Category Archives: UK

Skedaddle Twaddle about our cycling holidays in the UK

Customer Story: C2C, a long way up!

Juliet England joined us on the 130+ mile bike ride from Whitehaven to Tynemouth – the classic coast-to-coast route. She hasn’t been on a bike in years. What could possibly go wrong?

Day 1 – Whitehaven to Threlkeld – 36 miles
Riders setting off on coast-to-coast rides traditionally dunk their front wheels in the sea at the start and finish points, a symbolic baptism.

At Whitehaven at the start of the odyssey to Tynemouth, the sea slops at the bottom of a greasy concrete slope, and we’re warned that the ‘wheel-dipping’ isn’t really necessary, but I insist on going down to the edge, where I slither in up to my ankles. I have to be hauled to safety, a not inconsiderable operation, and it makes for a soggy pedal-off. Still, in the words of the local newspaper cliché, this unscheduled christening doesn’t dampen my spirits.

This is the big one. The C2C, the sea to sea. We’ll tack our way from west to east, and ever northwards, the sun and wind at our backs, from the Irish Sea to the North one, across the nation’s backbone, mainly following National Cycle Routes 71 and 72.

Then there’s the bike fitting and induction from the Saddle Skedaddle guiding team of Les, Jayne, Francis and Dave. They’re passionate, borderline-obsessive bikeheads to a man (and woman) – the essential deal being that they’ll do everything bar actually turning the pedals for you. Even then, if you asked nicely enough…

Day 2 – Threlkeld to Alston – 38 miles
I’m pedalling (I use the term loosely) with Jayne the guide, and the climb is rewarded with a stupendous view over Penrith. Jayne does an excellent job of ensuring I’m safe, even if I do have to stop her from giving me a backie.

By lunchtime on the green at the splendidly named village of Langwathby, we’ve done some 19 miles. Chillingly, the guidebook warns that this is the last place to “kick back before the serious stuff kicks in.” Right. So what we’ve done before hasn’t been serious?

Unfortunately, it’s no word of a lie. How to convey the full horror of the Hartside ascent? It’s a monster of a mountain, an insult of an incline, a hellish hill. Such stuff as recurring nightmares are made of. For the last 24 hours, it has been whispered of in our group with fear and awe.

At the bottom, Les, the head guide, says this climb has made grown cyclists weep. Some have had to push their bikes up all the way; others have had to be conveyed to the summit in the van.

“Sloooooow and steady,” offers Les in his Tyneside tones.

Suddenly, somehow, I’ve done it, and I’m propping the bike up outside England’s highest café (1903m) before stumbling in, beetroot-faced. My legs buckle beneath me as I fall into a chair, hyperventilating. Someone pushes a mug of tea in front of me. I am so disorientated with exhaustion that I don’t even ask about the cakes. That’s how serious it is.

Day 3 – Alston to Stanhope – 24 miles
Today’s shorter mileage doesn’t mean much, since, in terms of hills, this is one of the hardest days, reaching the ride’s highest points. Alston is still pretty high above sea level – some 1,000 feet or so, high up in the North Pennines.

Luckily, this day includes my favourite accommodation of the trip. A former stationmaster’s house, it was bought derelict by Lorraine and Terry Turnbull, who have turned it into a haven for cyclists. Stunning views, a hot bath, even a gluten-free steak pie, for goodness sake. What more could a weary biker demand?

“Smashed it!” I say punching the air as Les arrives, grinning at my words, while I sit in the front room enjoying a restorative brew.

Day 4 – Stanhope to Tynemouth  – 37 Miles
On our last day, before we know it, we’re in the urban centre of Gateshead and pedalling over the Millennium Bridge in the shadow of the Baltic Arts Centre to The Cycle Hub, Saddle Skedaddle’s HQ and temple to all things bike-related.

We practically float the last few miles through what was once a thriving ship building area, past Wallsend until, finally, we’re shooting along the sea front at Tynemouth.

On the train home, there’s time to reflect the last few cobweb-blasting days. All the hard work has been worth it. The coast to coast thing offers a real focus, a reason to keep going until you next see sea. I would have benefited from more training (er, I would have benefited from any proper training…). But, truly, it’s been totally brilliant, and, if I can do it, anyone can. You might just have to get off and push.

Feeling like taking on a C2C challenge? We have a fantastic selection of supported and self-guided coast to coast cycling holidays in the UK. There’s nothing like the sense of achievement when you finish a coast to coast ride!

Escape and explore on two wheels this summer

Looking for a last-minute getaway on two-wheels this year? We don’t blame you! For your chance to disconnect from political fever and instead connect with smooth tarmac snaking through stunning landscapes, take a look at our top trips departing over the next few months:

Best for: A cheeky weekend break in the UK
Trips: NorthumberlandYorkshire Dales, Lake District Classic Passes
Team road say: A great way to get the miles in if you have limited time to take off! Our routes in the UK come with all the usual Skedaddle highlights (guides, legendary lunches and fab accommodation), as well as offering you thrilling routes to explore on our doorstep.

Best for: The chance to experience your very own Tour de France
Trips: L’Ariegoise Sportive Training Week, Classic Alps Passes & St Malo to Nice
Team road says: Our road holidays in France offer plenty of opportunity to aspire to pro-riding glory. Whether you’re looking to cycle end-to-end for the ultimate cycling journey in France, or want to challenge yourself on some iconic climbs, this country has it all.

Best for: Riders looking to cycle in world-famous landscapes
Trips: Ruta del Vino, Lakes of Lombardia & Raid Dolomiti 
Team road says: From the scented vineyards of Northern Spain to the mighty peaks endless sparkling lakes of Italy, we’ve sought out a series of incredible routes offering the best possible way to experience these popular destinations.

