Tyne Valley MTB Newsletter: December 2017
You can improve mountain biking and road cycling in our region by being a member of Tyne Valley MTB Cycling.
Hello members of Tyne Valley MTB Cycling and interested people,
Welcome to our end of 2017 newsletter. The club was very active in 2017 with many evening rides (including dark nights with lights), numerous day rides, a ride up the Sandstone Way; we rode part of the Southern Upland Way and all of the South Downs Way. Our week long Alpine tour by MTB between Haute Nendaz and Zermatt in July was very exciting and in September 8 members cycled on road bikes between Geneva and Nice which was hugely challenging.
Membership averages 45 mark but new members are welcome to ride MTB and / or road bikes with us. We would welcome young people and females to join us.
As ever, your comments and involvement are welcomed. Please contribute your time and effort where you can – no matter how small as every little adds to the club and can help share the load.
1. Tyne Valley MTB Membership 2018
Your membership provides the club with the credibility to do the things it does on YOUR behalf.
The 2018 rates for club membership are…...
Adults: £12 / under 16s in education & unemployed: £5
2 adults in the same household: £15 in total
New members: Please send your cheque made out to Tyne Valley MTB Cycling to:
Tyne Valley MTB Cycling, c/o 167 New Ridley Road, STOCKSFIELD, NE43 3EX
Or make a bank transfer to Lloyds Bank Hexham: s/c 30-94-19 a/c 18207260.
New members are welcome and it’s HUGELY important that existing members renew their membership to sustain the route development and advocacy work the club is undertaking on YOUR behalf.
The club’s website is much improved but really requires a dedicated person to keep it up to date. Our Facebook is regularly updated; by December 2017 our page was receiving regular visits from a growing number of interested people.
The 2018 AGM + planning for 2018 SAME VENUE AS FOR PREVIOUS AGMs
Date: 5th March 2018 @ 7-30 pm - agenda to be confirmed by mid February 2018 - agenda items please to Ted by 07.02.18
7-30pm: Café Enna (Tynedale Golf Club), Tyne Green, HEXHAM
Plenty of parking and easy access on foot and cycle from Burn Lane over the level crossing
Those who are able to, PLEASE do try to attend the AGM or send apologies. As well as interesting presentations, the club would to progress plans to develop more cycle routes in 2018 so your support and interest is needed and much appreciated.
WE WILL ANNOUNCE ROUTE DEVELOPMENT PLANS AT THE AGM
2. Club work, events, rides and tours in 2017:
In 2017, TVMTBC contributed to keeping the Sandstone Way refreshed and supported research into new routes. Northern Heritage published this set of cycling maps and guides which some TVMTBC members contributed to in different measures. It is planned to continue to support the production of publications like this through route survey, advocacy and grant applications during 2018.
Proceeds from the above publications are reinvested in route management and / or new publications.
Remember this in a previous newsletter? It still applies so do speak up if you can help occasionally.
UNRECORDED WAYS IN NORTHUMBERLAND
A project supported by the Joint Local Access Forum of Northumberland
Research work continues very ably led by the local British Horse Society (BHS) as we only have until 2026 to claim ‘old’ routes.
There are numerous ‘old’ ways and blocked RoW that are being researched and / or pursued to bring back into use. Albeit peripherally, the club is actively engaged in supporting this work and we submitted several claims in 2017 some of which will be added to the Definitive map in Northumberland and County Durham in 2018.
It is normal not to shout about on-going and planned research and the principle of staying below the radar is rigorously adhered to. It is understandable but rarely justified that many landowners are very sensitive about increased access across their land which is why the club advocates responsible access at all times.
Time is running out for claims to be submitted so PLEASE volunteer or help find volunteers to help with archival research if you can. Training is provided. The British Horse Society has been leading on submitting claims in England and it’s their excellent work that TVMTBC quietly supports works. The 5 claims we have submitted are in various stages of consideration and more are in the pipeline.
Several applications for funding were submitted to various sources in 2017. These include….
