The Sandstone Way
Designed by Ted Liddle and launched in March 2015, The Sandstone Way is a 120 mile mountain bike route across the diagonal of Northumberland linking numerous sandstone features.
The route follows a mix of bridleways, Byways Open to All Traffic (BOATs) and unclassified county roads (UCRs) linked by sections of lightly-trafficked minor roads. It passes through a scattering of quiet picturesque hamlets and connects with several historical market towns. The scenery ranges widely from rugged coastal splendour with iconic islands rich in history and wildlife, magnificent castles, expansive heather-clad hills, numerous rivers and lakes, the rolling Cheviot Hills, the largest man-made lake in Europe set within the largest man-made forest in Europe, Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage site, several amazing National Trust sites, Award-winning Northumberland National Park and the Northumberland Coast AONB.
The Sandstone Way took 5 years to create from concept to launch in March 2015. The 120 mile long route cost just £31,000 to implement plus masses of volunteer time and has enjoyed three successful years. The economic impact in year 1 is summarised in the Sandstone Way 2015 Review – basically 3,500 maps sold, bike taxis getting regularly booked, en route beds in demand all summer, local enterprises benefitting, new jobs created and existing jobs protected and a rider contribution scheme introduced to make the route sustainable
It is estimated at least 10,000 cyclists have ridden the route taking between 2 and 4 days since it was opened in March 2015. The three most common comments are that the route is far more challenging than anticipated; the quality of the scenery and quiet backwaters they would never have otherwise found was far beyond expectation and nearly all riders had much enjoyed the challenge and the experience and they would like to ride more high quality routes.
Residents in 23 countries visited the Sandstone Way website in its first year and map sales were traced to many parts of the UK.
As a group, my friends and I have done pretty much all of the UK’s long distance MTB routes. Some are more ‘epic’. Some are more jaw droppingly spectacular. Some are more technical. None, however, have been more enjoyable than the Sandstone Way! Probably the best few days I’ve spent on a bike!Nick Crossley March 2019