This is part of our series in collaboration with komoot, the route planning app for runners, bikers, and long-distance hikers. To find you the best road cycling routes in the Cheviots, we reached out to local experts on the area and had them plan their top five routes using komoot. Our road cycling expert in the Cheviots is Mark Nelson, a seasoned biker who spends his weekends exploring these hills and bombing around the most remote roads he can find. Take it away, Mark:
The Best Road Cycling Routes in the Cheviots
- Across the Ranges
- Tour of the Castles
- Lost Railways and Hills
- Through the Sea
- Around the Cheviots
Across the Ranges
Rothbury, with a convenient car park and a Co-Op for stocking up on last minute supplies, is the perfect departure point for this route. Heading west on the quiet stretch out of the town is one of my favourite roads in Northumberland. As you hug the border of the National Park, the rolling terrain provides expansive views of the river Coquet meandering through the flood plain and lakes of Coquetdale below.
After the challenging climb of Billsmoor and a fast drop down in to Elsdon it’s time to turn off public roads and on to the military roads of Otterburn Ranges. Despite checking in advance that there is no firing (a crucial step before doing this route! You can check the firing times at gov.uk) I always nervously check the danger flags aren’t flying before relaxing and enjoying the smooth tarmac and car-free roads leading in to the heart of the Cheviots, and coming within metres of the Scottish border at Chew Green.
It’s not unusual to traverse the ranges and not see any other people and, if it’s a calm day, I sometimes pause to and drink in the remoteness, taking in the rare experience of hearing only natural sounds. After leaving Chew Green, there’s plenty of downhill which is punctuated by short steep climbs to make sure things aren’t too luxurious. After taking in the road threaded between the hills through Upper Coquetdale I like to reward myself with pizza at the Star Inn in Harbottle to top up my energy before the final stretch back to Rothbury.
Tour of the Castles
Wooler is a great place to start when you want to find some of the quietest roads in Northumberland. Although right on the edge of the Cheviots, the start of this ride is very flat. As you ride past the glider club you can see Yeavering Bell and the surrounding hills rising behind the airfield and can get a feel for how the wind will help or hinder the rest of the ride from a handy windsock next to the road.
The route starts to rise slightly before providing a glimpse of the first castle of the day at Ford, then on past an ancient mill at Heatherslaw and in to Etal, where the ruins of another castle can be found just off the main road through the village.
After this, the route continues north along very quiet lanes before dropping down in to the village of Norham, on banks of the Tweed, which marks the border with Scotland.