The Northumberland National Park covers 1030 square kilometres of breathtaking country landscapes stretching from the Cheviot Hills on the Scottish border to the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site in the South. The Northumberland National Park Authority is distinctive in its aims to be proactive, innovative and forward-looking – working towards a National Park with thriving communities and a sustainable local economy grounded in its special qualities. These include a richness of cultural heritage and biodiversity; a true sense of tranquillity, and the distinct character of a living, working landscape in which everyone has an opportunity to understand, enjoy and contribute to those special qualities. Obviously that’s the press release, but having ridden there RCUK knows it’s a perfect place to ride a bike and you’ll see very few cars.
The first six of an excellent new series of circular leisure cycle routes through the Mid-Tyne is launched today – improving access to this cyclist’s paradise for leisure riders. The rides have been developed by the Mid-Tyne Community Trust, and funded by the Northumberland National Park Authority as part of their commitment to support local communities and encourage sustainable tourism.
Taking in a variety of Northumberland’s loveliest countryside in the south of the National Park and some dramatic views, the six routes link together sections of marked national cycle trails and byways into a selection of half-day and day-long rides accompanied by detailed directions and alerts.
Two Map-Guides of three rides each are available at tourist information centres for a small contribution of £1, or can be downloaded free from www.northumberland-national-park.org.uk and www.midtynetrust.ik.com.
The rides range from six to twenty-five miles and are suitable for most abilities, but with the odd challenging slope typical of Northumberland. As well as largely empty roads and wide open spaces, each ride takes in towns and villages where accommodation and refreshments are plentiful, so a single map guide gives enough rides for a whole weekend either as single outings, or as one big figure of eight tour.
The first three routes include the handsome old market town of Hexham, Warden and Fourstones in the South Tyne Valley; then take in a stretch of Hadrian’s Wall and on to the delightful villages of Simonburn, Wark, Humshaugh, and Chollerford on the North Tyne.
The next three routes move up the North Tyne Valley to centre on Wark, taking in Stonehaugh in the Kielder Forest; another lovely market town at Bellingham; Redesmouth in the valley of the River Rede, and the villages of Birtley, Chollerton and Barrasford.