Fancy an epic off-road tour? Now you can ride 800 miles through England and Scotland
You'd be forgiven that thinking that you need to travel beyond these shores to sample a super long-distance off-road touring challenge, but Cycling UK has announced the Great North Trail; an 800 mile plus, off-road route that goes from the north of England to the very top of Scotland.
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The announcement is the culmination of many years hard work working out the route and securing access to the 825 miles of dirt tracks, trails and the odd bit of canal path and old railway that make up the trail. The trail starts in Middleton Top in the Peak District and gives you the option of finishing in either John O'Groats or Cape Wrath in the far north of Scotland.
The route passes through four separate National Parks, using some existing long-distance routes such as the Pennine Way but then using other sections of trail all the way to Scotland. It's all been painstakingly pieced together by the cycling charity in order to promote adventures by bike, with access agreements worked out with landowners and stakeholders where needed.
The route has been split up into nine sections if you don't fancy biting off the whole distance in one sitting. Even so, most of these are still multi-day trips with serious amounts of climbing and 100km plus distances.
Despite all this hard work, Cycling UK admits there is still work to be done: "This route isn’t perfect. Sometimes, an ideal connecting trail is designated as a footpath rather than a bridleway, so we’ve had to take the long way round and include a quiet on-road section.
"In places, we’ve managed to negotiate permissive access, but in other areas, the process is still ongoing.
"The route will continue to evolve as we campaign for increased off-road access for cycling, bringing opportunities for adventures by bike within reach of everyone."
Their vision is for a connected network of off-road trails, taking in the length and breadth of the country and the varied terrain contained within, with one stated goal being an off-road route from Land's End at the southernmost tip of the country to John O'Groats at the far north.
If you fancy taking this huge challenge on - we certainly do - then you can read more about it at the Cycling UK site below, where there's detailed information, maps and downloadable GPX files.
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