What: A mostly flat route but along bumpy terrain from Middleton-in-Teesdale to Cotherstone
Distance: 6 miles
Directions: Starting from The Forresters Hotel & Restaurant in Middleton-in-Teesdale, turn right along the main street (heading south). Take the first right onto Bridge Street, which will take you over the River Tees. The road (the B6277) bends to the left, past a caravan park, then forks – make sure you take the lefthand option, staying on the B6277.
The entrance to the railway path is signposted on your righthand side shortly after, just before you reach the hamlet of Lonton. Get onto the railway path and start enjoying the sights and smells – wild flowers line the verges. There is also plenty of other wildlife, including weasels, frogs and skylarks.
After about half a mile of riding along the path you’ll come to a viaduct, which was built in the 1840s for the Tees Valley Railway Company. Use it to cross the River Lune and after a couple of miles of blissful countryside you’ll come to the village of Romaldkirk, where you’ll be diverted up a ramp onto a road. Turn left into the village, past the old railway station, to find the Rose & Crown on your left, an 18th century inn with good food and drink.
To continue with the ride head south at the main crossroads in the village, taking the B6277 (signed to Cotherstone). At the first junction take the right fork, which is signed for Hunderthwaite, then rejoin the railway path at the rise. Again, you’ll find many wild flowers along this stretch, and with a little luck plenty of butterflies.
After crossing fields you’ll come to another viaduct built in the 1840s, this one spanning the River Balder. Cross more fields before the path comes out onto a country lane. Turn left and you’ll find yourself on the southern edge of Cotherstone village. Pedal to a T-junction, where you should turn left onto the B6277. Follow the road as it bends to the left and it’ll take you to the Fox & Hounds, an old coaching inn and perfect end point.
What: A bumpy ride down the coast from Berwick to Holy Island, taking in superb scenery
Distance: 12 miles
Directions: Get down onto the seafront in Spittal and you’ll find things very easy, as the first part of this bike ride follows the National Cycle Network Route 1 down the coast. From the promenade head south along the coast until you reach the end of the houses, where you’ll need to climb a steep incline that takes you up onto the path.
It does get a bit rough and you’re close to the cliff edge, so take care. Also, the main east coast railway line runs along the righthand side of the track, so expect some fast moving trains. Just before you get to Goswick Golf Course the path will cut inland (there is good signposting all the way down the route). It then arches back closer to the coastline.
Finally, after crossing a couple of burns, you’ll reach the crossing to Holy Island. Beware of the cars along here as it does get narrow and people get distracted by the scenery, but it’s a unique place to cycle. Follow the signs to the Priory which will lead you to the main conurbation on the island where you’ll find a couple of pubs for a well-earned drink.