Bicycle Touring England

After our tour of Scotland, we crossed the border into England and rode the Hadrian’s Wall cycle route before continuing south on the EuroVelo 12. While England wasn’t always as scenic as other parts of Europe, the quality of the cycling routes was actually fairly good. There were some long urban stretches that we didn’t particularly enjoy, but there were also some nice highlights.


bicycle touring england map
Map of our route through England.

Download the GPX track of our tour through England. NOTE: This is not a polished route and is intended for research and planning purposes only.

Hadrian’s Wall

Andrew is a huge fan of Roman history, so riding along Hadrian’s Wall was a major bucket list item. There are numerous points of interest to stop at along the wall and many interpretive signs to learn about the history of the landmark. We visited Housesteads Roman Fort, built around 124 AD, which has one of the best preserved stone latrines from the Roman time period.

bicycle touring hardians wall
Riding along a section of Hadrian’s Wall.
housesteads fort hadrians wall
Housesteads Fort ruins along Hadrian’s Wall.
hadrians wall
Really amazing that so much of the wall is left!
housesteads fort
Granary at Housesteads Fort. The floor was built on top of the stone pillars to keep the grain safe from moisture and vermin.
housesteads fort
Sheep still graze around the fort.

For some stretches, the bike route is actually pretty far away from the wall, so it’s a good idea to factor in some hiking time if you want to get the full experience. The forts also close pretty early in the day (around 4pm), which caught us off guard during the summer when daylight hours were so long.

hadrian's wall
Sections of the wall out in the distance. It was interesting to see natural uplifts and barriers incorporated into the border.

Newcastle Upon Tyne

We found a budget hotel in Newcastle for only $30 a night, the cheapest place we’d seen in all of the UK, so we decided to take a few days off the bikes. When we were riding through downtown Newcastle, we crossed under the Tyne Bridge amidst a cacophony of bird noises and a minefield of bird poop. It was surreal how many birds were hanging out on the bridge, but we didn’t stick around long to watch them for fear of getting crapped on. We later learned from our hotel proprietor that the Tyne Bridge is home to the furthest inland breeding colony of kittiwake gulls in the world, with more than 1,000 pairs nesting along the bridge and its towers.

bicycle touring england
Shortly after riding under the Tyne Bridge, dodging the birds.
bicycle touring englad
Riding along the riverfront in Newcastle.
bicycle touring england
View from a pedestrian bridge as we left Newcastle.

EuroVelo 12

The EV12 mostly follows the same path as England’s National Cycle Route 1, which is the label on most of the signs. We decided on this route rather than going to the west coast, because we were ultimately heading toward Dover to take a ferry to France. We’ve heard that the western side of England is more scenic and enjoyable for cycling, so we would consider that route if we ever return to England.

bicycle touring england
While there are some cons to the EV12, there are also long stretches of great bike paths.

One annoying aspect of the bike paths in England is that they go to great lengths to prevent motorcycles from entering the paths. This sounds good in theory, but the barricades they use make it really difficult to get through with a touring bike, especially with wide handlebars like ours. There were a ton of them and they slowed down our progress quite a bit.

Some Less Rosy Experiences

We’ve never felt seriously unsafe in Europe, but most of our uncomfortable experiences occurred in England. Once when we were riding through an area of urban sprawl and several different groups of teenage boys yelled insults at us, though they were completely indecipherable. That same evening there was another group sitting in chairs on the bike path getting drunk, which was more odd than threatening. The youths that we ran into on the outskirts of big cities generally just seemed more aggressive than in other places we’ve traveled.

One day at a grocery store, a couple that was clearly on drugs came up to Andrew and started yelling and pulling on our bikes. They ultimately didn’t do any harm and went away eventually, but it was definitely unsettling.

bicycle touring england
We were glad to start riding through less developed parts of England.

