Recommendations for unicycle holiday destination in North of England

I will be going to the British Muni Weekend (Part 2) in the Lake District later this month, but it seems like a long way to go just for a couple of nights away. So, I’m thinking about heading up north a few days earlier with a tent and couple of unicycles. The only question is where?

  • I want somewhere nice to camp.
  • I want to be close to somewhere nice for muni or interesting for road riding.
  • I'd like there to be some normal touristy bits there to see and do too.
  • If there's a juggling club or unicycle club not too far away, then I would probably pop along there too (although not a high priority with respect to the other bits)

Although I’ve been to the Lake District a few times before, I’ve never really seen anywhere else north of Sheffield, so this will be a good excuse to go somewhere new. Any suggestions for places to go, trials to ride, or nice routes are gratefully received. And if you’re about between 18-21st August and want to join me for a ride that’d be great too.


You could go to Keswick, it is a lovely place. There are campsites nearby. I seem to remember there being okay pubs too.

Borrowdale Bash - technical and fun:

Skiddaw: a nice hill to ride up

Back of Skiddaw:

Probably a bunch more stuff round there too.

I would recommend you go and ride the full Bowderdale loop that we did half of with the emus before everyone sulked, but you’d probably hit me!

Other place I’ve been that is less close is Horton in Ribblesdale - quite a lot of big rides round there.


:smiley: :smiley:
No idea…BUT my family and I are going to the lake district on Friday. Staying for 2 weeks. Im obviously taking my uni. But never knew there was a muni competition and Im staying at the centerparks so I will definetely not see you but still one of the times we go for a ride round the mountains I might see the muni competition :stuck_out_tongue:

Ings, between Staveley and Windermere has an excellent pub with a huge range of real ales. I’ve not been there for ages but I think they usually have 14 on tap and over 200 bottled beers… and there’s Garburn Pass within riding distance too.

Oh, you could go across the border - it isn’t far to the bottom of Scotland and there is loads of riding up there. If you want things you can follow without a map, some of the Seven Stanes trails are pretty close to the Lake District (well much nearer than they are from at home), and they’re waymarked easy to follow trails.

I hear one in England at Kielder:

can be linked up somehow with this one in Scotland
making for a neat cross border day out.

By the way, on these ones, when they say ‘black route’, I hear they really mean it - you may be best off riding mainly red routes if you do the Scottish trails (for reference, Cannock is probably a blue, or a very easy red route compared to most other places).

They do have beer in Scotland now by the way, but you do have to look around for it, so that may limit the amount you want to be actually in Scotland.


Thanks for the replies guys.

Molehill, it isn’t a muni competition, just a weekend with lots of muniing going on. Have a look here for more details, and if you’re in the area, you can probably pop along to see whats going on.

Mike, my post said nothing about beer or pubs, so why would you assume that would be a consideration of mine??? Well done on reading between the lines though, and I’m sure I’ll be able to find time for a swift half at some point :smiley:

I hadn’t planned on going quite as far as Scotland, however, those links you posted Joe look very tempting. And the bragging wrights to say I’ve ridden my muni all the way from England to Scotland might make it worth while.

Keep the suggestions coming.


If you’re considering riding Garburn Pass, be aware that towards Kentmere (I think, going East anyway) it is very technical*. Last time someone took a bunch of unicyclists down it, there were quite a few dummies thrown out of prams so to speak by people who didn’t enjoy walking the descent. I seem to remember Aaron Rolph walked some sections of it, and he was a very very good trials rider. There is a loop round that we did which is more singletracky.

This is one of the easier sections:


  • or at least was 6 years ago - trails do change

head for teh other side of teh pennines if you want an active uni/ juggling club scene. Durham, stockton etc. The Northumberland area is very nice with some long distance bike routes if you like that sort of thing.

There’s some nice riding around Sedbergh…

I said that already! It would have been a lovely ride if people could ride in a straight line so didn’t keep pedal striking! The return half looks pretty nice from pictures I’ve seen too.


Thanks for your help guys. I’m quite taken by the idea of somewhere around Kielder, so am just trying to sort out a camp site now.

[moan] would you beleive, in this day and age, how few places have their own website. Or if they do, they haven’t been updated for 4-5 years? Or worse still, the domain name (and email address) is no longer valid! It doesn’t give you a lot of confidence in booking a place. [/moan]

Anyway, if anyone is around the Northumberland National Park from 18th to 21st, and they fancy a ride, let me know.


yeah… that is annoying. I spent hours this morning trying to find stuff and barely anywhere has a decent site, if they have a site at all! Its pretty annoying when you are considering the fact it will cost a lot of money, and I’d rather know what im buying and where from. Unfortunately shops are out of the question though, otherwise I’g go and have a look there.