- In August 2017 our application to Northumberland National Park Small Grants Fund for £2000 to part fund the Cheviots Orbital map was successful
- In December 2017 Keswick Cycles agreed to sponsor the renewal of waymarking and signage on the Reivers Cycle Route in Cumbria and actively support its re-launch in other ways
- In September 2017 our bid to Northumberland County Council (NCC) Community Chest to part fund the Northumberland section of a new map for the regenerated Reivers Cycle Route was turned down on the basis this was a tourism project ineligible for this fund to support. This was disappointing as actively engaged in this route is an important part of our programme to the benefit and enjoyment of club members. Additionally, it was a payment of £5,000 to TVMTBC from that fund in 2014 that made the delivery of the Sandstone Way possible in 2015.
- The possibility of submitting several applications to Windfarm companies was researched and will be followed up when the next tranche of applications is open
- An application to a commercial developer’s community benefit scheme will be submitted in 2018
- Other applications are in the pipeline: MAJOR announcement at the AGM on 5th March 2018
Several responses to various relevant consultations were submitted during 2017. These include….
- Survey visits to Berwick upon Tweed and Wooler regarding two new sections of cycle route
- During 2016 we continued engaging with all relevant parties in support of the Advisory Cycle Lanes at Corbridge and we expressed our huge disappointment at their removal at the behest of Corbridge Parish Council in order to return to standard road marking which prioritise vehicles over vulnerable road users. It was particular sad, and somewhat Trump-like, that certain councillors boasted of their achievement to make the road less safe for cyclists simply because some local drivers were unable to work out how advisory cycle lanes work and how they make cycling safer. The one gain is that as a result of our long campaign to make this road section safer for cyclists, double yellow lines have been applied at the Corbridge end which has stopped parked cars from forcing ALL road users, including cyclists, into the middle of the road and towards oncoming traffic.
- We also engaged with NCC to enquire the justification for spending £74,000 to build verge cycle paths around the A68 roundabout east of Riding Mill when the reality is roadies cycle on the road and very few, family type cyclists use this route. NOTE: £74,000 would have gone a very long way to implementing the much needed cycling infrastructure improvements which were recommended in the Recreational Cycling and Cycle Tourism in Northumberland Report (2013) which are long overdue and which would have benefitted thousands of cyclists and many businesses.
FURTHER NOTE: The only two recommendations the report contains that have been carried out were the launch of the Sandstone Way and production of the Northumberland Cycle Routes map both of which members of TVMTBC took an active role. NB: The latter in collusion with Cycle PaD.
- After attending two consultation meetings regarding the proposed improvements of the A1, we continued to input our recommendations for safer cycling provision to be planned in.
- In August we met the North of England Manager for Sustrans and other senior staff at Leeds to further discuss our proposal to re-generate the Reivers Cycle Route. Also discussed were the many miles of lightly used and low key-managed rural NCN routes.
- In October we surveyed a new section of route alignment for the Sandstone Way west of Hexham which avoids a level crossing. New route build adjacent to two sections of minor roads were also surveyed all of which will be pursued in 2018 as will the value of the cycle grid we funded in 2016 – see page 7 (bottom right hand image).
We attend various relevant access-related meetings throughout every year and 2017 was no exception:
- The Northumberland Joint Local Access Forum for which TVMTBC chairman is a vice chair. It is ‘joint’ because it combines NCC and NNPA
- We continue to attend the quarterly NPs AONB Access & Recreation Working Group
- We continue to attend the quarterly North of England National Trails planning meeting
- We still sit on the Board of the North East Local Nature Partnership to ensure access is always factored
- We maintain an active working relationship with Cycling UK, OpenMTB, The Ramblers, BHS and a number of MTB and roads cycling clubs as well as cycling-related businesses across the region
- Sadly the bi-annual Northumberland Rights of Way Liaison meeting which we used to attend, has ceased to exist
MAJOR SCHEMES WHICH WILL BENEFIT ACCESS in 2018+
In December it was announced the Revitalising Redesdale project will be receiving up to £1.7 m over 5 years to which further amounts will be added. A small part of this funding will be allocated to improving existing access and hopefully securing new access. NOTE: in September 2016 Ted was commissioned to provide the access element of the bid to HLF – for more info see http://revitalisingredesdale.org.uk/
A similar funding award from HLF for the Fellfoot Forward project in the Eden Valley will, in time, result in new and improved access in the demarcated area shown below.
