The Second City Divide is a 400 mile (638 km) bikepacking route linking two of the UK’s second-biggest cities, Glasgow in Scotland and Manchester in the North West of England. Although the total route itself is relatively new, the tracks, trails and roads that it follows are anything but - dating back to neolithic times or roman roads that carve their signature straight lines across the remote moorland countryside.
Heading out of bustling Glasgow, you’ll climb up to the UK’s largest onshore wind farm and follow wide gravel traffic-free tracks heading South East. Make the most of the ‘Right To Roam’ legislation in Scotland and enjoy a wild camp before you cross the border.
Rather than a direct route from city to city, the Second City Divide meanders across the North of England and Scottish Borderlands to take in the very best off-road areas on offer. From Kielder Forest Park to the Pennine Bridleway, the Yorkshire Dales and Lancashire moorland, expect plentiful helpings of rocky doubletrack, light gravel roads, testing singletrack, grassy moorland, sleepy country villages and bustling, animated cities.
Due to the nature of the terrain, you’ll probably find that a gravel bike is best for the Second City Divide as there are a fair amount of linking lanes. Be prepared for some hike-a-bike though, and that the last few days get rather chunky on the Pennine Bridleway — a rigid or lightweight hardtail XC bike could also work here.
This route is perfect for riders with some bikepacking experience over six days. To do it in less would be very ambitious but it has been done, and you could certainly do it in many more! Don’t feel like you have to tackle the whole route in one go either, with brilliant rail access it’s perfect for a few weekend adventures.
Both Manchester and Glasgow have excellent transport links from train stations to airports, as well as many train links along the route. If you’re looking for an even bigger challenge, why not include the Second City Divide as part of a longer tour from Land’s End to John O’Groats off-road, spanning the whole length of the UK?
Check out more about the Second City Divide from the route masters and locals Luke and Christian here: secondcitydivide.cc
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Last updated: November 10, 2021
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The start of the Second City Divide rolls out of bustling Glasgow climbing straight up to Whitelee, the UK’s largest onshore wind farm. These wide gravel traffic free tracks heading South East are a treat and a sign of what's to come.
After Whitelee, the route contours round the city of Glasgow to the…
Make sure you're well stocked before you leave Abington as today will take you much more remote into the depths of the Scottish forests on the Captain's Way.
Cross the River Clyde as you head out of town, out towards more high Scottish wind farms up around Tinny Bank. It's a peaceful area where you might…
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Today marks the border crossing from Scotland to England, but not before passing the impressive ancient Hermitage Castle that played such a pivotal role in the border conflict between England and Scotland.
The border crossing itself is a small and humble singletrack that's well marked as the Sustrans…
The fourth day is truly a challenging one, but one that will stick in your memory for years to come. Leave the Sill YHA early with a good breakfast for a good head start, passing through the Centre of Britain at Haltwhistle (with a Co-Op for resupplies) and head south on the South Tyne Trail.
The fifth stage is one of the longest and most rewarding of the whole trail. Crossing the breadth of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the route follows the River Swale out from Keld before climbing the famous Oxnop Scar road, and descending sharply over the other side to the beautiful Dales towns of…
The final leg of the Second City Divide bikepacking route mainly follows the Pennine Bridleway into the city of Manchester. This is somewhat chunkier and more demanding gravel than the earlier stages in Scotland, with narrower trails rather than wide roads and much bigger rocky surfaces.
Climb out of…
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