Sunday, 30 June 2013

Signing of Routes 547 and 548

A good chunk of the renumbering of certain trails - those which are now 547 and 548 - has now been completed. Maldwyn, Paul Watson and new ranger Jim Hudson met me at Hopton Incline Bottom yesterday (Sat 29 June) to check the signage we did a couple of months ago on the routes to Tissington, Biggin, Hartington and Gallowlow, and add new patches where required. 

Monday, 24 June 2013

Cycling in the North-East

I’ve been staying in Durham for the last couple of weeks and this is quite probably the last time I will have the opportunity of riding the cycle routes of this area since my son and his family, with whom I have been staying, will be moving to Exeter soon. During this stay I have made three 100-plus km trips.
The first was on NCR 14 to Haswell, Hartlepool and Stockton, and then Route 1 (Castle Eden Walkway) back to Haswell, before returning to Durham. The route from Haswell to Hartlepool is mostly ex-railway trackbed, as is that from Stockton to Haswell, and therefore both quite flat. At Hartlepool there is a superb British warship from 1817, the “Trincomalee” and a very well-presented museum which I dashed round rather quickly. The route from there to Stockton had some lapses in signing, which meant I had to rely rather too much on my maps; this slowed me down. On the Castle Eden Walkway there is an excellently restored railway station at Thorpe Thewles, which is the visitor center for the Wynyard Woodland Park, and also a fine modern footbridge over the A689, opened by someone called Tony Blair in 2001.
My second ride took me on NCR14 (Lanchester Valley Trail - my favourite cycle trail out of Durham) to near Consett, where I joined Route 7 (the C2C) to Sunderland. I had ridden the C2C from Whitehaven to Tynemouth in 2005. Now was my chance to finish this iconic cross-country path by the alternative route. This also consists mainly of railway path and it passes through some very pretty countryside, following the River Wear for the last few miles. En route there are some impressive metal sculptures, including the famous Terris Novalis, two huge robots and some grazing cows made from JCB bits. Near Sunderland marina, there is a wonderful sculpture of an old-fashioned sitting room, all in stone. At Roker, I turned north on NCR1 to South Shields. This route, mainly on the pavement of the main coast road, gives good views of sea, beaches and cliffs along most of its way. I then took Route 14 (this goes everywhere!), the Keelman’s Way, westward on the right bank of the Tyne, to Gateshead and on to Newcastle by the Millennium Bridge. The Tyne pedestrian tunnel is currently closed for renovation. I returned to Durham by train. This part of the Keelman’s Way is mostly through town and although it follows the river it has some steep climbs.
My final trip was from Durham on the pavement of the A167 and then by relatively minor road through the center of Chester-le-Street, past the Angel of the North, to Gateshead. From Chester to Gateshead this is designated Route 725, although you won’t find this on any Sustrans map yet. The Angel was the only highlight on this essentially practical and undemanding route linking towns. But from there things changed: I turned upstream on the Keelman’s Way again (NCR14 and 141), all the way to Wylam, where it crosses the Tyne and joins Hadrian’s Cycleway (NCR72). From here the trail becomes traffic-free for a while, and enters the Tyne Riverside Country Park, crossing back over the river on the Hagg Bank bowstring railway bridge. At Ovingham I crossed to the north bank again on a curious double-bridge with one lane for pedestrians and cyclists and another, very narrow lane for cars travelling in both directions (but not at the same time!) I continued on Route 72 by quiet, narrow road almost to Corbridge, at which point I considered I’d done enough! The countryside on this part of my route I found very beautiful, especially where the river was in sight. I returned all the way to Newcastle, completing (if I include the chunk of Hadrian’s Cycleway I did in 2009) the whole stretch from Carlisle to the ‘Toon’. On my way, I stopped at George Stephenson’s birthplace, a pretty whitewashed cottage near Wylam, owned by English Heritage, for a pot of tea and a piece of carrot cake. I had no time to see the museum. 
My rides had got better as time went on, with the C2C from Consett to Sunderland and the routes on either side of the Tyne, west of Newcastle, the ones which most stick in my mind.  Can the trails of the south-west be as good, I wonder?

Thursday, 20 June 2013

An important petition

The Get Britain Cycling inquiry was an initiative of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG), a cross party body with members in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, with the aim “to enable more people across the UK to take up cycling, cycle more often and cycle more safely by interviewing or receiving written evidence from expert witnesses on the obstacles that must be overcome and suggesting concrete, effective measures to be undertaken by central and local government as well as the wider world of business and the third sector”. To read the report, click here
A petition was set up calling on the Prime Minister to pledge to that the government will implement the recommendations of the report. Since the number of signatures soon exceeded 10 000, the government was obliged to provide a response which you can read when you read the petition online (see later). If the number exceeds 100 000, the petition will be considered for debate by the Backbench Business Committee. This is why you should add your name to the petition (if you haven't already). Click here to sign the petition. 
Thank you.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Should be able to make it on the 29th though not sure about Ruth.  Meanwhile, we enjoyed our trip to Spurn Point via Chesterfield, Dearne (near Barnsley), Hull, Lincoln and then home.  Off to Lincoln again on the bikes this coming weekend for the European Stone Festival at the Cathedral.

And yes, we are up for signing the Manifold trail etc anytime - that's a local route we use a lot.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Signing day 29 June 2013

I'm in Durham at the moment, enjoying the arrival of a second granddaughter, but will be due back briefly at the end of the month, before departing for France for the summer. For a change, could we try a signing morning (possibly extending to the whole day) on a Saturday? This would be Sat 29 June. I now have some more 547 patches from Sustrans. The plan would be to check the signage of Route 547 from the High Peak Trail to Carsington Water and Tissington, and add signs where necessary (we ran out earlier this year). At Tissington station we will do some signing at the junction with the Tissington Trail (NCR68). Next, we must finish the signing of NCR548 from the Tissington Trail to  Biggin and Hartington, which we started in April, and also the stretch from the A515 near Biggin to the HPT at Minninglow. That should keep us busy! 
Meet at the bottom of the Hopton Incline on the High Peak Trail at 10:00. 
Note: work needs to be done, in late summer or early autumn, on the Manifold Valley Trail and its continuation from Hulme End through Hartington and on to Sparklow (all to become NCR549).

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Shared space junction at Poynton

Last Thursday I was driving from Manchester to Matlock, and I passed by chance through Poynton in Cheshire. Someone had told me about a new junction there a few months back. Going through it the other day saved me the trouble of making a special trip there (which I had intended to do one day). It's an example of a shared space junction, something that Sustrans often talks about - like their 'DIY streets', for example, but this is a major intersection. Traffic lights have been banished. Nobody has right of way and the whole system works by drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and other road-users negotiating with each other. Maintaining eye contact with others is essential. I found the junction very easy to use, and everybody was being very courteous to each other! I found this video comparing Poynton before and after.