Northumberland Unicycle Holiday

Day 1 – Arrival and planning

After purchasing a copy of Northumberland MBG from eBay, I looked at a few of the trails in there. The first one that stood out to me happened to be the longest one in there; 58km. Well, it it’s good enough for mountain bikers, it’s good enough for a unicyclist! The fact that it was showing a fairly even split between tarmac and forest road with a few bits of more hardcore offroad thrown in made me think that this little jaunt would be ideal for the Schlumpf 29er. I wasn’t sure exactly where the route was starting or going, but I could sort that out once I got to the campsite.

A few minutes before I set off from home, I had the bright idea to check the T-mobile website for 2G and 3G coverage of the likely campsites I was going to use. Both my first and second choices had no coverage at all. I wasn’t sure if my third choice had electrical hookups for tents. Hmmmm… power, or internet? Could be a tricky decision. I drove to the third choice (now the first choice) campsite, checked I really could get the internet on the phone, and then asked if electrical hookups were available for tents. It was. Woo Hoo! Now to set up the tent, power up the lappy, and see where this route was.

Would you believe my luck, the route went strait past my campsite, and I was only ½ a mile from the ‘start’ point. So, all I had to do now was decipher the obscure markings and legends in the book and plot it out on to Memory-Map. One or two of the tracks were a bit ambiguous, but if I opted for the more road like one, I couldn’t go wrong… could I? After downloading the tracks and maps to the handheld GPS I was all set for tomorrow

Day 2 – “Kielder Loop”

The plan was for an early morning start. And it kind of worked. I had picked up some Magura clamps on the trip up so I could attach the spare set of brakes to the Schlumpf. I set these up early, and tested them out. A little tiny bit rubbing, but nothing I couldn’t put up with. So, by 9.30 I was ready to set off. How long would this take? Well, I’ve been known to average over 12mph, so maybe as little as 3 hours for 36 miles. On the other hand, it included hills and some off road. Add in a few breaks, and maybe 8 or 9 hours. So, off I go.

The brake rubbing wasn’t so bad in low gear, but the first 5 times I tried to change up to high gear, it kicked me strait off. So, within ½ a mile I adjusted the brakes so they didn’t rub. Great, off in high gear on a rough forest track. The first down hill I got to, I realised that the brakes weren’t close enough to do any good at all. Oh well, it looks like I’ll just be carrying the extra weight for no use. Never mind. The down hill bits weren’t so bad anyway and I could control the descent easily enough. The up hills were bad enough that I took to walking bits of them though. The first 12 miles was a forest toll road ‘suitable for 4x4s only’ and during its entire length I only saw 5 cars. Despite riding for over 95% of it, 60% of the cars saw a unicyclist walking! Not good stats really. Just before the end of the toll road I spotted what looked like a grave stone with “Spooky Well” on it. Worth a look and a photograph. Yup, it was a well with a few rusty old coins in. Off I go again. The end of the road is right by Kielder Castle, at the top of Kielder Lake, near Kielder. I was going to stop for some lunch here, but as its only 11.30, it seems a bit early. Besides, I didn’t see anywhere worth stopping at. As I approach a T junction, I get the only heckle of the day – and its an original one; “I just saw a pair of handlebars, they went that [left] way”. I retort “More fool them, this [right] is they way they should be going”

Its taken 2 hours to do just over 12 miles. No way I’ll be finished within 3 hours! But I’m back on tarmac, so time to crank out a few more miles. I check the GPS, and it has decided to have a ‘moment’. After rebooting, I realise the previous 13 miles log has gone [should I go back and re-ride it? NO!] but at least it still knows where I’m going. I head up north past Deadwater (very apt name. I have seen more life in a glass of water), and before I know it, I’m at the Scottish border. Time for a few photos. Then off again. I rode past the turning I should have taken, but only by a few meters as I checked the GPS, turned around, and headed up a narrow farm track. This track went up. And more up. Some occasional riding happened, but it’s fair to say there was more walking than riding. Every time the track changed direction, or had a junction, I checked the GPS, and was still on course.

After 2 miles of up, I stopped for a banana at a junction. One way was blocked by a tree, the other was downhill. I double checked the GPS, and headed off downhill. The bend over the river wasn’t expected… Oh, ok, I read the GPS wrong! Ooops, back up the hill, and climb over the tree. Then climb over the second tree. This was still a steady up hill climb, but now it was in thick grass. It might be ok on a bike, but wasn’t rideable at all on a unicycle. So, I push on up. A few muddy bog puddles mean I have to navigate around them, or jump over them. And its starting to rain (again). The ground starts to get quite soft, and within ½ mile, its quite boggy everywhere. I check the GPS; I’m on the right track, and with heavy woodland left and right, I can’t be anywhere else. The rain is getting harder. Its not much fun any more. More up hill, ankle deep in black slime, reeds up to waist height, and I’m cold and wet.