Two separate developers have submitted plans to build ‘Garden Villages’ close to Ponteland. It’s understood the Lugano application awaits a decision by the Secretary of State. If successful, the developer has promised to extend the disused railway track (DRT) on land it owns westward of Limestone Lane which will significantly improve off-road cycling to/ from Darras Hall and be a major benefit to the off-road Reivers Cycle Route by extending the existing DRT by about a mile.
3. News from forest trail centres
News from forest trail centres with continued support from the Forestry Commission’s Alex MacLennan: Recreation and Public Affairs Manager for the North East who collaborates with a wide range of parties to oversee the largest collection of FC MTB trails in England.
HAMSTERLEY FOREST continues to provide first class mountain biking competently delivered by Hamsterley Trailblazers. Existing trails are continually being maintained and being improved, particularly popular Transmission. K line was opened this year named after Kay Graham, a loyal Trailblazer member who lost her long fight against cancer in 2016. Alex advises to tale easy when riding K line for the first time to avoid unplanned take offs. This year Dave Holmes, another hugely loyal builder, also lost his fight with cancer – both losses have made HTB determined to make Hamsterley a 5* trail centre.
Dedicated MTB routes in KIELDER FOREST were again capably maintained by Kielder Trail Reavers which is much appreciated by the mountain biking fraternity that ride there.
THRUNTON WOODS are very low key in terms of facilities and profile and like CHOPWELL WOODS, their own trail maintenance and building team have yet again shown commitment and endeavour in 2017.
The one facility the North East misses is a really good flow trail centre.
Keswick to Threlkeld rail path UPDATE – this hugely popular trail was washed out by Storm Desmond
Re-opening the badly damaged Keswick multi user trail has been given a major funding boost thanks to a £2.5 million grant from Highways England. Raising the shortfall of about £3m will be the newly named Lake District Foundation’s task in 2018. .
Highways England’s is committed to making cycling easier and safer around major roads and will provide funding towards reopening this important link. The rail path is very scenic and for years it used to provide cyclists and other users with a safe and accessible alternative to travelling along the main road.
The only viable solution to circumnavigate the severely damaged valley side along which the track used to be supported is to re-open the blocked tunnel. Whilst this will be costly to do, it will be a permanent solution. It has been estimated Keswick has lost some £1m in visitor spend since the trail closed.
Rides undertaken in 2017
The pattern continued in 2017 for the midweek evening rides to be the most popular although a committed core never missed an opportunity to enjoy day rides. Note: the following images were mostly taken at stops or of easy sections as rides don’t want to stop when they are riding good singletrack.
Reivers Cycle Route – off-road version (Tynemouth to Bellingham)
Our test ride on 09.04.17 confirmed this version of the Reivers Cycle Route is easier than the Sandstone Way and is ideal for hybrids and gravel bikes which Graham B proved.
The off-road route isn’t entirely off road but nevertheless, follows a good mix of route types – beginning with a coastal road then a continuum of promenade, cycle paths, bridleways, waggonways and a long length of disused railway track to reach west of Ponteland. From there, minor roads via Stamfordham, Matfen and Ryal link to the next decent off-road stretches which are interspersed with country lanes. Just 3 members were able to ride the middle section on 11.06.17 (below).
Other MTB rides in 2017...
Hexhamshire Common on 17.5.17...
The Borderlands Cycle Route test ride: Carlisle to Berwick upon Tweed on 30.04 & 01.05.17...
Crooked Oak & Beyond loop 27.07.16...
East Allen Valley road route 02.07.17...
Halty-Hexham High Route 12.11.17...
Hexham–Alston road loop 01.09.17...
Hexham North Route 10.05.17...
Hyons loop 24.05.17...
Mid Northumberland Reservoirs route 09.08.17...
Riding Mill south 02.08.17...
Shire loop 17.08.17...
Sill road loop 03.09.17...
Simonburn MTB loop 03.05.17...
Simonburn road loop 22.01.17...
Stocksfield area 26.04.17...
Jack, Gelt & Knar route 14.05.17...
