11 June 2012

Roughed up by the Reivers

I cycled the Reivers Route the other week - one of the family of 'alternative Coast to Coast routes' that takes you from Newcastle to Carlisle through Northumberland.

It's evidently now referred to as National Route 10. Perhaps 'Reivers' - the name for the ancient cattle rustlers who marauded the area - sounded too wild, too rough.

Though that's exactly what it is, in this central section west of Kielder (right) - not what you'd expect from a designated National Cycle Network route.

Or, if you've done quite a lot of Sustrans routes, exactly what you'd expect from a designated National Cycle Network route.

Maybe it's to put off anyone with an expensive thin-tyred road bike from tackling the route. No doubt bike rustling is more profitable these days.


  1. I did the Reivers Route a few years ago. I never saw that bit. Was that not, perhaps, the bit marked as being the "off-road" section. As far as I remember the road route is just fine.

  2. Hi Ben

    Yup, that's the offroad bit just south and east of Kielder village. It's quite a thrilling, remote-feeling traverse of hills, just sneaking inside the Scots border over a stream, before nipping back into Ingerland.

    It's a ten-mile stretch or so, most of it pebbly forest tracks, and just the one section about quarter of a mile of sheeptrack, pictured in the post.

    To be fair, the offroad option is heavily signposted as being offroad and needing good quality mountain bikes. The on-road alternative is fine, if a little roundabout.

    I just feel a bit cheated by such things, I suppose: I'm perfectly capable of navigating my own routes with copious maps by either roads or offroad tracks, depending on which bike I picked off the garage pile that weekend. What niggles is the lack of consistency in signposted major national routes: they're a hotchpotch of good and bad surfaces. I wish I knew more reliably what I was going to get.

    Another very irritating example is National Route 1 - yes, that's '1' - between Scarborough and Whitby. It's the Cinder Track, an old railway line that's direct, traffic-free, often gloriously scenic - and a pig to ride on because the surface is frankly awful, requiring a well-suspensioned bike much of the time.

  3. Time to get on at your MPs to get some money spent on cycle infrastructure...