12 July 2018

Great Drives in Cumbria: Penrith to Haydon

Explore Your World

Great drive Penrith to Alston to Haydon Bridge

When thinking about how you can #ExploreYourWorld, there is no better way to do so than going on a road trip.

If you're looking for the best driving roads near you, look no furhter.

In the second of our series of our ‘Great Drives’, we take you on one of the greatest drives in Britain (as voted by the AA and Top Gear), the scenic Penrith, Cumbria to Haydon, Hexham route.

  • Starting Point: Postcode CA10 2BD - outskirts of Penrith close to the M6 junction 40.

  • Ending Point: Postcode NE47 6AQ – the A686 meets the Haydon Bridge A69 bypass. 

  • Best for: anyone who wants to have a lovely, easy drive.

  • Why do it: for the spectacular views and the fantastic roads.

  • How Long: Approx. 37 miles with a drive time of 1hour, 10 minutes.

The Route:

Named as ‘One of the Greatest Drives in Britain’ by the AA and Top Gear, the Penrith to Haydon Bridge route is a brilliant way to test and enjoy your car! 

This route is also great for residents in the North East who might want to experience the route driving from Haydon, Hexham to Penrith. To reach it from Newcastle you travel west on the A69 and as you approach Haydon Bridge take the left turn onto the A686.

For residents in Cumbria, starting from Penrith, begin from the roundabout linking the A6 and A66 on the outskirts of Penrith and close to M6 junction 40. Once the capital of Cumbria, Penrith is an attractive town at the centre of the Eden Valley which lies just outside the National Park.

Leave the roundabout at the exit to the A686 and the route along the A686 leads you through the beautiful villages of Melmerby and Langwathby and eventually up and over Hartside Summit at over 1900 feet, a fantastic place to stop. Providing many glorious views along the ways. From here there are extraordinary views across the Lake District and on a clear day you can see as far as Scotland.

From Hartside pass down into Alston, the highest Market Town in England, which has a lovely Market Place, and a rather steep cobbled road which you can test your cars suspension and grip on. 

Great Drive Alston Market Town

From here on, heading out of Alston on the A686, you can really see why it is one of the greatest drives as the road has some spectacular views to offer. 

There are a number of places of interest as you hit the Allen Valleys, an Outstanding Area of Natural Beauty in the The North Pennines. The surrounding fells and heather moors are home to rare birds including black grouse, flowers and wildlife.

This great drive is so spectacular, that in fact the famous trio: Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May gave it 9th place in Top Gear’s top 10 UK routes (when they hosted it). 

If you're looking for a scenic drive, the route from Penrith to Haydon is an extraordinary drive, it offers everything you and your car would ever want from a drive. Enjoy!

Great drive map of Penrith in Cumbria to Haydon Bridge in the North East

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