12 hours in… Newcastle!

Welcome to NewcastleHome of Skedaddle HQ, the city is famed for its seven iconic bridges across the River Tyne, and is a lively hub of the North East which guarantees to surprise you by how much it has to offer. There’s many reasons why we chose to call it home, and here are just a few:

In a nutshell…
Once a vital Roman fort and a part of the Hadrian’s Wall, Newcastle has a long and proud history to tell and a lot to show off today! Here you will find everything from historical architecture to a rich contemporary art scene, from vibrant nightlife to award-wining dinning.

And, of course, your trip to Newcastle is not complete without scratching your head a bit when listening to people speak around here. Geordie dialect might catch you off guard, but fear not, it will only add fun to your experience rather than be an issue. So howay and have a canny time when in Toon.

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Sights not to miss…
Once a busy dockside, today the Quayside is fast becoming one of the most celebrated parts of the North East! Situated on the banks of the River Tyne at the point where Newcastle and Gateshead meet (linked by many bridges that altogether create quite a view), the place is bursting with cultural attractions and an outstanding choice of restaurants and bars. See if you can spot Newcastle Castle overlooking the riverside!

The Quayside is also an exciting scene for contemporary art, as well as music and culture with venues including Sage GatesheadMillennium Bridge (the worlds first rotating bridge in the shape of an eye) and BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. With a free entrance, BALTIC is well worth a visit, if not for the art, than definitely for a great panoramic view on the iconic bridges from the viewing box on level 5 of this iconic building.

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Grainger Town is the historic heart of Newcastle and is another area that is well worth exploring! This is a wonderful district and is arguably one of the most beautiful city centre’s in UK.

The area includes the celebrated Grey Street that is also home to the beautiful Theatre Royal and a wide range of eclectic restaurants, shops, bars and cafes. Take a stroll along this wonderfully historic street which boasts beautiful Georgian architecture that will conveniently take you from the Quayside at one end to the Greys Monument on the other, making your way past the St Nicholas Cathedral.

Take a quick trip to Gateshead and visit the Angel of the North! Built on top of the site of a former coalmine and symbolising the transition from an industrial to an information age, this impressive piece of contemporary art won’t leave you indifferent.

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If you want to take a break from the city, head to the Tynemouth. This charming village, dominated by Tynemouth Priory and Castle, has a lot to offer! Take a relaxing walk along the Longsands and be accompanied by the views of golden sand and Northern Sea. Or walk down the steps of King Edward’s Bay, but not for the view this time (which is beautiful, by the way). Here you will find Riley’s Fish Shack, a restaurant known for it’s fresh, local and sustainable seafood. In 2017, The Guardian named it ‘the eating experience of the year’!

Honourable Mention…
Based in The Cycle Hub, overlooking the Quayside and the Millennium blinking bridge (arguably the best view in Toon) and situated on the popular C2C route, is the home of yours truly – Saddle Skedaddle. The Cycle Hub is a bike friendly café offering bike hire with a fully equipped workshop for bike services and repairs. Pop in for a lovingly crafted cuppa and some delicious homemade food as part of your day exploring the Quayside!

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Flavours of Newcastle…
Right in the heart of Grainger Town you will find Grainger Market! It’s a great stop for everything food and is well loved among locals. It has managed to keep some of its original features and historical charm, together creating a great experience for the visitors. Alongside craft stalls, mini bazaars, jewellers and florists, you can find high quality butchers, French bakeries, fruit and vegetable stands as well as street food traders and cafés – a fantastic way to experience the vibrant and varied local culture.

Hidden gems…
If you are a football fan, check out St James’ Park, home of Newcastle United and one of the biggest stadiums in English football.

A very short walk from the Stadium is the heart of the Chinese community in Newcastle – Chinatown. It is one of only 5 in England! You won’t be able to miss the beautiful arch that will lead you straight to the quirky street full of delicious places to eat and shop.

For the best pubs and music venues in town, head to Ouseburn Valley! This quarter has a very special energy to it; it is where the industrial past meets today’s culture and creativity. Here, the thriving social and cultural venues exist harmoniously alongside reminders of the area’s industrial heritage. Why not visit the quirky Cook House, a true hidden gem that food lovers will certainly appreciate!

Our team says…
‘For kids… Seven Stories and the Ouseburn Farm are a must-visit! Lots to keep the little ones smiling and entertained off the bikes.’ – Fran, Marketing Executive

‘Check out Cullercoats Bike and Kayak for an ultimate outdoors adventure! You can even do a kayaking tour up the River Tyne under the famous bridges, which is very cool!’ – Jess, Leisure Cycling Expert

‘Head to the Mog on the Tyne Cat Café for a fluffy cat cuddles and a great cup of tea.’ – Jacky, Road Cycling Expert

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Feeling inspired? Experience Newcastle yourself…
Some of our classic UK cycling holidays start or end in Newcastle. From here you can start your journey through history when cycling the Hadrian’s Cycleway, or why not take on the UK’s most popular place-to-place route riding  Coast to Coast? Alternately, our Coast and Castles route offers an another exciting cycling journey taking you from the heart of Newcastle all the way up to beautiful Edinburgh. Or, for a shorter break, we recommend our centre-based experiences at Alnmouth.

For roadies, we have an exciting option to spend a weekend cycling the North East’s finest roads in beautiful Northumberland!

Finally, for those who prefer to go off-road, our Sandstone Way trip offers a rewarding mountain biking journey across one of the most remote parts of the UK, the Northumberland countryside, a great local landscape best explore don two wheels.