This week-long self-guided cycling holiday takes you along Hadrian’s Wall, with stops at some of its most important historical Roman sites, but also along the Sea to Sea (C2C) Route 71 cycling trail. Follow the line of the Roman frontier for 274km, first cycling up the Cumbrian coast to the Solway Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, then pedalling cross country along Hadrian’s Wall into Northumberland.
This tour is suitable for cyclists of all skills, and e-bikes are also available to rent, so that you have plenty of energy to enjoy Hadrian’s Cycleway’s historic highlights of Roman forts, including Vindolanda and Housesteads, as well as milecastles, abbeys and ancient towns.
- Hadrian’s Wall, UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Eden Valley
- Delicious seafood in Northumberland
- Ride right across England on rural roads
- Warm welcome and comfortable accommodation
- Pedal the Solway Coast, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
- Wild and beautiful landscapes
Click to view map
Day 1: Arrival Whitehaven
Make your way to the Georgian harbour town of Whitehaven. Situated on the west coast of Cumbria, Whitehaven used to be a Roman port and became one of the busiest in England with trade links to America from the 1600s, coal and iron production, and dubious links with the slave trade. Whitehaven is also the only place in England to be invaded by the USA in 1778, and parts of the town were set on fire.
- Accommodation: Glenfield House (Whitehaven) or similar
Day 2: Ravenglass to Whitehaven | 35km
After breakfast, together with your bikes, catch your prebooked taxi van to Ravenglass, which is to the south of Whitehaven. Ravenglass is an interesting little coastal village. You may wish to leave your bikes for a while and take the heritage Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway for a steam excursion into the Lake District (approx. 2h, not included). Hadrian’s Cycleway begins at the Glannaventa Roman Bath House, about 500m from the village. The route passes Ravenglass station and crosses the estuary on the railway bridge. Cycle on mainly quiet roads and off-road paths through the villages of Holmrook, Drigg and Seascale, then past Sellafield Nuclear Plant before turning away from the coast towards the small town of Egremont. Further on, you join the Sea to Sea (C2C) Route 71, which takes you into Whitehaven.
- Cycling for the day: 35km
- Accommodation: Glenfield House (Whitehaven) or similar
Day 3: Whitehaven to Silloth | 43km
Head north passing through Workington. This is an ancient market town, which in its post-industrial and mining malaise has become the main centre for shopping in West Cumbria. From here, you are on to another old Roman town: Maryport which has an interesting aquarium. Just to the north is the Senhouse Roman Museum, dramatically located on cliffs overlooking the Solway Firth and set next to a Roman fort. Climb the observation tower for a fabulous view of the site. Continue cycling along to Silloth, a classic unspoilt English seaside town on the Solway coast. It has an extensive town green in its centre and, on its long promenade, you can take a lovely walk taking in the majestic Solway Firth and views across the water to Scotland.
- Cycling for the day: 43km
- Accommodation: The Golf Hotel (Silloth) or similar
Day 4: Silloth to Carlisle | 56km
Riding out from Silloth, your attention turns to the East as you turn and head around the splendid Solway Firth, which is all that separates you from Scotland. On the Cumbrian side, much of the coastline is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where the wetlands make this a major coastal bird area. The minor roads head around the marshes before winding west and then back east via the village of Bowness on Solway. This is at the western end of Hadrian’s Wall and is marked by a pavilion on the small coastal cliff. The Wall was originally made of mud in this area, and not much survived. However, the village is situated on the site of the Roman fort called Maia, which was the second largest on Hadrian’s Wall. Your overnight is in Carlisle – a border city that has changed nationality a few times through its turbulent history. If you have time, it is worth visiting the castle and museum, otherwise, take a walk through the Cathedral.
- Cycling for the day: 56km
- Accommodation: Crown and Mitre Hotel (Carlisle) or similar
Day 5: Carlisle to Haltwhistle | 47km
After Carlisle, climb up out of the Eden Valley and head into the Pennines, named by the Romans after the Apennine Mountains in Italy. Mostly you will be cycling gentle hills although there are a few steep ones. On the way, you could have a break in Bampton. Or after about 24km you can visit The Priory, church and café at Lanercost, a useful stop before the route climbs up for the first views of Hadrian’s Wall. You then cycle alongside the wall for the next five kilometres or so, with views over the Irthing Valley to the south. Cycling past Banks with various remains of wall turrets and signalling stations, you arrive at the large site of the Roman fort at Birdoswald, with its tea shop. The route then descends to cross the River Irthing near Gilsand and on through Greenhead with the option to visit the ruins of Thirlwell Castle on the way. From here, a new traffic-free cycle path runs beside the railway line, get ready for the steepest hill on the whole route up to Greenhead Bank. As a reward, visit the Roman Army Museum at the top (note that you can buy a combined ticket, for entry into Vindolanda tomorrow as well). It’s time for a descent, and this ride takes you into bustling Haltwhistle, claimed to be the most central town to the British isles and your final stop for today.
- Cycling for the day: 47km
- Accommodation: Manor House (Haltwhistle) or similar
Day 6: Haltwhistle to Hexham | 35km
Today is a shorter bike ride, so you will have enough time to visit the museum sites along the way. Just over 11km after Haltwhistle, there is a steep ascent from Bardon Mill back towards Hadrian’s Wall. You could opt to take a short diversion to the pub and the Northumberland National Park visitor centre at Once/Twice Brewed. Otherwise, it is straight on to the museum remains at Vindolanda – the most impressive site along Hadrian’s Wall. This remote outpost of the Roman Empire has been extensively excavated, and many relics are housed in the newly renovated museum.
Past Vindolana, the road is roughly surfaced, and after half a mile of climbing, you reach the highest point of Hadrian’s Cycleway. Now you have 9.6km of descent on a largely straight road taking you to the banks of the River Tyne. The route will now follow the river closely all the way to the North Sea, but first, you arrive at the busy market town called Hexham. Probably the most picturesque town on the trip, it has abbey ruins with a Saxon crypt which dominates the town centre.
- Cycling for the day: 35km
- Accommodation: The County Hotel (Hexham) or similar
Day 7: Hexham to South Shields and Tynemouth | 56km
Leaving Hexham having crossed the River Tyne, it’s not far to Corbridge. This is a smaller, attractive town, uniform in its stone buildings and slate roofs. Continuing on cycling from Prudhoe to Tynemouth, the route is almost entirely traffic-free, following the north bank of the River Tyne. The cycle route glides serenely into town, sometimes green, sometimes built-up, but always interesting. First, come 11.2km of quiet lanes from Corbridge to Ovingham. Then this section of Hadrian’s Cycleway briefly crosses the Tyne on a rickety road bridge to join the Wylam Waggonway – a tramroad dating from the 1740s. The way gets busier, but you soon arrive at Newcastle’s riverside with seven bridges in very quick succession. The newest, Gateshead Millennium Bridge, is reserved for cyclists and walkers. Staying on the north bank, you now climb above the river onto a railway path. There are dramatic views back down to the river and the site of the old Swan Hunter shipyard. Cycle around the rather built-up riverside district passing the last Roman fort museum at Segendunm. Cross the river on the ferry and cycle the last couple of kilometres to Arbeia South Shields Roman Fort, the official end of Hadrian’s Cycleway.
From here you retrace your cycle back to the ferry and make your way into Tynemouth to drop off your bikes and check in to your accommodation. You can celebrate your achievement in local style with fish, chips and a pint!
- Cycling for the day: 56km
- Accommodation: Tynemouth 61 Guest House (Tynemouth) or similar
Day 8: Departure
Depart from Tynemouth. There is a convenient metro train to Newcastle Central Station from where you can join the national rail network.
What to expect
Accommodation on this tour includes a mix of small, locally-owned hotels, B&Bs and traditional guesthouses. They have been carefully selected based on a variety of criteria including their location, warm hospitality, fine local food or commitment to responsible tourism. All rooms have en-suite or private bathrooms. Note that it is sometimes necessary to accommodate you away from the trail itself, as there is not always suitable accommodation close to the trail. Details will be given in your pre-departure info pack.
Click to view sample hotels for this tour
*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.
Breakfast is included on all days. When no restaurant location is available on the route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. You can have dinner at the guesthouse you are staying at or at the village pubs and restaurants.
Difficulty and terrain
This itinerary is suitable for regular cyclists. Most of the route follows well-surfaced gravel cycle paths, tarmac cycle paths and quiet minor roads. There are no difficult off-road sections, but there are a few steep, short hills in the central section (up to 150m height climb) (read more about difficulty grades). The route is signed with white acorn signs and is easily navigable. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.
When to go
This trip is available from end-March until October.
The flexibility of self-guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date during the season.
Up-to-date travel advice on the United Kingdom is available here (for Canadian citizens) and here (for US citizens).
Click to view travel options
Our recommended airports for this tour are Edinburgh (EDI), Manchester (MAN) or Newcastle upon Tyne (NCL).
By train or bus
- Arrival: Newcastle is a major transport hub in the northeast of England and has excellent rail, road and air links from Scotland and the South of England. It also has an airport which serves many carriers.
- Whitehaven train station is close to the harbour and the accommodation on Day 1. Check the Traveline or Trainline website for up-to-date travel information, or use the Omio planner above.
- Departure: From Tynemouth, take the metro train to Newcastle Central Station to join the national rail network.
- Ferry services run between Tyne (Newcastle) and IJmuiden (Amsterdam).
- 7 nights accommodation on a twin share basis with ensuite facilities where available (hotels, inns, B&Bs and guesthouses)
- 7 breakfasts
- Detailed route descriptions and maps
- GPS tracks available on request
- Luggage transfer from hotel to hotel on all cycling days (one bag per person, up to 15kg)
- 24/7 phone assistance by our local representative
- Airfare and connecting land transfers
- Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
- Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
- Personal expenses
- Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
- Any items not explicitly listed as included
Options, extras & supplements
- A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room (subject to availability); note that single rooms sometimes may be of an inferior standard to double/twin rooms
- This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
- Bike rental
- E-bike rental
- Extra nights along the route are available upon request
- Hybrid bike – 24 gears women’s or men’s lightweight day bikes, perfect for exploring the area.
- E-bike – comfort e-bike that exudes elegance, has sufficient power, is easy to operate and at the same time ensures a relaxed riding experience.