Perhaps I should define the title – a festival for Sustrans volunteers. After the success of Festivol 2014, held here in the North, it was decided to hold a mini meeting again for northern volunteers. We couldn’t make last years and so decided to do this, which was held at the Youth Village just outside Consett.
So early Saturday morning saw us boarding the train in Middlesbrough bound for Newcastle. As there were 3 of us with bicycles to get on, I was a bit apprehensive because the grumpy conductor was getting on. We’ve encountered him a number of times previously getting on Northern Line and he’s always the same. Poor soul, I think he must hate his job!
As there were already 2 cycles onboard , it was a bit of a squash but we managed. Although cyclists were getting on and off, we still arrived in Newcastle upon Tyne , with 4 cyclists. Official policy says 2 cycles at a time as there is very restricted space, actually not room to get one cycle in comfortably as the space is too short.
We got there really early, so out came the breakfast stuff and we sat eating in the station. Then as we left, we saw other volunteers complete with cycles awaiting the transfer. There was a bus pulling a trailer for the bikes and another for volunteers, so we set off in blazing sunshine.
Once at the village complex run by the Catholic church, we were assigned a room in the Cardinal Hume building deposited our luggage and eventually set off for our chosen route. There were 4 cycle routes ranging from 12 to 28 miles and one walking group doing 13 miles. We chose the route around Derwent side reservoir which was 24 miles. It was very hot reaching 28C and quite humid, so with the steep hills it was sometimes slow going. I wasn’t the only one walking at times. The views were wonderful but unfortunately, I didn’t get too many photos as, the camera was temperamental and stopped working for a while. However I did get one above the reservoir.
We had a lunch stop, with provided packed lunch at the visitor centre picnic site before continuing around the waterside. For me, the cycling became a little easier as the road was very undulating which meant that I could get speed up to get up the next rise and DH was kind enough to give me a push on some of the crests. He heard someone say” I can’t keep up with those two” which I laughed at later.
Leaving the reservoir, we continued on crossing the A68 and on towards Shottley Bridge. I was p!eased as I did manage the steep bank at that point, then we turned right and right again which was on a very minor road and it said 15% at the bottom but then got a lot steeper. Out of 11 of us, only 2 rode up the hill all the way. One was DH and the other a young lady in her 30’s. After that there was a long downhill stretch before heading up into the accommodation.
This is a photo of DH and Mark who led our group ride. It was lovely to arrive back to a drink and cakes which were enjoyed along with sitting in the sunshine.
The evening meal was lovely with seconds for all who wanted and then it was quiz time. Not a favourite of mine but you can’t have everything. A brilliant day with superb accommodation and food. Thank you Sustrans. 24 miles