Wooler as a base for cycling

Commuting, Day rides, Audax, Incidents, etc.
iandusud
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Wooler as a base for cycling

Postby iandusud » 18 Jul 2020, 9:50am

My wife and I had a lovely week tandeming in Northumberland last summer based in Barrasford, just north of Hexham, discovering the delights of the North Tyne valley. We're thinking of heading to Wooler this year so that we can explore the coast to the east, Route 68 heading north and south. Can anyone tell me what the roads and scenery heading west toward Jedburgh and Kelso are like please?

Thank you, Ian

eileithyia
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Re: Wooler as a base for cycling

Postby eileithyia » 18 Jul 2020, 10:58am

Long time since I have been up that way, but from memory some great places to explore.
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thirdcrank
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Re: Wooler as a base for cycling

Postby thirdcrank » 18 Jul 2020, 11:01am

The scenery is quite rugged, especially heading due West from Wooler where it's the northern tip of the national park, with few roads. I think of the area you mention, Jedburgh and Kelso as Scottish Borders and there's some great cycling territory on a network of minor roads.

It's a while since I've been to Wooler (late 1990's?) but I found it one of the most depressing places in England. Perhaps it was the very obvious difference in public spending: on the other side of the border, public expenditure seemed unlimited.

Campag
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Re: Wooler as a base for cycling

Postby Campag » 18 Jul 2020, 11:42am

There's a good choice of routes in most directions, with quiet lanes and generally light traffic away from one or two main roads. Lots of nice cafes and places to visit, although obviously that will depend on covid situation. Some interesting historic sites and castles as well if you're into that sort of thing. A lovely area for cycling.

iandusud
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Re: Wooler as a base for cycling

Postby iandusud » 18 Jul 2020, 12:18pm

Thanks all for the replies. Sounds good to me. I have to say we love Northumberland and have had many family holidays on the coast but haven't until last year spent much time inland. However we found the North Tyne area stunning last year.

Oldjohnw
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Re: Wooler as a base for cycling

Postby Oldjohnw » 18 Jul 2020, 12:43pm

thirdcrank wrote:The scenery is quite rugged, especially heading due West from Wooler where it's the northern tip of the national park, with few roads. I think of the area you mention, Jedburgh and Kelso as Scottish Borders and there's some great cycling territory on a network of minor roads.

It's a while since I've been to Wooler (late 1990's?) but I found it one of the most depressing places in England. Perhaps it was the very obvious difference in public spending: on the other side of the border, public expenditure seemed unlimited.



Wooler has largely reinvented itself in recent years as the 'Gateway to the Cheviots". Great little place now.

Across country via Doddington, Ford and Etal to the coast is lovely. Great pub and tea room in Etal and tea rooms at Heatherslaw and Ford. Easy to get to Holy Island. Round to Kirk Yetholm is a good trip. Also the College Valley. Paxton House is worth a visit with a nice tea room. Also Horncliffe and Norham and over the bridge.

These are my routine trips
Last edited by Oldjohnw on 18 Jul 2020, 12:46pm, edited 2 times in total.
John

gbnz
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Re: Wooler as a base for cycling

Postby gbnz » 18 Jul 2020, 12:44pm

thirdcrank wrote:The scenery is quite rugged, especially heading due West from Wooler where it's the northern tip of the national park, with few roads. I think of the area you mention, Jedburgh and Kelso as Scottish Borders and there's some great cycling territory on a network of minor roads.

It's a while since I've been to Wooler (late 1990's?) but I found it one of the most depressing places in England. Perhaps it was the very obvious difference in public spending: on the other side of the border, public expenditure seemed unlimited.


To be fair, much of Northumberland is fairly depressing :wink: . If it's not the South East corner with it's 95 years of a benefit dependant, post industrial culture and landscape*, miles of run down council estates, it's the barren, featureless, low value agriculture monocultures of much of the rest of Northumberland. I always find it quite incredible working or passing through the rest of England, to find that half dead grass fields, surrounded by broken down barbed wire fences and half dead hawthorn hedges and plantations of sitka spruce aren't the norm (NB. Northumberland only moving into a more civilised agricultural age in the 1800's, so lacking the depth of history and landscape immediately apparent elsewhere)

As for Wooler; I was there on Wednesday. To be fair it's still got public toilets open and a bus station (NB. With 4-5 mini buses calling each day)

That said, I'd choose either Alnwick or Berwick. Both have their attractions and elements of scenery and history, Berwick obviously having potentially superb runs West along the Tweed. And aspects of Northumberland are stunning, whether it's the Northern coastal runs, minor roads across the fell sandstone hills, or whatever (NB. * It says something about the attractions of South East Northumberland, that the most attractive landscapes I routinely pass are the former open cast coal mining areas; they've been landscaped to form ponds, rounded hills and pleasant wooded landscapes, so beautiful compared with the rest of it).

