This ride is such a self-indulgent opportunity to take in the beauty of the Tees valley, through gently rolling countryside and views of the Cleveland hills and the Pennines in the distance.
I wanted to finalize the Tees and Cake route sheet by taking my draft copy on the ride with me and making notes where the distances or sign posts don’t match. I was able to generate a “.gpx” file too which will help those who like GPS devices to follow the route easily. Of the two versions of the Tees and Cake route sheet I have been working on, I took the on-road version out for a test run. There is a cycle-path version, but it isn’t suitable for tandems or trikes, and also some people may prefer to stick to the road.
I set off from the car park at All Saints school with the route sheet taped to my arm and a pencil in my back pocket. It was a really sunny morning and although quite cool, it wasn’t cold. In the early stages of the route there are a lot of instructions, as Ingleby Barwick has a lot of little roundabouts, but once we get to the Aislaby turnoff we can go a good distance without further directions. In late winter, without leaves on the trees it is possible to see the Tees meander along next to you. We’ve crossed it once leaving Ingleby Barwick, but now we track along next to it for a while. Teesside airport (currently called Durham Tees Valley airport) is to the right hand side and I see two jets take off in quick succession, chasing each other round the sky – perhaps there is some tuition taking place.
There is once section of the route in Middleton St George where the road markings are poor, so I’m adding an instruction to the route sheet just to confirm the direction.
Once past Neasham and out towards Low Dinsdale and Girsby, the view of the Pennines is clear, and to the left, if you know where to look you can see Roseberry Topping. We cross back over the Tees on a narrow bridge and pass along tree-lined lanes.
We pass the little old church at Girsby, All Saints, and on the day it would be worth diverting along the lane to have a closer look.
Crossing the B1264 I’m now on the way to Appleton Wiske and on the day of the ride it could be worth stopping for a drink at either the Lord Nelson or the Shorthorn Inn
Today I am defeated by the hedge-trimmers, splattering thorns all over the road, so call in at Roots Cafe just past East Roundton where I pull the thorn from the tyre to hear the fast hissing noise of a serious puncture. While I pass the time patiently checking the tyre for further fairies, three groups of cyclists arrive for coffee and cake at this excellent farm shop. So far we are about 40km into the ride.
The new(ish) crossing at Trenholme bar gets us safely over the A19 and on to Hutton Rudby. Here there is a Spar and several lovely pubs, so I’m planning to allow this to be a free control, all I need is a receipt to prove passage. I find the Wheatsheaf’s beer garden the nicest to sit outside in the sunshine, but the food at the Bay Horse has been good whenever I’ve dropped in.
There is a swoop down over the Leven river and a rough climb back up before we hit the final leg of the road back to Ingleby Barwick. The windmills at Seamer now dominate the horizon, turning gently in time with my cycling.
Nearly home – another potential pub stop if you have time is the Fox Covert where we have Beer & Theology on Thursday evenings.
The route splits again here, there is a rather neat little cycle path which heads directly back to the start, or the road route which involves lots of little roundabouts. I have really enjoyed riding this route again, and it has opened my eyes to how you can only really get a route sheet right if you actually take a pencil and paper and ride the route thinking “how will a stranger navigate here?”.
The next action with this route is to invite a friend to ride it from my finalized instructions, see if I did indeed get it right, and also invite them to put an article together for Arrivée magazine.
If you want to follow the route yourself on the day, the “Tees and Cake” 50km Brevet Populaire will take place on 14th September. Visit the AUK calendar for further details of how to sign up. £3.50 entry up to 3 days before, and this includes refreshments at the end, tea, cake, coffee and quiche; all homebaked.
[update: 17/03/13] Ridden by the lazy cyclist…