Bellingham to Simonburn on The Sandstone Way
Over the last 9 months, I have ridden most of the 120 miles of this fabulous new MTB route, and each section has it's own unique feel as you ride south west from Berwick on Tweed.
I kind of knew where the route goes from Bellingham, but not exactly the detail. As The Bike Place is based in Bellingham, I had to get my wheels on the ground and see for myself, and this ride did throw up some pleasant surprises.
Once up onto Ealingham Common, a pleasant trundle along the Rigg with great views of what is to come. The grassy descent down to Shillafield, I've done before, but still great fun. Now into unknown territory, I missed the left hand turn before Esp Hill, but soon made the correction (essential to carry the official map!) and down to the Houxty Burn (choose ford or footbridge). A long steep climb up the edge of the field (which I just managed to clean) and on to cross the minor road and head for Heatherington and then some more pleasant lane riding till the turn off past The Ash. Across fields following a rutted cart track and then a stony descent to the Warksburn. An even steeper stony climb (just nailed it!) out from there and then a pleasant rest along the lane past Gofton to meet the Ward Lane. On this very briefly before a left turn onto an interesting bridleway to Goatstones. Back on the broken tarmac, the road takes a sharp left which I followed missing the right turn for the off road section to Simonburn. Map out again, waymarker posts on the ground, but we are back on track. And what a track!! Marked on the map as "Muddy in/after wet weather" was very true. Good fun though trying to pick the best line, but then after the hard work, the last bit down into Simonburn was an absolute joy!
6.30pm by now, so the Tearoom was closed, otherwise I would have been in there.
Another fantastic section of the Sandstone Way sampled - where next?