Anyway I'm off out now that the rains passed; probably down towards the Hexham and the Tyne, though it may be a bit too much for an afternoon run (100+ miles)

gbnz
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Re: Wooler as a base for cycling

Postby gbnz » 18 Jul 2020, 12:52pm

Oldjohnw wrote: most depressing places in England.[/quote
Wooler has largely reinvented itself in recent years as the 'Gateway to the Cheviots".


Though the Cheviots are best avoided. I know them well, given my 35 years experience involved in forestry, fell rescue teams, hill walking and the like. There're few other places like the Cheviots in the UK. Rounded, featureless, boring hills, covered in sheep [inappropriate word removed], with an occasional chain smoking shepherd around the corner. Devoid of paths or decent roads, a few dull and boring buildings. As a one off experience, a look up Windy Gyle can be worth it, but generally they're as dull as.......

I can remember as a 9 year old walking up Cheviot and thinking "never again". Though made the mistake or thinking I'd have a look up it on Wednesday; I realised after 2-3 hours that going back to wait for 3 hours in the bus station* in Wooler, would be more enjoyable (NB. * Think there's a mini bus every 3-4 hours, there's a bench in the town centre to sit on, they have a public urinal in Wooler, which the locals are very proud of)

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Paulatic
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Re: Wooler as a base for cycling

Postby Paulatic » 18 Jul 2020, 1:11pm

There seems to be a lot of toilet mention in Wooler
OK I’ll add to it
On a Northumbria Castles 300 Audax run by Ken ? We stopped at Wooler and went to the chippy. There’s a drain cover as you go to enter the chippy and the sewage system was obviously blocked and very hard not to tread any into the shop. :(
Is the cyclist's cafe still going strong in Elsdon?
I studied sheep, back in the seventies, in Northumberland and back then there were a number of famed flocks in the College valley. I’ll not forget an old chain smoking herd, dead now, telling me the best thing they ever did with Kielder was plant the god forsaken place. :)
That’s not meant to put anyone off going there it is lovely.
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Oldjohnw
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Re: Wooler as a base for cycling

Postby Oldjohnw » 18 Jul 2020, 1:34pm

I love the Cheviots. I try to get there a couple of times a month. Best place on earth although quite inaccessible - which is its charm. Clearly, one man's meat.........!
John

Oldjohnw
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Re: Wooler as a base for cycling

Postby Oldjohnw » 18 Jul 2020, 1:37pm

Chippy completely different now and relocated. Best loos are in the Cheviot Centre at the north end of the town. Keep away from those on the bus station which are still a mess.
John

gbnz
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Re: Wooler as a base for cycling

Postby gbnz » 18 Jul 2020, 6:00pm

Oldjohnw wrote:I love the Cheviots. I try to get there a couple of times a month. Best place on earth although quite inaccessible - which is its charm. Clearly, one man's meat.........!


Where do you cycle or walk in the Cheviots? Suppose you'll use the Berwick - Wooler bus?

Oldjohnw
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Re: Wooler as a base for cycling

Postby Oldjohnw » 18 Jul 2020, 6:02pm

gbnz wrote:
Oldjohnw wrote:I love the Cheviots. I try to get there a couple of times a month. Best place on earth although quite inaccessible - which is its charm. Clearly, one man's meat.........!


Where do you cycle or walk in the Cheviots?


I cycle to/along the valleys. I climb the various modest peaks, the hillforts.
John

gbnz
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Re: Wooler as a base for cycling

Postby gbnz » 18 Jul 2020, 6:08pm

Oldjohnw wrote:
gbnz wrote:
Oldjohnw wrote:I love the Cheviots. I try to get there a couple of times a month. Best place on earth although quite inaccessible - which is its charm. Clearly, one man's meat.........!


Where do you cycle or walk in the Cheviots?


I cycle to/along the valleys. I climb the various modest peaks, the hillforts.


Where? Aside from a couple of dead end valley roads, can't think of any road network in the Cheviots (NB. Aside from on the Southern side). Where's your bike locked when walking in the Cheviots?

While they're only 16 miles away I've always found it difficult; given the bus journey can take eight hours, the bike has always seemed an option, aside from the lack of structures to lock it to (NB. Farmers gates are obviously a no go, but farmers can be fussy even about locking to the cables tensioning the electricity poles outside their dwellings). Had to walk back at least once this year (NB. And twenty miles in the hills, followed by a 16 mile walk back on A/B roads isn't that rewarding!)

Oldjohnw
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Re: Wooler as a base for cycling

Postby Oldjohnw » 18 Jul 2020, 6:58pm

It is true that there are no through roads. I cycle down the valleys and mostly don't leave the bike. It is far enough to cycle there. Ingram, College, Harthope, and several in the Scottish side. When I walk it is usually with the missus and we drive in. Sometimes around to he Scottish side for other walks.

You really don't like it, do you? But I do!
John