Cycling articles

The whole team at You Well loves cycling and would always choose 2 wheels over 4 wheels. The UK has lots of excellent cycling routes that you can follow, and we've published guides about a lot of them. Below you'll find all of the cycling route guides that we've published, as well as some other guides about cycling that we've published.

5 of the best electric bikes you can buy (tried & tested)

By Finn H | September 22, 2023

Cycling is one of the most enjoyable activities you can do, and it’s no surprise that many of the best cities in the world are designed around allowing people to travel on 2 wheels. But as much as we love cycling, we also acknowledge that there are times when you really can’t be bothered pedalling. That’s why electric bikes are so great – you can get all the benefits of a normal bicycle, but when you hit a hill or you just fancy a break, you can use the electric engine. There are lots of electric bikes out there to choose from, so we thought it would be useful to round up the best electric bikes that you can buy. Let’s get into it: Quick overview of top choices1 Riese & Müller Charger3 GT Vario2 Whyte E5053 Samebike Lo264 Engwe EP-2 Pro5 Giant Entour E+ 2 LDS Riese & Müller Charger3 GT Vario We don’t think it would be over the top to say that the electric bikes from Riese & Müller feel like art pieces. They’re really beautiful to look at. The Charger3 GT Vario is one of the most popular bikes from the brand and we’re not surprised at all by this – powered by a Bosch motor, it’s surprisingly light for an electric bike at just over 27kg. All of the GT bikes from Riese & Müller are suited for suited for all types of surfaces, because the tyres are a bit smaller and fatter than on other Riese & Müller electric bikes, and that’s also the case with the Charger3 GT Vario. This bike also has higher performance suspension forks compared to other bikes in the Riese & Müller range, as well as Thudbuster suspension. We’ve found this bike online for less than £4000, learn more and buy it here – electricbikesales.co.uk Whyte E505 The Whyte E505 electric bike launched in 2022, and has quickly become one of the most popular bikes in the Whyte range. It’s a hardtail mountain bike so it’s designed to glide over bumps with ease, and the 29 inch wheels are made for getting over anything in your way. It’s made with a Bosch Performance CX 85Nm motor, which actually sits a bit lower down the tube which gives this e-bike a low centre of gravity. This gives you great stability and really helps the bike to grip the road. The battery has a range of different modes so you can enjoy hours of riding, and it’s within the frame which means the bike has a really sleek design, but it’s also really easy to remove. The team at Whyte describes the E505 as the ‘Land Rover Defender of e-bikes’, and we think that’s a pretty accurate description. Learn more and buy it here – whytebikes.com Samebike Lo26 This e-bike from Samebike is for people who want to go for miles – the big powerful 750W brushless motor gives you 45 miles when fully charged, so it’s very powerful but is still nice and quiet. This bike can also reach a top speed of 22mph, so you can get to where you need to be quickly. Unlike some of the other electric bikes we’ve included in this guide, the Samebike LO26 II has an LCD colour display which gives you a range of information as you ride, from standard information such as speed and battery charge level to more interesting information such as pedal assist level. You can also charge your phone by plugging a USB cable into the display. You get all terrain tires on this e-bike which are 26 inches in style, the perfect size for a good blend of speed on flat surfaces and stability on bumpy surfaces. Learn more and buy it here –  samebike.store Engwe EP-2 Pro If you’re looking for an excellent folding electric bike then we don’t think you can do better than the Engwe EP-2 PRO – this e-bike has a brushless 750W motor which takes 6 and half hours to charge fully and can take you up to 60km in electric mode. This e-bike also has a top speed of 25 km/h and the small fat tires – which are 20 inches by 4 inches – are perfect for all terrains. Impressively, this e-bike has a perfect 5 star rating on the Engwe website from more than 400 reviews. The bike weighs 30kg so once you’ve folded it away you can store it inside your home and it won’t be taking up a huge amount of space or be especially difficult to carry. It can also be folded up in just 3 steps and is really easy to pack away. Learn more and buy it here – engwe-bikes-eu.com Giant Entour E+ 2 LDS Giant is a huge name in the word of bicycles, so we weren’t surprised to see that the brand has entered the electric bike space. However we are very impressed how how good the electric bikes from the brand are, particularly the Entour E+ 2 LDS. You’ll notice that this electric bike has a low step through frame design, which makes it really easy to get on and off. It’s also great for just cruising around the city, but when fully charged this e-bike can take you up to 65 miles, so it’s perfect for people needing to travel longer distances too. The frame is mostly aluminum which is very light, coming in at just over 20kg. Overall this is a great all rounder electric bike, learn more and buy it here – giant-bicycles.com We hope this guide helps you to find an excellent electric bike for whatever you need! Let us know if you’ve tried any of these e-bikes or if you have any other suggestions for us to try! If you prefer to be on the water then we have a guide to the best paddle boards you can buy for under £500, and if you prefer to travel by foot then why not try a pair of excellent barefoot shoes?

The Colliers Way – our guide to this lovely Somerset cycle route

By Finn H | March 15, 2023

The Colliers Way is a 24 mile cycling route which takes you through the beautiful landscape of Somerset. The route starts just outside Bath and takes you all the way down to Frome. It’s a short route and can easily be tackled in a day, but you might like to set aside some extra time to stop at some of the attractions along the way, the best and most interesting of which we’ve highlighted below. This guide is for anyone attempting this route in 2023, and is intended to match the original route which was designed. Let’s get into it: Where does The Colliers Way start and end? The route runs from Dundas Aqueduct to Frome via Radstock as show in the image above. The route follows a mixture of low traffic roads and old railway lines serving the Somerset coalfield, and is generally quite flat. What sections are there? There are quite a few variations of the Collier’s Way which you can follow, but we’d say that typically the route is split into the following 8 sections (with rounded distance estimates):   Dundas Aqueduct to Midford- 3 miles Midford to Wellow – 2.5 miles Wellow to Shoscombe – 2 miles Shoscombe – Midsomer Norton – 5 miles Midsomer Norton to Radstock – 2 miles Radstock to Kilmersdon – 2 miles Kilmersdon to Great Elm – 5 miles  Great Elm to Frome – 3 miles  What is there to see and do as you cycle along The Colliers Way? Despite being a relatively short route, there is actually quite a bit to see and do as you move along The Collier’s Way, particularly if you’re happy to veer away from the route a little bit. You’ll never have to move more than 3 miles off the route to visit some of the many villages, towns, and hamlets along the route. Not every section is worth a stop, but we’ve highlighted a few sections which you may wish to plan a stop for. Here are a few of the highlights which you may wish to stop and check out as you travel along Collier’s Way: Dundas Aqueduct to Midford Because you start at the Dundas Aqueduct, you might be tempted to skip it and just get going on the route. But we really think it is worth a look before you set off if you have the time – built in the early 19th century, this amazing structure takes the Kennet & Avon Canal over the River Avon. There isn’t too much else to see as you make your way toward Midford, so it’s probably a good idea to just get your head down and get the first section completed. But as you head in the direction of Limpley Stoke from the Aqueduct, you might want to veer off the route slightly to have a quick glimpse at Chatleigh House, an impressive Grade II listed building which isn’t currently open to visitors, but which is quite stunning to look at. As you reach Midford you’ll pass through the Two Tunnels, the longest cycling and walking tunnel in the UK. Midford to Wellow  If you’re happy to stop in Midford, you could go and visit the disused Midford Station. If you’re a railway enthusiast it is very interesting to explore, and there are some nice walks to be had around the old tracks too. There isn’t too much else to stop at until you start to reach Wellow, where you’ll find St Julian’s Church. This is a a Grade I listed building which dates back to the 14th century and features some stunning architecture, especially the west tower which is 84ft in height. Wellow to Shoscombe As you cycle towards Shoscombe from Wellow, we’d say that you definitely must stop to take a look at Stoney Littleton Long Barrow. This is a neolithic chamber which is believed to have been built around 3500 BC, and which is quite fun (if a little eerie) to explore. The surrounding area is lovely too, with great views. After this, your best bet is to get your head down and head to Shoscombe! Shoscombe to Midsomer Norton This is one of the longer stretches of the route and will require you to go back on yourself toward Radstock, so we’d recommend getting your head down and saving your sightseeing for when you head back toward Radstock. You could also just stop at Radstock rather than going all the way to Midsomer Norton, but it’s up to you. Midsomer Norton to Radstock You go back on yourself just a little bit here which can feel frustrating, but this gives you a chance to stop at Radstock Museum and experience the fascinating Somerset Coalfield Life displays which outline what the life of a Somerset miner would have been like, as well as plenty of other interesting displays. Radstock to Kilmersdon After all of the excitement in Radstock, you’re probably best to get your head down as you travel toward Kilmersdon. There are some nice bars and restaurants to stop at along the way if you’re feeling peckish. Kilmersdon to Great Elm Almost there! And this is another longer stretch at 5 miles so you might be tempted to just crack on, but definitely take time to admire the amazing views along the way. Great Elm to Frome It’s the final stretch, and our advice would be to go all out and enjoy yourself once you reach Frome, where you’ll find plenty of great restaurants and options for relaxing, including the Westway Cinema which has a great old school feel. What should you be aware of before heading along Collier’s Way? This route is short but we wouldn’t say it is straightforward , and you should absolutely plan for bad weather. Take extra clothes with you and some snacks, and we’d even go as far as to plan for accommodation. As with all cycle trips, make sure other people who aren’t on the trip with you know that you’re off on a trip should anything go wrong. Hopefully, this guide has inspired you to tackle this epic route. We’ve also got guides about other routes like the Coast & Castles route, the Borders Abbey Way and the Exe Estuary Trail. If you love walking too – check out our list of the best barefoot shoes you’ll be able to find in the UK.

The Camel Trail – see the best of Cornwall on this excellent cycle route

By Finn H | February 12, 2023

If you’re looking for a route to follow on your bike that’ll take you through some of the best parts of Cornwall, then look no further than the Camel Trail. Cycling along this 18 mile long trail is a perfect way to spend a few hours of your time, and we definitely consider it to be one of the best ways to see some of the prettiest parts of Cornwall. We wanted to highlight this trail and what there is to see along the way, as well as provide some advice for anyone following the trail in 2023. Let’s get into the guide: Where is the Camel Trail? As we mentioned in our introduction, the Camel Trail is in Cornwall. Typically you start in Padstow and finish in Bodmin, but there is no right way around the route and you can dip in and out of it as you like. The trail actually follows a disused railway around the Camel Estuary, hence the name of the trail. One of the great things about the Camel Trail is that it is mostly completely free of traffic and flat. What is there to see along the Camel Trail? Because the trail takes you past so many towns and villages, there is the opportunity to see quite a lot if you wished. However, we wanted to highlight a few of the things which we think are the best to see along the trail. We’ll also be listing them in the order that you’ll see them if you start in Padstow. Keep in mind that some of these locations and attractions might require you to leave the route briefly, which is well worth doing if you have the time! Let’s take a look: Prideaux Place (Padstow) To see this impressive country house properly will require you to veer a little bit away from the Camel Trail, but we think it is well worth a visit. This 16th century grade I listed Elizabethan country house has been the home of the Prideaux family for more than 400 years and is now open to the public. The house is a stunning example of Elizabethan architecture and attracts design geeks from around the country and beyond. So if you’re looking for a spot of grandeur and a pleasant break from the Camel Trail, a visit to Prideaux Place is recommended. Learn more here – prideauxplace.co.uk The National Lobster Hatchery (Padstow) You might be thinking ‘a lobster hatchery, I love the the taste of lobster, this sounds great!’ But we think it’s probably more likely that you’ll be going home with a pet lobster after a visit here. Yes, you can adopt a baby lobster from the National Lobster Hatchery and yes they are very cute! This award winning visitor Centre is located on the South quayside and is a must visit location as you pass through Padstow. You’ll get the chance to learn about lobsters and how to farm them sustainably, as well as see plenty of lobsters of course. A visit only takes about 20 minutes so it’s perfect for a quick stop before hopping back on your bike. Learn more here – nationallobsterhatchery.co.uk Grab a crepe from the Cornish Crepe Company (Padstow) It might be a little early in your journey for a snack, but the crepes served up at the Cornish Crepe Company are well worth stopping for. From a beach hut at The Railway Car Park you can buy freshly made crepes  with either a sweet or savoury filling. Always best eaten fresh, but also a really nice snack to take with you along the Camel Trail. Maybe just don’t try to eat it while you are cycling!! Daymer Bay Beach (Wadebridge) This lovely beach is a great place to stop for a quick break and something to eat (maybe your crepe if you’ve still got it!). At low tide the beach is particularly stunning as the sand is vast and perfect for strolling along. Porteath Bee Centre (Wadebridge) Ok, so bear with us here! This bee centre is actually really fun and informative, with plenty to see and do. You’ll find out about what bees actually do and how they do it, which is really interesting. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to stock up on some delicious honey from the centre. We definitely think it is worth a visit. Bodmin Jail (Bodmin) The trail will take you right through Bodmin which is an excellent place for a stop as there is plenty to see and do here. We actually have an entire guide about this town here, and one of our must-do things is to visit Bodmin Jail. is an immersive experience which manages to be both interesting and slightly creepy. Each section of the building has been renovated to include special features and details which help to capture what it must have been like to be a prisoner here in the 18th century. The whole experience leads up to the final section – The Last Moments, where you reach a fully working Victorian Hanging Pit in the room where prisoners would have been executed.. This experience will definitely stick with you, learn more and book tickets here – bodminjail.org Pencarrow (Bodmin) We didn’t actually mention Pencarrow as a place to visit in our Bodmin guide, but we’ll mention it here – if you enjoy visiting grand country houses then a visit to Pencarrow is recommended. This grade II listed building is impressive to admire and explore, but it’s the gardens which will really wow you. You’ve got 50 acres of gardens to wander around which includes displays of camellias and rhododendrons, and bluebells. There is even an Iron Age fort on the site. This house is a Georgian gem and we’d recommend taking a look if you have the time. Learn more here – pencarrow.co.uk If you’re in Bodmin and you’re looking for a bite to eat then Flory Restaurant and Cafe is a great option – it’s open for brunch all day from 10-30 or lunch from midday, and dinner starts 5-30pm. It’s located close to Priory car park so it’s very handy, and it has a courtyard with bike storage so it’s ideal if you’re cycling the Camel Trail. Things to be aware of before heading on the Camel Trail Obviously, if you’re cycling then you want to bring some water and snacks with you, and always come prepared with a first aid kit. Many of the locations we’ve recommended in this guide will require you to stray off the trail somewhat, so if you’re going to visit them then set aside a good amount of time and book some accommodation too. Other than that, enjoy yourself! Where to hire a bike? If you haven’t got a bike then you can hire one from a number of places in Padstow. Padstow Cycle Hire does exactly what it says on the tin with a good selection of bikes, Trail Bike Hire is another option as is Camel Trail Cycle Hire where the staff have great knowledge about the trail. If you enjoyed this guide, check out our other guides about great UK trails including the Exe Estuary Trail, the Borders Abbey Way, the Two Saints Way, and the Kintyre 66. Looking for more guides about places in and around Devon? We’ve got guides about Braunton, Worthing, and Sidmouth.

Marriott’s Way – our guide to this excellent 26 mile Norfolk route

By Finn H | January 27, 2023

We write about lots of walking routes on our website, many of which extend for well over 100 miles. While this can be great if you have the time to complete a 100-mile trip, for most of us it isn’t really doable. That’s why we love shorter routes like Marriott’s Way – it’s only 26 miles long, but there is plenty to enjoy along the way. You can walk or cycle this route, it really depends how you want to experience it. We’d recommend walking as the slower pace is better suited to admiring your surroundings. This route takes you between two disused railway lines and runs between the historic market town of Aylsham and the medieval city of Norwich. We wanted to publish an updated guide about Marriott’s Way for anyone looking to complete it in 2023, let’s get into it: Where is Marriott’s Way? The route runs between the town of Aylsham and the city of Norwich. You can go along the route in either section, but we find people often prefer to start in Aylsham and finish in Norwich, where there are a few more places to enjoy a well-earned drink or meal. If you’re starting in Aylsham then the start point is on Norwich Road, opposite the Bure Valley Railway station. What sections are there? We should start by saying that there is definitely not a “right” way of following this route, and you might find it ends up being slightly less or more than 26 miles, but you’ll pass by these locations so the route can be split into the following sections:   Aylsham to Cawston (5 miles) Cawston to Reepham (4.5 miles) Reepham to Lenwade (5.5 miles) Lenwade to Drayton (6.5 miles) Drayton to Norwich (4.5 miles) What is there to see and do as you walk along Marriott’s Way? Despite not being a particularly long route, there is quite a lot to see as you move along Marriot’s Way, especially if you’re willing to deviate off the route a little bit. We’ve picked a few points along the way which we think are really worth seeing if you have the time, let’s break it down section by section: Aylsham to Cawston As we mentioned above, we think the route is best started in Aylsham. From here, one of the first points of interest that you’ll pass by is the Bure Valley Railway station near where you start. Here, the Steam Driver Experience really is the highlight – you can learn how to drive an authentic steam train engine, which is quite an amazing experience. But if you don’t want to hang around in Aylsham for too long and you’re keen to get going on the route, you’ll enjoy an interrupted walk straight to Cawston. Expect to spot some wildlife, including woodpeckers, and possibly kestrels along this stretch too. Cawston to Reepham This shorter section of the route is another chance to just enjoy the surrounding scenery until you reach Reepham where there are a number of places to stop for a bite to eat and a drink. The Station Cafe serves up great homemade cakes and also does a great breakfast. The Crown Public House is a charming pub where, after 10 miles into Marriot’s Way, you can enjoy a well-earned pint. Reepham to Lenwade As you pass Reepham and head towards Lenwade, you’ll start to pass through some of the prettiest parts of this entire route – the Wensum river valley and the Whitwell Common. If there is one section of Marriot’s Way where you’ll want to set aside time for diversions, this is it – from Reepham, you head towards Themelthorpe, where you’re technically on part of the Themelthorpe Loop. Here you’ll find the Norfolk Birding birdwatching area. This is an excellent place to stop for a guided birdwatching tour, and the chance to spot some really interesting species. As you head from Themelthorpe to Lenwade, you’re walking through one of the prettiest parts of Norfolk and the surroundings are stunning. You may wish to stop at the Whitwell & Reepham Railway Station, not just to see the interesting machines but also to stop at the excellent cafe. From here, the last stop of note before Lenwade is Whitwell Common, a nature preserve which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and where you might have the chance to spot really rare animals such as otters or kingfishers. Lenwade to Drayton As you leave Lenwade, you’ll walk alongside the River Wensum, again another chance to spot some interesting wildlife but you’ll also probably see some people fishing and maybe even kayaking. If you’ve got time before you reach Drayton then a slight detour to The Mystical Woods is definitely worth the effort – it’s not very well signposted so don’t wander too deep into the woods or you might have a hard time getting out, but the horses and deer that you’ll likely spot make it well worth a wander. Drayton to Norwich As you enter the last section of Marriot’s Way, you might already be looking forward to reaching Norwich for some well-earned R&R. But there are a few locations in this section which you might wish to stop at for a look – Costessey Woods is about a mile along the section, which is a small but really lovely woodland area, especially during the Autumn months. Marlpit Woods, a little further along the route is very small too but also lovely to explore. If you go even further along the route to Eaton Park then you can can enjoy a game of Crazy Golf at the excellent Eaton Park Crazy Golf, a great way to finish your journey along Marriott’s Way. What should you be aware of before heading along Marriot’s Way? As with all of the routes we write about, probably the most important thing to be aware of before heading on the Marriot’s Way route is that you need to plan your accommodation if you don’t plan to complete the route in a day, and always have a backup plan! Always let plenty of people know where you’re going, and ideally tackle the route as part of a group. If you can, complete the route in spring or summer when the weather is less harsh. If you’re walking then you’ll need to be extra careful with how you prepare, as you probably won’t be completing the route in a day. Even though Marriott’s Way isn’t too long, you should still make sure that you’re in good shape before trying to complete it. We’ve written guides about supplements which cyclists may find useful to consume in the months prior to a big cycle, such as greens powder. Hopefully, this guide has inspired you to tackle this great route. As we mentioned, we’ve also got guides about other routes like the Hadrian’s Cycleway, the Borders Abbey Way, and the Exe Estuary Trail.

The Sandstone Way – our guide to this 120 mile route between Berwick upon Tweed and Hexham

By Finn H | December 14, 2022

We’ve written about a number of cycle routes across the UK, and what we’ve realised is that so many of the best routes you can tackle in the UK are in the North of England. We love routes like the Hadrian’s Cycleway and the C2C, but the Sandstone Way might be our favourite of the lot. It is simple and straightforward, but takes you through and past some of the most underrated areas in this part of the country, with Hexham being the perfect place to end your trip. We wanted to produce a guide about this route for anyone looking to tackle it in 2022/23, with a breakdown of what to see along the route and things to know before setting off. Let’s get into the guide: Where is the Sandstone Way? The Sandstone Way typically starts in Berwick upon Tweed and ends in Hexham, taking you along the Sandstone Ridge. This technically makes it a mountain biking route as the terrain does involve a variety of challenges including sandstone features, crags and outcrops. The route is bi-directional and waymarked accordingly, but it’s definitely advised to plan the route carefully before you set off as it can be a little confusing at points. Cycling from North to South is probably the best way to tackle the route because it favours the hills but it is against the wind, so you can tackle it in whichever way works best for you. What sections are there? We should start by saying that there is definitely not a “right” way of doing this cycle route, and you might find it ends up being slightly less than 120 miles, but typically it is split into the 4 following sections in this order:   Berwick upon Tweed to Wooler (36.5 miles) Wooler to Rothbury (37.5 miles) Rothbury to Bellingham (27 miles) Bellingham to Hexham (23 miles)   If you’re intent on getting your head down and not stopping too frequently, you might be able to complete this route in 2 days. However, we think you should allow for 3 or even 4 days, particularly if you plan to stop at the points of interest we have outlined below. What is there to see and do as you cycle along The Sandstone Way? As you can imagine there is quite a lot to see along this route, and unless you’ve set aside a good amount of time you won’t have time to stop at every interesting point along the route. However, we’ve picked a few points along the way which we think are really worth seeing if you have the time, let’s break it down section by section: Berwick upon Tweed to Wooler As you set off from Berwick upon Tweed, your first 5 miles or so along the seafront towards Cheswick will take you past a number of beautiful points of scenery. Spittal Beach is the first stop, a stunning beach with a very fun promenade full of amusements. A little further along you’ll find Cocklawburn Beach, which might not have the fun of Spittal Beach but certainly matches it in terms of beauty and areas to explore (rock pools can be found everywhere). Cheswick Sands is the last beach along this stretch and although it might seem a bit much to visit 3 beaches before you’ve even done 5 miles, we think Cheswick Sands is the prettiest of the lot and is well worth a stop. From here you’ll head towards Fenwick, and then down to Chillingham where you can visit Chillingham Castle, which is apparently the most haunted castle in Britain. It’s a beautiful building and has some amazing history attached to it, plus you can actually stay here overnight if you’re feeling brave enough. Wooler to Rothbury As you move away from the coat and more inland, there might be no more beaches to visit but there is still plenty to see and do along the way if you’re wanting to make some stops. The Linhope Spout Waterfall is found about halfway between the towns and is a few miles off the route, but is both beautiful and impressive, plus if you’re fancying a dip you can actually go into the main pool here (be safe though). A stop closer to the route is McCartney’s Cave in Thrunton Wood, a very odd little cave said to have been occupied by a local monk who lived there. Edlingham Castle to the East of the route is free and ruinous, but is really stunning to visit. Just before you reach Rothbury you’ll pass Cragside, a stunning mansion which is managed by the National Trust and was the home of the brilliant inventor Lord Armstrong. It’s amazing to explore the house but the gardens are also wonderful and a treat to walk around. Rothbury to Bellingham As you leave Rothbury and set off towards Bellingham, one of the first stops you’ll encounter along the route is Lordenshaw Hill Fort, an interesting Just before you reach Raylees, you’ll pass right by Elsdon Tower, which is a rather eerie Grade I listed medieval tower house. You can’t access the tower, but taking a moment to admire it as you pass it is highly recommended. A little further along the route is Winter’s Gibbet, which is a gibbet. If you don’t know what a gibbet is (don’t worry, we didn’t either) – it’s a gallows, and Winter’s Gibbet is a recreation of the gallows that William Winter was hanged from for killing a woman. It’s an impressive and creepy thing to visit. The last stop of note before you reach Bellingham is Hareshaw Linn Waterfall – it’s a short walk from the car park over 6 bridges (which is a very pleasant walk), and on rainy days this is a very impressive and powerful waterfall. Bellingham to Hexham The last stretch of the Sandstone Way shouldn’t take much more than an hour and a half to complete, and because there isn’t too much to see along this section it’s quite a good chance to get your head down and get some miles under your belt. Plus, Hexham is a lovely place to visit and we’d recommend staying there overnight! However, in the second part of this section there are a few points of interest, particularly as you head towards Hadrian’s Wall, where you can visit some of the turrets along the way like the Black Carts Turret. Once you reach Hexham, Hexham Abbey is a must-visit location – it’s a stunning building and wonderful to explore. What should you be aware of before heading along the Sandstone Way? As with all of the cycle routes we write about, probably the most important thing to be aware of before heading on the Sandstone Way route is that you need to plan your accommodation and always have a backup plan! Always let plenty of people know where you’re going, and ideally tackle the route as part of a group. If you can, cycle the route in spring or summer when the weather is less harsh. We also mentioned that this is a mountain biking route, and there is definitely a number of sections along the Sandstone Way which will require a bit of skill to navigate. Hopefully, this guide has inspired you to tackle this epic route. As we mentioned, we’ve also got guides about other cycle routes like the Hadrian’s Cycleway, the Borders Abbey Way and the Exe Estuary Trail. We’ve also got a guide about cycling routes in Scotland.