North Moors National Park

The North Moors and the area around Scarborough was a big highlight of our tour through England. We rode through some remote and relatively undeveloped hills before continuing toward the coast. Near Whitby, we joined up with the Cinder Track cycling route, which had sweeping views of the coast and its tall sea cliffs. The Cinder Track goes all the way to Scarborough, which is a picturesque seaside resort town. We had dramatically better weather here than when we were in Scotland, so we were happily soaking up the sunshine.

bicycle touring england
Dirt section in North Moors National Park. Lots of heather blooming this time of year!
bicycle touring england
Riding the Cinder Track in North Moors.
bicycle touring england
Snack break above Scarborough.
scarborough england
View of Scarborough, complete with photogenic seagull.

Public Bridleways

The Route 1 takes a surprising amount of dirt paths and public bridleways, which we really enjoyed. They were bumpy at times, but they added to the English countryside vibe and were fun detours off the pavement. Public bridleways are essentially rights of way that border or traverse private land, where people are allowed to walk, bike, or ride on horseback on the specified path.

bicycle touring england
Riding a public bridleway between agricultural fields in the countryside of England.
bicycle touring england
Smooth, forested dirt roads.
wild camping england
Though some nights were challenging, overall it was easier to wild camp than we thought it would be in England.
bicycle touring england
Surprisingly steep hills!

Beverley, Boston, and Ely

There were numerous charming small towns along the EV12, and we especially enjoyed seeing some of the cathedrals and riding through the old town centers. St. Mary’s Church in Beverley had a very unique wooden ceiling covered in paintings that were originally from the 15th century, though they were repainted in 1863.

As we rode toward Boston, we could see the bell tower of St. Botoloph’s Church from miles away. The land around Boston is called “The Fens” and is particularly flat, and the tower has long been used as a landmark for travelers as well as sailors. The tower was also used by British and American pilots during WWII to guide them back to base.

bicycle touring england
Riding into Boston. Easy to find the cathedral!
bicycle touring england
Flat cycling through The Fens.
wild camping england
Wild camping in a grassy field.
ely waterfront
Ducks and canal boats in Ely.
bicycle touring england
We rode tons of nice canal tow paths.


We left Route 1 to ride through Cambridge and on to London. Cambridge is extremely bike-friendly, and there was way more bike traffic than car traffic. Being a college town, there were lots of people out and about in the expansive pedestrian area. We were there around graduation time on a weekend, and there were lots of groups out celebrating.

bicycle touring england
Playing around in the wheat fields during golden hour.


We were very fortunate to stay with a cycling acquaintance that we had met in Ireland, along with his awesome roommates. It was a really nice change of pace to meet new people and stick around somewhere for a few days to see some of the sites.

There was a heat wave happening while we were there – one of several that we experienced in Europe. We wanted to go to the British Museum, and we thought it would be an especially good idea on a hot day, since museums have to be air conditioned, right? Apparently not in London, so we were sweating away while checking out the many exhibits.

big ben
Big Ben and big buses.
picadilly circus
This guy.
london chinatown


street performer in london
Street performer in London.
tower of london
The Tower of London had an event going on called Superbloom, where they planted tons of flowers all around the grounds.

Route to Dover

The ride out of London was industrial for a very long time, and it was difficult to find a wild camp the day we left. We managed to find a spot, though it was right next to a hiking trail and visible to many passersby in the morning. We rode through Canterbury, which was a beautiful town, but the cathedral was rather expensive so we didn’t go inside. It was the first cathedral we’d been to where you can’t even see the outside without paying, so that was a little disappointing.

We camped about 10kms outside of Dover and went hiking at the White Cliffs before taking the ferry to Dunkirk. The hiking area was free, and it wasn’t as crowded as we were expecting.

bicycle touring england
Still a bike path, even in the industrial areas! Sometimes it did get a little weird though.
rochester castle
Rochester Castle, built in the 11th century.
canterbury england
Pedestrian street in Canterbury.
wild camping england
Last wild camp in England!
bicycle touring england
Dover Castle in the background, heading to the ferry.
white cliffs of dover
White Cliffs of Dover. A short hike around the cliffs was a great way to end our time in England.

Get Updates on New Posts

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *