Hadrian’s Wall to Holy Island


  • 215km / 134 miles – On & Off Road
  • Rather Be’s own unique twist on an iconic journey
  • An off & on road, mixed terrain & multi surface adventure
  • Traverse the length of Northumberland on The Sandstone Way
  • Ideal for a Gravel or Adventure Bike
  • Skim over the sands & causeway to Holy Island
  • Includes RBC Trip Cycle Guide
  • Includes RBC Trip Support – Baggage Van, Driver & Mechanical Support
Number of Days: 5
Land Only Price From: £595
Grade: Hot 
Group Size: 4 – 14 (Smaller Groups by Arrangement)
View: Kit List


Sat 14 Mar – Wed 18 Mar 2020 
Wed 27 May – Sun 31 May 2020 
Wed 10 June – Sun 14 June 2020 
Fri 10 July – Tue 14 July 2020 

Trip Overview

Day 1 Group Meet Up – One Brew or Two ..?

This evening the trip group will meet up at The Twice Brewed Inn in the small hamlet of Once Brewed in Northumberland, which is located very close to the stunning Hadrian’s Wall. 

If you arrive early you’ll have time to walk and explore a section of the Wall close by and, perhaps, visit the nearby Vindolanda Roman Fort. When we’ve all arrived we’ll take the opportunity to sit down and discuss the ride ahead over a brew or two.

Overnight in Inn Accommodation
(NB: No Meal/s are included in the Trip Price for this day).

Day 2 Roman Roads & Common Lands – Once Brewed to Ravenscleugh

A gentle tarmac warm up starts the day as we follow the line of a Roman Road for about 8kms before we join the Sandstone Way Route proper at Newbrough.  From the top of the first climb the route starts to unveil it true character as it alternates between off and on road sections as it makes it’s way across stunning open countryside, changing from cultivated fields to rough grazing commons as we climb.

Crossing Hadrian’s Wall, we’ll stop for a quick cuppa at Simonburn before tackling the next off road section.  The terrain isn’t super technical and it’s perfect for adventure bikes and, of course, XC mountain bikes too. Our route then weaves it way North on a mix of quiet lanes, bridleways and byways until we reach the market town of Bellingham nestled on the banks of the North Tyne River. 

After a food stop we crack on towards our overnight stop at Ravenscleugh.  This latter section of today’s ride is mostly on tarmac but includes a couple of real off road gravel trail gems that link the country lanes together.

60kms / 37miles – 1,100m of Ascent –  Overnight in Farmhouse B&B – Meal/s included: B&L 
(NB: Dinner will be in a local pub or at the Farmhouse accommodation and is not included in the Trip Price).

Day 3  No Hanging Around – Ravenscleugh to Wooler

It’s an uphill start to the day with a mixed on & off road climb of about 4kms up to Winter’s Gibbet.  At the top of the hill is the sight of a  rather macabre gibbet, retained since it was last used in the Eighteenth Century. 

From here we cross Harwood Forest on some lovely gravel roads and then contour around the Simonside Hills until we reap the reward of a long descent down into the attractive, traditional market town of Rothbury. After a well earned rest and a coffee (usually in the cycle friendly Tomlinson’s Cafe) we climb out of town first on tarmac and then on a mix of bridleways and gravel roads gaining, in the process, a commanding overview of the surrounding terrain including the next part of our journey into and through Coquetdale.

Our route to Wooler is an frequently alternating mix of off road trails and country lanes –  the balance of the two is just right and the route really flows without too much of one type of surface or another. Today’s finale includes a steep climb followed by a rewarding descent into Wooler town centre.  Wooler is located on the edge of the Northumberland National Park and often referred to as the gateway to The Cheviots.  

85kms / 53miles – 1,750m of Ascent – Overnight in a B&B – Meal/s included: B&L 
(NB: Dinner will be in a local pub and is not included in the Trip Price).

Day 4  Castles, Caves & Causeways – Wooler to Holy Isle

Another day and another climb to start it off ….  after a kilometre or so on tarmac we take a hidden grassy trail that eventually rejoins the tarmac and passes by Chillingham Castle – rumoured to be the most haunted castle in Britain.

Taking an ancient sunken lonning, some back lanes and then bridleways we visit, and take a break, at the historic St Cuthbert’s Cave. This site has been traditionally associated with Saint Cuthbert, the seventh century Anglo-Saxon monk, bishop and hermit.  It is reputed that the monks of Lindisfarne brought St. Cuthbert’s body to this place to rest for a short period in AD875 following Viking raids on the Island and the subsequent abandonment of the Saxon monastery.

A few kilometers after the cave we get our first glimpse of the North Sea and the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. As we can only ride across the causeway Holy Island at low tide we have to time today’s ride to suit.  There’s a wealth of both history and wildlife to see and experience on Lindisfarne and, as we spend the night here, we’ve the opportunity to explore before chilling out with a glass of Lindisfarne Mead as we enjoy the sensation of being cut off from the rest of the world by the incoming tides.

