‘ Take the high road for this moor­land mis­sion’

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Riding - by Justin Hayzelden

The North Pen­nines is a stun­ning re­gion of moor­land with some of the best roads in Eng­land and two of the high­est in the land.

This ride makes an anti-clock­wise loop from Barnard Cas­tle to Bowes; fuel is avail­able at the junc­tion of the A688 and A67 to the east of town, and it’s worth top­ping up be­fore leav­ing as it will be some dis­tance be­fore the next op­por­tu­nity.

Head out on the B6278 in the di­rec­tion of Mid­dle­ton-in-tees­dale. When the road swoops down to Eg­gle­ston be pre­pared to turn right as the B6278 branches off to­wards Stan­hope – take care as the junc­tion is on the en­try to a left-han­der.

The moors soon open up be­yond and as the nar­row rib­bon of tar­mac twists on ahead it’s hard not to feel hum­bled by the vast­ness of the sur­round­ings; pur­ple heather pep­pers the land­scape with not so much as a tree for as far as the eye can see.

The de­scent into Stan­hope is via a cou­ple of tricky steep, tight turns; af­ter crossing the River Wear turn right on to the A689 then take the first left to con­tinue on the B6278. In what feels like the mid­dle of nowhere you’ll find the left turn for Blanch­land and a won­der­fully re­mote sin­gle track that un­du­lates across the moors. At the vil­lage bear left to join the B6306 to Hex­ham, where a left turn along the high street and down the hill leads to the sweep­ing curves of the A69.

At Haltwhis­tle take the left turn marked A689 and Al­ston; in con­trast to the bleak beauty of the moors this sec­tion is mainly stone walls, hedgerows and farm­land but it’s a great ride none­the­less. At the T-junc­tion turn left to­wards Al­ston town cen­tre (fill­ing sta­tion on the left) and when you reach the green, turn right to climb the cob­bled hill. There are plenty of places to eat there­abouts (the Top Café on Front Street swerves up some fan­tas­tic soups) and though space to park shouldn’t be a prob­lem be aware that the gra­di­ent is some­what steep in places.

Keep straight on up the hill and pre­pare to ex­pe­ri­ence the B6277, with­out doubt one of the best bik­ing routes in the re­gion. This sin­u­ous strip of as­phalt winds its way around ever wilder con­tours and al­though the twists are sen­sa­tional the ter­rain is such that blind cor­ners are rare. As an in­ter­est­ing de­tour, look out for the left turn to St John’s Chapel – this is Harthope Moss, which at 627m is the joint high­est paved road in Eng­land.

‘Harthope Moss at 627m is the joint high­est paved road in Eng­land’

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