C2C Hadrians wall in 2018 - NCN72 vs B6138

Discussion in 'Touring and Adventure Cycling' started by InchPitch, 9 Feb 2018.

  1. InchPitch

    InchPitch Regular

    Hi - thinking of doing this in the summer of 2018.
    I want to make this a 'Roman Wall' ride - but I noticed that NCN 72 departs from the 'wall' in many places and takes long strips out to Haltwhitsle, Hexham and bypasses out Houseteads and Chesters...
    Is the B6138 ok to ride on (that was my plan) or is a 'hell of the north' to be on a bicycle and best avoided?

    Newcastle >train to Carlisle+ bike,
    then bike > Bowness for 'that' selfie
    return via bike NCN 72 and mainly B6138 (military road) to Newcastle calling in at all the monuments and museums and then bike out and back to Tynemouth (that selfie) with final visit to Sedgedunum.
  2. PaulSB

    PaulSB Guru

    As I recall, though may well be wrong, the B6138 is very straight with a lot of painful “undulations.”
    InchPitch likes this.
  3. Jody

    Jody Gold member

    Would be interested to know this as me and a friend are looking at doing it next year. Hopefully someone can give some info on the NCN72 and what its like as a ride.
    InchPitch likes this.
  4. Siclo

    Siclo Über Member

    I've only ridden up there a couple of times but I recall the pull out of Bardon Mill to be a bit of a swine. I'll echo @PaulSB comments about the undulations as I discovered when my gear cable snapped at Vindolanda. As pointed out the B6138 is very straight at that point and the long sight lines lead to fast traffic speeds, it's still a very popular route though. Heading West-East it's a steep little climb out of Greenhead and the road is narrow, there is a segregated path but it has stupid barriers right at the bottom and you may well struggle to get a fully laden tourer going again.

    All in all I'd ride it again no questions, if only to visit the Mithraic Temple near Brocolitia - highly recommended if you like that sort of thing
    woodenspoons and InchPitch like this.
  5. woodenspoons

    woodenspoons Über Member

    North Yorkshire
    It’s a nicer walk than ride IMO. The B road is relentlessly up and down and does get quite tedious. The national trail is good, and you get a much better sense of the wall.
    InchPitch likes this.
  6. PapaZita

    PapaZita Veteran

    St. Albans
    I used to live around there, and I know the military road fairly well, particularly the eastern end. Some parts are straight and traffic moves fast. Other bits have blind summits that always made me a bit nervous. I would tend to avoid it, although I would certainly use short stretches if they were useful or if there was somewhere I wanted to visit.

    There are often quieter, more pleasant roads, and I'd prefer to use those. For example, after visting Houseteads and Vindolanda off the MR, drop down onto Stanegate towards Fourstones. Nip up to Chollerford for Chesters if you like, but Hexham is a pleasant place to visit. There's not a whole lot of wall to be seen east of Chollerford, so from Hexham I'd take the riverside roads for a bit of a change of scenery. (A chap called Raymond Selkirk thought that the Romans canalised rivers such as the Tyne, and possible evidence can be found if you know where to look). Corchester lane to Corbridge (which has it's own Roman remains), B6530 and riverside road to Bywell (church tower decorated with reclaimed Roman toilet seats). Then the riverside roads to Ovingham and Wylam (railway museum, birthplace of George Stephenson (not a Roman)). I think from there you can pick up various traffic free routes into Newcastle, or you could climb up to Heddon to rejoin the route of the wall.

    edit - Just looked up NCN72, and realised that the route I suggested follows it almost exactly!
    Last edited: 9 Feb 2018
    mcshroom and InchPitch like this.
  7. OP

    InchPitch Regular

    That's good info - thanks

  8. toffee

    toffee Über Member

    We cycled the section of the B6138 to miss out Haltwhistle section a couple of years ago. It was straight into a head wind which made it hard work. There is some fast traffic on the road as well. Overall the wind was worse than the traffic and we would rise that type of road again.
    InchPitch likes this.
  9. hoopdriver

    hoopdriver Veteran

    East Sussex
    I was very unimpressed with the Sustrans Hadrians Wall route when I did it some years ago. It started well down the Cumbrian coast obviously as a means of including some towns whose desperate tourism boards were keen for trade. The route on this stretch of coast was in many places just a muddy narrow overgrown path that would not even have been much fun to walk on, and was difficult and unpleasant, if not impossible to ride with a tourer or road bike. The scenery was indifferent too. And no genuine link to Hadrians Wall. AS I say it was painfully obvious that it was a way of getting tourists/cyclists to needy towns.

    Things improved a bit once you reached the wall proper, up near the Solway Firth, but even then and for the rest of the way across the country to Newcastle, it was obvious that if you really wanted the scenery and the wall and the haunting experience of exploring ancient wild country you would be far, far better off walking the Hadrians Wall footpath. I would like to do that sometime. I would never bother with the cycle way again.

    If you really do want to do it, skip the Cumbrian coast bit. THere's nothing there and it's nowhere near Hadrian's Wall.
    woodenspoons and InchPitch like this.
  10. Brandane

    Brandane Fair weather cyclist.

    I did most of the NCN route a couple of years ago, but started in Moffat and joined the NCN route somewhere about Brampton.
    It is not without the odd climb or two, as can be seen from my Strava record. A very enjoyable ride done over two days.
    I had an overnight stop at Haltwhistle and can thoroughly recommend the Wydon Farm B&B for anyone going that way. It's a working farm, well out of the way and with a covered area for bike parking. I would go so far as to say, one of the best B&B's I have ever stayed in.
  11. wyre forest blues

    wyre forest blues Active Member

    A group of us are doing the C2C2C (ie Workington to Tynemouth and return ). We have already booked accomodation. We are riding east via Cockermouth, Penrith, Nenthead (overnight), then onto Tynemouth via Newcastle with overnight at Newcastle. Return was originally planned along the B6138. However having read the comments on this thread I'm tempted to ride the NCN 72 as there is only about 5 miles difference to our overnight at Carlisle. So the question is which route ? Or has anyone got an alternative that we could 'borrow with pride'.
  12. woodenspoons

    woodenspoons Über Member

    North Yorkshire
    As an aside, the John Muir Way looks like a good ride coast to coast in Scotland. Anyone done this yet? Views?
  13. Tigerbiten

    Tigerbiten Veteran

    I've done both as I used to live in Bardon Mill.
    The Military is not bad from Heddon-On-The-Wall to Chollerford. A slow pull up with a big drop to the North Tyne. The other ways harder due to the big climb, 600' in 2 miles with odd section of 15%.
    After the North Tyne it gets busier due to cars and coaches going to housesteads and other roman camps.
    It's fast, narrow and straight with blind spots in some of the dips, but not a bad road to cycle on.
    But the Stangate is quieter so nicer.
  14. gaijintendo

    gaijintendo Über Member

  15. woodenspoons

    woodenspoons Über Member

    North Yorkshire
    Thanks @gaijintendo. Looks like no-one's done it recently...
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