Two scenic UK heritage bike routes – Coast, countryside, castles and cathedrals

  • 08th August 2014

The recent Tour de France in the UK with the biggest “grand depart” it has ever known has really kindled our enthusiasm for cycling. Our UK destinations offer access to some of the most beautiful bicycle routes.

We’ve chosen a couple of routes either for a weekend or a short break for those of you wanting to enjoy some spectacular scenery on two wheels. As we have a long bank holiday coming up what are you waiting for?

Bike Rides from Newcastle

2 or 3 day scenic bike ride from Newcastle
Day 1 Newcastle – Alnwick
Day 2 Alnwick – Berwick (or stay on Holy Island for an optional night)

Newcastle is on the doorstep of some stunning Northumberland scenery complete with imposing castles and friendly B&Bs.

There is a very popular cycle route called Coast and Castles which takes you up the coast past Tynemouth, Warkworth, Alnwick, Dunstanburgh and Bamburgh castles to Berwick Upon Tweed. It’s an easy to moderate ride and is a total of 107 miles and easily tackled in a weekend.

Northumberland coast_original

You can even make a side trip to the atmospheric Holy Island to see the Lindisfarne Priory where you can go to sleep listening to the seals barking in the distance – very magical. You need to check the tide tables as the causeway to the island gets covered at high tide.  You can then take the train back to Newcastle from Berwick Upon Tweed.

Holy Island_original

For those wanting a few more hills and stunning countryside I would recommend a 4 day route as shown below:

Day 1 – Cramlington to Alnwick
Allow 6-7 hours to cover 35 miles
This is a beautiful ride along the coast and avoids having to cycle on the inner city route out of Newcastle. There are regular trains to Cramlington from Newcastle and it takes just 15 mins. Alnwick is a charming and bustling market town with one of the UK’s biggest book shops and an imposing castle with a giant treehouse in the centre of the grounds. It’s a “must see” attraction.

Bamburgh Castle_original

Day 2 – Alnwick to Wooler Approx 45 miles
This is a spectacular ride with a combination of coast and open moorland. You first head back up the coast as far as Embleton and then skirt to the south of Brunton airfield. Follow this road through Doxford under the A1 and past North Charlton heading west towards Wooler. Here you will find completely deserted open roads which you will have all to yourself. This is a magnificent route with views which stretch for miles in all directions. It has only a few off-road sections with fords but they all have footbridges.

Northumberland countryside_original

Day 3 – Wooler to Bellingham
6-7 hours – 48miles
This route offers very quiet roads with some deceptively challenging Cheviot Hills. Bellingham is a charming village with quaint pubs offering live music on the weekends and a few B&Bs.

cycling from Wooler to Bellingham_original

cycling near Bellingham_original

Day 4 – Bellingham to Newcastle
6-7 hours – 45 miles via Hexham or 37 miles via Stamfordham
You have a couple of optional routes back to Newcastle either via the lively and attractive towns of Hexham and Corbridge or a more direct route via Stamfordham. The beauty of the Hexham route is you can follow a very quiet route along the banks of the River Tyne back into Newcastle which is an easy and enjoyable ride – mostly traffic free.

bmi regional flies between Newcastle and Brussels.

Visit the Newcastle tourism office site for more information on bike hire and bike routes.

Bike Ride near Bristol and Manchester

If you fancy a taste of the famous end to end bike ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats this route takes you through the centre of England. It offers some gentle rolling hills, beautiful countryside and provides a fascinating glimpse into Britain’s industrial and cold war heritage. This ride can be enjoyed in Spring, Summer and especially Autumn to enjoy the rich changing colours of this wooded route.

Day 1 Bristol to Gloucester
via Chepstow and the Forest of Dean
6 -7 hours – 54 miles or 5-6 hours for the 44 miles on Route 41
You can start your ride in Bristol on the stunning Clifton Suspension bridge followed by the notoriously windy Severn bridge which has a safe cycle path. Chepstow sits on the Welsh side of the River Wye and is a pretty town with a castle dating back more than 1000 years. You will also see the St Briavels Norman castle on this route and some spectacular lush and wooded countryside. You can even stay in the castle as it’s also a hostel. It’s a steep climb out of Chepstow to Coleford but worth it for the views. If you fancy a flatter route with a climb at the end you can stay on the English side of the Wye valley and follow Route 41 via the villages of Thornbury and Berkeley on some lovely quiet roads.

St Briavels

Day 2 Gloucester to Worcester
3-4 hours – 32 miles
An overnight stay in Gloucester means you can stop in at the Cathedral before heading north on the bike Route 45 to Worcester famous for its Porcelain Works and an impressive ancient Cathedral begun in 1084.

Worcester Cathedral Nave-Oct05-_original

Day 4 Worcester to Ironbridge
3-4 hours – 41 miles
This is a very scenic and hilly route but guarantees great views, finishing in the spectacular Ironbridge Gorge which is on the World Heritage List. The town of Ironbridge offers numerous museums and plenty of friendly B&Bs.

Ironbridge copyright

Day 5 Ironbridge to Nantwich
4-5 hours – 43 miles
Be prepared for the long and steep climb out of the Severn Valley to be rewarded with some quiet country lanes around the River Tern and Weaver. You may wish to visit the Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker nearby. The bunker has been turned into a museum and offers an insight into how decoy sites were set up to confuse the Luftwaffe bombers to drop their bombs on the countryside during World War II rather than built up areas. Crewe station is just 5 miles away and you can make connections here to Manchester and all parts of the UK. If you are a railway fanatic you will enjoy the Crewe Heritage Centre, full of railway history and old trains.

For more information on bike hire visit the Bristol tourism office site. You could also do the ride in reverse starting in Manchester but as the UK prevailing winds are south westerly, cycling north guarantees an easier ride.

We fly between Manchester and Aberdeen and between Bristol and Aberdeen, Frankfurt, Milan Malpensa, Munich and Hamburg.