I get to a clearing and a 5 way junction. To be honest, every way looks as bad as the rest, but the GPS tells me which way to go. No option, but more boggy trampings. I have already resigned myself to throwing away the socks, and its looking as if the trainers might be destined for the bin too.

A mile after the boggyness started, I get to a raised forest trail that bisects my path. I check the GPS – I am supposed to go strait on (more boggyness). I don’t really know where the trail goes if I go left or right. Do I stay on course, or deviate? Well, I certainly have had enough of tramping through slime, so head left on the dry, solid, lovely gravel. Then a right. Then I try to see where the map says there are tracks off to the left that take me back on to the route; but they aren’t tracks as far as I can see.

I start to worry. Apart from a couple of cars after I left Kielder, the hecklers were the last people I have seen. There’s been no one on this route at all. Its forestry land with signs about forestry vehicles and such like, but I’ve not seen any foresters, or vehicles, or walkers, or mountain bikers. I’ve still got a bit of food left, but I haven’t had a nice lunch I was planning on. The weather is looking very dodgy. What if it gets worse? Who knows where I am? Who knows where I was planning on going? Is there a phone signal here? How long before my body is found?

The clinkered track runs out, and I’m forced to take a muddy track that’s not even marked on the OS maps on the GPS. It’s partially rideable though, and within a mile I am back on the proposed route, and it’s a proper forest road. A few more ups and downs (more downs luckily), and I’m heading out of the forest. Excellent!

Eventually I get to a road where I head right. It feels good because I know this road leads to the road where my camp site is. So, only tarmac left. It is, however, very windy, and up hill, and rainy. But I set off with optimism. This doesn’t last long though, as without the forest to protect me from the wind and rain I am suffering quite badly. Once I get to the junction with the A68 though, I know I can’t get lost any more. And, before I know it, I see signs saying I am crossing the border from Scotland back in to England again. There are tourist lay-bys on both sides of the road, and the northbound one has a burger van. That’s got to be worth investigating!

Any mere mortal may have described the burger as tepid, tasteless, small or pathetic. But, to me, it was manna from heaven! Maybe not the best small burger served in a large panini I have ever had, but the best food I had had all day. The wind was severe, and the rain stinging, but there was time for a few tourist photos – even if it did look like I was crossing the border back in to Scotland again.

My hunger diminished, I set off. Only about 5 miles to go – and they were all down hill! I was keen to get back as quickly as I could. On a less windy day I would have been wishing my brakes were working properly on these downhills, but having ‘air-brakes’ kept my decent under control. A mile or so later, whilst pulling on the handlebars for better control on a steep bit, I heard a click and felt my hands move. Ooops, that’s the T7 handlebars broken then. I have heard about a few other people breaking them, but I assumed that either I had a good one, or I was more gentle than most. Nope, pushing again revealed that there is certainly some movement. I don’t want to push or pull again, as that might be the end of them, and that could mean a very awkward ride or even walk back, particularly now that the brakes are attached to them! So, I gently push on, and get back to the campsite in one piece just over 6.5 hours after I started.

What a day. 36.5 miles. It had its highs and its lows, in whatever sense you see it. But it is a good achievement. I’m going to sleep well tonight.

Day 3 – Deadwater Mountain Bike Trail

Joe had mentioned a mountain bike trail somewhere near Kielder, although I couldn’t remember exactly where it was. I spent some time in the morning on the internet finding out where the place was. (See, it was worth going for a campsite where I could get the internet on my phone!). Well, as it happens the trail starts at the carpark of Kielder Castle. Now, I already know the way there, only12 miles, but it’s a toll road (£3) and ‘suitable for 4x4 only’. I have neither, so opt for the 35 mile drive around to get there. I don’t have change for the car park either, but eventually manage to find somewhere that can change a tenner for some pound coins. In the car park I get all my gear together, and get padded up. There are lots of other cars there with bike racks and/or people getting ready to ride. None of them seem to acknowledge that I’ve only got one wheel on my mountain bike. Never mind, I check out the signs; Blue route – for wusses that don’t know how to ride a bike; Red route, for hardcore mountain bike riders that can handle rocky descents; Black route for extreme nutters with a death wish.

I opt for the red route. This starts off easily enough, although the uphill gets my heart pounding pretty quickly. Almost strait away there is a family standing at a junction with a forest road so I have to ride past in an impressive way for them. Unbeknown to me at the time, these are the last people I see for the rest of the ride.

