The single most epic ride on the National Cycle Network, this is an unforgettable route along the spine of England. Nowhere else will you find scenery so wild, lanes so quiet, views so vast.
It’s a true challenge ride, not for the faint-hearted. You’ll finish each day feeling thoroughly worked over – but when you wake up the next morning, you’ll be charged up for another day’s glorious cycling. At every hilltop, every corner, there’s a new vista. Multiply that by 350 miles and you’ll see what’s so special about this route.
At 350 (hilly) miles, this is essentially a week’s holiday. If you’re coming from the south of England or the Midlands, don’t forget to factor in the time to get a train to Derby at the start, and back from Berwick-on-Tweed at the end.
The route passes numerous railway lines, so you can break it up into sections if you can’t spare a week. That said, we’d recommend doing it all in one go: the gradually unfolding landscape is one of the attractions of this route.
The Pennine Cycleway is a mix of quiet roads, railway paths, canal towpaths and forestry roads. As such, a hybrid will cope with most of the surfaces en route, and its forgiving gears will help you up the steeper climbs.
A few short sections are very rough: the Trans-Pennine Trail across the Woodhead summit, the cobbles up from Hebden Bridge, and the field section after Alwinton. There are easy road alternatives for all of these, though the Woodhead road is exceptionally busy. At Hadfield in the Peak District, you’ll find the surface easier if you stick to the southern edge of the reservoir.
Taking a road bike? If you fit robust tyres, you’ll generally be fine (with the above exceptions). Take extra care on the bridleway at the end of the Tissington Trail (near Earl Sterndale); the rough minor road just north of Buxton; and the forest sections after Hadrian’s Wall and through Kielder Forest.
We’re not the sort of southern Jessies who say “the further north you go, the further from civilisation you are”. The south of England can only dream of scenery like this!
But it’s certainly true that there are long stretches without any facilities. There is nothing, at all, in the 20 miles from Twice Brewed to Bellingham. As such, make sure you always have enough to eat and drink with you (with apologies for sounding like your mum), and spare inner tubes in case of a puncture. This affects your choice of accommodation too: if you get to Haltwhistle and everywhere’s full up, it’s another 25 miles until the next B&B.
Most of the route is signposted as National Cycle Network route 68. Several on-road sections, particularly in Derbyshire and Northumberland, have now been removed from the NCN but remain part of the Pennine Cycleway; they’re still signed but you may not see a red NCN number.
No. Confusingly, this is one of three routes (and, we think, the best) to share the ‘Pennine’ tag. There’s also the Trans-Pennine Trail, a much gentler east-west route from Liverpool to Hull; and the Pennine Bridleway, a fearsome off-road haul for horse-riders and mountain-bikers.
The Pennine Cycleway starts at the little village of Etwall, midway between Derby and Burton-on-Trent. You can take a train to either, then cycle along NCN route 54 for seven miles to Etwall. For the return journey, Berwick-on-Tweed is on the East Coast Main Line, with fast trains direct to London, Edinburgh and into the Midlands.
Note that LNER and CrossCountry, who provide the trains from Berwick, are both sticklers for bike reservations. Book your journey well in advance. Don’t worry if the station staff at Berwick growl at you… they do that to everyone.
Log in with your cycle.travel account:
Or simply use your account on:
Ride reports & comments
Ride report - will be coming soon.
Hi all, I dont know why no reports have been posted. I will try and remedy the situation and bring it upto date from July 2016
Pennine Cycleway July 2018
I was going to add some maps with added local details that might help, but these might have to wait. Here is the link.
Sorry - I've written quite…
speke road ncn 62 crossing: wrong?
Your map seems to not to be able to route via the official ncn62 routing across speke boulevard in liverpool?
Open streetmap seems to show it OK.
I have included…
Enter the title
ncn62 goes as ross lave lane goes over the motorway as in OSM website map but not in cycle.travel?
I wonder why when its the same data?
Derby TPT York
Using NCN routes including bits of the Pennine cycleway and the TransPennine Trail .
Lots of old railway and canals so not to be rushed! Good rail links each end…
NCN 68 north of Haltwhistle
I'm trying to plot a route along a section of NCN 68, from Haltwhistle to Bellingham, but cycle.travel won't let me! It appears to think there's a gap…
PCW August 2018
Just a quick note to say thank you for the excellent guide for this route.
The GPX proved useful as well. Although there is a new path at SK…
Ridden this route? Write a ride report and share your experience…
We had a great journey over route 68 from Derby to Berwick Upon Tweed. The route offers fantastic views with some challenging hills continuously!
We had a few mechanical issues and found a great help in a privately owned company at Millthorp 3/4 mile before Sedbergh. A very helpful owner, James of Polka Dot Cycles managed to get us up and running again. Not much choice out this part of the route so well worth knowing he is hidden away. Phone number is 07887 780629.
Great route and highly recommended. Did it from Berwick to Derby (the unofficial direction!) in May 2019 and really enjoyed it. I've written up my notes and suggestions at https://dent.org.uk/cycling/pennine-cycleway/ including gps files of my actual route which you can use to complement the cycle.travel ones.
Don't forget there are lots of hills! But also, lots of gorgeous views, some very remote areas and a great mix of different kinds of cycling. Throughout there was little traffic.
This is an awesome route. Very hilly. Take time and enjoy it. I managed it on 25mm tyres, but you may need to push for small sections or find alternative route. Some parts are quite desolate so take enough supplies. Well signed the whole way.