Brandon to Bishop Auckland Cycle Path

Old railway lines are increasingly being converted into leisure paths for people who like to walk, cycle or ride horses. This particular line was used for coal and coke, closed in 1964, and now repurposed as part of a larger network. Katherine and I joined the route at Toll House Road, near Crossgate Moor in Durham, so we could visit family in Bishop Auckland. The route itself goes northwest from Durham through Lanchester on to Consett where it joins other great off-road routes like the C2C (Coast to Coast). Southwest the trail passes through Bishop Auckland to continue to Walney Island on the Cumbria coast. Effectively we were riding part of the W2W (Walney to Wear) route.

There is a good deal of information on the Durham County Council website about this cycle path. Katherine has been cycling with friends in Germany and The Netherlands, where the cycle routes are wide, comfortable and traffic free, so it was nice to be able to use some of our own traffic free routes in County Durham.

We crossed the River Browney, which was in low flow due to the heat of the summer. The cycle path is predominantly flat, but occasionally there are short steep sections where the railway bridge has been removed and we need to wiggle down and over a road and back up to the embankment. Sometimes these were a bit gravelly and we had to walk.

What is a bicycle ride without a stop for a drink? In Brandon the cycle path came close to the Morley Wood Public House, so we called in for a refresher; sitting in the bright sunshine.

With the sugar rush of 'dolly mixture' in Katherine's legs we hit warp factor back on the cycle path; zooming along under bridges, over bridges towards our destination of Bishop Auckland. The hills and fields around us opening out in a sort of 'famous five' adventure.

I really enjoyed riding with Katherine because we found time to chat and time to be silent in equal measure. She also put a lot of effort in to a longer ride than she's done in quite a while; an impressive effort I thought. We came towards Bishop Auckland and the route rejoined the road finally at Newton Cap Viaduct, high above the River Wear.

So we visited my parents in Bishop Auckland where we were treated to sandwiches, cake, hot drinks and watched the end of Stage 11 of the Tour de France... before turning round and heading home. A brilliant day's cycling with Katherine.

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