The route is essentially an anti-clockwise circuit around northern England passing through several National Parks including: Yorkshire Dales; North Yorkshire Moors and the Lake District, as well as many areas of outstanding natural beauty throughout the Pennine chain. It’s a 610 km route with a predicted 10150 metres of climbing, passing through 5 counties, and visiting both the east and west coast.
This event crosses some wild and exposed mountain roads, climbing above the 500 m contour on several occasions. The route uses all types of roads; from narrow lanes with steep ascents/descents with some poor road surfaces, to A + B-roads including some – not many – dual-carriageways.
Stage One: West Bradford – Ripon 75 km
After leaving Lancashire, the route heads off in a north-easterly direction, passing through the southern tip of the Ribble Valley and on into the Yorkshire Dales.
This is where the riders encounter the first serious climbing of the ride between Grassington and Ripon.
Stage Two: Ripon – Robin Hood’s Bay 96 km
This stage will be remembered for the 25% & 33% handlebar bending grades of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. Wass Bank is the only real obstacle the riders have to endure before Kirkbymoorside; after which the riders head into the North Yorkshire Moors section.
Many riders commented that this was amongst some of the toughest riding they’ve ever done!
Stage Three: Robin Hood’s Bay – Stokesley 49 km
This is the shortest stage of the route.
After the initial North Yorks’ Moors climbs are out of the way there’s a more gentle run to Stokesley.
Stage Four: Stokesley – Barnard Castle 54 km
This is the easiest stage of the route, using mainly A-roads passing Darlington.
The route then takes the A67 to Barnard Castle.
Stage Five: Barnard Castle – Hexham 59 km
On this stage, the riders climb up into the northern Pennines following mainly B-roads.
Several roads climb above the 500 metre contour with a mixture of both gradual inclines and short, steep, ascents.
Stage Six: Hexham – Langwathby 58 km
For most, this will be the night-section following primarily the A686.
The road is lumpy to Alston, soon after the riders climb to the highest elevation on the route of 580 m/1903 ft at the summit of Hartside Pass.
Stage Seven: Langwathby – Seascale 87 km
The route now heads into the Lake District following primarily A-roads to Keswick before climbing over both Whinlatter Pass and Cold Fell on the way to the west coast.
Most riders end up in Pudding Lane Cafe at Seascale, overlooking the sea.
Stage Eight: Seascale – Carnforth 81 km
This is the most feared stage of the route as it contains the headline climb of the ride – Hardknott Pass – which comes after about 20 km into the stage. The climb is viewed by many to be the toughest climb in the country. The road rises to nearly 400 m elevation in about 2½ miles, with a gradient exceeding 30%.
After passing through the Lakeland towns of Ambleside and Windermere, the route follows a pretty main road down to Milnthorpe and then the A6 to Carnforth.
Stage Nine: Carnforth – West Bradford 51 km
Jubille, and the Trough of Bowland are the last major climbs of the ride.
The Trough of Bowland summit is welcomed by most riders as Pendle Hill comes onto the horizon.
This event is held under Audax UK regulations. The organiser is only responsible for route and time checks.
As with any other cycling event, the route uses all types of roads; from narrow lanes with steep ascents and descents, often with poor road surfaces, and A + B roads, where you’re likely to encounter wandering sheep; cattle and other livestock.