The Sandstone Way now 124 mile mountain bike route crosses the diagonal of Northumberland linking sandstone features whilst passing through many of the above landscape features.
The scenery is wide ranging from coastal splendour with iconic islands rich in history and wildlife, magnificent castles, expansive heather-clad hills, numerous rivers and lakes, countless picturesque villages, the rolling Cheviot Hills, the largest man-made lake in Europe set within the largest man-made forest in Europe, Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage site, several amazing National Trust sites, Award-winning Northumberland National Park and the Northumberland Coast AONB.
The Sandstone Way took 5 years to create from concept to launch in March 2015. The 120 mile long route cost just £31,000 to implement plus masses of volunteer time and has enjoyed a very successful first year. The economic impact is summarised in http://www.sandstoneway.co.uk/category/Sandstone-Way-Review-2015/listings – basically 2,500 maps sold, bike taxis getting regularly booked, en route beds in demand all summer, local enterprises benefitting, new jobs created and existing jobs protected and a user payback scheme introduced to make the route sustainable.
It is estimated at least 3,000 cyclists have ridden the route over 2 or 3 days in 2015. The three most common comments are that the route was far more challenging than anticipated; the quality of the scenery was far beyond expectation and nearly all riders had much enjoyed the challenge and the experience and they would like to ride more high quality routes.
Tyne Valley MTB has been proactively supporting the implementation and management of the Sandstone Way since it early days through route survey, photographs, providing a conduit for Payback and test riding route improvements.
2016 / 2017
It is proposed to continue improving the Sandstone Way. Most cyclists are challenged to ride the route in 3 days due its accumulating contours and constant undulations. The new map will show a 2 day version which shortcuts the northern half by 20 miles.
A further proposal is to fund / crowd-construct 900 m of verge-side bi-directional singletrack with passing places on FC land between the edge of Harwood Forest and the Gibbet road a few miles south of Elsdon. By necessity this will require a team approach led by Northumberland National Park Authority working closely with FC as a lead partner.
The proposal is to prepare the ground work in advance of a mass participation work party weekend later in 2016 in which up to 100 volunteers get stuck in to lay and shape the track supervised by experienced trail builders from several North East trail building clubs. Thrunton Trail Builders and Kielder Trail Reavers have already agreed to participate and Hamsterley Trail Builders are also invited to assist. It will also be an opportunity for each of the clubs to recruit new members.
Red and blue = proposed construction in 2016 / blue dots = future project
Residents in 23 countries visited the Sandstone Way website in 2015 and map sales were traced to many parts of the UK.
The economic benefit the Sandstone Way is bringing to en route communities and businesses is growing.
The route is managed from generated income and is therefore self sustaining.
Ride the Sandstone Way in a Day (or Two)
Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th June 2016
A brand new not-for-profit event for mountain bikers with all monies raised (after costs) allocated to route development & management: choose from:
Ride the Sandstone Way in a Day (Saturday 25th June 2016)
Ride the Sandstone Way in 2 Days (Saturday 25th / Sunday 26thth June 2016)
Participants and marshals sought!
Bookings open w/c 18.04.16.
Ted Liddle: Route creator and coordinator – April 2016