MP Guy Opperman joined other cyclists to test-ride a two-day version of a 120-mile route from the west to the north of the county at the weekend.
The Sandstone Way is a mountain-bike route from Berwick to Hexham, passing through the likes of Wooler, Rothbury, Bellingham and a number of smaller villages and rural hamlets, which was opened last March.
Seven members of Tyne Valley VMTB Cycling Club, plus Michael (guest rider on Saturday) and Paul (guest rider on Sunday), were joined by the MP on both days to attempt the new two-day version, all very well supported by Geoff, driving a hired minibus.
Saturday saw the group go from Tyne Green in the west of the county to Rothbury, before heading further north on Sunday, arriving in Berwick at 6pm.
On Saturday, the weather was poor and worsened, which slowed the group down.
Sunday dawned fair and improved as the hours passed, but the group did have to leap-frog the route by a few miles in the minibus on both days.
Sandstone Way creator and co-ordinator, Ted Liddle, said: “It was a tough, very enjoyable two 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.
“Collectively, we spent about £1,200 over the two days, of which £985 was spent in nine different communities along the route.
“Without paying customers, these businesses will close and the rural communities they belong to will slowly die.”
Thanks were given to Simonburn Tea Room; Fountain Cottage Café, Bellingham; Tomlinson’s Café and Bunkhouse, Rothbury; Valley Cottage Tearoom, Ingram; Chillingham Castle tearoom; and The Granary Bistro, Berwick, which ‘all supplied excellent nosh and a great welcome’.
Ted said that the key lessons he learned, or was reminded of, are that the Sandstone Way is harder than you would think, refreshment stops are hugely important and to ride the two-day version, low numbers are best and the conditions need to be favourable.
Visit the website – www.sandstoneway.co.uk – for more information about the route.