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Sandstone Way autumn ride

A brand-new, 120-mile (193 kms) mountain bike trail has been announced for the 2015 tourist season linking Berwick-upon-Tweed and Hexham via Northumberland’s most spectacular coastal and countryside scenery.

‘The Sandstone Way’ will create opportunities for tourism services along its route in the way that long-distance walking trails have done for the area in recent years.  It runs along the sandstone ridge in North Northumberland, linking numerous sandstone crags and outcrops along its entire length with many spectacular views .

Between Berwick and Hexham it passes through numerous villages and small communities including Wooler, Belford, Rothbury, Elsdon and Bellingham, taking in the Simonside Ridge and other features of Northumberland National Park.  Cyclists will experience a ride through an amazing, ever-changing landscape which is rich in history, geology and iconic scenery.

The new trail is aimed at mountain bikers with as much as possible off-road and link sections on very quiet country lanes, and it has been designed to safely cross rivers, main roads and railway lines. It will appeal to riders of all abilities and most will take 3 or 4 days to complete it, whilst the ‘fit and the fast’ could possibly ride the route in 2 days. It’s almost certain some mountain bikers will try to do the whole route in a day but the organisers hope that families will be encouraged to ride safe, traffic-free sections of it with older children. The route is clearly waymarked on the ground 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 have already been developed by tour operator, Saddle Skedaddle.

Rich Rothwell, the 24-hour endurance mountain bike rider who tested the route earlier this year said:

“I thoroughly enjoyed the day and I am sure that many people will enjoy this route – incredibly quiet roads and some lovely flowing off road sections with stunning Northumberland scenery.”

Sandstone Way waymarker

The Sandstone Way is the brainchild of passionate cyclist, Ted Liddle, who designed the route building on a basic suggestion from Victoria Brown of Northumberland Joint Local Access Forum.  It was seed funded by Northumberland National Park Authority, who has also dealt with the complex administration, and it has been developed in conjunction with the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Project, Northumberland County Council, Northumberland Tourism, CycleTRAX, Tyne Valley Mountain Bike Club and Recreational Tourism Services. Funding for infrastructure has been provided by The Rural Development Programme for England through the Northern Lands Project.

The Sandstone Way partnership will be conducting a series of training and familiarisation sessions with tourism businesses in the area over the winter to help them make the most of the opportunities to welcome cyclists.

Ted Liddle said:

“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. The route traverses magnificent unspoilt scenery and offers iconic views with the sensation of remoteness.  Cycling the Sandstone Way really is an adventure which guarantees a truly memorable experience for all the right reasons.”

Duncan Wise, Visitor Development Officer at Northumberland National Park added:

“We are in the business of making memories, and those riding the Sandstone Way will have a wonderful excuse to stay longer in this beautiful part of the world.  The more folk use local accommodation, shops and services, the more our market towns and villages will stay vibrant and sustainable.”

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.

The information portal www.cyclepad.org.uk, which was launched in 2013 has created an easy point of contact for all things cycling in the area.  In the last few years, the National Park has been sponsoring the Curlew Cup, an elite women’s road race in the Virgin Money Cyclone, whose challenge race runs through the National Park from Matfen.  The massive success of the Wooler Wheel cycling challenges has given hundreds of cyclists a taste of the Cheviots and Glendale, and Kielder’s well-known forest routes are a magnet for MTB riders. 2015 will also see the Tour of Britain coming to the county, which will focus cycling-aficionados’ attention on Northumberland from across the World.

The time is right for a new, county-long route that offers more than a day’s ride for the leisure cyclist and the Sandstone Way fits the bill on many levels: scenery, safety, challenge and welcome.  It is planned to launch the new trail in the Spring and a new website is under way.

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

The Sandstone Way uses existing Public Rights of Way for most of its length, including an interesting mix of double-width dirt tracks, sections of singletrack, unsurfaced lanes and bridleways of all types as well as byways and little known Unclassified County Roads (UCRs). There are linking sections of quiet minor roads and surfaced country lanes. A distinctive route map will be available in the early Spring.

Sandstone Way map

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Starting in the quaint town of Hexham, this ride is challenging from the off! The natural landscape of the county will dictate the pace of this ride, with a real mix of short sharp and agonisingly long ascents. The challenges of this ride are however rewarded with stunning vistas and amazingly peaceful roads. The additional difficulty of doing this ride in November makes this in all an incredibly tough challenge that will leave you with a real sense of pride and relief! upon finishing. As with all RideIt! events, there will be varying distances to choose from and friendly staff and fellow riders throughout.

EVENT DETAILS

Start Venue:
Queen Elizabeth High School,
Whetstone Bridge Rd,
Hexham,
Northumberland,
NE46 3JB     Rates & Prices
Fun route 12 miles
Short route 31 miles
Medium route 54 miles
Long Route 70 miles
Child entry
£2.50 surcharge for on
the day entries
£7.50
£17.50
£17.50
£17.50
Free†

Start times:
Registration opens:
Fun, short, medium:
Long route:
Start times 5 min intervals
Event centre closes:
08:00 – 10:15am
08:30 – 10:30am*
08:30 – 09:45am**

5:00pm
Note: These are approximate distances and may vary slightly depending on the road conditions and weather on the day. If you wish to change the route distance, please tell a member of the RIDE IT team on the day.

† 16 and under when accompanied by a full paying adult

*Course clearing begins at 10:45am, however, we will not overtake the last rider.
**A cut-off time will be imposed for the long loop to ensure we are able to clear all of the signage. The cut-off time will be advised at registration and during your rider briefing.

via RideIt! | Northumberland Sportive Ride 2014 | Evans Cycles

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The Haydon Hundred is a cyclo–sportive running in the South Tyne Valley in South West Northumberland. There is a 100km main route with several unique features making it a “must-do” event for any serious cyclist and also a 60km route which is still a challenge but misses a couple of the bigger climbs.

Starting in the riverside village of Haydon Bridge the route ascends both slopes of the South Tyne Valley, crossing Hadrian’s Wall twice before heading south for Alston and the spectacular panoramas of the North Pennines. It has been carefully chosen to combine a testing cycling experience with the area’s most scenic and historic assets, and participants are guaranteed an unrivalled day out.

The Haydon Hundred 7th June 2014.

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