A ride through some of England’s most dramatic and wild countryside. Follow the line of the Roman frontier for 174 miles (280 km) from Ravenglass in Cumbria to South Shields in Tyne & Wear. Taking in magnificent coastal views, breathtaking countryside, Roman forts and museums, inspiring modern attractions, quaint villages and attractive market towns, all set in a World Heritage Site: this cycle route has it all.
- From - to: Glannaventa Roman Bath House, Ravenglass to Arbeia Roman Fort and Museum at South Shields.
- Distance: 174 miles
- Terrain: A mixture of on road and traffic free
- National Cycle Network: National Route 72
The route, from Ravenglass in Cumbria to South Shields in Tyne & Wear, is 174 miles (280 km). Most people are able to complete the route in 3 days, but for those wanting to stop at the numerous attractions along the way, it is likely to take 4-5 days.
- Ravenglass to Whitehaven - 22 miles (35.5 km)
- Whitehaven to Maryport - 15 miles (24 km)
- Maryport to Silloth - 16 miles (25.5 km)
- Silloth to Angerton - 12 miles (19.5 km)
- Angerton to Carlisle - 23 miles (37 km)
- Carlisle to Brampton - 15 miles (24 km)
- Brampton to Haltwhistle - 14 miles (22.5 km)
- Haltwhistle to Hexham - 22 miles (35.5 km)
- Hexham to Prudhoe - 11 miles (17.5 km)
- Prudhoe to Newcastle - 13 miles (21 km)
- Newcastle to South Shields - 11 miles (17.5 km)
The route is a mixture of on-road and traffic-free sections. It runs mainly on country lanes and quiet roads, interspersed with sections of traffic-free path, promenade and riverside path. As most of the route is either on minor roads or well surfaced off-road tracks most bikes are suitable. We would recommend all tyres apart from full slick or racing bike tyres.
The coastal sections at either end of the route are relatively flat, but there are a few steep, short hills in the central section
Hadrian's Cycleway, signed as National Route 72, can be cycled in either direction, though it is normally cycled west to east.
Hadrian’s Cycleway begins at the Glannaventa Roman Bath House, a short ride or walk from Ravenglass. The route passes Ravenglass station and crosses the estuary on the railway bridge. From here you will travel on mainly quiet roads and off-road paths through the villages of Holmrook, Drigg and Seascale , then past Sellafield nuclear plant before turning away from the coast towards the small town of Egremont. Further on you will join the Sea to Sea (C2C) route 71 and the Tracks of the Ironmasters which will take you into Whitehaven.
Western Lake District Tourism has plenty of suggestions for places of interest to visit around Ravenglass and Whitehaven including the heritage Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway and Muncaster Castle.
From Whitehaven you continue on a mixture of quiet roads and off-road paths, passing through the towns of Workington and Maryport, where you can visit the Senhouse Roman Museum, and then the small coastal resort of Allonby. The section between Maryport and Allonby provides great off-road cycling with beautiful views out across the Solway Firth. Cycle hire for all types of cyclist is available at Solway Cycle Hire in Allonby for those who would like to stay in the area. If you are looking for places to stay and things to do along the Solway coast then have a look at the Visit Allerdale website. It has plenty of suggestions for additional cycle routes in the area as well.
At Silloth the routes heads away from the coast for a while taking you down quiet roads through the north Cumbrian countryside. It then joins the Solway coast at Anthorn with spectacular views across to Scotland. The route goes past the RSPB Campfield Marsh reserve and just beyond you will come to Bowness-on-Solway and the start of Hadrian’s Wall. The cycleway now follows the route of Hadrian’s Wall taking you into the centre of Carlisle. If you are stopping in Carlisle then a visit to Carlisle Castle is easily done.
Heading towards Haltwhistle and Hexham from Carlisle sees the end of the flat, low lying terrain along the west Cumbrian coastal plain. Now there are some hills to tackle as you make your way across the North Pennines. However, there are plenty of reasons to stop and explore. Between Brampton and Gilsland you pass Lanercost Priory, and a little further on near Greenhead you can visit both Thirlwall Castle and Walltown Roman Army Museum. Roman attractions are numerous along this section with visits to Birdoswald Roman Fort, Housesteads Roman Fort and Vindolanda all possible. To find out more visit Hadrian’s Wall Country website.
There are train stations at many points along Hadrian’s Cycleway allowing you to start and finish your journey at a variety of different places. Ravenglass, Whitehaven and Maryport are linked by Northern Rail services to Carlisle in the north and Lancaster in the south. There is space on these trains for at least two bikes with no reservation required. Heading east from Carlisle there are stations along the Hadrian’s Wall Country line Northern Rail service at Brampton, Haltwhistle, Prudoe, Hexham and Newcastle. Two bikes are allowed on this service without reservation. The Metro between South Shields and Newcastle allows two bikes on each train but check beforehand as there are restrictions on the times that bikes are allowed. Main-line train services to Lancaster, Carlisle and Newcastle have spaces for bikes but will require reservations beforehand.
The section between Maryport and Silloth is under review and may be re-routed.