Take to the Water at Talkin Tarn
Lanercost & Hadrian's Wall
Set off to the north-east of Brampton along the A6071 until the road forks into two. Take the left fork, the smaller road on a slight incline, also known as The Swartle. This is the (very scenic) National Cycle Route 72, travelling towards Lanercost Priory. Follow that road for around 10 minutes, crossing the River Irthing, until you reach the village of Lanercost and the priory itself.
After taking in the gothic romance of Lanercost, rejoin cycleway 72 and follow it in the same direction. After a few minutes, the path branches right – ignore this and continue straight. A brief cycle leads to Hare Hill on your left – a surviving fragment of Hadrian’s Wall. Next, rejoin the road, take an immediate right and curve back down to rejoin cycleway 72.
Following this, you will go through the small settlement of Banks and its camping grounds, continuing on to Banks East Turret and Pike Hill Signal Tower, more remnants of the wall. If you’re lucky, you may even find a barista van parked along the way! Continue along the cycle path until it turns sharply left. It’s worth getting off your bike at this point and having a brief walk along to the Harrow’s Scar milecastle – it’s right ahead of you as the cycle path turns left.
Rejoin the path and follow it until you hit a road – this is the B6318. Turn right and follow it. After another 10 minutes or so cycling, the road branches to the right and again crosses the River Irthing at the village of Gilsland. Continue to follow the road, passing under the railway and past the Samson Inn on your right.
Further on the same road, you’ll pull off left to follow Route 72, signposted for Longbyre. Follow the curve round until the road becomes a track. You will run alongside a stream and pass the magnificent ruins of Thirlwall Castle on your right. Cross Tipalt Burn on the wooden bridge, following the course of the stream until the second bridge, where you’ll cross to the opposite bank. Go past Greenhead tea room and turn left, rejoining the B road.
Follow this road for a few minutes until you reach the left turn for the Roman Army Museum and Walltown Crags. This is a diverting place to spend some time, and a great place to stop for the morning before the return journey. The museum is full of interesting artefacts and stories from the period, and the Walltown Country Park sits in a flooded quarry – a haven for wildlife and a very peaceful spot.
Greenhead & Walton
Beginning at the village of Greenhead, go right along the B6318 back towards Gilsland for around 10 minutes. This time, before you get to the bridge that crosses the river, turn left down Hadrian’s Crescent, which is signposted for Low Row and Brampton. Follow that lane down – you will pass a primary school on your left, and cross the railway via level crossing.
Keep following the road and you will pass over the railway for a second time. This road continues, taking you past the pretty church of St Cuthbert in Nether Denton, worth a stop to have a look at the architecture and its lovely riverside location. After about 20 minutes’ riding, the road ends in a T-junction at the village of Low Row.
Take a right and ride through the main street of the village, and continue to follow the quiet lane, which winds gently through trees by the river, which after about 10 minutes crosses over a concrete bridge at a pretty spot. Continue over the bridge, then take a left, rejoining Route 72 in the opposite direction.
At this point, you have the option of following the cycleway back through Lanercost and into Brampton, or going straight on to the village of Walton, about 20 minutes’ riding (turn left at the signpost for Walton, at Garthside Farm). This way you get to have a look at St Mary’s Church, before heading south out of town, then joining the A6071 to get back into Brampton. A slightly longer route, but still well within the confines of an easy day’s ride.
Arriving back in Brampton, you’ll hopefully have at this point, a refreshing pint, or a packet of fish and chips, which will likely be most welcome! Thankfully, Brampton has many options to satisfy your appetite.
There are many other routes to be had in the nearby area, with plenty of possibilities for extending routes and chaining cycle paths together. Have a look at the SusTrans website for guides to cycling the local area, and for more ideas of how to explore the beautiful countryside on two wheels.