Coast and Castles Cycle Route

Coast and Castles Cycle Route
Coasts & Castles South Sustrans route

The Coast and Castles Cycle Route

The 200 mile Coast & Castles cycle route (National Route 1) links Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Edinburgh via Northumberland and the Scottish Borders.

Unfortunately, the specific Sustrans Coast and Castles South map is out of print. So below, I show some alternatives.

The Route

In Northumberland the Coast and Castles follows unspoiled coastline for almost all the way, including Amble, Bamburgh and Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland.

It would also be wrong to miss out on cycling across the causeway to Holy Island as well, but do check the Tide Times and don’t get stuck!

Cycling the Coast & Castles cycle route - Alnmouth
The beach at Alnmouth (with me and Scott, from The Full English.)

There are fabulous castles either on the route or not far off – Alnwick, Barmburgh, Warkworth and Dunstanburgh, while the border town of Berwick-upon-Tweed is also fascinating.

From Berwick there are two choices:

  • You can cycle up the beautiful Tweed Valley and over the hills of the Scottish Borders. The route goes through Coldstream, Kelso and Melrose and close to the ruins of the great abbeys of the Borders.
  • Or you can take the coastal route instead

The Borders hills are gloriously quiet and open out into a great view over the surrounding area and then down to Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth.

Looking towards the Firth of Forth and Edinburgh from the borders hills on the inland route

The route then drops down through Dalkeith and into Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city, mostly via cycleways.

Alternatively, from Berwick stay on the coastal route through the quite towns and villages of East Lothian. All along this coast are lovely (and usually quiet) beaches.

It is a brilliant route – I know, I’ve cycled it! In fact, you can read more about it in the list of my Top 5 Sustrans cycle routes.

Cycle Northumberland have a discussion page on the route, which might also be helpful.

(Slightly confusingly, Sustrans renamed the cycle route north from Edinburgh as far as Aberdeeen as ‘Coast & Castles North‘ and so added ‘South’ to the name of this route. Of course, you could always carry on up the coast of Scotland afterwards…)

Maps for the Coast and Castles Route

As I said above, the Sustrans Coast and Castles South map is out of print. However, there are other maps that will show you the route.

For the English section, as far as Berwick-upon-Tweed, I thoroughly recommend the Cycle Touring in Northumberland map below, produced by Cycle Northumberland. Alternatively, the Tyne & Wear and the North Northumberland Sustrans maps will help.

As you may have read, all Sustrans maps are being reworked in order to demote roads that are not deemed good enough by Sustrans. So the newer Sustrans maps, including the Edinburgh map and the Lanarkshire map, have gaps in what would be the Coast and Castles route.

Even so, you can still use them to work out the route. For the coastal route, you would need the North Northumberland and the Edinburgh maps. For the hills route in border country, you will need – in addition – the Lanarkshire map.

Enjoy the ride!