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Lakes, legends & lovely landscapes – Reivers Cycle Route

mikeccross (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Lakes, legends & lovely landscapes – Reivers Cycle Route

Bike Touring Collection by Amy

8

Tours

38:19 h

355 mi

17,075 ft

Winding through the historic border territory of England and Scotland, the Reivers Cycle Route takes you on an exhilarating ride through untouched nature and fascinating history.

This epic adventure heads 192 miles (309 km) through rolling fells and crags, hidden lakes, and traditional farmland in one of the wildest areas of Britain.

In this Collection, you will follow the Reivers Cycle Route in seven stages between 21.3 miles (34.4 km) and 39 miles (62.9 km) long. If you want to complete the adventure in fewer days, you can easily combine the stages. However, they cannot easily be shortened as the area is often very remote and poorly connected by public transport.

If you are looking for an alternative coast to coast challenge, this route could be perfect. Starting in the coastal town of Whitehaven on the Irish Sea, you will ride across the north of England to Tyneside on the North Sea. Don’t forget the C2C tradition to dip your wheel in the Irish Sea and the North Sea at the start and finish.

To fully enjoy this wild ride, you need a good level of fitness and the ability to climb up to 2,099 feet (640 m) in one day. Although you don't need to be an expert rider, you may want to reconsider taking on this route with a young family.

Following isolated lanes through spectacular landscapes, the remoteness of the Reivers Cycle Route is also its beauty. Wild places like these are hard to find in the UK today. As such, you should come prepared for any scenario: pack appropriate clothing for all weather conditions, bring a first aid kit, a map, compass, and power bank, and carry enough food for a few days in the saddle. As some of the route follows forest tracks, your bike should be able to handle mud.

Come prepared and you can fully relax in the stunning surroundings. On the way, you will ride along coastal plains, before heading through the Northern Lake District National Park and through desolate hills and evergreen forests to Kielder Waters.

This area was not always the peaceful idyll it is today. During the 15th and 16th centuries, it was teeming with criminals. Robbery, murder, kidnap, and rustling were commonplace, hence the route’s name – reivers. You can learn more about its turbulent past as you explore crumbling castle walls, ancient carvings, and historic bridges en route.

Despite the remoteness of this Collection, each stage finishes at a place offering food and accommodation. Guesthouses, cosy pubs and hotels will welcome you in from the elements with a hot meal.

Cyclists have been enjoying the Reivers Cycle Route since its opening in 1998. Managed by Sustrans, it follows route 10, 7, 71, and 72 of the National Cycle Network. The route is well-maintained, but only the section between Kielder and Tyneside is signed-posted.

You can ride this route in either direction, with east to west having slightly kinder gradients. For the purpose of this Collection, I’ve started in Whitehaven.

Built on the wealth of the shipping and mining industries, Whitehaven is a pretty Georgian town on the west coast. You’ll find plenty of shops, restaurants and places to stay to prepare for your adventure. To get to Whitehaven, you can travel by train from Carlisle or Lancaster.

For train tickets and timetables, visit: thetrainline.com/live/departures/whitehaven

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Whitehaven to Cockermouth – Reivers Cycle Route

    Intermediate
    02:11
    21.4 mi
    9.8 mph
    925 ft
    775 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Your first stage following the Reivers Cycle Route takes you 21.3 miles (34.4 km) from Whitehaven to Cockermouth. Today, you will ride mostly along cycleways as they guide you to peaceful coastal landscapes and crumbling history.

    

    Follow the salty coast to leave Whiehaven, veering inland shortly after

    by Amy

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  • Difficult
    03:41
    33.4 mi
    9.1 mph
    2,100 ft
    2,225 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Winding rivers, layered hills and lakes glistening on the horizon – stage 2 is a fantastic ride through the north of the Lake District National Park from Cockermouth to Carlisle.

    

    You have quite some climbing to do today, with 2,099 feet (640 m) in elevation gain spread across 33.3 miles (53.7 km).

    

    It

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  • Intermediate
    02:51
    28.0 mi
    9.8 mph
    1,150 ft
    750 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage 3 is a spectacular journey through wild landscapes as you ride from Carlisle towards the Scottish border, visiting ancient landmarks along the way.

    

    Before getting started, be sure to pick up some supplies as today is a relatively remote ride.

    

    You leave Carlisle, cross the river and pass Kingmoor

    by Amy

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  • Difficult
    03:12
    23.7 mi
    7.4 mph
    1,675 ft
    1,525 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Thick evergreen forests surround a deep blue lake, a mountain bothy hides away amongst the trees and open hillsides – stage 4 is a wild journey through spectacular landscapes.

    

    This stage of the Reivers Cycle Route is remote, so make sure you take plenty of provisions with you.

    

    For around 10 miles (16

    by Amy

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  • Intermediate
    02:13
    22.4 mi
    10.1 mph
    975 ft
    1,250 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Your journey through the wilds of Northern England continues today as you ride an easy 22.3 miles (36 km) from Kielder Waters to Bellingham.

    

    Stage 5 begins with a traffic-free trail around the edge of the lake for 8.8 miles (14.2 km). Along the way, you can stop off at the Tower Knowe Visitor Centre

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  • Intermediate
    02:47
    24.2 mi
    8.7 mph
    1,450 ft
    1,375 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Jacobean mansions set amongst luscious parkland, peaceful reservoirs and hills as far as the eye can see – your penultimate day of adventure is a wonderful ride.

    

    Stage 6 is a hilly 24.1 miles (38.9 km) from Bellingham to Matfen, taking you closer towards the east coast.

    

    From Bellingham, the route takes

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  • Intermediate
    03:44
    39.1 mi
    10.5 mph
    850 ft
    1,200 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Your final day adventuring along the Reivers Cycle Route is the longest of all the stages. Today you will clock up 39 miles (62.9 km) from Matfen to Newcastle.

    

    The route is relatively flat with 853 feet (260 m) in elevation gain and 1,181 feet (360 m) in elevation loss over the day.

    

    From Matfen, the route

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  • Difficult
    17:40
    163 mi
    9.2 mph
    7,950 ft
    7,950 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This is the complete Reivers Cycle Route, the most remote of the northern coast to coast routes.

    

    You can view the day by day itinerary, here: komoot.com/collection/910761

    by Amy

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Questions and Comments

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    8
  • Distance
    355 mi
  • Duration
    38:19 h
  • Elevation
    17,075 ft

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Lakes, legends & lovely landscapes – Reivers Cycle Route

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