On Saturday 19th December 2020, club ride leader Graham Patton led a small group of us on what Ted now calls The Land of Oak & Iron loop.

A group of 5 rode the same route the following day led by Ted.

On the Saturday, four of us were on e-bikes and Vivienne,  the youngest and fittest amongst us, rode her trad MTB.

An inauspicious start under a Western Bypass viaduct turned into my best ride of the year – a superb 42 km in perfect blue sky weather with 90% of it completely new to me!  A long uphill pull from Swalwell to the wonderfully named Clockburn Lonnen gave us fabulous views over the Derwent Valley.

Then the views kept coming for most of the ride – both sides of the Derwent Valley and eventually views down into the Tyne Valley.  With too many highlights to mention, we rode the lovely trail alongside the historical Tanfield Railway pausing to watch the North Pole Express steam loco waiting to pull off – surely with Santa on board.

Later we had a well-timed coffee and cake break outside the excellent Riverside Bakery at Blackhall Mill, between riding a double sweep of Chopwell Woods!  With yet more highlights in the second half the route, we finished where we started beaming from ear to ear and very muddy!

By Alan Mitcham