Friday, 25 March 2016

Looking forward to doing the Sandstone Way = Northumberland's cycling success story this Easter between Hexham + Berwick

On April 2nd I have agreed to accompany a bunch of intrepid cyclists on the 120 mile mountain bike trail that is The Sandstone Way. My thanks to my friend the veteran cycling enthusiast Ted Liddle for organising the trip. It has been postponed once when I had an injury, but Ted and others have kindly let me tag along on a future trip next weekend. I am much looking forward to it, and will be doing all I can to help further promote cycle tourism. We are doing a version Ted has designed over 2 days.

The 120-mile (193 km) mountain bike trail between Berwick-upon-Tweed and Hexham passes through numerous villages and small communities including Wooler, Belford, Rothbury, Elsdon and Bellingham, hugging the coastline before taking in the Simonside sandstone ridge and other features of Northumberland National Park.  Cyclists will ride through an amazing, ever-changing landscape, rich in history, geology and iconic scenery.
Maps can be purchased either through local retail outlets such as Tourist Information Centres or on-line at: Northern Heritage or www.sandstoneway.co.uk
Background: The new Sandstone Way website: www.sandstoneway.co.uk , created by Blaydon-based social enterprise, The CyclePAD Ltd, is an essential aid to all those planning to ride the route, with information on local facilities and cycling-friendly accommodation along the way.

Most riders are encouraged to take 3 or 4 days to complete it, whilst the ‘fit and the fast’ could possibly ride the route in 2 days. Organisers hope that families will be encouraged to ride safe, traffic-free sections of the Sandstone Way with older children. The route is clearly waymarked with the distinctive green and yellow “S” roundel, and ten optional loops are also offered to appeal to ‘day riders’ who wish to cycle back to their starting point or follow a more challenging option. Package holidays to cycle the Sandstone Way are being developed by Skedaddle.

The Sandstone Way is the brainchild of local passionate cyclist, Ted Liddle, and was seed funded by Northumberland National Park Authority, Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural 
Beauty Project, Northumberland County Council, Tyne Valley Mountain Bike Club and the Rural Development Programme for England through the Northern Lands Project. Full credit to one and all. The County Council are genuinely making an effort to improve cycling in Northumberland. 
Ted Liddle is our local cycling champion and, along with other local projects,we have agreed to try and do some or all of the ride sometime later this summer. He said this about the Sandstone Way:
“The Sandstone Way was designed to link some of the best lengths of off-road track in Northumberland taking mountain bikers into Northumberland’s hidden corners on centuries-old tracks and historic byways. Cycling the Sandstone Way really is an adventure which guarantees a truly memorable experience for all the right reasons.”

Cycling tourism is on the increase in Northumberland with many visitors making the most of the county’s quiet and scenic roads and challenging hills. The boost has come about through a wide range of new events and facilities that have made it easy for people to bring their bikes north to enjoy challenging but unpressured rides.  

Both Hexham and Berwick upon Tweed are served by rail, and there are bus connections along the Northumberland Coast AONB and into the valleys of the National Park for those wishing to make a holiday of it and leave the car behind.  

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