45km / 28 miles – 620m of Ascent – Overnight in a B&B – Meal/s included: B&L 
(NB: Dinner will be in a local pub and is not included in the Trip Price).

Day 5 Cruise up the Coastline – Holy Island to Berwick upon Tweed

The tide times today dictate what time we make the journey back across the causeway to the mainland and start our final section of the trip North along the coast to journey’s end in Berwick upon Tweed. With only a short distance along the coastline to the finish we enjoy spectacular views from the trail down to beaches and coves. If we are lucky you may spot some bottlenose dolphins or harbour porpoise which inhabit the waters of the North Sea.

On arrival at Berwick upon Tweed we get changed and load our bikes into the Rather Be Baggage van.  The riders & RBC Guide board the next trains Haltwhistle via Newcastle where we will be reunited with our bikes for the final 9kms back to our parked cars at Once Brewed.  Alternatively, those who wish can take a taxi up the hill to the vehicles.

25kms /15 miles – 250m of Ascent (+ 9kms & 200m of Ascent if you ride Haltwhistle to Once Brewed) – Meal/s included: B
(NB: Train Fare and Taxi option from Haltwhistle Station to Once Brewed are not included in the Trip Price).

Some Details & Background on The Sandstone Way Route

The Sandstone Way was first suggested to Ted Liddle of Tyne Valley MTB and CycleTRAX in 2009 by keen Northumbrian cyclist Victoria Brown in an un-named and much shorter form to follow the central section of the Sandstone Ridge. Ted Liddle was immediately struck by its potential and set about extending the route at either end to link with Berwick on Tweed in the North and Hexham in the South. The route that Ted developed is known as The Sandstone Way and it is multi directional and more details can be found HERE.

After riding the route South to North Rather Be Cycling decided that this direction may benefit on more occasions from a tailwind.  We also wanted to include an overnight stay on Holy Island as a finale to what is already a spectacular journey by bike.  We ask all clients to pay an extra £20 which will be donated to the Sandstone Trail for its upkeep and an official Sandstone Way map.

What’s Included

  • 4 nights accommodation.
  • All meals as detailed in the trip overview.
    Meal Key: B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner.
    Please note that all lunches are picnic style and are designed to suit cyclist’s appetites.
  • All baggage transfers in our baggage vehicle.
  • RBC driver & Vehicle.
  • The services of a qualified Rather Be Cycling Bike Guide.
  • A daily provision of Clif Bar nutritional products.
  • Access to commonly required tools, mechanical advice & assistance.
  • Return transfer of your bike from Berwick upon Tweed to Haltwhistle in the RBC Vehicle.

* All accommodation is allocated and priced on a Twin Occupancy Basis. Please contact us for Single Occupancy Rates.

What’s Not Included

  • £20 per person donation towards the upkeep of The Sandstone Trail.  This includes an official map of the route.
  • Travel to the start point at Once Brewed, Northumberland.
  • Train fare from Berwick upon Tweed to Haltwhistle via Newcastle at the end of the trip.
  • A taxi from Haltwhistle to Once Brewed – you can ride the 9kms (tarmac & 200m of ascent) should you prefer.
  • Overnight parking at the start point (£5 per day).
  • Suitable Travel Insurance covering you for your cycling journey. Insurance is recommended.
  • All drinks e.g. bottled water, coffees, teas, alcohol, etc.
  • Entry fees e.g. to visitor attractions, etc.
  • Spare / replacement bicycle parts & accessories e.g. tyres, tubes, wheel/s, etc.
  • Other expenses e.g. souvenirs, additional food, laundry, etc.
  • Tips – at your discretion.

Bike Spec

  • This is a multi-surface, cross-country adventure by bike that includes sections on tarmac, gravel trails, bridleways, byways and 4×4 tracks.  It includes pretty much every conceivable man made and natural surface imaginable packed into the trip itinerary. 
  • In RBC’s experience, this route would not be considered to be a technical one by Intermediate to Advanced MTB riders and, therefore, this trip lends itself to a modern cross, adventure or gravel bike for those who understand and accept the limitations that narrower (35-45c) off road tyres have on certain surfaces and who may prefer the challenge that crossers, gravel & adventure bikes offer over this type of route.
  • This trip is ideal for either a modern adventure, gravel or cross bikes (e.g. Salsa Cutthroat or Warbird or a Mason ISO or Bokeh, etc.) or a lightweight, cross country mountain bike. 
  • Depending on your experience and skill level some riders may prefer the additional comfort and surefootedness that a mountain bike provides.
  • No single type of bike is perfect for this journey, whatever you choose. Due to the mixed terrain any bike be a compromise at some point – mtb’s will be better in some sections whilst crossers, gravel or adventure bikes will be better in others.
  • If you have any questions or queries regarding your bike / bike choice for this trip then please contact us – we’re happy to help.
  • Whatever bike you choose to ride it should be fully serviced, and thoroughly tested, before your trip.