Review: Cycling Hadrian’s Cycleway by Carl McKeating and Rachel Crolla. Published by Cicerone, £11.95

HADRIAN’S Cycleway is a stunning ride exploring the Roman Empire’s most northerly frontier – Hadrian’s Wall.

This 174-mile coast-to-coast cycle route begins at the fort of Glannaventa in Ravenglass and ends at Arbeia fort in South Shields. The ride encompasses the west Cumbrian coast, the Northumberland National Park, the Tyne Valley and in particular Hadrian’s Wall where several of its World Heritage Sites are visited including Vindolanda and Birdoswald. The route is suitable for cyclists of all abilities and usually takes three days to complete. It uses mainly minor roads and cycle routes on dismantled railways, picturesque coastal paths and riverside tracks.

Whilst the recommended time for the ride is three days, with distances of 53, 64 and 57 miles on the three days, there are a number of alternatives that the authors have provided. These are:

• A three-day alternative with more time spent adjacent to Hadrian’s Wall of 74, 49 and 48 miles.

• A two-day alternative covering Hadrian’s Wall only from Bowness on Solway to South Shields of 43 miles and 57 miles.

• A two-day alternative covering the whole route of 103 miles and 71 miles.

• A four-day alternative of 42, 53, 30 and 48 miles.

• A five-day alternative of 37, 45, 29, 32 and 31 miles.

There are 82 pages of detailed route descriptions with maps on a scale of 1:100,000 showing start and finish points each day, symbols for cafes, pubs, bike shops, other refreshment places and toilets. There is also an ascent diagram for each day’s route, and there are numerous colour photographs of views, items of interest that will be encountered and on Day 2 many of the forts and milecastles on Hadrian’s Wall.

Carl McKeating and Rachel Crolla have written a number of cycling books as well as general outdoor pursuit books including Outdoor Adventures with Children in the Lake District which was reviewed in the paper back in May.

At the start of the book in addition to the Introduction there are short chapters on Why Choose the Cycleway, How tough is it?, How many days?, West to east or east to west?, Getting there and back, Where to stay, What kind of bicycle?, Equipment, Carrying your gear, What to wear, Maps and apps, Signage, Hadrian’s Wall, Who was Hadrian?, Seeing more of the Wall, Alternative endings: running late and Tynemouth and finally Using the guide. There are three appendices at the end of the book – Accommodation, Bike Shops and Other Contacts, and Further Reading.

For keen cyclists, of which we have many in this area as evidenced by the membership at both Ilkley and Otley Cycle Clubs, this looks to be a great ride which can be undertaken over two, three, four or five days depending upon the ability of the rider and how much exploring they wish to do during the ride.

by John Burland