Rothbury south 16.11.17...
Vic on Brandon bridge 17.11.17...
Post long ascent on Dave’s excellent Chopwell & Pontop route - Andy pre superb descent 11. 06.17...
Vic completing the Sandstone Way 18.11.17...
Training ride in the North York Moors on 04.08.17 pre our BIG Alps road route...
A pic on day 1, 2 and 3 on the Southern Upland Way May Bank Holiday w/e 2017...
South Downs Way in October 2017 superbly organised by Nick Trewhitt...
Baldersdale & the 5 Reservoirs route 08.12.17 – fantastic last ride of the year...
UK bike rides: summary
In 2017 club members enjoyed some magnificent mountain biking and road cycling in the local area and farther afield. The away rides could have been much better attended and on this basis it seems a good idea to see if club membership could be increased in 2018. This will allow more people to enjoy the routes we ride and provide more transport options.
The range of routes we ride is quite exceptional especially when the Alps tours by MTB and on road are taken into account. The one thing members all say is that the routes ridden find hidden parts of the region provide some amazing cycling whilst passing through very attractive countryside.
Great Alpine Chain Route by MTB: (15th to 23rd July 2017) – Rhone Valley / Zermatt
MTB Alps 2017 itinerary – every day riding door to door
Starting at Haute Nendaz, our 7 day tour linked the upper reaches of the west end of the Rhone Valley with Zermatt where the scenery is exceptional and MTB trails are unforgettable – even more so as Zermatt has been improving its already superb network of amazing natural MTB trails.
This route is so good the club has already organised 3 tours on it as it is one of the most memorable sections of the Great Alpine Chain MTB Route challenge (Geneva to the Venice plain) which the club completed in 2016. It’s not exaggerating to say this route comprises some of the highest quality singletrack in Europe if not the world.
On the last day we descended an amazing 3,000m to complete this superb 7 ride days MTB tour in typical mind blowing fashion. There were many highlights on this tour but without doubt it is the magic mix of incredible scenery, magnificent MTB routes and memorable overnights that make our Alps tours extra special.
Day1: fairly straightforward...
Day 2: tough and easy but always scenic...
Day 4: View down to Leukerbad / descent to Kandersteg / bikes on the train back to the Rhone Valley...
Today we were transported by cable car with our bikes car from the spa town of Leukerbad to the top of the Gemmi Pass (2341m) which we rode before descending on a steep red/ black trail to Kandersteg. Our return to the Rhone Valley was by train through the mountain before descending back to the valley floor down the old road which had been severely washed out at one point by a huge storm some years ago.
Day 5: It was raining high up so we rode (and pushed) lower down the valley...
Day 6: never a dull moment...
Day 7: Incredible scenery – incredible mountain biking – weekly total of 22,000m of descent...
Route des Grande Alpes: Classic linear Alps road bike tour: 10th to 19th September 8 ride DAYS
710+ km / 22 cols / 16,000+ m of ascent / descent / bikes and bags transported out and back by minibus driven by Geoff Morson who also provided en route daily support.
Route des Grande Alpes
The North - South Route des Grande Alpes is a classic road cycling challenge from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean through the Southern Alps. The 710km route crosses an impressive number of cols including some of the most legendary Alpine climbs and the two highest: the Col d’Iseran and the Cime de la Bonette. The scenery changes significantly and wonderfully en route. The route starts in 'chocolate box' Alps with chalets and green pastures. South of this lie the bigger beasts followed the southern Alpine gorges where the roads appear to be hewn from the rock before ascending one last time for the final descent to Menton, the route’s ultimate destination by the Mediterranean Sea.
THIS REALLY WAS A SERIOUSLY CHALLENGING CYCLE TOUR!
Winter arrived early!
Bonus day – Mont Ventoux en route home...
Best support driver: Geoff Morson – you did a brilliant job thanks Geoff
Best Veteran Cyclist: Ken Spence – totally amazing!
