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If you’ve made it your mission this year to explore more of the UK, you need to make sure you head up to the North of England. It seems that everyone flocks to the south coast to the beaches of Bournemouth, Cornwall and Devon but the North Pennines have so much to offer to walkers and cyclists. If you’re looking for more of an active holiday, then the North Pennines can be the greatest escape for anyone looking to remove themselves from city life and focus on their own health and wellbeing. The Pennines gained the title Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1988 as it is one of the greatest landscapes in the UK

What makes the ‘mighty Pennines’ worth visiting?

If you’re a hiker or a cyclist, there will never be a dull moment in the North Pennines. With the stunning views that this heritage site provides, you will constantly be pushing yourself to find the most magnificent spot – although this could prove to be difficult as the entire area is breath-taking. It’s also the perfect place to get those instagram shots!

 The North Pennines has heather moors, peatlands, dales, meadows, upland rivers and woodland areas, meaning you have plenty to explore when you get there.

Grab your mountain bikes and hiking boots because Leisure Lakes are going to help you plan your itinerary and make your way to this stunning part of the country to create everlasting memories…

Where to start?

Regarded as one of the better cycle routes in the North Pennines is the Wear & Rockhope Valleys. From the Burnhope Reservoir to Lintzgarth Arch, the beautiful scenes will encourage you to keep pedalling and complete this trail.

It is recommended that you should begin at the Durham Dales Centre in Stanhope, so if you’re staying for the night you might be best to book a hotel close by where you can relax after that long ride. The Durham Dales Centre is home to a gift shop, craft shop and tea room, giving you the opportunity to have a warm drink before you set off on your journey and make sure you have the energy for the ride ahead.

The beginning of your journey

Your bike is ready and you’re all prepared to leave, exit the Durham Dales Centre and follow the A689 towards Stanhope Town Hall. You might be tempted to stop at the Stanhope Fish and Chips shop, you need to stay focused.

If you continue to follow this road and you will eventually reach a bridge that you need to cross. Proceed in the direction you’re currently going in, before taking your third right and following the road upwards. You will pass Greenfoot Hotel and Greenhead Farm before eventually reaching Rockhope. If you need to have a break in Rockhope, The Rockhope Inn would be the ideal place to stop. It has outdoor seating so you can grab a drink and take in the scenery while you refresh.

Then once you’ve passed Saint John’s Church, continue forward where you will then reach the town centre. Here, take your second left, following the main road channelling the Rockhope Burn river where you will come to Allenheads. Once you’ve reached Allenheads, a stopping off point would be the Allenheads Inn as it a popular destination for cyclists and hikers alike.

Once you come into Allenheads, take a right and stay on the B6295 road and you will be in Cowshill. In Cowshill, the only place you will be able to stop at will be the Cowshill Hotel. Fortunately, they are more than welcoming to cyclists who are stopping by for a well-deserved break. After this visit, follow the road downwards where you will come to the A689 road — remain on this road and continue to Ireshopeburn.

You will then cycle past St John’s Chapel and Daddry Shield — make sure to stay on Pleasant Road and not divert onto any other route. This area is full of different cafes and pubs, including Chatterbox Café, The Golden Lion and The Blue Bell Inn. You will then reach Brotherlee, where you need to remain on the road that you’re currently on and eventually you will pass Horsley Hall – a country hotel. Continue following this road and you will reach a bridge crossing the River Wear. Take the right onto the B6278 here and you will be back in Stanhope!

Then take a right and head back towards the Durham Dales Centre. This is the end of your journey and it’s now time to relax!

How long will the whole adventure take you?

The entire distance to complete this route is 24.36 miles. If you’re completing this at a speed of 10mph, you should complete this in 2 hours, 26 minutes. For those who are a bit quicker, at 13mph you will reach the finish line in 1 hour, 52 minutes. Although it depends on how many times you stop for a drink and how long you stay there of course. 

It has been discovered that if you are travelling at 19mph, you will complete this course in 1 hour and 16 minutes. If you’re going 22mph, however, you will complete this cycle route in just 1 hour and 6 minutes.

What challenges you will face on the ride?

Hills can be challenging for some cyclists and depending on the weather conditions, these can become even more tricky. Fortunately, we’ve listed these in advance so that you know what you’re in for:

  • The Brandon Walls and Hill Top has a height of 1570ft and will take 2 miles to complete.
  • Rookhope Head has a height of 1745ft and will only take 0.75 miles.
  • Burtree Fell has a height of 1836ft and will take up 1.8 miles of your journey.



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