Pennine Cycleway

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
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Pennine Cycleway

Postby doodah » 13 Jul 2020, 1:57pm

Afternoon all,
Has anyone here completed the PCW?
I am pondering it at the moment and have downloaded the gpx track from - thanks Richard.

My question is the alternative route from Bellingham to Alwinton. This takes you over the hills and past the MoD firing range.
The first part of the route looks to be gravelled and ok for a loaded touring bike - tent and cooking equipment etc.
The 2nd part - after crossing the A68 looks more like The Pennine Way for walkers and not easily managed on a bike - depending on how much alcohol has been consumed to tackle it.
Is this 2nd part really doable on a loaded bike? It looks to be a spectacular ride if at all possible and I realise that weather conditions will have a significant impact on this section, if it is doable.

If any of you have more advice on which sections to avoid and make my own way, I would appreciate it.
I know about the section at Hadfield and have already made amendments. I certainly know about the cobbles out of Hebden bridge - BRUTAL!



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Re: Pennine Cycleway

Postby Oldjohnw » 13 Jul 2020, 5:48pm

National Cycle Route 68 is worth looking into.

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Re: Pennine Cycleway

Postby doodah » 13 Jul 2020, 5:57pm

Thanks, I have already looked into that. I am interested to know what sections are not rideable on the PCW and then I will configure my route around the NCN 68.


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Re: Pennine Cycleway

Postby cnb » 13 Jul 2020, 6:12pm

Hi..Not sure if I can be much help as I cycled the PCW a few years ago and the alternate route you mention was still subject to negotiation with the M.O.D( I think)..But the official route as I remember was a really nice ride and there is or was a good cycle cafe in Elsdon...

Richard Fairhurst
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Re: Pennine Cycleway

Postby Richard Fairhurst » 13 Jul 2020, 7:46pm

I rode the alternate braid and it is thoroughly amazing.

...wait, you want more detail?

Ok. South of the A68 it's a rough gravel track. I did it on a common-or-garden hybrid (Ridgeback Velocity) and it was absolutely fine. A tourer could survive; a gravel bike would eat it for breakfast.

North of the A68 is military roads - these are the bits you have to phone up in advance to check there's no firing going on. But they are beautiful. It's a while since I rode it, but my memory is good tarmac, no traffic, blissful scenery. sums it up really.

Then once you get to the top, you have the wonderful descent of Coquetdale ahead of you. There isn't much that matches this. Google have driven their Street View car along there: . There aren't many places in the UK I've ridden that match this for scenic grandeur - a couple of places in mid-Wales, perhaps, like the road down from the Teifi Pools. But I absolutely loved it.

Here's the route: . If you're worried about surfaces, then the off-road sections from Alwinton to Wooler are more of an issue. But you won't have any problems with the military roads. - maps, journey-planner, route guides and city guides

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Re: Pennine Cycleway

Postby doodah » 13 Jul 2020, 9:25pm

Many thanks for the detailed reply Richard and the links.

You have eliminated the doubt of it following the hikers Pennine Way trail.
I did use the Google road camera and it stopped using tarmac a few times. I did think I was putting the Google icon man on the correct highlighted road.
Yes, a fantastic route for scenery especially if the weather is accommodating.
Just have to see if the legs are up to it now! Methinks my load will have to be lightened and selective.

Again, thanks.


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Re: Pennine Cycleway

Postby pal » 16 Aug 2020, 3:17pm

Popping in quickly to say that I was inspired by this thread to take a quick trip to Coquetdale this weekend, and would 100% agree with Richard F. about the Amazingness of the ride through the valley (the fog was down when I came through the Otterburn Range, so I didn't see much of it -- but the roads were good, nonetheless!).

The cycle cafe at Elsdon is open again (weekends only at the moment, I think; and only outdoor seating), and serving its excellent cake.

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Re: Pennine Cycleway

Postby ianmcdaid » 25 Aug 2020, 5:41pm

I'd recommend reading Andrew Syke's account his trip on the Pennine Cycleway ... -of-posts/

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Re: Pennine Cycleway

Postby honesty » 25 Aug 2020, 10:02pm

Did it a few years ago and have written about it on my blog linked below. Going north to south,

1. The short off road section by Etal can be skipped without much trouble.
2. there’s bits around Wooler that are a pain on a tourer, and you’d probably be better just sticking to the A road if you can Especially the 3rd stream crossing which is an absolute nightmare.
3. The forestry commission track between Bellingham and Haltwhistle I found really hard on a loaded tourer and I think I would go a different route if I did it again.
4. The canal from Hebden bridge to Sowerby bridge is a really nice ride and in my view better than the official route
5. The off road route along the A628 is ludicrous.
6. The canal from New Mills is a decent ride and Bugsworth Basin is worth seeing
7. Birds is the best bakery, and there’s one in Ashbourne.

(By the way is it possible to get over the Lambley viaduct yet?)

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Re: Pennine Cycleway

Postby Pendodave » 1 Sep 2020, 10:37am

Hi there,
I'm planning to do the Bellingham coquette diversion on this route later this week.
Can anyone give an idea of the quality of the forestry road between bellingham and byrness? I'll be on a road bike, but am up to a bit of fine gravel. Large chunks, or mud, less so.