Close to Gilsland, bit not passing directly through is the Sea to Sea (C2C) cycle route, developed by Sustrans in partnership with various Local Authorities, Groundwork West Cumbria, North Pennines Tourism Partnership, Forest Enterprise and the Lake District National Park amongst others. The route was opened in 1994 running from Whitehaven on the west coast of Cumbria to the North East coast at Sunderland, and has an average of between 12,000 and 15,000 cyclists completing the route every year (and literally hundreds of thousands of other doing shorter sections). According to Sustrans this is developing around £12 million a year for the local economy.
The C2C starts in the former coal mining and industrial lands of West Cumbria, travels through the stunning scenery of the northern Lake District and heads into Keswick before passing through Penrith and the Eden Valley with its lush valleys and sandstone villages. It then starts the climb up to Hartside and onto the unspoilt Northern Pennines – the roof of England. There then follows an undulating ride as the C2C meanders through old lead mining villages, such as Nenthead and Rookhope, and down into the Durham Dales before entering the old steel town of Consett. From here it’s an easy ride through one of Britain’s old industrial heartlands to the North Sea and Sunderland. There is also the option of starting at Workington, St Bees or Maryport and/or finishing at Tynemouth.
If you want to try some sections of the C2C then Gilsland could be the great base from which to do it.