Sunday, October 19, 2008
Defying the grim weather predictions, about 40 cyclists bravely set out this morning to 'christen' the new National Route 14 cycle route between Darlington and Stockton.
Sandy, AJ and I joined them, with Sandy doing all the hard work with AJ on the tagalong.
It was my first chance to use the new bridge over the A66 which had a far gentler gradient that I'd been expecting. We then followed the bridleway to the roundabout on the A67 outside MSG and travelled up the cul-de-sac road that eventually joins the Low Newton bypass route. There's a bit more work for Stockton BC to do here to link the 2 sections, which should be completed in the next year or so - it was still perfectly passable.
Sandy and AJ had headed home by this time (tackling the hill outside Sadberge without stopping, which is no mean feat) and a few others turned back - those remaining carried on through Long Newton, Elton and Hartburn. The cycle route to Stockton town centre was well-marked and travelled through off-road open space - where we did cycle on the roads, they were for the most part quiet and perfectly usable by the most cautious cyclist.
The route enters Stockton town centre via Dovecot Street, although the pedestrianised area itself is, I'm afraid to say, not open to cyclists (some work there for colleagues in Stockton). As you can imagine, we turned a few heads as the massed band of cyclists with banners and flags flying entered the town.
I then headed on to the Tees Barrage - in all the journey took me about 2 hours, and could be managed by anyone. Well worth a try.