Rich in history and strong on character, our cycling holidays around Coast and Castles provide a true taste of the North. This route, taking in the Northumberland coast, makes for a great UK leisure cycling holiday.
The ride itself is as much defined by water as it is by land - the River Tyne, the North Sea, the mighty Tweed, Leithen Water, Dewar Burn and the Firth of Forth form an almost continuous, fluid companion for nearly 200 miles.
The landscapes are memorable too, through sand dunes, vast beaches, ancient woodlands, castles on craggy fingers of rock, deep valleys and heather moorland - together they make for an extraordinary array of scenery.
There are plenty of reasons to get off your bike too - Holy Island, Bamburgh Castle, a pint at the Ship Inn at Low-Newton-by-the-Sea, the town walls of Berwick and Melrose Abbey, to name a few. However, the road somehow lures you on here, on and up until you reach the heights of the Moorfoot Hills and the staggeringly lovely view down to your journey’s end - Edinburgh.
Day 1: Arrive in Newcastle
Arrive in Newcastle. Newcastle upon Tyne is the thriving, cultural capital of the North-East. There are many excellent restaurants here and if you arrive in good time, there’s nearly always something on – either at the Baltic Centre, the contemporary visual arts venue, Sage Gateshead, an excellent music venue, or one of the other galleries or museums along the ‘Golden Mile of Culture’. Newcastle is also well known for its nightlife.
Day 2: Newcastle to Warkworth – approx 47 miles
The ride starts on the traffic-free cycle path that passes underneath the ornate bridges spanning the Tyne, and follows the river east along the north bank, towards the sea. A couple of miles further and you’re on the quays in North Shields, with great views across the mighty Tyne.
Where the river runs out to the sea, sits Tynemouth, a pretty village with several architectural gems. Passing below the 11th century priory and castle, you turn north at Tynemouth and follow the seafront, past a great expanse of sand and breaking surf. There’s a lovely section along the old seafront round Whitley Sands, and then a gravel track towards St Mary’s Lighthouse, with North Sea rollers breaking on the rocks. Then back on a cyclepath, hugging the coast again, to Blyth.
The next part really emphasises the beauty of cycling the Northumberland coast, where you pass the ancient remains of Hadrian’s Wall. Head off along the 12-mile beach round Druridge Bay. You’ll be aware of the haunting cries of pied oystercatchers and bright eyed curlews. Slip through the fishing port of Amble, and you’re on the home stretch to Warkworth. This charming village, dominated by a medieval castle, is encircled by the Coquet, one of this region’s famous salmon rivers.
Day 3: Warkworth to Berwick-upon-Tweed – approx 53 miles
Alnmouth is the first village on today’s route. It’s a great spot for a beach walk, before heading to Craster hugging the coast. There is a sense of timelessness in these unfrequented lanes, the remote seaward farms and the empty beaches. Enjoy the view along the coast north, to Dunstanburgh Castle.
Past the castle at Bamburgh, the route heads inland, before returning to the sea again, near the Holy Island causeway. Past Goswick Sands and round the docks in Tweedmouth to reach the bridges over the mighty River Tweed, and the day’s final destination – the handsome, historic fortified town of Berwick.
Day 4: Berwick-upon-Tweed to Melrose – approx 45 miles
You turn inland, following the Tweed upriver, crossing back and forth over the fast flowing waters, in and out of Scotland, through Norham, Coldstream and Kelso. On the final few miles to the effortlessly picturesque town of Melrose, you skirt beneath the Eildon Hills, three enigmatic mounds that rise steeply above the Tweed and are thought to be King Arthur’s resting place.
Day 5: Melrose to Edinburgh – approx 45 miles
You continue west along the banks of the River Tweed from Melrose and on to Innerleithen, where you turn north and head for the Moorfoot Hills. The climb is gradual, beside Leithen Water at first. Soon enough, you’re alone among the tops of the hills with glorious views down to the Firth of Forth and Edinburgh. A fine, easy descent brings you down to Dalkeith. The route leads you through the outskirts of Auld Reekie, to the foot of Arthur’s Seat.