Big Hill Country

Big Hill Country: North Pennines.

big hills 1

approx 140 miles/230 km. 6 hours  including three major cafe pauses.

 This takes in a good sample of the Northern, and highest end of the Pennine range.  (The popular “biker” venue at the Hartside summit on the A686 between Alston and Penrith is not included, because, unfortunately, among the many “bikers” it attracts on a Summer weekend, there are just too many idiots on the loose. However, if doing this trip on a weekday, Hartside summit is worth a visit for its magnificent view.  It also provides an attractive route over to the M6 and the Lake District, for riders heading that way. The descent on the Western side is challenging).

Once again, this is a long route for  more “Long-leggedy bikes”. However, if it gets to be too much, you can cut out portions by looking at the map. If doing all this route , start early.

Hartside summit, which is avoided for the reasons given above,  at 1903 feet/580 metres, is actually NOT the highest  classified  class road in England. The B6277 on this route reaches 1960 feet/597 metres, and the small road from Teesdale to St. John’s Chapel , also on this route, reaches 1998 feet/609 metres.

Turn right out of the Rugby Club

Take the first left.

At the “T Junction”, turn right (B6524).

Stay on B6524 through various junctions until you reach the A 696 at Belsay. Turn right.

Take third turning to the left ( after 2 ¾ miles/ 4 ½ km.).  No road sign pointing down this road, but a crossroads sign on the main road precedes it. This is a small road into which you turn very hard left, almost doubling back on yourself.   This heads towards Steel Rigg and Little Bavington.

Keep straight, crossing another road at a farm and continuing to join  the B6342 at Steel Rigg (Turn left)

Follow B6342  to cross the A68, at which point your road becomes the A6097,  (Sign: “Hexham”) and carry on past Chollerton and Wall village to reach the A69 Dual carriageway. Turn Left.

At the roundabout, turn right into Hexham. In the town:

Cross the River

Straight across next Roundabout

Turn left at the next Roundabout

Keep to the priority road to join the  A695 (bearing to the right)                    and go up Hexham High Street.

You will pass the abbey on your right. If you have time, the centre is worth a few minutes “walkabout”, and you may find somewhere to squeeze  in a bike near the abbey. But bear in mind you have a long way still to go.

Continuing through town, turn left at lights onto B6305 (signpost: “Alston”).  Up a long hill (30 mph: occasional speed cameras!)

Where B6305 and 6304 split, go for B6305 (right fork) – “Alston”

Follow this to A 686. “T” Junction – turn left. (“Alston”)

You soon reach a descent with hairpin bends. They mean business. But the views are good.

Follow A686 to Alston (Petrol)

Turn left in the town centre to ascend the vertiginous high street (cafe on the left, and another on right further up).

As you start leaving the town, fork right onto B6277.  (“Teesdale etc”)

Carry on over the highest point to descend to a point just before Langdon Beck where, at the corner of a wood on your right, you go left towards St. John’s Chapel. Sign; “St John’s Chapel”)The next section is the really high one.

Carry on over the tops, to drop down to St John’s Chapel (Stunning view).  Turn left onto A 689.

At Cowshill, Turn right for B6295, (towards Allenheads and Allendale town). Sign: “Allendale”

Entering Allenheads, if you turn left there is a Café. Otherwise turn right, towards Rookhope. Sign: “Rookhope”

Just before Rookhope, and just beyond an arch on the right, go left (various industrial archaeological remains at this point). This is actually your first left after Allenheads. Sign: “Blanchland”)

Follow signs into Blanchland (another café)

Take the B6306 towards Hexham. (Sign: “Hexham”)

Approx 2 1/2 miles before Hexham, a short way after a long wood on your right, you can turn right onto B6307 towards Corbridge.

Arriving at A 695, cross over (quick R. and L.) and carry on, to “T”, where you go right, coming to a roundabout, where you go left and ride  over the bridge into Corbridge.

At the other side of the bridge, go right towards Newcastle,

Join the A69 at the roundabout.

At this point, and if you have done all this, you will be well knackered and want to get back to base, fast.

Blast up the A69 to reach the Newcastle Western by-pass (A1), and turn left onto it – to carry on back up to Morpeth.

If it is Saturday, try and be back for 5 p.m, so you can feature in the public display of Nortons and the judging.