Fastest lead man: John O’Donnell – never flagged once
Most aggressive climber: Angus Liddle – climbed like he was on an e-bike
Best descender: Nick Trewhitt – and no mean ascender either
Most consistent cyclist: Philip Westall – consistently consistent throughout the tour
Cyclist who got fitter as the tour progressed: Graham B – (drug test results pending)
Most determined cyclist: James Swabey: Never up first but always reached the tops
Slowest climber: Ted Liddle – kept stopping to paint name on the road
4. Proposed events, routes, rides & tours in 2018
2018 programme: key dates is below and will be available and updated on the club website - please check it out and put the dates in your diary you would like to ride.
Wednesday evening rides should start mid April - weather permitting
Day rides & Half day Sunday rides take place according to demand as advertised – MTB and road
Weekend trips will be held according to demand – see 2018 programme
Future rides generally - please contact Tyne Valley MTB Cycling organiser (Ted) if you fancy a particular route or if you would like to lead a ride OR if you would like to see the rides organised differently. PLEASE DON’T JUST STOP TURNING UP – TELL US IF WE CAN DO SOMETHING BETTER!
Alternate Friday rides all year
via Rob Aubrook
Tyne Valley MTB Cycling AGM (Café Enna) @ 7-30 pm
Friday Evening 4th / Monday evening 7th [reserve list]
Southern Upland Way (Portpatrick to Dunbar)
3 days/3 nights (road)
Saturday 26th to Monday 28th
Reivers Cycle Routes re-launch ride (3 days) DETAILS TO FOLLOW
Dates to be confirmed
Southern Upland Way by MTB (Sanquhar - Dunbar)
4 days/3 nights - 5 committed
Saturday 16th & 17th [3 free places]
Lakes to Shap (Esk2Esk by MTB)
Saturday 7th to Sunday 15th
Alps MTB Tour 1: Flow trails & XC
[3 free places]
Saturday 11th to Sunday 19th
Alps MTB Tour 2: XC Linear route
Geneva to Briancon
[possibly 2 free places]
Saturday 8th to Sunday 16th
Atlantic Coast to the Med
[4 free places]
Wednesday evening rides will take place on a weekly basis from early April to October. These are guided rides and the start/route will vary from week to week. Info to be sent to riders by email and will always be ‘on’ unless the weather verges on ‘extreme’!
Saturday or Sunday rides will be arranged subject to expressed demand. Away-day Friday rides will be arranged as advertised by email.
RED Travel away events: PLEASE RESERVE YOUR PLACE ASAP – flights, beds and transport needs to be booked a long way in advance.
NOTE the Reivers Cycle Routes regeneration Route Ride over the 3 day Spring Bank Holiday weekend. Do try to ride the three days or part thereof – MORE INFO SOON – SEE ROUTE INFO BELOW
BOOK DATES IN YOUR DIARY NOW!
5. Route Development Projects for 2018/19
The Reivers Cycle Route by MTB is next in line for re-launch. The route braid concept was well ahead of its time when the RCR was originally conceived in 1997 by this writer. The one size fits all alignment was signed and an off-road option was waymarked but with nil subsequent route management or maintenance and in the absence of any meaningful promotion, it’s not surprising this route began to fall into disrepair after a relatively successful first 2 years based on the early fumes of word of mouth.
Sponsorship funding has been confirmed to pay for re-waymarking the MTB route and producing a website. Further funds are being sought to publish the entire route on two maps to the same standard as the Sandstone Way by MTB. Tyne Valley MTB Cycling intends to fully support this initiative. Consultation with relevant parties is ongoing.
The RCR by MTB will be a fine follow-up to the Sandstone Way. The road route will be 100% tarmac which will be much appreciated by cyclists on road bikes and ebikes. The trail route will be ideal for gravel bikes, hybrids and suitable ebikes.
Our close involvement to support an application for a significant amount of funding by NPs AONB to implement the Dozen Dales Routes was unsuccessful. The fallback plan is to follow up new funding opportunities or failing that, to implement the two intertwining routes using the budget model which launched the Sandstone way.
The MTB strand of this route concept is Wooler to Skipton by MTB through the Cheviots to Alwinton. This part of the route has already been mapped and is available as the Cheviot Hill Orbital MTB map.
