TOURING HIGHLIGHTS THE REMNANTS OF THE REIVERS
Newcastle begins the route, with its shops, museums, castles and more, providing a contrasting point rather than an introduction of what's to come.
Fortified Ponteland Castle marks the start of Reiver territory, echoed by a second pele tower standing alone in the fields just beyond the town border. St Cuthbert's Church in Bellingham, the ruin of Tarset near Lanehead and the crumbling remains at Bewcastle show the extent of the destruction.
Grass and heather moorland surrounds these sites with wide open spaces. There is a remoteness to Reivers Route, with its vast, uninterrupted sky, glacial rocks and views across to the Cheviot Hills. In Kielder, dense evergreen forest swathes a long, sweeping section of road between the open water of the reservoir and the intact ramparts of Kielder Castle. Red squirrels, otters and roe deer aren't an uncommon sight along this section of the route.
Past Carlisle, home to an enormous castle that acted as gatehouse to the Scottish Borders, the Reivers Route climbs into the Lake District through Heskett Newmarket and then slopes down into historic Cockermouth, a gem-status town with Georgian architecture and cultural events hosted throughout the summer. The journey ends at the shoreline in Whitehaven, where a bustling harbour opens out to the Irish Sea: a country away from the distant start at Tynemouth.
ELEVATION GENTLY CHALLENGING
From the start of Reivers Route at the River Tyne, an initially challenging incline soon flattens to an easy gradient as the route winds through Tyneside and out through Ponteland into Northumberland. A mild climb up to Stamfordham leads to rolling hills through to Hallington, descending down to Bellingham.
The route splits into two around Kielder Water, with both options posing a mild challenge before coming together to encounter short but steep ascents on the way to Newcastleton, the highest point on the route included. An overall downhill gradient with some hills continues on until the route becomes predominately flat, with just one last noteworthy climb before Hesket Newmarket.
THE TERRAIN SOME SUSPENSION NEEDED
- Limited road sections
- Low-traffic country lanes
- Dedicated cycle paths
- Green lanes
- Forest tracks
While the majority of Reivers Route features tarmac surfaces, these are exceptionally pitted and degraded in the most isolated parts of rural Northumberland. This, combined with an optional off-road section through the Kielder woodland, leads us to advise against using thin road tyres or a dedicated race bike on this cycling holiday.
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