Northumberland National Park

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
iandusud
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Northumberland National Park

Postby iandusud » 29 Jul 2019, 10:56am

My wife and I are planning to have a week away at the end of August to do a bit of tandeming and are thinking about going to the Northumberland National Park area. Does anyone have any experience of this area and where would you recommend to stay as a centre. We will either be camping or might try and find a cottage. The following link suggests Bellingham as a suitable centre

https://www.cyclenorthumberland.org.uk/ ... cle-Routes

Any input gratefully received.

Thanks, Ian
Last edited by Graham on 29 Jul 2019, 11:20am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Title spelling

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Tigerbiten
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Re: Northumberland National Park

Postby Tigerbiten » 29 Jul 2019, 11:41am

There's a C&CC site on the left as you go into Bellingham from the south.
There's also one at the other end of the res and one down in Haltwhistle.

How off road can you go ??
The back roads in that area tend to be quite, it just there's not that many of them.
But if you can go off road and do forest trails, then there's a lot more of them.

Luck ......... :D

iandusud
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Re: Northumberland National Park

Postby iandusud » 29 Jul 2019, 12:13pm

Thanks for the reply. We're happy to ride well packed down off road tracks, ie like the sort of trails you get in the Peak District, but not really up for bridleways on the tandem.

st599_uk
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Re: Northumberland National Park

Postby st599_uk » 29 Jul 2019, 2:27pm

All nice routes - I used to work on the reservoir and cycle round that area.

Only 2 issues:
The reservoir and associated forest gets midges, but not further down the valley
Does the first route go on to Otterburn Ranges? A beautiful location with some very interesting history sites, but not on a day the red flags are flying.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.u ... erburn.pdf
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iandusud
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Re: Northumberland National Park

Postby iandusud » 29 Jul 2019, 4:50pm

Thanks for the reply. To honest whilst a ride out to the reservoir might be in order we tend to prefer more open country. Is the issue with midges dependent on time of day and weather? I seem to remember from when I visited Skye many years ago that the midges came out in the evening or when it was raining - mind you it was always raining!

gbnz
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Re: Northumberland National Park

Postby gbnz » 29 Jul 2019, 7:36pm

iandusud wrote:My wife and I are planning to have a week away at the end of August to do a bit of tandeming and are thinking about going to the Northumberland National Park area. Does anyone have any experience of this area and where would you recommend to stay as a centre. We will either be camping or might try and find a cottage. The following link suggests Bellingham as a suitable centre

https://www.cyclenorthumberland.org.uk/ ... cle-Routes

Any input gratefully received.

Thanks, Ian


Do you know Northumberland National Park? If not, don't imagine that it consists of scenic landscapes (I.e. Dales type country) or dramatic landscapes (I.e. Snowdonia), it largely consists of square, boggy fields, seperated by bits of barb wire and half dead Hawthorn hedges. There's little of interest in the landscape or built environment; to be blunt, worth giving it a miss! (NB. The "forests" typify the national park; vast expanses of sitka spruce, planted in the last 60 years on a mono culture type basis, dead underneath and deadly to be within (NB. Much play is given to wildlife being present I.e. red squirrels, but it's probably because humans can't be bothered visiting or working in the place).

That said, from Bellingham you'd have access to the Tyne valley, c/w decent landscapes and built features I.e. Hadrians Wall. The only issue I have with the Tyne valley, is the fact that it's purely a East - West feature; all the natural routes go East - West, any diversion North or South is limited by lack of routes and includes substantial climbs. There are decent enough runs heading east from Bellingham between the A68 and A1 - nothing particularly exciting (I.e. I pass through the area regularly, twice in the past fortnight and always feel it's a 45 mile stretch that I have to do, prior to getting to more interesting parts of the country. Interesting, I met a couple of Americans a week ago, who like me, had bypassed this stretch by catching the train :wink: (NB. They'd researched it and recognized that on a tour of Britain, there are parts worth giving a miss).

Personally I'd head up towards the Wooler / Berwick area. The National Park landscape is much more dramatic and contains historic features in quantity. The landscape outside the park is far more varied, with expanses of fell sandstone, dramatic beaches, headlands, castles and towns worth calling into I.e. Alnwick, Berwick, Morpeth et al. Undulating in places, but still easy enough enough to get an easy days ride if decided I.e. Tweed valley East - West, if the winds blowing from the south

brynpoeth
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Re: Northumberland National Park

Postby brynpoeth » 30 Jul 2019, 5:28am

Negative thread alert from gbnz, still, he knows the area better than I :wink:

Are there not two Tynes? Does not the South Tyne go through some very interesting country?

What I remember about Kielder: the YH offered offroad driving adventures, after protests by me and many others the partnership was finished
I fear offroad adventures are still available, just without yha discount :?
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Oldjohnw
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Re: Northumberland National Park

Postby Oldjohnw » 30 Jul 2019, 5:58am

I live just outside the National Park on the north east. Bellingham is a delightful little town with lovely waterfalls in the nearby River North Tyne, as is the entire area - although personally I would give Kielder a miss: find it rather artificial and boring, although it is slowly improving as mixed woodland is replacing the previous monoculture.

Despite the view of gbnz I find the entire county outstanding. Yes, I am biased, but it frequently wins awards since many others clearly think the same. It certainly is vast and empty: it is not overloaded with pretty villages or easy routes.

You could get down to the Roman Wall and there are many routes avoiding the main roads but they very hilly. The visitor centre at the Sill is worth a visit. The Coquet Valley and Rothbury are lovely, too. Many Roman remains.

Incredible big skies from the route of the wall and huge panaramas. Plus fabulous bird life.

Finally Corbridge, where I was born, the centre of Britain, and Hexham and it's fabulous Abbey.

Enjoy. You will be back.
John

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iandusud
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Re: Northumberland National Park

Postby iandusud » 30 Jul 2019, 6:43am

Thanks again for the replies and opinions! I do take them all on board. Part of the reason for wanting explore Northumberland more inland is that we have had many holidays over the years on the Northumberland coast, which is very beautiful. I think part of the problem for us is that we live in Harrogate and the riding around here is hard to beat. I just popped out for a quick spin yesterday afternoon and within an hour I was on the moors between Nidderdale and Wensleydale. The views were, as always, stunning and I thought, as I usually do "why would I want to cycle anywhere else", but of course it is great to explore other parts of the country and abroad. Anyway it's all food for thought.

Cheers, Ian

gbnz
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Re: Northumberland National Park

Postby gbnz » 30 Jul 2019, 8:31am

iandusud wrote:Thanks again for the replies and opinions! I do take them all on board. Part of the reason for wanting explore Northumberland more inland is that we have had many holidays over the years on the Northumberland coast, which is very beautiful. I think part of the problem for us is that we live in Harrogate and the riding around here is hard to beat. I just popped out for a quick spin yesterday afternoon and within an hour I was on the moors between Nidderdale and Wensleydale. The views were, as always, stunning and I thought, as I usually do "why would I want to cycle anywhere else", but of course it is great to explore other parts of the country and abroad. Anyway it's all food for thought.

Cheers, Ian


Have to admit I haven't been in Nidderdale or Wensleydale for ten days now :( (NB. Was close to the Dales last Thursday, but didn't make it further south than Teesdale).

As both myself and the previous respondent noted, the Tyne valley (Corbridge, Hexham et al) are fantastic, as are the areas further North - the reason I suggested Wooler, as it gives access both to areas such as the Coquet valley (Nb. Haven't cycled down there for two days now), with a much wider reach through the Tweed valley, the coastal areas and areas of moorland in between.

But it's a bit self delusional to pretend that large parts of Northumberland aren't worth giving a miss. One of the notable features of cycling through Northumberland is how "dead" the landscape is; the agricultural landscape is largely a modern construct (I.e. <200 years) and has none of the variety of the rest of the country. A short run down to North Yorkshire, the Lakes, Lincolnshire immediately provides proof, with a huge variety in plant and insect life and the built environment, notable via it's absence in Northumberland. That said, one of the notable features of Northumberland are the substantial number of pre 400yr's historic remains, visible in fields and on moorland - as the area was empty and dead for a couple thousand years until the 1820's, much of this wasn't disturbed/wiped out as elsewhere
Last edited by gbnz on 30 Jul 2019, 8:52am, edited 1 time in total.

