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BORDERLANDS

TET UK BORDERLANDS ROUTE: A 300 PLUS MILE ROUTE

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TET: Trans European Trail. A 51000km GPX route that takes in as many off road trails around Europe as possible. It is an organic beast that is regularly updated by those riding the routes.
TET UK Borderlands: A 300 plus mile route that starts in Newcastle Upon Tyne, heads north taking in Holy Island, across to Kelso on the Scottish border, then south across the moorlands.

Our cunning plan was to put our bikes in the van, stay in a camping barn on a farm and ride out for three days trail riding following the Borderland route. The farm is near the town of Hexham, west of Newcastle. There were three of us, Mark and I on our diminutive but very functional Honda CRF 230’s 2004 ish. In contrast, Milky was on his bang up to date KTM 790.

The farm was close to Hadrian’s Wall. In my ignorance I assumed that the wall was close to the border, but it seems the best part of Northumberland is between the remains of the old border and the current one. Should the next vote go in favour of independence there may be a territorial dispute to deal with. It may also explain the Northumberland county flags that fly prominently from homes, farms and official buildings.

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Day One
The first day had us heading back towards Newcastle, where we picked the trail up at Ponteland. It led us north, taking in trails and tracks, some of which led down to the sea and along trails next to the coast. The route took us as far north as the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, which is accessed via a causeway so checking the times of the tide is a good idea. Arriving there late in the afternoon, we were surprised at how many people were visiting, but with many people staying in the UK for their holidays it was to be expected. The island is home to Lindisfarne Abbey, with its history dating back to 635 AD, when St Aidan arrived and set up a monastery.

We noticed that Coldstream is not too far west of our route, so we headed there just to say we’d been there and then headed south on the road, as time was getting on and there were 60 plus miles between us and the farm. Approaching Kelso, the sky very quickly became as dark as the gates of hell! For a few brief moments we imagined that we had skirted the inevitable rain, but it wasn’t long before the deluge descended upon us. Of course we have been experiencing many of these downpours this summer and it is surprising just how quickly roads become overwhelmed.
Fortunately we were able to ride through the rain fairly quickly as we headed to the border. It wasn’t long before the sky cleared, leaving us a little cold and with damp crotches! The road wove between the high moors, which I knew we would be riding over the next day and was looking forward to. By the time we reached our farm and base camp, we had covered nigh 250 miles, which is a fair stint on a CRF 230.

Day Two
We were able to pick up the trail right outside the farm gate. On the second day we were heading north to the high moors in the wrong direction so to speak. Just about all the trails were accessed via farms and farm gates. I can’t tell you how many gates we opened and closed over the day. Even when we were heading up on the higher moors there were gates and then more gates!
The scenery and the views are wonderful up there, but the riding is not so great because of the constant stopping and starting. Of course the gates are essential for keeping the sheep and cattle where they need to be. It is just selfishly boring from our point of view. As the day wore on I wondered if we might give up on the last day of the trail and head to the North York Moors, where we have ridden before. The idea was discussed but in the meantime, Milky had put a post up on his social media and one of the guys who had ridden the trail previously got back. He said the last part of the trail - the south westerly portion - was more open and free flowing. Also the route leads on to the North Pennine Trail, which was deemed to be more interesting.

Our contact proved to be right on the money. Whilst not being too dramatic, the trails were open and we all got into a bit of a rhythm. Much more enjoyable when we reached the North Pennine Trail and at the start of the first significant trail.
Before the start of the next moor we were held up whilst a flock of sheep were driven down the lane we were on. Two sheep dogs appeared to be doing the hard work, whilst the farming family followed on quads. The Mum stopped and asked Milky if we were doing the trail and gave a knowing smile when he said yes. It was a fairly steep climb with one or two million stones and rocks.

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It certainly got the heart beating a little faster.
We stopped for s splendid lunch in a community café in Nenthead. The building is a refurbished church with a gallery that is worth a stop if passing. Outside there was a poster on a wall.

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Alston Moor is the town up the road. It is served by four local emergency medical technicians that operate an ambulance service in an 80 sq mile area. The area ambulance service intend to cut this and replace it with a trained non-professional first responder. Not surprisingly, the local population are less than impressed.

Day Three
And so the day passed riding the byways and moors in Northumberland, Cumbria and County Durham. A number of the trails proved to be both technical and nadgery, with several water crossings which can be challenging.
I have recently started using the petite Honda 230 from my KTM 640 and am truly appreciating that less can be more, particularly when the going gets tough. The obvious downside being the lack of power on the road sections.

Heavy dark clouds formed in the west and looked to head our way so we turned tail and headed back along the trail we had done earlier. It is always good to do them in both directions. What is easy one way is not the other and vice versa. We out ran the rain which did not arrive until the early hours. It appears the Pennines held it up. A friend I work with was on a cycle ride through the Lake District and got well and truly soaked. I sympathised.

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We had three good days riding. Not sure I would do the first two days again, but it is a lovely and interesting area to spend some time in.
If you are thinking of visiting the area, I can recommend staying at Greencarts Camping and Bunkhouse.

So – a good motorcycle time was had by all. Have you been on these trails or anywhere of interest this summer? Let us know at news@wemoto.com or drop us a message on Facebook.

Posted by Dave Newman
for Wemoto News on 19 August 2021 in Features

Edited By: Denisa Orbulescu

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