Les Trois Vallées (Tynedale, Weardale, Teesdale)

Today was a bit of an epic: just shy of 100 km, but with 2000 m of climbing on little training. However, as I’m due to ride the London Revolution next weekend, this was my last chance for a reasonable length ride.

Liz was running a workshop up at Horsely near the Roman Wall, so I went up with her in the car, and rode home from there.

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Heading straight down to the river with no chance to warm up was cold. However, quickly it becomes beautiful, riding beside the Tyne, and even better because the recent floods have caused part of the road to fall into the river, so it’s closed to motor vehicles.

Crossing the River Tyne at Stocksfield

Crossing the river at Stocksfield, the lumpiness begins. Pre-planned was a “white road” on the OS map, which turned out to be unsurfaced. However, the bluebells were amazing!

Mmmm, bluebells

Crossing the A68 at Kiln Pit Hill gave a high level ride south of Slayley until a big descent into Blanchland (and a coffee stop).

Cafe stop in Blanchland


The proper hills begin here, with a big climb over to Rookhope.

Chimneys from smelting visible from Hunstanworth Moor
Mining infrastructure at Rookhope

Rather than follow the valley road to Stanhope, I decided to tackle Scarsike Head, which I’d never ridden in this direction. The descent from there to Westgate was amazing, but I had to stop at the West Rigg Opencut lead seam.



From there it’s a short ride to the Chatterbox café in St Johns Chapel, for the second coffee stop and lunch.

Crossing the River Wear


Rather than climb over to Teesdale via the “normal” Chapel Fell route, I decided to take the more easterly Swinhope Head route. Again, I’d not ridden this section in this direction, but knew it was steep, had a gate on it, and was up-down-up, so some of the precious height gained has to be lost mid-route.

The River Tees

The benefit of this route is it brings you out nearer to Middleton-in-Teesdale, and I pushed on towards Eggleston. From there it’s a bit of climb (not too hard, but it’s late in the day), and before long Hamsterley is reached – almost home. A couple of smallish hills, a crossing back over the A68 and time to see the lambs dreaming, and I’m back home!

Lambs dreaming after a hard day in the field

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