your way around its shore, cyclists can expect to find plenty of photo opportunities – as well as encounters with the local wildlife! Pick up a map of the route from one of the visitor centres on arrival, and make sure you pack a picnic to enjoy lakeside en route.
For adrenaline junkies looking to get the blood pumping, Kielder is also famed for its numerous mountain biking trails – ranging from family friendly to extreme off-roading on its very own black grade trail. Visitors can hire a mountain bike for the day from Kielder’s cycle centre – so if you’re only bringing a road bike on your trip, you won’t miss out on the muddy action!
Coast & Castles Cycle Route
Northumberland is famed for its stunning coastline and historic monuments and, if you only have time for one trip during your stay, the region’s Coast & Castles cycle route is a must. Stretching 192 miles, from Newcastle to Edinburgh, this route covers nearly all of Northumberland’s coastal attractions and highlights (85 miles of them, to be exact!). While you may struggle to make it all the way to Edinburgh during your stay, you can complete the route in sections – why not book a coastal holiday cottage to use as a base to explore? Thanks to its flat and smooth trails, this route is relatively leisurely (distance aside) and can easily be broken down into stages.
Warkworth, Dunstanburgh and Bamburgh castle are all en route and are well worth a visit. Once you pass Bamburgh, cycle across the tidal causeway to Holy Island to see the spectacular ruins of Lindisfarne Priory – considered the epicentre of Christianity by the Anglo Saxons and the birthplace of the Lindisfarne Gospels.
Once you’ve had your fill of historic ruins, the thriving market town of Alnwick is well worth the cycle inland, with The Plough Inn serving up delicious local cuisine in a warm and cosy setting. Don’t forget to swing by Adventure Northumberland – Alnwick’s local bike shop and cycle centre – to check out the latest gear and get some advice on the best local biking routes.
C2C – Coast to Coast
The coast-to-coast, or C2C as it’s commonly referred to, attracts keen cyclists from all over the world. Starting in Whitehaven, on the west coast of England, cyclists power through the challenging hills of the Lake District before crossing the North Pennines into Northumberland and ending on the east coast at Tynemouth – crossing the width of England in a matter of days.
Allow yourself between 2-5 days to make the 140-mile crossing, depending on your level of fitness and how much sightseeing you plan to do en route. There are a number of specialist tour operators that cater to visitors to the region – renting bikes, booking accommodation and even ferrying your luggage between night stops, so you can cycle safe in the knowledge that your belongings are waiting for you at the next B&B or campsite along the route.
After taking in spectacular views of the North Pennines – an officially designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) – you’ll join the River Tyne at Swalwell, before heading along the river past Newcastle’s glittering Quayside and onto the coast at Tynemouth.
Why not extend your trip to the region and check out all that Newcastle has to offer? A trip to the Cycle Hub Cafe and cycle centre is a must, as it offers weekly meetups, breakfasts and organised group rides – with visitors and beginners welcome.
Guest Post Author: Adam Hope is a travel blogger for Cottages in Northumberland, which give visitors from across the UK and beyond access to a wide range of self-catering holiday cottages.
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