The Dozen Dales by MTB shares the Sandstone Way from Alwinton to Hexham before traversing the North Pennines and passing through the Yorkshire Dales. Three large loops have also been identified with the Cheviots Hill Orbital being the most northern loop of the three.
6. Alps tours 2018
The club is organising Three Alps tours in 2018. The July tour will be through the Alta Rezia area of Switzerland and Italy famous for its uplift assisted flow trails and high mountain challenge routes. This will be the third time we will have biked in this area and probably not the last. Only 3 places left.
| MTB Alps
| Davos / Livigno / Santa Caterina / Stelvio
| 7th to 15th July 2018
7 ride days
As usual, bikes and bags will be transported out and back by minibus which will also provide en route support. Accommodations will be in hostel and hotels and some the trails have been ridden during previous tours. Uplift provided by lifts and funicular railways will be optimised. Switzerland isn’t cheap but the mountain biking is superb. Guideline not for profit cost is £1,000.00 incl flights.
The August MTB tour will be from Geneva to Briancon which is the northern half of the Geneva to Nice route by MTB. Our plan is to ride the southern section Briancon to Nice by MTB in August 2019.
| MTB Alps August 2018
7 ride days
| Geneva to south of Briancon
Guide cost: £1000.00 pp
| 11th to 19th August 2018
7 ride days
The September tour will be the very challenging Pyrenees Spine Route between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea. 4 places available
France / Andorra / Spain – a memorable road route between the Atlantic coast and the Mediterranean coast over challenging Tour de France passes…
Bikes and bags will be transferred from the North East by minibus while riders fly with hand luggage only. Our large comfortable minibus will provide transport from the arrival airport to the first night accommodation at the start of the tour and back to the departure airport on the 16th September 2018. In between times, it will provide daily support and bag transfers.
| 2018 Alps: road bike
7 ride days
| Linear Chaine de Pyrenees
Atlantic to the Mediterranean
| 8th to 16th September 2018
Without doubt it is the magic mix of incredible scenery, magnificent MTB and road routes with immense mountain passes and memorable overnights that will make each of these tours extra special and an unforgettable experience for all participants.
Definitive maps (DM) are active and inter-active maps which show EVERY Right of Way (RoW) and parishes in each of the 3 adjacent counties. Required by law, they are dynamic legal documents in that new access is added as it is created and claims for new access are shown in process of determination. Every authority uses a different style of map but all are easy to use and an essential GO TO reference for all outdoor access users. Every RoW has its own reference number – in the case of NCC, right click your cursor to find the parish name, unique area ‘code’ and path number.
When using DMs and any form of access, be aware that:
Public footpath = walkers only
Public bridleway = walkers, horse riders and cyclists only
Restricted bridleway = walkers, horse riders, cyclists and horse-drawn carriages only
BOAT (Byway open to all traffic) = walkers, horse riders, cyclists and all other vehicles
UCR (Unclassified County Road) = walkers, horse riders, cyclists and all other vehicles
TRO (Traffic Restriction Order) = a local authority law used to restrict use by all or identified vehicles
Permissive Path = a path open for use by the landowner on his or her terms (user groups and duration)
Green lane = colloquial: has no legal status
White road = shown on maps with no colour to them – see Green Lane
Footway = paths adjacent to roads which are part of the highway
Pavement = a colloquial term with no legal status for a path usually next to a road made from stones or concrete slabs (originally)
The DMs maintained by Northumberland County Council (NCC), Durham CC (DCC) & Cumbria CC (CCC):
Remember the old sailing law – steam gives way to sail? In the case of access, fast should always give way to slow and metal should always give way to humans and animals. Being considerate and politely warning other users of your presence is paramount at all times ideally with a friendly greeting. Good practice is to slow down, say X bikes passing (only pass when safe to do so), give a friendly greeting and ALWAYS say “Thank you”. Advising of your presence is particularly important when approaching horses from behind but also walkers. WE ARE ALL VULNERABLE ‘ROAD’ USERS!
Please contact Ted for more info about anything in this newsletter
Remember, if you ride – you need to support, help fund-raise & build
Here’s wishing everyone a healthy 2018 & lots of good pedalin’
Help improve mountain biking and cycling by being a member of Tyne Valley MTB Cycling
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