C2C – our guide to the Sea to Sea route from Whitehaven to Tynemouth

By Finn H | November 20, 2022

We’ve written about a number of cycle routes across the UK, including both the Hadrian’s Cycleway and the Coast & Castles routes. Yet despite how brilliant they are, none of them are as popular as the C2C (‘sea to sea’, often incorrectly referred to as ‘coast to coast’) route. Starting on the beautiful coast of northwest England, this route takes you through the Northern Lakes and over the Pennines before ending in Tyneside. It has a little bit of everything in terms of scenery, and that’s probably why people love it so much. We wanted to highlight each section of this route individually and outline what there is to see and do along the way, as well as provide some tips for anyone looking to tackle this cycle route in 2023. Let’s get into the guide: Where is the C2C cycle route? As we mentioned in the introduction, the route takes you from the Northwest to the Northeast of England in a fairly straight line. The version that we’ve outlined below is about 134 miles in length, and you won’t find a version online that is much more or less than that – every route is between 130 miles and 140 miles long depending on which route you decide to take (we’ll outline the alternative routes you can take later in the guide). What sections are there? We should start by saying that there is definitely not a “right” way of doing this cycle route –  a quick look online will show you that everyone seems to have their own version – but the 6 sections we’ve split the route up into seem to be a widely accepted version and are fairly equal in length which should help you to plan your trip along the route a bit more easily. The sections we’ve split the route into are:   Whitehaven to Keswick Keswick to Penrith Penrith to Alston Alston to Stanhope Stanhope to Consett Consett to Tynemouth   What is there to see and do as you cycle along the C2C route? As you can imagine there is quite a lot to see along this near 140-mile route, and unless you’ve set aside a good amount of time you won’t have time to stop at every interesting point along the route. For each section, we’ve included a few points of interest which you might wish to visit. Most of them are along the route but some will require you to veer off the route slightly, not too much though! Let’s look at each section individually: Whitehaven to Keswick (31 miles) This is the longest section of the route and once you’ve completed it, you’ll already be almost a quarter of the way through the route. Starting in Whitehaven, it’ll be tempting to do a number of things before you’ve even set off on the route, and if you’ve got plenty of time then why not. The Beacon Museum is a great attraction with plenty of interactive exhibitions. You also get a great view of the historic harbour from the top floor, which was built in the 17th century and has some lovely features. As you cycle towards Kirkland and Lamplugh you’ll see the start of the Lakes mountains, and as you move from Fangs Brow to Loweswater you’ll see Mellbreak, a strangely isolated hill in the Western part of the Lake District. The first 10 miles of this section follow a well-marked, well-surfaced cycle path which provides you with a comfortable start to your journey. Things will get trickier though! Keswick – Penrith (18 miles) If you’ve got time to kill in Keswick before you set off then the Derwent Pencil Museum is a very quirky attraction which celebrates the fact that Keswick was the home of the first pencil (it’s far more interesting than it sounds). There’s plenty to see and do in Penrith – Penrith Castle is an impressive 14th-century ruined fortress which has a beautiful reddish tone, and Aira Force Waterfall is a stunning 65-foot waterfall managed by the National Trust which is not to be missed. As you set off from Keswick, you’ll notice a slight incline on the route until about 6 miles in when you reach the village of Scales. After this point, the route starts to level out a bit more. Penrith – Alston (22 miles) This stretch of the route takes you through a number of lovely towns and villages, including the lovely village of Langwathby in the Eden Valley. One of the more unusual stops along this route is definitely Long Meg and Her Daughters, a stone circle which is generally considered to be one of the finest in the north of England. As you approach the tiny hamlet of Haresceugh about 12 miles in, you’ll notice the terrain changing slightly and the route becoming much steeper, but it’s only for a short distance until you reach the Hartside Pass, which is a great place to stop for stunning views across the Solway Firth. After enjoying the scenery, there is a nice downhill part of the route. Alston – Stanhope (22 miles) In terms of a section where you might like to just get your head down and get some miles under your belt, the Alton to Stanhope stretch is probably your best bet. That isn’t to say that there’s nothing worth stopping for along this route – the scenery is stunning, and we’re sure you’ll be stopping for photos plenty of times. But compared to some of the other stretches, there aren’t as many attractions to stop at so you might want to just continue along the route. This route does become steeper as you reach Nenthead, home to the quirky Nanthead Model Village, but evens out once you pass this point and ends with a nice downhill section towards Stanhope. Stanhope – Consett (13 miles) As you set off from Stanhope towards Consett, one of the first points of real interest that you’ll reach is the Smiddy Shaw Reservoir –  built in the 19th century, it’s a really peaceful body of water and lovely to walk around, especially if you enjoy watching wildlife. Further along the route you’ll find The Hownsgill Viaduct, which is an impressive bridge that was previously a railway bridge but is now just used as a footpath. It’s great to walk along, but it’s the views from the bottom which are really special. This section of the route will require you to frontload your work rate – as soon as you set off from Stanhope you’ll notice the incline, but once you reach about 3.5 miles into the section it starts to even out and it is actually quite a pleasant 10 miles or so down into Consett. Consett to Tynemouth (28 miles) The home stretch! There is every chance you won’t actually make it to Tynemouth as there is plenty to keep you busy in Newcastle, and you might not feel like getting back on the saddle after a night in the Toon. But even if you do decide to go all the way to Tynemouth, you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised by how easy it feels, despite the length – it’s mostly downhill and there are very few if any hills to tackle. As far as stop-offs go, this section is really the most interesting part of the entire route – you can stop at attractions like the Life Science Centre, Newcastle Castle, the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, the Segedunum Roman Fort & Museum, and the National Glass Centre without veering off the route at all, and to be honest if you’ve got the time we’d absolutely recommend you do so. It is a great place for pictures. But if you choose to stick to the route and go all the way to Tynemouth, you’ll still find plenty to enjoy at the finish line, most notably the stunning coastal scenery. What should you be aware of before heading along the C2C route? The most important thing to be aware of before heading on the route is that you need to plan your accommodation and always have a back-up plan! You don’t want to be stuck in the middle of the sticks with nowhere to stay. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to places to stay along the route, with everything from B&Bs to hotels. Try to support local businesses where you can too – you won’t find too many chain hotels and restaurants along this route, which is actually a good thing.   Also, be prepared for the worst to happen. Bring an extra phone, clothes for all weather and plenty of snacks and a tent. Cycling UK has a great resource here – https://www.cyclinguk.org/article/11-essential-things-pack-cycle-touring Many people will choose to take an electric bike with them for this route, as they can pedal when they feel like it and then use the electric motor when they feel like it. We have a guide to the best electric bikes you can buy.   We should also mention that unless you’re very experienced and prepared for possible extreme cold temperatures, you should try to complete the C2C route between the months of April and September. The days are longer and warmer, making the route much safer than during the winter months. Many riders have caught hypothermia when tackling the C2C route, and we don’t want you to have the same issue! Take something really warm with you, such as a dryrobe or something similar to a dryrobe. Lastly, although this is not a 200 miler type cycle route, it’s still long and definitely has some challenging sections. You’ll want to be fit before tackling this route, and we’ve published guides about supplements that cyclists may find useful to start taking in the months leading up to attempting the C2C route, including green powder, protein powder, and electrolyte drinks. What are the alternate routes you can take? We mentioned alternative routes earlier, and although we think the route that we’ve outlined is the best way to complete the C2C route, some may wish to try an alternate route. For starters, many people wish to start in either Workington or St Bees. We like the start in Whitehaven because of the easy first 10 miles and the historic harbour in Whitehaven which is lovely to visit, but you can easily switch Whitehaven for either St Bees or Workington.   Once you pass Keswick, you can either continue along the established path towards Penrith or you can deviate southwards towards Appleby-in-Westmorland then into Middleton-in-Teesdale (along the Westmorland Loop), and then back up to Stanhope. Another popular alternate route at this point in the C2C is to take the Weardale route once you hit Alston, which is just a slightly more scenic way of reaching Stanhope. Again, if you’ve got the time you might like to do this.   Lastly, you could finish the route in a number of places. We’ve chosen Tynemouth because we think the sea makes for a dramatic finish, but many cyclists finish in Sunderland (which will require you to take the Durham Loop once you hit Consett) or even Newcastle if you want to finish the C2C with a well-earned night out. Hopefully, this guide has inspired you to tackle this epic route. As we mentioned, we’ve also got guides about other cycle routes like the Hadrian’s Cycleway, the Borders Abbey Way and the Exe Estuary Trail. If you want to go North of the border we’ve got a guide about the best cycling routes in Scotland.

Hadrian’s Cycleway – our guide to this lovely cycle route from Ravenglass to Whitley Bay

