The Sandstone Way is a relatively new long distance mountain biking route, measuring 120 miles (193 km) from Berwick Upon Tweed on the Northumberland coastline and Scottish border to the pretty inland market town of Hexham. The natural sandstone ridge through the county gives the route its name, also yielding a fantastic variety of mountain biking for novices and experienced riders alike.
This route has been devised with mountain bikers in mind, and although the very keenest riders might be able to complete it in two days, three or four is a more realistic target as the terrain can be very hard going. In addition to that, there’s plenty of historical and cultural sights along the way to take in, plus the delicacies of the North East to taste!
The route firstly hugs the wild and wonderful Northumberland coastline, passing the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, an ancient Christian monastery. It then heads inland through Chatton towards Chillingham Castle, before heading over the hill into Wooler. From there the trail heads South clinging to the Eastern edge of the Northumberland National Park, passing through Ingram, Prendwick, Biddlestone and many other beautiful villages.
Heading East towards Rothbury and beautiful Cragside, a Victorian country estate, the route then snakes down through the town and straight into the heart of the National Park, climbing up Simonside. Dropping out of the park again through Harwood Forest, follow the River Rede to West Woodburn. The final stage crosses over Highstead Hill, through historic Bellingham, again following the edge of the National Park before crossing the river Tyne into Hexham.
Here you’ll find the route divided into four days, with overnight stops in Wooler, known as the gateway to the Cheviots, the market town of Rothbury and Bellingham, before finally reaching the destination of Hexham. The beauty of this route is that it not only takes in the most spectacular, remote off road riding that Northumberland has to offer, but also passes through these gorgeous towns and villages so there’s always places to replenish your energy reserves, whether that’s a good meal or a cosy place to stay.
Both Hexham and Berwick upon Tweed are easily accessible by car or rail, both served by Northern Rail services. Hexham is a short 40 minute train journey to the county’s capital of Newcastle, and with its own international airport, the Sandstone Way is easily reached by visitors from near and far. Prefer to avoid flying? There are even ferries to Newcastle from Amsterdam.
The route is best ridden in the drier months, as there are many field-edge bridleways, especially in the latter stages, that can become tricky when wet.
For more information on the Sandstone Way, visit: sandstoneway.co.uk
To plan your own itinerary, check out the full route here: komoot.com/tour/541952821
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Last updated: November 10, 2021
Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.
Rather than take a direct line South, the first day’s 36 mile (58 km) route takes you from Berwick-upon-Tweed on the cusp of the Scottish border to Wooler via the Eastern coastline, showing off some of the most spectacular rugged Northumberland coast.
Make sure you take some time to potter around Berwick…
The second day of the tour follows almost exactly the same distance at 37 miles (60 km), this time following the border of the Northumberland National Park rather than the coastline. Leaving historic Wooler behind, known as the gateway town to the Cheviots, the first few miles head South on quiet country…
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
Leaving Rothbury behind today, make sure you have plenty of provisions on you and the bike as today’s shorter 27 mile (43 km) route crosses the remote Northumberland National Park, often far from any resupply points.
Climb immediately out of the town up onto the Simonside Hills, with nearly 300 metres…
The final stage of the Sandstone Way is a shorter one at 21 miles (34 km), which will probably be good news for weary legs! With some extra time today, why not visit Bellingham Heritage Centre before you depart the town?
Head out on the country lanes, firstly climbing Dunterley Fell and over Ealingham…
Mountain Biking Collection by Katherine Moore
Mountain Biking Collection by Katherine Moore
Bike Touring Collection by CyrilC
Mountain Biking Collection by Omar Di Felice