Tips for conquering the mighty Pennines





Whether you’re a keen cyclist or an avid walker, wonderful adventures await you if you set your sights towards the North of England — or the North Pennines to be more specific.

This is because the Pennines is one of the UK’s greatest landscapes, not to mention having the accolade of being an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

If you are keen to explore the Pennines but not sure where to start your experience, I encourage you to grab your hiking boots or mountain bikes and head out by following this itinerary drawn up by Leisure Lakes Bikes!

 ​What can I expect while exploring the Pennines?
There’ll never be a time that you’ll become bored when discovering the 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 important to acknowledge that exploring the Pennines will become a challenge at times though. However, that seems to be the core reason as to why people keep returning regularly to head out and achieve more of their goals. The North Pennines specifically has heather moors, peatlands, dales, meadows, upland rivers and woodland areas too, meaning you have plenty to explore when you get there.

​Where should I start?

One of the better cycle routes across the North Pennines is the Wear & Rockhope Valley, due to the number of things to see during your journey from A to B. From the Burnhope Reservoir to Lintzgarth Arch, the beautiful scenes will encourage you to keep pedalling and complete this trail.

The ideal place to begin along this route is at the Durham Dales Centre in Stanhope. This 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.

​What’s the route?

From the Durham Dales Centre, you will want to head towards Stanhope Town Hall along the A689.
You’ll eventually come across a bridge along this road, which you’ll 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 freshen yourself up.

The next site of note that you will pass is Saint John’s Church. From here, keep going forward and you’ll eventually come into the town centre. Next you will want to 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.

Take a right after you pass through Allenheads and remain on the B6295 road all the way to 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.

Keep an eye out for St John’s Chapel and Daddry Shield to ensure you’re on the right route at this point. Just be sure to remain 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!

To complete the route, turn right and then head back to the Durham Dales Centre.

How long should I expect the route to take to complete?

The complete route detailed above measures in at 24.26 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.

Are there any challenges with this route?

If you’re cycling the route, then hills may prove your greatest foe — especially if they are encountered during testing weather conditions too. 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.
Have you cycled in the Pennines? Would you like to do this route? 
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