By Finn H | September 13, 2022

There are hundreds of cycle routes to follow across the UK, and we’ve written about many of them (read our guide about the Exe Estuary Trail here). But we do have to admit, we have a real soft spot for Hadrian’s Cycleway (Route 72). This route isn’t particularly challenging but it does take you past some of the prettiest areas in the North of England, including a good mix of coastal and inland scenery as well as, of course, Hadrian’s Wall. We’ll be taking a close look at this route, highlighting each section and the things you can see and do along the way if you’re not pressed for time and fancy stopping. Let’s get into it: Where does Hadrian’s Cycleway start and end? Hadrian’s Cycleway is a very flat 174 mile route between Ravenglass and Whitley Bay, and you should expect it to take you around 15-20 hours if you are taking no breaks. More specifically, the route starts at the Glannaventa Roman Bath House just outside of Ravenglass and ends in South Shields. The route is going to take you past, through and around almost 30 towns, villages, and cities, so there is plenty to see and do along the way. We couldn’t possibly include all of it in this guide, so we’ve highlighted some of the best attractions on the route for you to check out. Some of them will be well-known and some of them will be more like hidden gems, so hopefully there is a good mix for all tastes. What sections are there? Typically the route is split into the following 12 sections:   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) South Shields to Whitley Bay (11 miles) (17.5km) As you can see a number of locations have been left out of these sections – this is simply because they are mostly small villages and towns which often aren’t well signposted (although there are still some good things to see in many of these locations, as we’ll show in our guide). What is there to see and do as you cycle along Hadrian’s Cycleway? As you can imagine there is quite a lot to see and do within 174 miles, and you won’t have time to stop at every interesting point along the route. However, we thought it would be worth including as many as possible in case you’re deciding to tackle this route across a weekend and you are happy to take plenty of stops along the way. Let’s take a look at each section: Ravenglass – Whitehaven Starting just outside of Ravenglass at the Glannaventa Roman Bath House, you’ll head up the coast to Whitehaven. We’d understand if you just want to get your head down for this starting section, but if you’re interested in seeing some things along the way you’ve got some great options. If you’re wanting to see some things before you head off onto the route then the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway Co.Ltd could be a good option – this is often described as the most beautiful railway journey in Britain and would be a great way to take in the area you’ll be exploring by bike. Just North of Ravenglass, Drigg is a very small village but is home to Drigg Sand Dunes and Beach, a vast beach with massive dunes that have an old lookout post at the top. As you get up towards St Bees you’ve got more beach areas to explore, including the very pretty Fleswick Bay from which you can see the Isle of Man on a clear day. Once you’re at Whitehaven you can do a number of things including visiting The Beacon Museum, a great attraction with plenty of interactive exhibitions and a great view of the harbour from the top floor. Whitehaven – Maryport As you head towards Maryport from Whitehaven, one of the first locations of note you’ll encounter is Parton Beach. This lovely pebble peach is often quiet and is great for a peaceful stroll. Slightly further up the coast is Harrington, which is a sleepy town with a harbour and a lovely marina from which you can see Scotland on a clear day (you’ll often have a coffee van here too so a great place to grab a brew). Siddick is home to the famous. Siddick Pond, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and reportedly the best place to see bitterns in Cumbria (bird lovers will know what a big deal that is). Once you arrive in Mayport you’ve got a number of great things to check out, including Maryport Marina which is really beautiful and also has lots of cafes and pubs to explore. Just up from the marina is the small lighthouse which is a lovely spot to look across the sea from, and if you’re looking for something totally off the wall then a trip to Lake District Coast Aquarium can’t be missed. Maryport – Silloth This stretch includes 10 different coastal towns and villages, so there is quite a bit to see if you don’t mind stopping a few times. Milefortlet 21 just outside of Mayport is a fascinating first stop – this site was a key part of the Roman’s defences, and you can get a sense of how intimidating it must have been for armies approaching this site thanks to some helpful information boards. Further North at Mawbray you’ll find Mawbray Banks, a gorgeous stretch of sands with amazing views out to sea (including a view of Scotland right across the water). It tends to be very quiet and is ideal if you’re looking for a peaceful stroll away from the route. It’s also a haven for birdwatchers, with plenty of birdlife to see including rarer species such as stonechats and little terns. Once you reach Silloth, Silloth West Beach is a must visit – this vast beach allows for amazing views of the the solway firth. Silloth itself has some interesting areas to explore and you’ll spot some very attractive Victorian buildings throughout the town. Silloth – Angerton This is where the section goes inland, so if you’re a fan of the coastal scenery then this might be good chance for you to get your head down and get some miles under your belt. However, the main thing to mention is that if you’re looking for a quiet place to make your first overnight stop on this trip, Newton Harlosh has a number of great accommodation options. Angerton – Carlisle There is plenty to see and do in Carlisle (which we’ll mention in a minute), so you might like to save the stops for when you arrive there. However, if you fancy stopping along the way then there are a few things which might interest you, the main one being The Cumberland Bird of Prey Centre at Thurstonfield. This is an excellent chance to get up close and personal to some beautiful (and frankly, a little scary) birds. Once you reach Carlisle, the castle is well worth a visit – this imposing 12th century structure was attacked many times throughout history, and the fact that it still stands is a testament to its strength and sturdiness. Carlisle – Brampton This section is where, in our opinion, the scenery really starts to become stunning. The trip to Brampton from Carlisle is often described as the start of the ‘Hadrian’s Wall drive’, but this section won’t quite take you up to the wall just yet (you’ll need to get past Brampton for that). As you leave Carlisle, you’ll pass Rickerby Park which is worth a look. This park sits alongside the River Eden and there are lots of footpaths you can follow. Further East, if you veer slightly off the route you can visit Solway Aviation Museum. This is within the ground of Carlisle Airport and is a really quirky museum with plenty of impressive things to check out. Brampton – Haltwhistle This stretch isn’t long, but if there is any section of the Hadrian’s Cycleway that you’re going to stop during, it should probably be this one. This section takes in many parts of Hadrian’s Wall and is going to be your best chance to explore this amazing Roman structure. But although it might be tempting to cycle all the way to the start of the wall, we’d highly recommend a stop at Lanercost Priory on the way. This is a stunning 12th century building which is steeped in fascinating history, and a quick stop here is all you need to appreciate it. You’re then only a short cycle to the start of the wall at Hare Hill. Unless you’re a real history enthusiast, you might be disappointed by this part of the wall as there is not too much to see. But as you continue towards Haltwhistle along the route you’ll past some of the turrets which are really impressive. Haltwhistle – Hexham After all of that wall excitement you might want to get your head down for this section again (plus, Hexham is a really fun place to spend an evening/overnight), but if you fancy a stop along this section then the Allen Banks and Staward Gorge is quite lovely. Managed by the National Trust, this gorge has a number of woodland and riverside walks which you can follow, plus the well-kept toilets here make for a great pit stop! Hexham – Prudhoe The toon is in the distance, so by this point on the route you might want to save the rest of your sightseeing energy for Newcastle! The only thing along this section which might tempt you for a stop is the very impressive Corbridge Roman Town. This was once a bustling town and has been very well preserved, and there is a fascinating museum here which outlines the amazing history of the place. Prudhoe – Newcastle At this point you’re a stone’s throw from the city so we’d understand if you’re not in the mood for stopping, but Prudhoe Castle might be worth a look. Although ruinous, this castle is still impressive and rather beautiful. Plus, the walk around the castle takes you past some really lovely plant life and is a great way to stretch your legs. We won’t mention any specific things to do in Newcastle because we’re sure you’ll have a few ideas! Newcastle – South Shields We have it on good authority that many people don’t actually manage to complete this section of the route, possibly because they’ve overindulged during their stay in Newcastle. But if you can face this push on the bike, you’ll be rewarded with some lovely coastal scenery at your destination, plus South Shields is a great town to visit. South Shields – Whitley Bay The coastal scenery at Whitley Bay is a lovely way to mirror the coastal scenery of the starting point of this route at Ravenglass. Hopefully, by this point in the route you’ve enjoyed some stunning views and visited a number of fascinating locations. Visiting Whitley Bay We’d recommend spending some time in Whitley Bay – this is a proper British seaside town which has a lot of charm and plenty of things to see and do. Here are some of the highlights: St. Mary’s Lighthouse Built in the late 19th century, St. Mary’s Lighthouse is an amazing landmark to visit. People are often struck by how large it is – it took 750,000 bricks to build. You can reach the lighthouse by walking to it between the tides via a…

Coast & Castles – our guide to this lovely cycle route from Newcastle to Edinburgh

