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Sandstone Way

Route Summary

As the least-populated county in the UK, Northumberland offers a virtually unrivalled range of remote off-road trails: the perfect setting for a ride in the wilderness. Twining together the longest off-road stretches available along broad tracks, sweeping singletrack, and unsurfaced byways, the Sandstone Way is a brilliant ride for mountainbikers of all skill levels.

From Berwick-upon-Tweed, a spectacular coastal section leads the way on double-width dirt tracks and swings inland toward a brilliant downhill charge into Wooler. Excellent views line the ride onward to Rothbury through Breamish Valley, full of challenging singletrack, and over open moorland before the route plunges into the forest on its way to Bellingham. Crossing Hadrian's Wall, the final stage guides the way into Hexham.



Northumberland’s greatest strength lies in its unspoilt solitude and staggering views, and the Sandstone Way is keen to demonstrate this visually stunning, rarely technical nature early on. The easy ride along the coastline is at its finest on the glide out of Berwick along the cliffs. With red sandstone beneath you, there are huge views out over Holy Island and, further still, to Bamburgh Castle.

As the route cuts inland out of sight of the sea, huge green spaces take up the slack, with big climbs and big descents. Catch a glimpse of St Cuthbert’s Cave, just outside of Wooler, before the Sandstone Way roves into deep forest.

One of the longest runs on the route streaks through Harwood Forest to Elsdon: a high-speed race along wooded trails on a slightly-descending gradient. If history is of greater interest, the route crosses one of the UK’s largest ancient monuments: Hadrian’s Wall, with plenty of surviving sections to take a look at before you push on toward the route’s finale.

The views from Warden Hill down over the glittering South Tyne mark that final stretch, and it’s one of the most exuberant rides on the route: all swooping grass tracks with the rooftops ahead drawing you in.

It’s frequently said that riders underestimate the Sandstone Way. On paper, it’s not technical, so what challenges can it pose? But this sinuous route’s big climbs and huge, open spaces are sure to test you, and make that final run into Hexham so much more hard-won.


Sandstone Way begins with a long, flat ride all the way along the Northumberland coastline. The first real slopes set in as the route heads inland toward St Cuthbert’s Cave. A long descent streaks down from Old Lyham, with even steeper downhill runs into Wooler and out of Roseden.

A hard climb up Wether Hill marks the most challenging ascent on the route, but it leads to a good descent on the far side. The Sandstone Way reaches its highest point just beyond Simonside via a staggered series of ascents. There’s another long climb after East Woodburn, with an enjoyable descent through Rawfoot to Bellingham. Walwick Fell and Warden Hill mark the last two major climbs before the Sandstone Way’s finale into Hexham, with plenty of little ridges to make sure the ride’s completion is hard-won.

Route profile



  • Broad dirt tracks
  • Technical singletrack
  • Unsurfaced lanes and bridleways
  • Byways and low-traffic country roads

The Sandstone Way boasts broad dirt trails through the remote open spaces of Northumberland. Short stints on low-traffic country lanes knit together long, off-road rides on unsurfaced bridleways and unclassified roads.

The route explores Breamish Valley on forest trails and crosses open moorland. It’s here that you’ll find the best singletrack on the Sandstone Way.

In dry conditions, a strong rider could complete the Sandstone Way on a cyclocross, gravel or adventure bike, but a dedicated mountain bike is recommended.

Route NEWS

12/06/2017 Update
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Route Details

Length: 120 miles / 192 km
Start & end: Berwick / Hexham
Season: 2nd January to 24th December


GRADE more info more info  
C-SW2-MB 4 nights, 3 days £305 £360 Hard More Info Book Now
C-SW3-MB 5 nights, 4 days £380 £440 Moderate More Info Book Now
C-SW4-MB 6 nights, 5 days £455 £520 Easy More Info Book Now

The above itineraries show our preferred overnight stops. If accommodation is unavailable at any of these locations, we may alter the itinerary slightly.

Please note that if you choose not to book luggage transfers for your holiday, you must make sure that you are able to carry all of your luggage with you for the duration of the holiday, whether this be via the use of panniers or any other method you wish. Ensure that you test the weight of your luggage while riding well in advance, so that you are comfortable transporting your own luggage during your holiday. We particularly recommend booking mountain biking holidays with lugagge transfers included.

Pricing Information

Our prices are based upon two people sharing a room. If you are riding on your own, or are part of a group, but require a room of your own, one of the following charges applies:

  • Solo rider supplement: £35 per person / per night
  • Single supplement: £20 per person / per night

You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:

  • Extra night (Standard) : £50 per person / per night

What's Included

  • Accommodation in en-suite rooms with private bathrooms (where available) in selected hotels, inns and guesthouses along the trail.
  • Breakfast each day.
  • A comprehensive information pack containing maps and/or guide books, a full itinerary, instructions on how to find your accommodation each night, information about facilities and places of interest along the trail and a kit list.
  • Detailed travel instructions on how to get to the start of your holiday and back from the end of it.
  • Emergency assistance.

Travel Information

Detailed travel information is sent to you in your holiday pack, but we have provided a summary below.

By Air
The most convenient major cities and international airports are Newcastle and Edinburgh.

