The Wooler Wheel Borderlands 170 is a unique cross-border cycle ride being run in aid of disadvantaged children in Northumberland and the Scottish Borders.
On May 17, hundreds of cyclists will take to the region’s roads over four different routes, with young cyclists able to take part in the UK’s first dedicated junior sportive, with all profits from entry fees going to Cash for Kids. With the final entry date approaching, the Routemaster has produced a description of the stunning 170km route to inspire even more riders to join the event.
The ride starts from Wooler Mart with a gentle introduction – a nice and easy flat stretch over the Milfield Plain to Doddington Bridge.
The ups and downs of the Sandy Lonnen to Weetwood Bridge and the more energetic climb up Weetwood Bank will then serve to get everyone warmed up nicely.
Shortly after the right hand bend at the top of the bank, the route turns left and down an exhilarating descent to Fowberry and then on to the nice straight road heading east to West Lyham – a joy to ride, especially when there’s a following wind.
Enjoy it while you can, because after a bend you’ll find yourself at the bottom of Lyham Bank, a 2km continuous climb to the top of the sandstone escarpment.
Unlike previous Wooler Wheels, when you reach the top of Lyham Bank, you’ll go straight ahead. But first take a few minutes to appreciate the 360-degree panorama from the High Cheviots to the Lammermuirs, then round to the glorious Northumberland coast, starring Holy Island and Lindisfarne Castle, round to the lovely sandstone ridge snaking its way south.
Remember being taught in school physics how potential energy converts into kinetic energy? Experience that now, as you hurtle down the 3km straight descent into Belford. An undulating road out of Belford will give you more sublime views of the coast, before turning west at Fenwick towards historic Duddo and Etal.
The route continues to Heatherslaw Mill, past the Flodden battle site, and takes you to Cornhill and to the bridge across the River Tweed into Coldstream and bonny Scotland. Crossing the bridge, you will see some of the loveliest views in Britain as you look up and down the Tweed.
The ride from Coldstream to St Boswells is a pure delight. Not particularly hard, but with very attractive undulating countryside, super views of the Cheviots to the south, and a few short climbs that will get the heart beating a bit faster. On the way, the route goes via Smailholm before climbing gradually at first and then more steeply to the iconic Scott’s View. Perched high above the River Tweed, it gives outstanding views of the Eildon Hills and the distant Tweed valley.
From here a steep, bendy road will take you down to the gorgeous red sandstone Mertoun Bridge. A country lane takes you towards Maxton, before the ride becomes more demanding as it moves on to Crailing.
Here the route enters a new landscape – the foothills of the Cheviots – and it gives an appropriate welcome, a seemingly vertical wall of Tarmac as you turn onto the road towards Oxnam.
Turning eastward before Oxnam there then begins the ascent of 200m over 5km up to Whitton Edge. It is a very hard push, but what exhilaration when the top is reached and the full magnificence of the Cheviots and the border ridge lies in an arc before you.
A 4km continuous descent to Hownam is ahead, with a picture postcard view of the valley. before the English border is reached just outside Kirk Yetholm.
The road to Kilham rides over the shoulders of steep hills protruding from the south, resulting in a few stiff ups and downs. And then, after crossing the river, the route arrives at an old favourite – Thornington Bank. Up and up you go to the top and then you can coast to Branxton Moor Farm before the climb up to Flodden Edge.
From there it’s heaven – a 3km descent to Milfield followed by an undemanding scenic ride back to Wooler.
The entire route goes through a greater variety of landscapes, and is more beautiful and more challenging, than the other sportive routes in the Wooler Wheel portfolio – and that is saying something. It mixes easy riding with very hard riding. It’s a fitting challenge for sportivaholics but it’s always an enjoyable ride and often breathtakingly exhilarating.
For more information about the event, and to sign up, visit http://woolerwheel.com
From there you can get the link to build a sponsorship page if you want to help raise even more money for Cash for Kids, which will benefit from all profits from entry fees.