Cycling in Alston: The Ultimate Cycling Destination

by | Activities, Alston

This article is part of our Discover Alston series. You can find more articles here

Nestled in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Alston is a hidden gem for cycling enthusiasts. Its stunning landscapes, challenging terrains, and picturesque villages make it the ultimate cycling destination. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist looking for a new challenge or a casual rider wanting to enjoy the scenery, cycling in Alston offers something for everyone. Here, we’ll explore why Alston is a cyclist’s paradise and highlight five top cycle rides that showcase the best of this beautiful region.

Why Alston?

Alston’s charm lies in its unspoiled beauty and varied terrain. The town itself is one of the highest market towns in England, providing a unique starting point for many exhilarating rides. The surrounding area is rich in history, with Roman roads, old mining trails, and traditional stone villages. The blend of steep climbs, rolling hills, and serene valleys ensures that every ride is an adventure.

If offroad cycling is more your thing, check out our Mountain Biking in Alston blog.

1. The Coast to Coast (C2C) Cycle Route

Cyclists riding along the Coast to Coast (C2C) route with Alston's scenic landscapes in the background, highlighting the experience of cycling in Alston.

Cyclists on the iconic Coast to Coast (C2C) route enjoy breathtaking views and challenging climbs as they pass through Alston, a key milestone on this famous ride.

The Coast to Coast (C2C) cycle route is one of the most famous long-distance rides in the UK, stretching from the Irish Sea to the North Sea. Alston serves as a significant milestone along this iconic route. Starting from the west coast, you’ll pass through the rugged Lake District before reaching Alston. From here, the journey continues through the scenic North Pennines, offering a mix of challenging climbs and rewarding descents.


  • Hartside Pass: A challenging climb with breathtaking views at the summit.
  • Garrigill: A quaint village perfect for a rest stop.
  • Nenthead: A historical mining village with interesting heritage sites.

2. Alston to Hartside Summit

A cyclist reaching the top of Hartside Summit, overlooking panoramic views of the North Pennines, showcasing cycling in Alston.

The challenging climb to Hartside Summit rewards cyclists with stunning panoramic views, making it a must-do route for those cycling in Alston.

For those seeking a ride that combines physical challenge with stunning vistas, the climb to Hartside Summit is a must. This route begins in Alston and takes you on a relentless ascent to one of the highest points in England accessible by road. The climb is tough, but the panoramic views at the top are more than worth the effort.


  • Hartside Cafe: A popular spot for cyclists to refuel and take in the views.
  • Panoramic views: On a clear day, you can see as far as Scotland and the Lake District.
  • Rewarding descent: The ride down is exhilarating after the hard climb up.

3. The South Tyne Trail

Cyclists riding along the flat and scenic South Tyne Trail near Alston, perfect for a leisurely cycling experience in Alston.

The South Tyne Trail offers a gentle and scenic ride through the South Tyne Valley, ideal for families and casual riders exploring cycling in Alston.

The South Tyne Trail is perfect for cyclists who prefer a more leisurely ride. Following the route of an old railway line, this trail offers a gentle ride through the South Tyne Valley. The trail is mostly flat, making it ideal for families and those looking to enjoy the scenery at a relaxed pace.


  • Lambley Viaduct: A stunning piece of railway architecture spanning the South Tyne River.
  • Slaggyford: A charming village with historical railway significance.
  • Wildlife: The valley is home to various wildlife, including red squirrels and birds of prey.

4. Alston to Blanchland Loop

Cyclists navigating the winding country lanes from Alston to Blanchland, experiencing the diverse terrain of cycling in Alston.

The Alston to Blanchland Loop is a favourite among cyclists for its varied terrain and picturesque villages, showcasing the beauty of cycling in Alston.

This loop is a favorite among local cyclists for its varied terrain and scenic beauty. Starting in Alston, the route heads south to the historic village of Blanchland, nestled on the edge of the North Pennines. The ride features a mix of climbs, descents, and flat sections, making it a well-rounded route for intermediate cyclists.


  • Blanchland: A picturesque village with medieval architecture and a welcoming pub.
  • Derwent Reservoir: Offers stunning waterside views and a chance to spot local wildlife.
  • Scenic roads: Quiet country lanes that wind through the hills and valleys.

5. Cross Fell Challenge

A cyclist tackling the rugged terrain of the Cross Fell Challenge near Alston, the ultimate test for experienced cyclists in Alston.

The Cross Fell Challenge offers experienced cyclists a demanding and rewarding route, featuring the highest point in the Pennines and stunning landscapes, epitomizing cycling in Alston.

For experienced cyclists and mountain bike enthusiasts looking for a true test of endurance, the Cross Fell Challenge is the ultimate route. Cross Fell is the highest point in the Pennines, and this ride takes you through some of the most rugged and remote landscapes in the region. Starting in Alston, the route involves steep climbs, rocky paths, and stunning summit views.


  • Cross Fell summit: The highest point in the Pennines with panoramic views.
  • Historic trails: Ride along ancient paths used by miners and shepherds.
  • Sense of achievement: Conquering one of the toughest cycling challenges in the UK.

Tips for Cycling in Alston

  • Prepare for the weather: The North Pennines can be unpredictable, so always check the forecast and dress in layers.
  • Bring a map: While many routes are well-marked, it’s always good to have a map or GPS for backup.
  • Stay hydrated: Carry plenty of water, especially for longer rides.
  • Respect the environment: Alston is a protected area, so make sure to follow the Leave No Trace principles.

Cycling in Alston: The Ultimate Cycling Destination

Cycling in Alston is a remarkable experience that combines physical challenge with natural beauty. Whether you’re tackling a long-distance route like the C2C or enjoying a leisurely ride along the South Tyne Trail, Alston’s diverse terrain and stunning landscapes make it the ultimate cycling destination. So, dust off your bike, pack your gear, and head to Alston for an unforgettable cycling adventure.

Stay at Salvin House Alston

When planning your cycling adventure in Alston, Salvin House Alston stands out as the perfect place to base yourself. This charming and well-appointed accommodation offers cyclists a comfortable and convenient retreat after a day of exploring the stunning North Pennines. With its warm hospitality, secure bike storage, and close proximity to popular cycling routes, Salvin House ensures that you can relax and recharge in style. Whether you’re preparing for an epic ride up Hartside Summit or a leisurely journey along the South Tyne Trail, Salvin House Alston provides the ideal home away from home for every cyclist.




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