Cycling in the Pennines*

The Pennines
The north of England makes for the perfect adventure for walkers and cyclists alike. The Pennines are a range of mountains and hills which separate the north east from the north west and they’re a great escape for anyone looking to get away from their busy lives and focus on their own wellbeing. The Pennines were awarded the title of Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1988 thanks to it’s fantastic lanscape and, if you haven’t been already, you’re missing out.

What makes the Pennines worth a visit?

Whether you’re a hiker or a cyclist, you won’t be disappointed. There are stunning views that will leave you trying to find the perfect spot for your Insta pics which won’t be difficult – the entire area is breath-taking.

The fact that the Pennines can be challenging keeps people coming back. There’s also a real mixture of landscapes to explore – heather moors, peatlands, dales, meadows, upland rivers and woodland areas – so you won’t be bored.

In collaboration with Leisure Lakes Bikes, here’s some help to plan your Pennines itinerary. Grab your mountain bikes and some walking boots and make your way up north for some stunning scenery and unforgettable memories.

Where to start?

The Wear and Rockhope Valleys is one of the best cycle routes in the North Pennines as it has a bit of everything. From the Burnhope Reservoir to Lintzgarth Arch, these beautiful scenes will keep you pedalling.

This route begins at the Durham Dales Centre in Stanhope, so make sure you book into a hotel nearby where you can relax and recover after the long ride. The Durham Dales Centre has a gift shop, craft shop and tea room so start your journey with a pot of tea (maybe save the cake until after).

Beginning your journey

And you’re off! From the Durham Dales Centre, follow the A689 towards Stanhope Town Hall. You’ll pass the Stanhope Fish and Chip shop but don’t be tempted to stop here, you can reward yourself after the bike ride.

Continue to follow this road and you’ll eventually come to a bridge that you need to cross. Carry on and then take the third path on your right, following the road upwards. You’ll pass Greenfoot Hotel and Greenhead Farm before you eventually reach Rockhope. If you’re in need of refreshment, the Rockhope Inn is the perfect place to stop. It has outdoor seating so you can grab a drink and (hopefully) soak up some sunshine.

Once you’re suitably refreshed, carry on past St John’s Church and you’ll reach the town center. Take your second left, following the main road and the Rockhope Burn river where you’ll come to Allenheads. Once you get to Allenheads, stop off at the Allenheads Inn – it’s a popular place for both cyclists and hikers.

Once you’re in Allenheads, take a right and stay on the B6295 road and before long you’ll find yourself in Cowshill. A welcoming spot for cyclists is the Cowshill Hotel where you can have a well-earned break. After your drink, follow the road downwards and you’ll come to the A689 road. Continue along this and you’ll get to Ireshopeburn.

You’ll then cycle past St John’s Chapel and Daddry Shield where you need to stay on Pleasant Road. This area is full of different cafes and pubs, including Chatterbox Café, The Golden Lion and The Blue Bell Inn. You will then reach Brotherlee, where you need to remain on the road that you’re currently on and eventually you will pass Horsley Hall – a country hotel. Continue following this road and you will reach a bridge crossing the River Wear. Take the right onto the B6278 here and you will be back in Stanhope.

To complete your journey, take a right, head back towards the Durham Dales Centre and…relax!

How long will it take?

In total, the distance of the route is almost 25 miles. For the faster cyclist, this route can be done in just over an hour. However, I’d prefer to take it at a slower pace and take in all the sights (and stop at a few pubs, of course!) so it may take a few hours.

Any challenges?

Obviously the route is hilly and these can be challenging, especially in bad weather so make sure you check the forecast before you set out.

Here are the main challenges on the route:

– The Brandon Walls and Hill Top has a height of 1570ft and will take 2 miles to complete.
– Rookhope Head has a height of 1745ft and will only take 0.75 miles.
– Burtree Fell has a height of 1836ft and will take up 1.8 miles of your journey.

What are your favourite cycling routes in the Pennines? Let me know in the comments!

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