Published: 6th JANUARY 2023

Coast to coast cycle routes

We've put together a list of coast to coast classic bike rides and some lesser-known alternatives for you to discover on the National Cycle Network. Many of these rides are often tackled as challenge routes but with such beautiful scenery (and often history) to admire they are definitely worth considering for a more leisurely cycling holiday.

Two people in red coats and cycling helmets, one with mountain bike, standing in front of white and red lighthouse

Way of the Roses

171 miles (275kms) from Morecambe to Bridlington

A spectacular coast-to-coast cycle route rich in scenery, history and culture.

It passes through the red rose county of Lancashire and the white rose county of Yorkshire (hence the name) and is usually cycled west to east to improve the chances of having the wind at your back. This direction does make for several steep climbs but the longer downhill sections are an absolute joy and well worth the effort.

The Caledonia Way - Oban to Inverness

115 miles (185kms) from Oban to Inverness

The northern half of The Caledonia Way on National Cycle Route 78 passes under the shadow of Ben Nevis, through Fort William, Fort Augustus and travels along the shore of Loch Ness. Slicing through the Highlands of Scotland, the route begins at Oban on the west coast and follows the stunning Great Glen to Inverness on the Moray Firth.

It's particularly important to remember to stock up on food and water as parts of this route are remote, and formal facitilies are few and far between. 

Cyclist in blue jersey following group of other cyclists on gravel path through countryside

Devon Coast to Coast

99 miles (159kms) from Ilfracombe to Plymouth

Three fantastic traffic-free converted railway paths form much of the Devon Coast to Coast cycle.

The route is one of the finest on the National Cycle Network combining the beaches and superb estuaries of North Devon, the lush green valleys of the Torridge, Tavy and Walkham rivers and the spectacular vistas of Dartmoor. Not to mention the impressive viaducts and bridges you'll get to admire and cycle over on the way - Gem Bridge, for example, is the longest bridge on the National Cycle Network. 

From January 2023, two new charging stations en route will open up this long-distance ride to e-bike riders. Find out more.

Sea to Sea / Coast to Coast (C2C)

137 miles (221kms) from Whitehaven or Workington to Newcastle or Sunderland

The C2C can fairly claim to be the UK's most popular challenge cycle. There are a number of well sign-posted options to this route that can be completed by those with little experience of cycling and committed bikers alike.

Whichever the final route you choose, this coast to coast is an epic journey across two of the country's main mountain ranges, passing woodland, pine forests, lakes, streams and moorland, linking the Irish and North Seas in the process. A memorable and iconic adventure.

Cyclist on road bike with panniers wearing red jacket and white helmet cycling on road past Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian's Cycleway

170 miles (274kms) from Glannaventa Roman Bath House, Ravenglass to Arbeia Roman Fort, South Shields

Stretching the length of the Hadrian's Wall World Heritage Site in the North of England, this route boasts magnificent coastal views, breathtaking countryside and a fantastic overabundance of Roman forts and ruins to explore. Most people are able to complete the route in three days but with so many historic and beautiful attractions along the way why not extend your trip and add on a couple of more days for visits?

Mineral Tramways Coast to Coast, Cornwall

11 miles (17.5kms) from Portreath to Devoran

A family-friendly coast to coast route that can be completed on a leisurely afternoon ride. The trail is predominantly flat and uses, where possible, the old tram roads and railways that served the area's tin and copper mines. 

Gently ascending in the first half and descending in the second (if you're cycling south), Cornwall's mining heritage can often be seen poking through the purple heather moorland. Good pubs and lunch stops can be found at the coastal towns at either end of the ride and at the village of Scorrier mid-way through the ride. 

Wooden shed with carvings on the front overlooking cycle path with cyclist on it and lake

Reivers Cycle Route

170 miles (274kms) from Tynemouth to Whitehaven

The Reivers Route is a fantastic alternative (or return route) for the Sea to Sea (C2C). It takes its name from the bandits that roamed the border territory between the 13th and 17th centuries, through which this route meanders. 

Beginning in Tynemouth, the trail travels through unspoilt Northumberland, skirts the edge of the Lake District mountains and passes through the vast Kielder Forest. This beautiful and isolated trail is often overshadowed by the C2C but it offers some of the best scenery in northern England. One not to be missed for those with a sturdier bike! 

Walney to Wear (W2W)

151 miles (243kms) from Walney Island, Cumbria to the mouth of the River Wear, Sunderland

The Walney to Wear coast to coast bike ride is a challenging (and hilly!) cycle. The route traverses many beautiful landscapes including the Lake District Peninsulas, South Cumbria's Low Fells and the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Don't forget to stop and enjoy a drink at the historic Tan Hill Inn, the highest inn in the British Isles and highest point of the ride at 1,732ft.

This fantastic route can be tough and steep at times but offers rewards to those who prepared well (and packed lighter panniers).

Man in t shirt and shorts pushing bike at side of canal locks with red brick house in the background

Trans Pennine Trail

215 miles (346kms) from Soutport to Hornsea

The Trans Pennine Trail or TPT, as it is often abbreviated to, traverses the Pennines and links the North and Irish seas. The route is remarkably flat considering the dramatic scenery and passes alongside rivers and canals as well as through historic towns and cities in the north of England.

If you are planning a trip, visit the Trans Pennine Trail website for further details about the route - it has lots of helpful tips and ideas. 

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