Fancy tackling your own mountain bike coast to coast epic? With the UK being an island there are a number of options to choose from.
In the UK there are a few well-worn favourites to choose from. You can attempt these self-supported or, seeing as it can be hard enough just doing the pedalling let along all the logistics and navigation, you can pay one of the many guiding companies to take care of all the navigation and logistics.
Mountain bike coast to coast routes in the UK
1. St Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay
5,700m elevation change
Tim Woodcock’s classic Wheelwright coast-to-coast route, as ridden here, heads east from the Lake District, through the Yorkshire Dales and on to the North Yorkshire Moors, where it ends in Robin Hood’s Bay. St Bees is the official start point, but you can also start from Ravenglass. The latter gives you access to the Dunnerdale Fells, while the official route heads past Black Sail Youth Hostel and the spectacular Wasdale Head. Then it’s across the Howgills, Swaledale and across the flats to the North Yorkshire Moors. There’s nothing stopping you customising this route to your heart’s content, adding and subtracting classic sections along the way depending on how long you want to take. Of course, there are nutters who have ridden it in less than 24 hours, but 4-6 days will give you ample time to enjoy all the great trails along the way.
2. Aberdeen to Ardnamuchan Point
8,000m elevation change
The mayhem of Aberdeen docks contrasts starkly with the stunning landscape of the Highlands and the tranquillity of Ardnamuchan Point on this epic journey. Taking you through the Queen’s garden, into the heart of the Cairngorms and on to the trail centre singletrack at Laggan, you’ll find singletrack, double track and quiet country lanes, before eventually rolling up to a smattering of sheltered white sand beaches and an imposing lighthouse with glorious views across to Skye. Usually undertaken in six days, we’d probably recommend riding this with the support of a full guided crew.
Check out wildernessscotland.com
3. Lake District South to North
2,800m elevation change
You can download the route we took at po.st/LakesSouth2North and you can always make up your own variation by diverting to the trails at Whinlatter for a lap, or incorporating Helvellyn or Walna Scar.
For a more modest challenge, how about this route that we created back in 2004? Starting from Ulverston, we headed north into Grizedale Forest, then through Langdale before heading over Stake Pass to an overnight halt in Borrowdale. On the second day the route took us via Derwent Water and Keswick to Skiddaw, Cockermouth and Maryport. Much more digestible than the other two options, you could easily ride this self-supported by parking a vehicle at one end and using the train to get to the start, or return from the finish. With only one overnight stay, you’ll have no problem carrying all the essentials.