Cycling in and around Carlisle is good for many reasons. Firstly, it's reasonably flat save for a couple of hills and secondly, it sits on the junction of three Sustrans cycle routes. However it's position on Hadrians Wall probably rates as it's greatest advantage for cyclists that are seeking a coast-to-coast challenge that offers the added chance to visit one of Ancient Britain's best known historical features.
Construction of Hadrians Wall started around AD122 and was reportedly completed just six years later. The western end of the fortification was originally of a Turf construction with a timber wall due to the lack of stone and mortar materials naturally available on the western side of the Pennines. A good example of this can be seen at Bleatarn, which is easy to reach by bike from Carlisle. The two Tarns that lie just beyond the southern vallum (ditch) are man-made and believed to be Roman quarries that were excavated to source stone for the wall when the wooden walls were replaced.
There is much speculation regarding the purpose of Hadrians Wall - a defensive structure against the marauding, blue painted Scots - possibly? or, a barrier to inhibit the free movement of trading goods (Whisky, wool, livestock, etc.) and thus gain an opportunity to levy taxation on those goods?..I'll let you decide - probably a bit of both, but it has left a legacy that we can still see today and of course travel along. Some folks walk and others cycle - both are a challenge, but cycling offers the chance to cover more ground per day and perhaps linger longer at the main sites such as, Birdoswald, Housesteads, Vindolanda and Chesters Forts.
The Sustrans cycle route N72, or Hadrians Wall Cycle path, runs from Bowness-on-Solway through Carlisle to Tynemouth on the North Sea coast. It closely mirrors the route of Hadrians Wall on it's western side (which in itself runs parallel to the 'Stanegate' road that pre-dates the Wall's construction) until Chesters at Chollerford, before taking a more southerly route via Hexham, where it follows the beautiful Tyne Valley into Newcastle and on through segedunum at Wallsend, before reaching the coast at Tynecastle. The N72 is well signposted and the route is available on the Sustrans website or you can view the map I have created - HADRIANS WALL EAST & WEST in the Explore section of this website. As the crow flies, the journey does not appear far? However, always remember that the terrain is particularly undulating across the Pennines and the weather unpredictable - most fit occasional cyclists make the trip over a 3 day duration and find it challenging to do whilst fitting in some sight-seeing on-route.
Border City Cycle Hire can help you plan your cycle trip along Hadrians Wall as well as providing you with bikes and equipment to achieve your goal. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and help.