Stunning coastal landscapes with castles towering on the horizon, parklands brimming with diverse wildlife and highland cows, pristine stretches of creamy sandy beaches, layers upon layers of emerald hills – cycling the Coast and Castles route, you will quickly understand why it has become one of the most popular cycle routes in the UK.
Starting in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the North of England, this Collection leads 223 miles (359 km) to Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, over seven varied routes. As the name of the cycle route suggests, you will visit many incredible castles dotted along the coast which tell various tales of the fates of former kings, kingdoms, and legends.
This Collection is suitable for all cyclists as there are no big climbs and most of the route follows quiet lanes, tracks, and cycleways. As most of the section along the coast follows grassy tracks, we recommend riding a mountain or hybrid bike. You can easily rent a suitable bike in Newcastle and leave your city bike at home.
Each of the routes in this Collection ends in a town or village with various of accommodation options to make your ride even more comfortable. You will also find plenty of pub and ice cream stops as well as local delicacies such as smoked kippers.
You can easily reach the start of the route by train to Newcastle which has direct connections across the UK. However, as most of the trains are run by East Coast and CrossCountry, you should definitely make sure you reserve a space for your bike well in advance. Although the trip up north can take quite some time from London and the South of England, the train journey passes through quaint countryside along the way.
The Coast and Castles cycle ride offers something for everyone – culture, history, local delicacies, hills, rivers, the sea, and beaches. And, what better way to explore one of the UK’s most beautiful corners than by bike?
For more information about trains to Newcastle, visit: thetrainline.com/destinations/trains-to-newcastle
For more information about visiting Newcastle, visit: visitnewcastle.com
On your first day of adventure cycling the Coast and Castles route, you will be impressed by the incredible history and nature along Northern England’s coastline.
Starting from the bustling metropolis Newcastle-upon-Tyne, you will pass by golden sandy beaches, the crumbling ruins of ancient castles and through picturesque coastal towns. Today, you will cover 30 relatively flat miles (48km) of the National Cycle Route 1 which mostly follows traffic-free paths.
The route begins from Newcastle’s iconic Tyne Bridge which crosses the river of the same name. From here, you follow the River Tyne through the city as it meanders towards the North Sea.
Newcastle is known as a city that never stands still. With a thriving entertainment scene, excellent restaurants and plenty of things to see and do, it comes as no surprise that the city was voted the best place to visit in 2018.
After exploring Newcastle as you head east through the city, you will reach the North Sea coast. Next, you will head up the tranquil coast past pristine sandy beaches, historic harbours, serene bays, magnificent castles and picturesque towns and villages. The Coast and Castles route earns its name for good reason.
Your day ends on the seafront at Newbiggin by the Sea where you can enjoy a swim in the sea or tuck into a generous portion of fish and chips on the beach. The small coastal town has many accommodation options to ensure you have a comfortable stay.
Highland cows grazing in wild nature reserves, sandy beaches stretching out into the sea, and castles that were once home to Shakespeare’s characters – your second day cycling from Newcastle to Edinburgh is full of surprises.
Setting off from Newbiggin by the Sea, you can enjoy the fresh sea breeze for the whole of today’s 29 mile (47km) ride as you continue to follow the coastline north.
Along the way, you can explore many castles and beaches by the sea. When you need a rest stop, you are spoilt for choice for places to relax – sandy beaches, cafes, stunning nature reserves and the cooling waters of the North Sea are never far away.
The route is flat for most of the day, with short climbs towards Warkworth, Alnmouth and Craster. You can truly enjoy the spectacular scenery and views over the crashing waves of the North Sea as you will cycle on quiet country lanes, single tracks and cycle paths for the whole day, seeing very few cars.
Your final destination is Craster, a small fishing village which is famous for its kippers that have been smoked in the village for over two hundred years. Today, the fish are still traditionally prepared in oak-smoked barrels using the same method as in the past.
After enjoying this local delicacy, you can rest your head in the various accommodation options in the village: there are plenty of hotels, B&Bs and self-catering options.
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
Castles, castles and more castles! On day three of cycling the Coast and Castles route, you will pass some of the UK’s oldest, largest, and best preserved castles that tell the tales of centuries of fascinating history.
Leaving from Craster, you will continue along the coastline cycling parallel to the beach. After just over 1.5 (2.7 km) the first castle of the day will appear on the horizon – the magnificent Dunstaburgh Castle.
Route three joins and leaves the coast numerous times, leading you through green countryside and quaint villages that are further inland. You will climb 370 meters (1213 feet) throughout the day as the way gently rises and falls over undulating hills.
The dramatic views over the sweeping landscapes and hills with castles perched atop, overlooking the sea, are spectacular. On clear days, you should see the towering walls of Lindisfarne Castle and Bamburgh Castle far in the distance as you cycle.
Your journey ends on Holy Island, an island that has witnessed turbulent times during its ancient history – from being ransacked by the Vikings in the 8th century to being a site of pilgrimage and used as defence against the Scots and Norseman.
