- Route: Newcastle to Edinburgh via Berwick and Melrose
- Distance: 200 miles
- National Cycle Network: Route 1
The Coast and Castles South is arguably one of the National Cycle Network's easiest, but no less epic, long distance routes. The route hugs the coastline from Newcastle to Berwick-upon-Tweed, then heads inland via Melrose and Dalkeith to Edinburgh. To remain on the coast follow National Route 76 via Dunbar after Berwick.
The Coast and Castles South passes a plethora of natural and historic sites, such as AONBs and nature reserves, the world famous Lindisfarne, and Bamburgh Castle located in the ancient capital of Northumbria. North of the Scotland-England border at Berwick-upon-Tweed, National Route 1 moves into the Tweed Valley where quiet lanes take you through beautiful border country before a gentle climb onto the Moorfoot Hills into Midlothian. From here witness a spectacular view of Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth as you cruise into Scotland's capital city.
The route also forms part of the North Sea Cycle Route, the world's longest signed international cycle route, passing through 7 countries around the North Sea.
Planning your trip
The best way to tackle the route is south to north - from Newcastle to Edinburgh. Travelling in this direction usually means the wind is more favourable but the ride is great either way round. If you can't face the trip home by bike, there are fast and regular trains at both end points.
There are lots of companies who provide supported cycle rides if you don't want to carry all your equipment, we recommend Saddle Skedaddle.
The route can be ridden on most types of bike as long as they are in good condition - it is worth having a service before setting off. Please be aware that some sections of the route are remote and fairly exposed so make sure you check the weather forecast and take the right wet weather gear.
Our full colour map of this route is based on Ordnance Survey data and shows clearly mapped cycle routes on traffic-free paths, quiet lanes and roads, with easy to read contours and route profiles.
Things to see and do Things
With so much to see and do its impossible to list them all, here are just a few highlights:
- The dramatic Tynemouth Priory and Bamburgh Castle.
- Druridge Bay's miles of pristine dunes and sandy beaches.
- The rugged beauty of the Scottish Borders along with your first glimpse of Edinburgh from the Moorfoot Hills
Between Bylth, Ashington & Lynemouth you'll find the Wansbeck Estuary art trail, with artworks by Richard Harris and Simon Watkinson, a promenade of interlocking Rowan and Birch trees by Bod Budd and a Simplicity Bench by designer Yumiko Aoyagi.
'Thinking of Water' by Richard Harris is a major earthwork consisting of 10 paths each leading off the main route through restricted stone ‘squints’ down to the water. ‘Each path brings you to a slightly different view point. Each path has a rhythm that evokes the movement of water to the river and on out towards the sea.’
'Sweetheart Wings' by Simon Watkinson are giant boulders inlaid with nine gunmetal cast aeroplanes (Spitfire, Wellington and Heinkel 111) that reference the high level of RAF activity in the area during WW2 and the notion of fossilised aircraft.
'Double Avenue (His and Hers)' by Bob Budd is a planting scheme in which double rows of Rowan and Birch trees create avenues of giant interlocking circles where couples can promenade. They make a statement about the nature of modern relationships, each partner has a separate space to gather their thoughts, where the circles intersect the planting allows them to meet up again.
Simplicity Bench by Yumiko Aoyagi consists of a series of four interlocking green oak benches that are both ‘simple and practical’, reflecting the ancient principles of weaving. The bench does not interrupt the landscape, which can be used comfortably by groups of people of all ages and sizes.
The project offered a real opportunity for local communities in SE Northumberland to be involved in the development of high-quality artwork, and help to raise the profile of the area, contributing to a sense of cultural and environmental wellbeing.
NCN Coast & Castles South Cycle Route Map (Route 1 - Newcastle to Edinburgh).
The Coast and Castles South cycle route links the Forth and Tyne estuaries, joining Newcastle and Edinburgh via miles of unspoiled coastline and some of Britain's best built and natural heritage.