7 members of TVMTB plus Michael (guest rider on Saturday) and Paul (guest rider on Sunday) were joined by Guy Opperman MP on both days to attempt the new 2 day version of the Sandstone Way from south to north all very well supported by Geoff driving a hired minibus. This brief report covers 2 different angles.
Firstly, it was a tough very enjoyable 2 days linking many attractive locations, amazing views and remote places on a wide range of tracks, bridleways, byways, packhorse trails, ancient highways and old unsurfaced county roads. Secondly, collectively we spent about £1,200 over the 2 days of which £985 was spent in 9 different communities along the route. Without paying customers, these business will close and the rural communities they belong to will slowly die. Additional to this en route spend is pre and post route spend on individual transport, cycle costs, energy food and drink, accessories and clothing.
On Saturday the weather was poor and worsened as the day went on which slowed us down appreciably. Sunday dawned fair and improved as the hours passed. Unavoidably each day the passage of time caused us to leap-frog the route by a few miles in the minibus. Even so it was 6 pm when we cycled into Berwick upon Tweed very tired but really buzzing and well pleased with what we had achieved.
The key lessons learnt or reminded are the Sandstone Way is harder than you would think, refreshment stops are hugely important and to ride the the 2 day version low numbers are best and the conditions need to be favourable. Simonburn tearoom, Fountain Cafe (Bellingham), Tomlinson’s (D,B&B @ Rothbury), Village Cottage Cafe (Ingram) Chillingham Castle tearoom and The Granary Bistro (Berwick upon Tweed) all supplied excellent nosh and a great welcome.
Northumberland is a wonderful county full of secret corners and special places many of which the Sandstone Way threads together over its 120 mile length. The countryside wasn’t damaged in any way by our passage and we enjoyed every nuanced pleasure the countryside gave to us and in return we gave it our respect and admiration. Everyone in the group had a great adventure and we are already looking forward to the next one.