Today, the island is home to diverse wildlife and the spectacular Lindisfarne castle that rises from the cliff face. There is also a small village on the island where you can stay in various hotels, self-catering cottages, inns or B&Bs. However, camping is not allowed on the island. Two times per day, the island is cut off from the outside world due to the tide which makes it impossible to cycle onto the island. You can check the tide schedule, here: visitnorthumberland.com/coast/holy-island/crossing-times
Today, you will bid farewell to the English coast as you cycle into Scotland’s stunning landscapes. Quiet country lanes and bike paths will lead you past lovely stretches of the coast and along gushing rivers as you enter one of the most beautiful areas of the UK.
Route four of your adventure is mostly flat with just a few small hills, such as a short climb out of Berwick-upon-Tweed. You will cover 28 miles (46 km) today, which should give you plenty of time to enjoy the sights and the scenery.
Your ride starts from the beautiful Holy Island. Don’t forget to check the tide schedule before you leave as the island is cut off from the mainland twice a day. You will then follow along the coastline for almost 17 miles (27 km) until Berwick-upon-Tweed.
The northernmost town in England, Berwick-upon-Tweed sits at the mouth of the River Tweed just 2.5 miles (4km) south of the Scottish border. From here, you will follow the river inland as it carves through stunning green countryside towards Scotland.
Along the way, you will cross over historic bridges and pass through pretty villages such as Horncliff before arriving at your final destination, Norham. Although small, Norham has witnessed many important events in British history. In 1292, the village hosted Edward I of England and Scottish nobility for discussion to decide the future King of Scotland. Today, you can find plenty of small shops, friendly pubs and comfortable accommodation in the village to ensure you have a pleasant stay.
Scotland – the land of historic castles, friendly people, kilts and awe-dropping landscapes. Everyone should visit Scotland once in their lifetime and there is no better way than by bike.
Stage five of the Coast and Castles route from Newcastle to Edinburgh leads you along picturesque rivers, through rolling countryside, passing regal stately homes, stunning castles and ruined abbeys on the way. Today’s ride is 31 miles (50km) in length and gently rises and falls through the hilly landscape.
Setting off from Norham village, you will cross the river Tweed and head through peaceful farmland and woodland before reaching Eccles and Ednam villages. As you ride, you will pass over the pretty Eden Water stream as it trickles through the countryside.
After 18 miles (30 km), you will reach Kelsko town. With beautiful architecture and buildings hiding fascinating history, Kelsko is well worth a visit. It was here that James II was killed in 1460 by an exploding cannon.
Next, you will continue to follow quiet roads through pretty countryside before passing Clintmains village and Dryburgh and arriving in Newton St Boswell. The first Scottish town of your journey, here you can soak up the new atmosphere and find many pubs, restaurants, and accommodation options to enjoy a relaxing evening.
Spectacular panoramas of green leafy hilltops, moody landscapes and mystical abbeys await you on day six of cycling the Coast and Castles South route. With 700 meters (2296 feet) of climbing, today is the toughest day of your journey, but you are rewarded with inspiring views of Scottish scenery.
Leaving Newton st Boswell behind, you will head north towards the River Tweed passing through the pretty village of Melrose which lies on the riverbank.
At Tweedbank, you will join the Tweed Cycleway which follows along the river for almost 20 miles (32 km) as it rises into the Scottish hills. Just after you cross the river for the final time, you will reach Innerleithen. The pretty town lies on the edge of the Moorfoot hills and is the final town until Middleton so be sure to pack enough water and supplies.
Next, you will climb into the moody hills as the route follows Leithern Water as it carves through the landscape. Although the way might make you legs burn, the spectacular views make it absolutely worthwhile as you cycle through some of the most beautiful scenery of your adventure.
After a long but gradual uphill stint, the road drops slightly before climbing one last time. You can then enjoy the descent into North Middleton, a small village on the edge of the hills. In the village and the surrounding areas, you will find many options of places to stay, eat and rest your legs.
Your final day of cycling the Coast and Castles route takes you through beautiful Scottish landscapes before arriving in the country’s capital – Edinburgh. As the route is mostly downhill and the shortest route of your journey so far, your legs can easily recover from the previous day’s climb.
After a small climb out of North Middleton, the route descends through the hills before crossing Braidwood Bridge. You will then follow the River South Esk northwards passing through many pretty villages such as Carrington, Eskbank and Dalkeith.
The route becomes more populated as you approach your final destination Edinburgh, but you will nonetheless pass many picturesque spots such as Dalkeith Country Park, Dalhouse Burn Stream, Young Bog Wood, and Bawsinch and Duddingston Nature Reserve.
As Arthur’s Seat approaches on the horizon, you know that you are nearing Scotland's capital. The route leads up and down as it enters the city. Known for its culture, history and stunning landscapes, Edinburgh is an amazing city. It is well worth extending your adventure to explore the city’s cobbled streets and stone buildings for a few days.
In Edinburgh, you will find various events all year round such as the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Edinburgh Art Festival. Have a look at what is on in the city when you arrive, here: edinburgh.org. A popular tourist destination, Edinburgh has a huge range of accommodation to suit any budget.
Edinburgh has good rail connections with the rest of the UK. You can take a direct train to Kings Cross in under 4.5 hours. Just don't forget to reserve a space for your bike well in advance. You can find more information on train travel from Edinburgh, here: thetrainline.com/destinations/trains-to-edinburgh