- From - to: Dover to the Shetland Islands
- Distance: 1,695 miles
- Type: Long distance
- Surface: The surface varies from on-road to traffic-free tarmac to compacted surface
A continuous signed cycle route on traffic-free and on-road surfaces, connecting the major towns and cities along the east coast of the British Isles via some breathtaking coastal scenery.
National Route 1 between Colchester and the Shetland Islands forms the majority of the British part of the North Sea Cycle Route, also known as EuroVelo 12, linking Britain - via Bergen in Norway and the Hook of Holland - to other countries that share a coastline on the North Sea.
National Route 1 is fully signed and open except between Whitby and Staithes (Yorkshire) where the route is awaiting development. You can divert around this unopened section by using National Route 165. The route is described below from Dover to Shetland but is signed in both directions.
1. Dover to London - 81 miles
This section, also known as The Garden of England follows the North Kent coast, passing through Canterbury, Rochester and Dartford before following the Thames to Greenwich. Dover to London also forms part of EuroVelo 5. The route leaves Dover passing by the White Cliffs of Dover, following the stunning Kent Coastal Castles ride to Deal before joining the Crab and Winkle Way between Canterbury (home of World Heritage Site Canterbury Cathedral) and Whitstable. Further on into London the Thamesmead to Greenwich section is a great traffic-free section from which you can see the Thames Barrier and O2 Arena.
2. London to Ipswich - 96 miles
The route heads out of London from Greenwich in a northerly direction along the traffic-free London Docklands and Lea Valley cycle route into Hertfordshire. From Harlow the route through Essex takes you via Chelmsford and Colchester and then on into Suffolk and Ipswich. Between Colchester and Ipswich the route follows the Fakenham to Harwich route, which is also part of the North Sea Cycle Route. London to Colchester also forms part of EuroVelo 2 which links Harwich and Holyhead.
3. Ipswich to Fakenham - 121 miles
Through Suffolk and Norfolk National Route 1 follows the Fakenham to Harwich cycle route passing through Norwich.
4. Fakenham to Hull - 206 miles
The route continues through Norfolk via King's Lynn and then through Lincolnshire, departing its proximity to the coast after Boston, taking in Lincoln and heading finally to Kingston-upon-Hull. The route is detailed on the Hull to Fakenham page.
The section between Hull and Humanby is just over 58 miles and is mainly on quiet roads, passing through the East Riding area of Yorkshire. You’ll see some of the wonderful landscape that inspired David Hockney with a gently rolling route that travels past the towns of Beverley, Driffield and Bridlington and on to Hunmanby, south of Scarborough.
6. Hunmanby to Whitby - 32 miles
This mainly coastal route is currently open and signed between Hunmanby and Whitby via Scarborough. Scarborough to Whitby is also known as the Cinder Track.
7. Staithes to Middlesbrough - 24 miles
Between Whitby and Staithes Route 1 is currently not open. An alternative route between Whitby and Middlesbrough is available by following National Route 165 (formerly Regional Route 52) to Kildale and National Route 168 to Saltburn-by-the-Sea where you can get back onto Route 1. Alternatively, keep on National Route 165 to Hutton Rudby and join National Route 65 to Middlesbrough to rejoin Route 1 in Middlesborough. Route 1 is open between Staithes and Middlesbrough via Redcar.
8. Middlesbrough to Tynemouth - 44 miles
A series of traffic-free routes and short on-road sections connect Middlesbrough and Tynemouth via Seaham and Sunderland and form the Three Rivers cycle route. National Route 1 uses many of these sections and runs north - south close to the coast.
9. Tynemouth to Edinburgh - 200 miles
Also known as the Coast & Castles South cycle route, National Route 1 hugs the coast between Tynemouth and Berwick-upon-Tweed via Blyth and Bedlington, heading inland to Edinburgh via Melrose. National Route 76 provides an alternative coastal option between Berwick-upon-Tweed and Edinburgh.
10. Edinburgh to Aberdeen - 172 miles
11. Aberdeen to John o'Groats - 320 miles
The most northerly sections of the National Cycle Network are on the Aberdeen to the Shetlands cycle route passing through wild mountains and along rugged coastlines via Banff, Inverness, Lairg, Tongue and Thurso. Aberdeen to Inverness (150 miles) also forms part of EuroVelo 1.
12. John o'Groats to Shetland Islands (via Orkney Islands) - 180 miles of route
Continue your route from John O'Groats to the northernmost point of the British Isles, on Shetland. Ferries connect mainland Scotland with both groups of Islands so take the opportunity to explore them on the National Cycle Network, which gives you the chance to travel to the northernmost point of the UK.
Printed maps to cover the route
Sustrans Regional Cycle Maps # 8, 53, 17, 9, 18, 19, 20, 27, 28, 33, 34, 39, 40, 44, 45, 46, 48
Newcastle to Aberdeen covered by Coast & Castles North and South
Things to see and do
- Samphire Hoe nature reserve in Kent
- The Essex Coastline
- Sutton Hoo Anglo Saxon burial ground in Suffolk
- The Norfolk Broads wetlands
- Artwork on the Water Rail Way in Lincolnshire
- Flamborough Head in Yorkshire
- Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island in Northumberland
- The stunning Scottish Highlands
A long distance cycle route connecting Dover and the Shetland Islands mainly via the east coast of England and Scotland
A long distance cycle route connecting Dover and the Shetland Islands - via the east coast of England and Scotland.