The Pennines are a British gem and filled with some of the UK’s very best biking roads. This article shows you our favourite route and one of the best motorcycle tours in the Pennines with a map and step by step guide.
Why motorcycle tour in the Pennines?
The Pennines are incredible and one of the UK’s most scenic regions. The entire area is brimming with deep valleys, towering mountains and rolling green hills. And – importantly for us bikers – you’ve got some Britain’s very best, absolutely stunning twisty roads lacing their way through the entire lot!
The Pennines, also known as the backbone of England, are magical and just one motorcycle tour here will get you hooked!
Where are the Pennines?
The Pennines are in the North of England and stretch from Northumberland to Derbyshire. You’ve got the Peak District in the south and the range heads northwards through the South Pennines, Yorkshire Dales and into the incredible North Pennines.
When to go?
The best times to visit the Pennines on a motorcycle tour are spring and autumn as you’ll steer clear of all the tourists. But even in the summer you can still have the road all to yourself.
The Best Motorcycle Tour in the Pennines
The Pennines are a British gem. The riding up here is so damn good wherever you go, but if I had to pick my favourite it’s got to be this absolute corker.
Here’s the baseline Google route map. You’ll find the start to end of the main route here, however, as there are multiple return route options to complete the loop, we’ve left them off the map. You can find them in the step by step route section below and choose which return leg you’d like to do dependent on how much time you have.
The Best Motorcycle Tour in the Pennines Route
Leave South Shields on the A194 and make your way to the A68/ A692 junction near Castleside. This is the start of the North Pennines National Park and where the ride really starts.
Follow the A692 as it twists, turns and climbs up over a cattle grid onto Waskerley Way with plenty of stunning views and hundreds of fluffy sheep dotted throughout the hills.
You’ll jump on a fast road with a few bends and some longish straights. But once at the crest you’ll meet up with the B6278. Here you can either turn left to Stanhope or go right and loop leftish through to Blanchland, passing Derwent water and come back to the B6278 (you might as well while you’re here!)
Turn right to Stanhope, it’s a lovely village to stop for a cuppa if you fancy it. As you descend the steep hill into Stanhope, turn right onto the A689.
Follow this road for a few miles to St John’s Chapel, then turn left onto my favourite road – Harthope road.
This road climbs and turns with 360° fantastic views before descending to Langdon beck. You can inch forwards a little more here and take a look at Cow Green Reservoir if you fancy another pitstop.
Turn right onto the B6277 to Alston. From Alston, take the A686 up to Hartside top, which was once the site of a cafe which sadly burnt down.
You’ll be met with even more beautiful views up here. Take it all in and if you’re feeling brave enough for some great hairpins, just detour down the Penrith Road for a little while.
From Hartside return to Alston and if you want a lunch stop take the A689 to a lovely Cafe/Farm shop called “The Nook”.
The return journey
Once fed and watered, you can either go back the way you came (just as enjoyable in the opposite direction) or take the A689 to Stanhope passing through the highest English village at Nenthead and the Killhope lead mine museum which also has a cafe.
From here you can either head back to Stanhope or enjoy some of the small roads in the area going through Rookhope and Allenheads (another fine cafe there too!)
As an alternative route from Alston, you could take the A686 to Langley (another excellent road) then the B6305 to Hexham (fine old town). And stay on that road to Blanchland and loop back to Waskerley way.
Adventure bike riders can also enjoy a couple of the many green lanes here like the Lane above Nenthead and Grasshill Causeway. I have ridden both on my Africa Twin!
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There’s plenty of camp sites in the Pennines. Take a look at our recommended UK campsites link below. You’ll find a map with all the best motorcycle friendly campsites and can match them up to your route.
READ MORE: The Best Motorcycle Friendly Campsites in the UK
READ MORE: Motorcycle Camping Guides
To give you an idea of where the hotels are along your route and their prices, take a look at the booking.com map below, which has a dropped pin on the Pennines area.
The approximate mileage for the longer route is 85 -100 miles dependent on if you opt for detours.
Allow time for photos. It’s near impossible to ride this route without constantly stopping to snap pics.
As it’s the North England, pack decent touring gear that’s comfy, warm and ventilated. For more info on kit, take a look at the Gear Guides.
Have fun and take your time! Some of these routes are fast and very twisty.
About the author
Rob Burden is a hugely experienced motorcycle traveller and tourer. He’s 61 years old and knows the two-wheeled world well after working in the motorcycle trade for 30 years. He’s travelled most of Europe, some of Africa and Turkey. And as well as non-stop motorcycle travel, he’s also a seasoned traveller on foot with 3 Himalayan treks and climbs of over 20,000ft under his belt.
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2 thoughts on “The Best Motorcycle Tour in the Pennines”
Great article Mr Burden. Very well explained with lots of information and guidance. I shall be attempting this route as soon as the sun shines! Thank you.