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An epic adventure along the Pennines Cycleway – the UK's toughest ride

Attacus Cycling

An epic adventure along the Pennines Cycleway – the UK's toughest ride

Bike Touring Collection by komoot

6-13

days

3-6 h

/ day

366 mi

24,475 ft

24,850 ft

Wild and desolate moorlands, warm and welcoming real ale pubs, dense emerald forests and the magnificent Pennine peaks – cycling the Pennines Cycleway is a beautiful adventure.

The founder of Sustrans John Grimshaw once called the Pennine Cycleway “the best National Cycle Network route of the lot, and you will quickly understand why. With stunning mountains, misty moors, tranquil lakes, geological wonders and heaps of historical monuments, you will find stunning spots around every corner.

However, the Pennine Cycleway is not for the fainthearted. Often considered to be the hardest long distance cycle route in the UK, you will climb a total of 7490 meters (24,573 feet) through the Pennines, at one point tackling four peaks within 20 miles (32 km)

Starting in the Peak District in Derby, the Pennine Cycleway covers 327 miles (526 km) along the “backbone of England” through spectacular scenery and four national parks – the Peak District, Yorkshire Dales, Northumberland, and the outskirts of the Lake District.

Following mostly quiet country lanes, you will often find yourself alone in nature with just your bike and your thoughts. As around 20% of the route follows unpaved cycle paths, cyclocross, touring or mountain bikes are best, although you can often find an alternative route on a main road to avoid muddy sections.

Although many of the stretches are very remote, you will still find plenty of riverside cafes, village bakeries, pubs and shops along the way to relax and refuel for your next miles.

This Collection will guide you through the Pennine Cycleway in twelve unique stages. If you are looking for a bigger challenge, you can lengthen the routes by combining the stages. Each section ends in a place with various accommodation options and often also a train station.

You can take the train directly from London, Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle and other cities to Derby, the most central city in the UK and the starting point of the route. Don’t forget to reserve a place for your bike in advance, especially in summer when bike spaces are quickly snapped up.

As with all adventures, come well-prepared for your journey, and enjoy this incredible ride.

For train tickets and timetables, visit: thetrainline.com/destinations/trains-to-derby
For more information on Derby including accommodation options, visit: visitderby.co.uk

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors
    Difficult
    03:38
    34.3 mi
    9.4 mph
    1,900 ft
    975 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Starting from the heart of the Peak District National Park from the historical city of Derby, your first stage of cycling the Pennine Cycleway will lead you through varied landscape – from industrial constructions, along quiet traffic-free trails and through rolling countryside.

    Leaving Derby city centre can be tricky, so you may want to turn on komoot’s navigation here. A …

  • Difficult
    03:26
    31.2 mi
    9.1 mph
    2,575 ft
    3,200 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Today, you will ride 30 miles (50 km) further through the history and nature of the Peak District National Park from Parsley Hay to Hadfield.

    From Parsley Hay, the route continues along traffic-free cycle paths that gently rise and fall through the landscape before ascending into Harpur Hill. Take care here, as the windy roads can become busy, especially during …

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  • Difficult
    02:56
    23.9 mi
    8.1 mph
    2,175 ft
    2,200 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Vast reservoirs, hills blanketed by farmland and forests, and towns with an interesting cultural heritage – stage three of the Pennine Cycleway takes you 23.6 miles (38 km) deep into the South Pennine hills.

    From Hadfield, you will take a former railway line towards the Woodhead reservoirs. Be prepared to push at times here, as the path is often muddy. …

  • Difficult
    03:29
    30.6 mi
    8.8 mph
    2,800 ft
    2,700 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    With 850 meters (2789 feet) of climbing, stage four is the toughest section of the Pennine Cycleway. However, the panoramic views over layers and layers of Pennine mountains makes it all worthwhile.

    The day begins unspectacularly from Slaithwaite as you cross over the M62 via Scammonden Water dam. But, before long, you will find yourself cycling through the peaceful moors …

  • Difficult
    03:15
    30.4 mi
    9.4 mph
    1,650 ft
    1,550 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage five will lead you along meandering rivers and peaceful canals, through sleepy villages and fertile farms into the wonderful Yorkshire Dales.

    You will leave Brierfield via the Leeds and Liverpool Canal towpath and then head north away from the suburban jungle and into emerald fields. You will skirt around Nelson, the birthplace of Carradice, known for its saddlebags and …

  • Difficult
    03:12
    29.3 mi
    9.1 mph
    2,325 ft
    2,900 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Rocky crags, cavernous underground labyrinths, ancient woodland, former metal mines, cascading waterfalls, trickling streams and sweeping moors – the Yorkshire Dales is known for its wild and windswept landscapes. Stage six of the Pennine Cycleway will guide you through some of the areas' most spectacular landscapes.

    Within a few miles of setting off, you will enter the Ribber Valley, a …

  • Difficult
    02:54
    27.9 mi
    9.6 mph
    1,850 ft
    1,750 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Heading deeper into the Yorkshire Dales, stage seven of the Pennines cycleway is wild, adventurous and untamed nature. Today, you will ride 28 miles (45 km) from Sedburgh to Appleby-in-Westmorland.

    Although the start of the route follows the M6 motorway, the small country lanes bordering the Lake District feel like miles away from the busy traffic, at times only a …

  • Difficult
    03:38
    33.8 mi
    9.3 mph
    2,425 ft
    2,025 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    Long climbs leading to panoramic views, calm lakes, exhilarating descents, and quaint villages serving an abundance of cakes – stage eight of the Pennine Cycleway is tough but absolutely rewarding.

    Today, you will climb 730 meters (2395) in total, reaching the highest point of the cycleway, Hartside Top. Along the way, you will pass many villages serving local delicacies and …

  • Intermediate
    01:27
    15.0 mi
    10.3 mph
    500 ft
    1,000 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    On stage nine of your adventure cycling the Pennine Cycleway through fine landscape and fascinating history, you will visit antique railway stations, luscious meadows, mighty viaducts, and more.

    Today, you have a leisurely ride with 160 meters (524 feet) spread out over 15 miles (25 km). As you leave Alston and continue through the Pennines, look out for red squirrels …

  • Difficult
    04:49
    42.4 mi
    8.8 mph
    3,175 ft
    3,000 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage ten of your journey leads you deep into rural Britain and through the stunning, remote nature of the Northumberland National Park. You will cycle through ancient Roman ruins, archeological wonders, and forest-lined tracks with barely another soul in sight.

    Having stocked up on supplies, you are ready to head into the wildest section of the Pennine Cycle Way. Although …

  • Difficult
    03:48
    35.3 mi
    9.3 mph
    2,100 ft
    2,400 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    Your eleventh stage of cycling the Pennine Cycleway leads you through the outskirts of the Northumberland National Park through spectacular nature and interesting sights from Elsdon to Wooler.

    As soon as you start pedalling, you will find yourself surrounded by gorgeous countryside: trickling streams meander through hills and birds of prey circle over farmland with very little traffic on the …

  • Intermediate
    03:02
    32.0 mi
    10.6 mph
    1,050 ft
    1,175 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Ancient castles that witnessed border battles over one thousand years ago, gushing rivers that flow into the waters of the North Sea, and impressive bridges spanning between England and Scotland – the final stage of your journey along the Pennine Cycleway does not disappoint.

    With the rambling hills and bigger climbs behind you, today is an easy 30 mile (50 …

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    12
  • Distance
    366 mi
  • Duration
    39:34 h
  • Elevation
    24,475 ft24,850 ft

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An epic adventure along the Pennines Cycleway – the UK's toughest ride