By Rail
There is a railway station at the start of the route (Berwick-upon-Tweed) and at the end of the route (Hexham).

From London - There are fast and frequent trains from London King's Cross to Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Please note that most train lines will allow for bikes to be taken on board. We advise that you check on as you may need to book a space for your bike or there may be a limit as to how many bikes the train can store.

By Car
For advice on driving to the start of the route, please visit which has a very useful route planner.

Please note that most buses in the UK are unable to store bikes on board so we would recommend avoiding this form of transport.

Return to Start
The easiest way to return to the start of the route is by taking the train from Hexham to Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Extra Night / Rest Day

The county of Northumberland - while the least-populated in the UK - is still home to plenty of wonderful settlements, many of which lie along the Sandstone Way route. For those in need of a recovery day or more time to explore during their cycling holiday, you can choose to book as many extra nights as you wish in any of the locations visited along the route. Below are our picks for great locations in which to enjoy a few extra days.

Berwick-upon-Tweed is a great choice for an extra night's stay or two, and the perfect place in which to prepare before embarking on your Sandstone Way holiday. This town is packed full of places to eat, drink and shop, as well as a variety of activities including guided tours, adventure sports and a selection of fascinating art galleries and museums. Local historic sites of interest include the Union Chain Bridge, the Berwick-upon-Tweed Barracks and Elizabethan Town Walls, the 18th century Paxton House and two beautiful churches dating back to the 1600s.

Alternatively, the attractive stone-built town of Wooler is a good choice for a rest day, especially for those wanting to explore the local area either on foot or by bike. Known as the Gateway to Glendale, the Cheviot Hills and the Northumberland National Park, the town is an ideal base from which to explore the nearby coast - with views of Bamburgh Castle and the Holy Island of Lindisfarne - as well as Chillingham Castle, the Flodden Battlefield and many other incredible landmarks. Wooler itself is home to a thriving Cycle Hub, which provides a range of services and is well-stocked with everything you need in order to replenish your cycling kit, ready for the next leg of your holiday.

The traditional market town of Rothbury is also worth an extra night's stay if you need a rest from cycling. Hailed as the 'Capital of Coquetdale', this well-stocked tourist destination is nestled in the beautiful Coquet Valley with the Coquet River flowing straight through it, offering wonderful scenery and a peaceful atmosphere all year round. Those keen to learn about the area's history can follow the Heritage Trail through the town, taking in a variety of landmarks along the way. Rothbury is also within easy reach of the Simonside Hills, the Cheviot Hills and the Northumberland National Park, should you wish to explore the wonderful surrounding countryside.

Hexham marks the end of the Sandstone Way route, so why not extend your holiday and celebrate the achievement of completing the journey by booking an extra night or two in this fantastic market town? Hexham town centre has everything you need for a relaxing stay, including a selection of specialist shops and tempting eateries, and boasts many spectacular monuments such as Hexham Abbey, the Queen's Hall Art Centre and the Old Gaol, leaving you spoilt for choice for things to see and do. The town is also just a short trek from Hadrian's Wall and Housesteads Roman Fort, should you be interested in exploring these iconic British landmarks.



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Sandstone Way

As the least-populated county in the UK, Northumberland offers a virtually unrivalled range of remote off-road trails: the perfect setting for a ride in the wilderness. Twining together the longest off-road stretches available along broad tracks, sweeping singletrack, and unsurfaced byways, the Sandstone Way is a brilliant ride for mountainbikers of all skill levels.


GRADE 1: Beginner

Daily distance: approx. 10 – 20 miles / 16 – 32 km
These itineraries are perfect for beginner cyclists, families or explorers eager to sight-see along the route. Expect plenty of time to relax along the way thanks to short-mileage days, with barely a hill in sight!

GRADE 2: Easy

Daily distance: approx. 15 – 25 miles / 24 – 40 km
With longer-mileage days, these itineraries will suit occasional riders who want a bit more of a challenge. As they still steer clear of steeper or more frequent climbs, they're perfect for quick riding, so you can still make plenty of time for lunch or a spot of exploration.

GRADE 3: Moderate

Daily distance: approx. 20 – 40 miles / 32 – 64 km
Longer daily distances team with a few challenging sections on these itineraries, ideal for regular cyclists confident in their fitness. Exploration stops may require an extra rest day - but there should still be time for a relaxing lunch!

GRADE 4: Hard

Daily distance: approx. 25 – 50 miles / 40 – 80 km
If you're looking to test your abilities as a keen cyclist, these are the itineraries for you. The daily mileages aren't just high, they may also include tough or frequent climbs. Get ready to pedal hard and push yourself!

GRADE 5: Epic

Daily distance: approx. 50 miles + / 80 km +
For these itineraries, you're going to need previous experience cycling long distances over consecutive days. Each is designed to test your strength and your stamina, with high mileage days and tough, frequent climbs.

*** Occasionally our itineraries can straddle between two levels of difficulty, such as 'Easy-Moderate' or 'Hard-Epic' etc. This can be for a number of reasons, such as if there is a wide range of distances between the days of the itinerary, or if the distances are ‘Easy’ but the hills and terrain involved are a bit tricky and more ‘moderate’ etc. If you require more information about any of our itineraries, please do not hesitate to contact us, and we will be more than happy to offer advice and guidance.