A new, 120-mile mountain-bike trail has been announced for the 2015 tourist season linking Berwick and Hexham via Northumberland’s 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 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 three or four days to complete it, while the ‘fit and the fast’ could possibly ride the route in two days.
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 10 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.
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.
There are linking sections of quiet minor roads and surfaced country lanes. A distinctive route map will be available in the early spring.
Package holidays to cycle the Sandstone Way have already been developed.