By Finn H | September 6, 2022

There are hundreds of cycle routes to follow across the UK, and we’ve written about many of them (read our guide about the Exe Estuary Trail here). But we do have to admit, we have a real soft spot for the Coast & Castles cycle route. This route isn’t particularly challenging but it does take you past some of the prettiest areas in the North of England and the Scottish Borders Coast – and of course, plenty of coast and plenty of castles. We’ll be taking a close look at this route, highlighting each section and the things you can see and do along the way. Let’s get into it: Where is the Coast & Castles cycle route? In simple terms, the Coast & Castles cycle route links the Forth and Tyne estuaries between Newcastle and Edinburgh. It follows part of the North Sea Cycle Route which takes you along the east coast. Typically you start in Newcastle and head North, because travelling in this direction the wind is generally more favourable. Tyneside is also a great starting point, and Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh is a wonderful finish point. The route is 200 miles long and considered medium difficulty as there isn’t much of an ascent. What sections are there? Typically the route is split into the following 13 sections (however there is a shorter coastal route you can take, we’ve included a section about that option at the bottom of this guide):   Newcastle – Tynemouth: 12.5 miles (20km) Tynemouth – Blyth: 10.5 miles (17km) Blyth – Lynemouth: 11.5 (18.5km) Lynemouth – Amble: 10.5 miles (17.5km) Amble – Embleton: 19 miles (30km) Embleton – Belford: 18 miles (28km) Belford – Berwick: 19 miles (30km) Berwick – Coldstream: 18.5 miles (29km) Coldstream – Kelso: 12 miles (19km) Kelso – Melrose: 15 miles (24km) Melrose – Innerleithen: 17 miles (27km) Innerleithern – Dalkeith: 26 miles (42km) Dalkeith – Edinburgh: 11 miles (18km)   As you can see, it is fairly easy to plan this route as every town, village and city along the way has accommodation and plenty of places to eat. What is there to see and do as you cycle along the Coast & Castles route? As you can imagine there is quite a lot to see and do within 200 miles, and you won’t have time to stop at every interesting point along the route. However, we thought it would be worth including as many as possible in case you’re deciding to tackle this route across a weekend and you are happy to take plenty of stops along the way. Let’s take a look at each section: Newcastle – Tynemouth Starting in Newcastle, it’ll be tempting to do a number of things which won’t exactly set you up for a great cycle! You might not be keen to stick around in Newcastle for too long but if you have a bit of time, you could check out a few of the sights on your way to Tynemouth. Segedunum Roman Fort & Museum will require you to veer slightly towards the South, and the Stephenson Steam Railway is just to the North of your route, but if you’re looking for something right on the route then the Collingwood Monument is an awesome landmark which is well worth a quick stop. Tynemouth – Blyth You’ve actually got a number of things to check out in this stretch, particularly on the Tynemouth side. Just up from Tynemouth is Effard Rocks, which is a beautiful stop-off place with some amazing views and a couple of picnic benches if you’d like to grab a bite to eat. Cullercoats Arch is a natural formation a little further up which is also really cool to check out. A little further up still is Whitley Bay beach, a lovely 2-mile stretch of sand which is great for wandering along. And probably the last thing of note before you reach Blyth would be St Mary’s Lighthouse, where if you’re lucky and you time it right you’ll be able to reach via a causeway when the tides are right. Blyth – Lynemouth This stretch is where things start to get much quieter, but there are still a few things to check out. Newbiggin-by-the-Sea Beach is really beautiful and ideal for a stroll, but the real highlight for many people is The Couple Statue in the sea. This slightly quirky and, let’s face it, slightly ugly statue divides opinion, with many thinking it is great and many thinking it totally ruins the views. We’ll let you make up your own mind on that one. Lynemouth – Amble This stretch of the route is actually one of the shortest at under 11 miles, and because there isn’t much to see it might be a good chance to get your head down and do some pedalling. However, if you do fancy a stop somewhere then you’ve got a few options – Cresswell Beach is really nice and Cresswell Ices is a great place for lovely ice cream, plus dolphins are often spotted along here. Druridge Pools is a must-stop for birdwatchers, as this nature reserve is a haven for waders and wintering wildfowl. The Hauxley Nature Reserve to the North isn’t quite as interesting as Druridge Pools but is still really great for a visit if you want to spot some bird life. Amble – Embleton Fish and chips might not be top of your list, but it is always at the top of ours – Alnmouth, which is right in the middle of Amble and Embleton, is home to probably the best fish and chips in the country at the Hope and Anchor hotel. Trust us! If you’re not looking for food then luckily there are a few other things to see and do, such as Alnwick Castle which is just a few miles inland and is really impressive. Near Embleton you’ll find Dunstanburgh Castle which, despite being ruinous, is very beautiful. Embleton – Belford This section brings you a bit more inland, but still takes you past some of the most breathtaking parts of the Northumberland Coast AONB – especially if you can capture it on a Camera Drone. It also takes you just past Bamburgh and of course, the mightily impressive Bamburgh Castle which is well worth a slight diversion and is one of the most important Anglo-Saxon archaeological sites in the world. You’ll pass through a number of great villages and towns on your way to Belford, and if you’re looking for somewhere great to stay then Belford has a number of wonderful options. Belford – Berwick This is one of the longest stretches of the route and there is plenty to see along the way, but the absolute must-visit as far as we’re concerned is Holy Island. You’ll need at least half a day to see it properly so it would probably require a bit of a stopover, but we think it is totally worth it. Despite being small, there is plenty to see and do on the island – the pubs are great, the restaurants are lovely and the coastal castle is impressive. Crossing the causeway is part of the fun too, as you can only cross at certain parts of the day. Berwick – Coldstream If you follow the original, 200 mile version of the Coast & Castles route then this is the stretch which finally takes you inland and away from the beautiful coast. Luckily, the Scottish Borders countryside is also really lovely to explore, and you’ll still be near water in the form of the River Tweed. This is probably a good section to get your head down and make some miles, but if you’re looking for somewhere to stop then Norham Castle is right between Berwick and Coldstream and despite being ruinous is very pretty. It’s also free to visit and is unmanned so won’t take too long to check out! Go for a swim (take your changing robe) or get on a paddle board. Coldstream – Kelso This is another shorter section and a section without too much to see, but still a few gems (especially as you get towards Kelso). Floors Castle is an impressive 18th-century building which is a total gem. The grounds are amazing and lovely to explore. Kelso is also full of interesting independent shops, particularly clothing shops. Kelso – Melrose Another section with not too much to see aside from all of the beautiful, rolling Scottish countryside, however with a few gems. Smailholm Tower is worth a visit if you’re into quirky historical buildings. This 15th-century tower doesn’t have too much to see aside from the amazing panoramic views from the top, which are well worth the price of admission. If you’re looking for amazing views without paying for them, Scott’s View is only a few miles further along. It’s free and gives you probably the best views of the Eildon hills you’ll get anywhere. Melrose – Innerleithen The absolute must-visit location between Melrose and Innerleithen is Abbotsford, which was the home of Sir Walter Scott. The building is hugely impressive and a tour gives you an idea of the influence Sir Walter Scott had on Scottish culture. The grounds are also amazing to explore. For a slightly less grand but still interesting visit, Traquair House just to the south of Innerleithen is worth a look. This is Scotland’s oldest inhabited house, built in the early 12th century, and is very fascinating to look around. Innerleithen – Dalkeith This is the longest stretch of the entire route so you might not fancy taking too many breaks during this section, but there are some great things to see if you’ve got time! Glentress Forest is just to the West of Innerleithen, and we’ve got an entire guide about this excellent forest if you’d like to learn more. The gardens at Arniston House are beautiful to explore and a great excuse to stop for a wander, and the same goes for Oxenfoord Castle. But to be honest, you’re probably best just sticking to the route for this section and saving your sightseeing energy for the last 2 sections! Dalkeith – Edinburgh Almost there! This 11-mile stretch will fly by if you stick to the route, but maybe make some time to check out Dalkeith Country Park, where you can sit next to the creek and reflect on the amazing journey you’ve undertaken. And once you’ve regained some zen, get back on the saddle and head for the capital! Edinburgh You made it! And we don’t really know where to start with what to see here. Of course, you’ve got the favourites – the castle, the gardens, the Royal Mile. But make sure to check out the pubs and restaurants, and if you’re staying for longer than a day check out some of the beaches near Edinburgh for a chance to relax after your epic journey. Cycling to St. James’ Park If you’re starting this route in Edinburgh and you finish in Newcastle, then you’ll have time to visit St. James’ Park. This is the home ground of Newcastle United, and is one of the most impressive and iconic football stadiums in the whole of the UK. If you’re on your bike and you’re looking to reach St. James’ Park from the start of the Coast & Castles route at the KGVI Newcastle University Building, here is the route to follow:   Cycle along Queen Victoria Road until you reach Richardson Rd, then follow the road over the roundabout Keep following Richardson Road until you reach Leazes Terrace Cycle 0.1 miles down this road and you’ll have reached St. James’ Park! We created a Google Map for this route here. Once you reach St. James’ Park, you’ll find more than 30 Sheffield bike stands at the ground, where you can safely secure your bike while you admire the stadium (or even visit if you’ve arranged a tour or got a ticket for a match, which we’d highly recommend!)…