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Paulatic
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Re: Northumberland National Park

Postby Paulatic » 30 Jul 2019, 8:45am

I read gbnz view on Northumberland last night it made me smile because I could see where that view was coming from. I knew shepherds who lost their jobs when their hills were planted. They used to say it was the best thing that ever happened because of the midgies.
I slept on it and this morning I will add.
I discovered Northumberland back in the 70s while studying on a 'shepherds course' We were used frequently as cheap labour in all parts of the county so got to see it all. I left college and never went back for nearly 30 years. Some Audax rides had taken me into some northern bits until I rode the 'Northumbrian Castles 300K, organised by Ken *?*, as a PBP qualifier. The ride was stunning, I’d forgotten how beautiful Northumberland is. We’ve been back with the caravan a few times since then and will keep returning.
It might not be a typical NP well thank god for that :D
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Tigerbiten
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Re: Northumberland National Park

Postby Tigerbiten » 30 Jul 2019, 9:00am

The trouble with the Northumberland National Park is it's hilly border country.
Being both hilly and the border means that not a lot of roads cross it.
So you always get stuck on the same ones crossing it.
It also doesn't help that a big forest was stuck in the middle of it, which some people find boring.
So it's wide and empty with not a lot going on.
And once you get out of it, the number of roads multiplys.
Which makes the outside more interesting.
Which has a beauty of it's own.
I like cycling through it due to the normally quite back roads.
But the main roads do tend to be busy.

My mother lives in Bardon Mill, so I know the southern edge of it well.

Luck .......... :D

sizbut
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Re: Northumberland National Park

Postby sizbut » 30 Jul 2019, 11:34am

Last year we spent a week in Rothbury (just to the east of the national park) and had some great rides. But not into the park itself, to few road options. Even from Rothbury there were some great roads up into the hills but they were out and back dead end roads (you could loop round on some but only if the army wasn't up to wargames).

We've also holidayed just further north in the Tweed valley and the road network there yields a lot more routes, more frequent towns for breaks, etc. So no disrespect to the national park but head north.

gbnz
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Re: Northumberland National Park

Postby gbnz » 30 Jul 2019, 3:33pm

sizbut wrote:Last year we spent a week in Rothbury (just to the east of the national park) and had some great rides. But not into the park itself, to few road options. Even from Rothbury there were some great roads up into the hills but they were out and back dead end roads (you could loop round on some but only if the army wasn't up to wargames).

We've also holidayed just further north in the Tweed valley and the road network there yields a lot more routes, more frequent towns for breaks, etc. So no disrespect to the national park but head north.


+ 1. Rothburys' got some superb, distinctive scenery, but it's hard to get out of without a 2000' climb accumulating over the first ten miles or so (NB. Unless you head East, over towards the post industrial mining areas, 15 miles away :? ). Though I suppose I still used to manage a round 44 miles on the bike to get to my summer job as a 14-15 year old from Rothbury, with ten hours moderate physical labour in between - it was easier than planting a 1000 trees a day @ £0.05 a tree!)

Lottie
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Re: Northumberland National Park

Postby Lottie » 1 Aug 2019, 4:28pm

We cycle several days a week over the spring/summer/autumn months In Northumberland-and feel very fortunate to live in a part of the country where there are so many quiet roads and so few vehicles.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cycle-Touring- ... 0993116116
This map might be a good place to start with planning where to be based. As others have suggested bases could be Wooler (access to coast/Tweed valley/south towards Rothbury) or Rothbury (although hills all around it!). The onroad section of the Reivers Route between Ponteland and Wark and surrounding area (Kirkwhelpington, Hartburn ie south of Rothbury) is lovely too. Good luck with planning