If you’re looking for a weekend challenge and you don’t mind taking a chance on the weather, this tour from Newcastle to Edinburgh could be the one for you. Also known as the ‘Coasts and Castles Tour’, the route follows national cycle route 1 a total of 201 miles along beautiful coastlines, through stunning moorland, taking in a few medieval castles en route. If you're hardcore, it can be done in two days, but three or four is more comfortable.
This guide is for the most challenging agenda over two days. The first day is 101 miles from Newcastle to Berwick-upon-Tweed. The second day 99 miles from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Edinburgh. The route is mostly on road, but with some light gravel sections that can be difficult in the wet. Whilst it can be done on a road bike, a hybrid or cross bike is better.
Starting in Newcastle
Arriving in Newcastle the day before the ride is probably best - you can relax, observe the teeming nightlife, but don’t get too involved or the next day might be painful. Several budget hotel options exist there - we went for the bike friendly Euro Hostel.
The morning of the ride we warmed up with a delicious breakfast from a lovely cafe, Les Petits Choux, and then headed off to formally start proceedings at the Alan Shearer statue next to St James Park.
Day 1: Newcastle to Berwick Upon Tweed
The whole route follows National Cycle Route 1, which is generally pretty well signposted. You first head out towards the coast and get to the lovely seaside town of Tynmouth (we even stopped for an early fuel up of a shared portion of chips!). After Tynmouth, you head north and follow the coast all day long. You’ll see plenty of castles, Alnwick and Bamburgh castle my favourites. You’ll also see Holy Island, and a lot of beautifully rugged coastline.
We had a delicious lunch at the Shoreline Cafe in Craster, about 45 miles into the total 100.
There’s one spot on the route just before Craster where the route divides into two options - off road or on road. Unless you’re riding something very sturdy or the weather is very dry, I’d recommend sticking to the road.
When you arrive in Berwick-upon-Tweed, tired and weary, you’ll find a few good food options and again, good value accommodation. We went for the Travel Lodge, which was hospitable to both us and our quite muddy bikes.
Day 2: Berwick Upon Tweed to Edinburgh
Less things to point out along this part of the route. The route moves into the Tweed valley which is the Scottish border country. Here it’s all quiet lanes, so can be very sociable if you’re in a group. In the second half of the day you’ll be climbing gently into the Moorfoot Hills into Midlothian, before seeing Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth in all it’s glory.
Arriving in Edinburgh
If you haven’t been before, it’s well worth pedalling up one more hill to see Edinburgh Castle. No shortage of things to see and do here if you have the time to stick around. We finished our ride with a suitably unhealthy Five Guys burger, and a couple of pints of Scottish Ale, before getting on the sleeper train back to London.
A beautiful, but challenging couple of days. Highly recommended.