Exe Estuary Trail – see the best of Devon on this excellent cycle route

By Finn H | June 10, 2022

If you’re looking for a route to follow on your bike that’ll take you through some of the best parts of Devon, then look no further than the Exe Estuary Trail. Looping around the Exe Estuary, cycling along this 26km long trail is a perfect way to spend a few hours of your time, and we definitely consider it to be one of the best things to do in Devon. This trail links Exmouth, Exeter, and Dawlish, and includes a number of excellent stops along the route. We wanted to highlight this trail and what there is too see along the way, let’s get into the guide: Where is the Exe Estuary Trail? As we mentioned in our introduction, the Exe Estuary Trail is in Devon. Typically you start in Dawlish and go right round the estuary to Exmouth, passing next to and through villages and towns such as Starcross, Topsham, Exton, Powderham, Lympstone, and Exeter. There is no right way around the route, but it’s often easier to start in Dawlish.  What is there to see along the Exe Estuary Trail? Because the trail takes you past so many towns and villages, there is the opportunity to see quite a lot if you wished. However, we wanted to highlight a few of the things which we think are the best to see along the trail. We’ll also be listing them in the order that you’ll see them if you start in Dawlish. Keep in mind that some of these locations and attractions might require you to leave the route briefly, which is well worth doing if you have the time! Let’s take a look: Dawlish Dawlish is a great place to start on the Exe Estuary Trail, the only issue being that you might not want to leave! It’s what we’d describe as a proper seaside town – golden sandy beaches, ice creams and chips. In the centre of Dawlish you’ll find an area known as The Lawn, home to the famous black swans. Another great area to visit is the Dawlish Warren, a lovely nature reserve. Starcross This waterside village is especially interesting to visit if you’re a fan of trains and railways – the station which originally opened in the 19th century is lovely to see. You’ve also got the remains of one of Brunel’s railway pumping stations here, as well as the chance to see heritage trains running along the routes. Starcross is also a great place to stop if you’re looking to do some bird watching on the Exe Estuary. Powderham Castle You’ll need to head off the trail for a couple of hours to properly see Powderham Castle, but we think it is absolutely worth it. The castle sits within an ancient deer park and is really very picturesque, and it’s also one of Devon’s oldest family homes. You’ll also be right next to the village of Kenton, famous for its red sandstone church. Learn more here – powderham.co.uk River Exe County Park This park runs parallel to the bike trail and is perfect for a stroll through some interesting terrain. If you’ve got a picnic with you then this is a great place to stop also! Keep an eye out for the cows and the buttercups. Plants Galore Ok, so this might just be a plants and flowers store, but we love it! We think it has a certain charm. Grab yourself some lovely plants for your home or garden, and if you’ve got your dog with you then no worries, they’re dog friendly. Plus, you get a free tea or coffee as you walk around the place! Lovely. Topsham The trail will take you right through Topsham which is an excellent place for a stop. Despite being a town, it has a real cosmopolitan feel to it, with plenty of bars and places to eat. If you want to experience a bit of culture then Topsham Museum is a nice place to visit. RSPB Bowling Green Marsh If there is one place you’re going to visit during your trip along the Exe Estuary Trail, we’d make it the RSPB Bowling Green Marsh, especially if you’re an avid bird watcher. It’s an ideal area to see interesting birds up close as they have a lookout hide. Expect to see birds like waders, ducks, and geese feeding and resting, as well as more interesting birds like godwits, avocets, and wigeons. Lympstone Lympstone is another village that you’ll pass right through on the trail, but despite being small there are a few great things to see here. Peter’s Tower, a 19th-century clock tower, is pretty well known and easy to get to. If you fancy staying overnight in the village then you can actually book a stay in the tower which we imagine would be very cool. The harbour is also a lovely place to explore or to just sit at, watching the sea and boats. Exmouth Exmouth is a great place to finish the trail in because it is very picturesque and there is plenty to see and do. It’s generally regarded as the gateway to the Jurassic Coast and has 2 miles of beach to walk along. You might even feel like jumping in the sea after all that cycling! If you’ve still got some energy then Exmouth is a mecca for watersports, including kayaking, windsurfing, and even kite surfing.   Things to be aware of before heading on the Exe Estuary Trail Obviously, if you’re cycling then you want to bring some water and snacks with you, and always come prepared with a first aid kit. Many of the locations we’ve recommended in this guide will require you to stray off the trail somewhat, so if you’re going to visit them then set aside a good amount of time and book some accommodation too. If you don’t have a bike, there are hire options in Dawlish. Other than that, enjoy yourself! Hiring push and electric bikes in and around Exeter (2023 options) If you’re visiting Exeter and you want to travel along the Exe Estuary Trail, it’s very doable for all levels of cyclists because the trail is under 30 miles in length and relatively flat. If you haven’t brought your bike with you then Exeter is probably your best bet for hiring bikes, as many of the smaller towns and villages along the route don’t have many hiring options. Previously, you could hire both manual and electric bikes from Co Bikes in Exeter, but that scheme has now ended. Here are some alternatives within Exeter and the surrounding area: Saddles & Paddles – starts from £24 for a full day hire of a push bike, and £50 per day for an electric bike hire, both very reasonable prices Forest Cycle Hire – based in Haldon Forest, you can hire push bikes for £20 for a half day, and electric bikes for £40 for 3 hours Darts Farm – an adult push bike is £22 per day, there are no electric bike options but you can get a tandem for £40 per day (lots of fun) Route 2 Bikes – this place is closer to Topsham than Exeter, but it’s such a great option for electric bike hire. You can hire an electric bike for just £35 per day, but if you really want to explore the area you can hire an electric bike for 7 days which will cost you £110 Fat Llama – many Exeter locals will hire out their push and electric bikes for visitors who want to borrow them to enjoy cycling during their stay. Fat Llama is a good website to check out, and we’ve seen electric bikes for hire on there for as little as £35 per day If you enjoyed this guide, check out our other guides about great UK cycling trails including Marriott’s Way, the C2C route, and the Coast and Castles route. Looking for more guides about places in and around Devon? We’ve got guides about Braunton, Worthing, and Sidmouth.