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Great North Trail – FionaOutdoors


The Great Northern Trail is a long-distance cycle route from the Peak District in England to Cape Wrath or John o’Groats in the north of Scotland. A group of five former military and serving members recently cycled along the trail in aid of the Gurkha Welfare Trust. They adapted the route to fit their overnight stops.

The official route of the Great North Trail.

What is the Great Northern Road?

the great north trail it begins at Wirksworth, south of Matlock, and ends at Cape Wrath, the most north-western point of mainland Scotland, or John o’ Groats, which is the most northerly point.

It is a long distance off road trail and runs through beautiful landscapes of the north of England and Scotland. Riders will enjoy a variety of landscapes, from hills and valleys to moors and remote coastlines. The trail includes tracks, paths, canal towpaths, singletrack, and ancient Roman roads.

The route is designed to be a mountain bike adventure and is done mainly on unpaved trails. However, it is often possible to adjust the route to use roads as well.

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Part of the team, with Nat center.

Cycling the Great North Trail for Gurkha Welfare Trust

This month a group of bikers, David, Nat, James, Tim and Russ, made up of three Army Veterans and two active duty military, rode the Great North Trail. The group included van support and a dog.

His goal was to complete the 1,195 km (742 mi) in 8.5 days, cycling an average of 140 km each day. The total elevation was almost 21,000 m.

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The trip was to raise funds for The Gurkha Welfare Trustwhich ensures that Gurkha veterans, their widows and the wider communities can live with dignity in Nepal, through the provision of financial, medical and community support.

You can donate at just giving.

The eldest Natalie Taylor, who was part of the group and the only woman, said: “The route seemed great for challenging ourselves and helping a major charity.

“It was a difficult and challenging road because we were going a long way every day. But it was a brilliant experience with a great group.”

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Day to Day: Great North Trail

Day 1: Wirksworth to Hebden Bridge: 126km

The route follows the Pennine Bridleway. The first section was on a disused railway before the party reached the many hills of the Peak District.

Nat said, « We enjoyed the great weather and some lovely riding. The trails included some technical stuff, so it was a bonus that we were all on mountain bikes. »

Day 2: Hebden Bridge to Kirkby Stephen: 143 km

The route continued up the Pennine Bridleway, but after the first day of cycling some of the team were a bit sore, so the riders diverted to a section of road to make cycling easier.

Nat said: « One advantage of the Great Northern Trail is that you can adapt it to include trails and roads. »

Day 3: Kirkby Stephen to Kielder: 143 km

Nat had been looking forward to getting to Kielder Forest and it did not disappoint.

She said: “I was really looking forward to cycling in this area of ​​northern England and after a long day in the saddle and stopping at cafes and our van along the way, we were greeted with a great view over Kielder Lake.

“The views were gorgeous all day and especially the last 10km over the lake.”

The group camped overnight but were surprised by the number of mosquitoes. Nat said: “We had to deploy head nets because the mosquitoes were wild.”

Day 4: Kielder to Livingston: 143 km

Riders were treated to more beautiful trails as they headed from England to Scotland, cycling through the Scottish Borders and the central Scottish town of Livingston.

Day 5: livingston to Strathyre: 151km

Today’s ride joined the John Muir Way, a coast-to-coast route through Scotland, and offered a few easier miles on the canal towpaths as the group cycled west towards Glasgow’s northern suburbs.

Nat said: “The group really appreciated a few more flat miles and we visited an iconic attraction, the Falkirk wheel, which is a boat lift between two canals.

“North of Glasgow we looped around Milngavie and then joined the West Highland Way and the Rob Roy Way. Both routes have beautiful paths for cyclists.”

Strathyre is on the shores of Loch Lubnaig and in the Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park.

Day 6: Strathyre to Garva Double Bridge – 150km

The route continues north and into the Scottish Highlands. The landscape is wilder and feels more remote but still with great trails to go.

Garva Double Bridge is a two-span bridge built by General Wade to carry a military road from Dalwhinnie to Fort Augustus across the River Spey.

At Garva Double Bridge, the group had their first wild camp. Nat said: “We had used official campsites up to this point, but we took advantage of Scotland’s Outdoor Access Cod to enjoy a wild campsite alongside the beautiful River Spey. We were able to take a dip in the river and there was an amazing sunset.

“Overall this was a fantastic day of cycling.”

Day 7: Garva to Loch Double Bridge Leave: 143km

The route took riders over Corrieyairack Pass, a former military road built by General Wade between Laggan and Fort Augustus.

The track climbs to a height of over 770 m through the Monadhliath Mountains and through rugged terrain. The pass is now also part of the Scottish National Trail.

Says Nat: “This is a great part of the trail and we had some great views. It’s a challenging journey to get over the pass, but it’s really worth it. »

The group was grateful for the shelter of a bothy when the rain came that night.

Day 8: Loch Vaich to Durness 153km

The cyclists joined a route known as the great journeywhich led them north to Durness.

Nat said: “This was another great day with more amazing views. Scotland is very beautiful. We camped in the sun at Durness and enjoyed looking out over the sea as the sun went down. »

Day 9: Durness to Cape Wrath 39km

Scotland’s weather can be very changeable and on the last day conditions proved too wild for a boat trip to reach Cape Wrath from near Durness.

The cyclists were disappointed that they couldn’t make it to the lighthouse at the north-western tip of the peninsula, but took solace in a trip to Scottish Chocolatiers and cafe. cocoa mountain.

Nat said: “It was a shame the weather kept us from making it to Cape Wrath, but the hot chocolate at Cocoa Mountain was amazing.

“We all enjoyed the Great North Trail challenge and raising funds for a major charity. I would recommend this route for mountain bikers and cyclists.”