There’s a bit of technical downhill, that is kind of rideable. Well, it would be totally rideable, except they keep putting huge big rocks at regular intervals just to annoy unicyclists. Probably annoys bikes too, but I doubt as much. This technical bit then climbs back up to join the forest road I was on earlier. From here on in, the road climbs. And climbs. And climbs. For a long way.

Eventualy, there’s another bit of technical stuff. Similar to before, only deeper in the forest, with bigger rocks blocking the path. I can’t help but notice the mushrooms that are all around though. I don’t mean your average brown edible looking mushroom, but the bright red and white Alice In Wonderland type. They look so totally perfect, just as cartoon mushrooms should. But, on I go. Ride a bit, walk over a rock, ride a bit. Get to a hill, ride a little bit, walk, walk over a rock, ride a bit, walk some more. After a while there’s a choice; carry on the Red route path, and you will eventually get to a Black route, or take a shortcut through some unrideable but marked trails to join up with Three Dog Hill (You can guess which way you need 3 dogs to pull you if theres a hill involved, can’t you?). I opt for the shortcut, where it meets up with the Red route, signposted towards the right.

A sense of worry runs over me following the route up hill. I realise that most of the big rocks have flouro paint on them to alter you to their presence AFTER you have been over them! Am I going the wrong way? The next few rocks/tree stumps confirm that the danger is only for those in the opposite direction. But the sign said to go this way. So, I go. Cautiously. There might be a hoard of riders heading towards me a breakneck speed at any moment (But, as revealed earlier, I am not to see anyone else on this whole trail, so no need for you, as the reader to fear). As it happens, the rocks appear to have been marked backwards. Maybe the track used to go the other way… or some bugger spent ages turning them all around?

I come out to a forest road again, and the red sign posts say to go up the hill. A bit later on, they say to keep going up. Then the next one says keep going until the summit. I have already been climbing for a long time, but now I’m out of the woods, and surrounded by only heather. Up to the summit is says. So, I go up. The wind gets strong enough behind me that I can actually ride up with very little effort! Its great for a while, but a change in the track direction, and a change in the wind direction means it is now punishing my left hand side. And its raining. Stinging piercing needles of rain are making the left hand side of my face very tender. But in the distance I can see the summit, so I keep on walking. As I approach the summit, I realise the real summit is further on, so I keep on walking. This happens too many times to be funny any more. This hill keeps on going up and up for over 2.5 miles. Hardly ridealble at all, and very cold, windy and rainy. At the top, I am at the same level as the coulds (569 meters). There is an array of aerials and transmitters, and I am able to take shelter in the doorway of an abandoned building. Honestly, the wind is so strong that I couldn’t have stood upright without the building there!

The brochure I read afterwards says that you can see both the east and west coasts of England from here, as well as a long way south in to England and north in to Scotland. When you are inside a cloud, you can’t quite see as far as that!

According to the map, I am around half way around. Just over 2 hours so far. But I’ve got a decent coming up. I just hope it is rideable. Yes it is! Wow! I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the long slog up the hill was worth it, but it certainly was great riding down. A rabbit ran along in front of me and dived off into a rabbit hole to the left. Should I follow? No, silly, I didn’t have any of the Alice mushrooms! I try to keep the unicycle under control through some of the hardest downhill that I have managed. Before I know it, this wide stretch is over, and I am crossing the road I walked up earlier. On the other side is some single track with warning signs. Its gotta be done, so off I go, and once again, I’m riding out of my skin. Going over drops that I wouldn’t normally contemplate… and making it! It really is a buzz. In less than 1.5 miles I have dropped over 1000 feet!

Of course, all that downhill doesn’t come for free. I pay the price with some unrideable uphill. It looks like it’s pretty unrideable for bikes too as it is just big rocks placed at awkward places all the way up. That makes me feel better for walking. But then there is more downhill. Ok, its forest trails again, but still, its good to ride.

7.5 miles after setting off I arrive back near the entrance to the car park, and I see a family walking along. It’s good to see people again. The teenage son spots me and shouts “Do a wheelie!”. I ignore this futile comment so he shouts it again “Do a wheelie”. And again. And again. It wasn’t funny the first time, but after a dozen times it loses whatever innocent charm it may have had. Maybe its not so good to see people any more.

At less than a quarter of yesterdays ride, or half the riding time, it may not seem like a great achievement, but it certainly feels like I’ve had a damn good ride today, and I have earned tomorrows rest day before the British Muni Weekend starts the day after.


(Photos to follow)

Great write-up Spencer. You’re after the Mikefule award for unicycle literature methinks.

My usual response to “do a wheelie” is “I only do stoppies, did you like that one?” :wink:

Nah, I just got bored in a tent with a laptop. Thanks for bothering to read it though :slight_smile:

I’ve uploaded the photos now too;