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Lakes, Dales and Moors – Tim Woodcock’s Coast to Coast off-road route

Katherine Moore

Lakes, Dales and Moors – Tim Woodcock’s Coast to Coast off-road route

Mountain Biking Collection by Katherine Moore

5-9

days

3-5 h

/ day

215 mi

22,625 ft

22,600 ft

You’ll have probably heard of the Coast to Coast road cycling challenge, or perhaps the mega hike, but what about an off-road equivalent? Taking in the hills of the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors national parks, this 222 mile (357 km) epic is not one for the faint-hearted.

The creation of Tim Woodcock and documented in his 1994 guidebook, the route combines parts of Wainwright’s well-established walking route and adds more indirect chapters that make the adventure accessible by bike. Having said that, with some punishingly steep gradients and technical tracks to cover, there’ll certainly be some hike-a-bike too.

From the Irish Sea in the West, across the staggeringly beautiful mountains of the Lake District, into the green, rolling valleys of the Yorkshire Dales and across the high expansive heather landscape of the North York Moors, your journey to the east coast at Robin Hood’s Bay is one you’ll certainly remember for a good while.

Here I’ve proposed the route over 7 stages, which would be a good week’s jolly, but of course you can plan to go faster or more leisurely. What’s for certain is that there’s plenty to do and explore as you move your way across the country, with incredibly varied landscapes, rich history and friendly towns and villages awaiting you. As it stands, the current Individual Time Trial on this route is an incredible 23 hours and 16 minutes. Phew!

Due to potentially severe weather and boggy conditions under tyre, I’d recommend choosing the summer months over a winter attempt on the Coast to Coast route. There are several parts of this trail that pass over very high and remote ground, so make sure you have all the appropriate kit, first aid equipment and emergency procedure planning that you may need.

Bike-wise, you’ll certainly be glad of some chunky rubber and easy gearing on this route, with a lot of steep and technical climbs and lumpy descents! A mountain bike is certainly recommended, but if you choose to use a gravel bike, just be mindful that you may be walking a bit more of the way, or taking it much steadier.

Starting and finishing in two small coastal villages doesn’t make access totally straight forward, but it’s not far to local train stations. There’s a train station at the start in St Bees, and at the finish you can take the traffic-free Cinder Track along the coast to the south for 15.8 miles (25.5 km) to reach the train station in Scarborough.

Check out the hiking Coast to Coast Collection here: komoot.com/collection/888237/hike-the-width-of-england-in-13-stages-coast-to-coast

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors
    Difficult
    04:24
    28.8 mi
    6.5 mph
    3,300 ft
    3,150 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    From the little coastal village of St Bees on the Irish Sea, this first stage will take you into the heart of the Lake District and over the mighty Black Sail Pass.

    After following the tradition of dipping your back wheel in the sea to start, you’re in for a brilliant 28.8-mile (46.3 km) ride through the Western Lake District …

  • Difficult
    03:38
    23.8 mi
    6.6 mph
    3,550 ft
    3,525 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    Leave the charming little village of Boot behind today as you embark on stage two, a 23.8 mile (38.4 km) ride to the bustling Lake District town of Ambleside.

    The two major climbs come early in this stage, after a short warm-up along the flat, up Halter Fell and Walna Scar Road.

    Start by following the River Esk up through …

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  • Difficult
    04:38
    30.0 mi
    6.5 mph
    4,400 ft
    4,000 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    Bothies, bridleways, and many, many hills await you on stage 3 as you exit the Lake District National Park to the east, covering 33.6 miles (54.1 km). Prepare to be either heading up or down today as you ascend 4,921 feet (1,500 m), with the majority of the climbing in the first half of the stage.

    Leaving the thriving honeypot …

  • Difficult
    05:31
    38.8 mi
    7.0 mph
    4,075 ft
    4,100 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    Stage 4 will take you 38.8 miles (62.5 km) from the little village of Great Asby in Cumbria to the south-east, finishing in Reeth at the other side of the Yorkshire Dales.

    After a small climb out of Great Asby to warm the legs, the first part of the stage is fairly flat, taking lanes to the town of Kirkby …

  • Intermediate
    02:55
    28.5 mi
    9.8 mph
    1,200 ft
    1,625 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    After the first few tough stages crossing the mountainous Lake District and hill Yorkshire Dales, stage 5 is almost somewhat of a rest day.

    You’ll ride 28.5 miles (45.9 km) to the North Yorkshire market town of Northallerton, with just one short, steep climb up to Marrick before crossing the flatter Vale of Mowbray that divides the Dales from the …

  • Difficult
    05:25
    39.6 mi
    7.3 mph
    4,075 ft
    3,675 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    With no less than 39.7 miles (64 km) to cover, riding up onto the North York Moors, the penultimate stage of the Coast to Coast is no mean feat.

    From the town of Northallerton in the Vale of Mowbray to the little village Glaisdale, this is the final big push before a slightly shorter and more easy-going final stage to …

  • Intermediate
    03:17
    25.8 mi
    7.9 mph
    2,050 ft
    2,525 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    With a shorter distance of 26.3 miles (42.3 km) and more descending than climbing, the final stage is a brilliant journey to the North Sea that should leave you with plenty of time to enjoy some fish and chips on the beach.

    You’ll leave the little North York Moors village of Glaisdale to head south-east firstly, before almost doubling back …

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    7
  • Distance
    215 mi
  • Duration
    29:47 h
  • Elevation
    22,625 ft22,600 ft

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Lakes, Dales and Moors – Tim Woodcock’s Coast to Coast off-road route