Cycle Routes – Appleby and Kirkby Stephen

The rides in this section are taken from the ‘Cycling from Appleby and Kirkby Stephen’ guide. The two longest rides leaving from the striking small town of Appleby, probably first settled by Vikings and formerly the county town of old Westmorland. It sits in a loop of the River Eden whose broad valley is edged by the North Pennine and Orton Fells.

The other three rides are from the market town of Kirkby Stephen, further up the valley at the western edge of the Yorkshire Dales. Its church is known as the Cathedral of the Dales, with some interesting local history inside. On one of the rides you’ll be cycling over Merrygill and Podgill Viaducts, once part of the coal carrying Stainmore Railway between Darlington and Tebay. The famous and cyclist friendly Settle-Carlisle railway will get you and your bike to either place.

It’s hilly, but not mountainous, terrain so don’t be put off. With a decent bike you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you can achieve – you’ll always get a good return for your uphill efforts with the exhilaration of the downhill, as superb views unfold before you. You’ll have plenty of burnt calories to enjoy replacing in the pub, cafe and tearoom too.

All the rides start and finish in the town centre. The roads you’ll be cycling on are generally lightly trafficked and narrow lanes in places, with cattle grids and fords to cross, and sometimes gates to open and close.

Refreshment stops after you’ve left either town are listed, but always take enough drinks and snacks to keep you going, especially as opening times do vary.

Rides are graded by distance (short, medium, long, extra long) and height gain per kilometre (easy, moderate, hard, challenge, extreme). Short cuts are shown on some rides.

The National Cycle Network

All five routes use parts of the National Cycle Network with its distinctive blue signs. National route names and / or numbers are mentioned in the descriptions and directions for each ride. Find out more about the network and other Sustrans projects at

Downloadable Appleby and Kirkby Stephen Cycle Routes: