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


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?

FireShot Capture 1762 - Hadrian's Cycleway - Poster (US) -

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 causeway. Once at the lighthouse, it's 137 steps to the top, from where you can enjoy amazing views of the surrounding area.

Walk along the promenade

Whitley Bay promenade has undergone huge renovations in recent years and is really lovely to walk along. The views across the sea are amazing and you can walk to the Brown's Bay area (pictured) where you'll often see people diving.

Spanish City

Spanish City is an amazing venue in Whitely Bay which is used for everything from dining to Christmas events. Inside the venue, you'll find family-friendly restaurants, a tea room, and even a champagne bar. It sits at the end of the promenade so you can actually walk along the promenade all the way to Spanish City, which is really lovely. Learn more about the venue here -

What should you be aware of before heading along the Hadrian's Cycleway?

This 174 mile route is by no means straightforward but compared to many UK cycling routes, it is relatively quick to complete. That's why we've included so many things to see and do along the way, so don't be afraid to take time to check them out! It's also a very flat route so road bikes will be suitable for the Hadrian's Cycleway.


Cycling is a very safe activity, especially when compared to driving a car, as noted by various studies including this study from UCL and this study from Headway.


But you still need to keep your wits about you as you travel along Hadrian's Cycleway, and of course, make sure you're wearing appropriate safety equipment such as a helmet and reflective clothing.


If you want to be really safe as you travel along Hadrian's Cycleway then travel on an electric bike - as noted in a Dutch study, e-bikes are just as safe as standard bikes.
Hopefully, this guide has inspired you to tackle this epic cycling route. We've also got guides about other cycling routes like the Coast & Castles route, the Borders Abbey Way and the Exe Estuary Trail.

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

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