NCR1

On Tuesday I finished a four day ride from Carlisle to Bellingham to Wooler then on to Berwick where I turned South and stopped at Belford and finished up with a 78 miler to Newcastle. Most of the time I followed NCR’s and most were well way marked and in good order, though I did avoid a stretch of NCR 68 near Wooler, which I knew would be grotty. But I was caught out when I started to follow NCR 1 from Berwick and it degenerated in to a footpath that is just not suitable for a heavily loaded road bike and follows a very dangerous (in my opinion) cliff top route. This is not the first time I have come across problems with NCR 1. Between Dover and London it follows some very dubious tracks. My main point here is: How can we call NCR1 an all-purpose cycling route, when a lot of it is only suitable for mountain bkes? Maybe it is time to re-route large stretches of this NCR.
 

suffolkcindy

Active Member
I think this is and has always been a hot topic in sustrans- whether only smooth surfaces are suitable. Not all sustrans routes are suitable for fully loaded touring all year round. They are not cycle paths. Some flood for example. There are usually updated alternatives on sustrans website...
 
I dont mind rough surfaces or even some flooding but I dont like field foot paths been way marked as cycle tracks and NCR 1is a cycle track or rather cycle route. To take it along an un fenced cliff top is wrong.
 

byegad

Legendary Member
Location
NE England
One of the reasons I left Sustrans.

The section you mean, across the soggy field just North of Beal was attempted by a group of us a few years ago. Those of us on recumbent trikes had, err, the polite termis issues with getting across.

Sustrans definitely does not supply fit for purpose routes in all cases. In my opinion they are taking money under false pretences.
 

snorri

Legendary Member
Sustrans definitely does not supply fit for purpose routes in all cases. In my opinion they are taking money under false pretences.
I agree the route surface at that section was pretty awful, but the alternative when I was there was to cycle the A1 so I chose the lesser of two evils, the NCN.
The cliffs did not seem to present any great danger, should we really be calling for the fencing of natural hazards in the open countryside?
Why take out your ire on Sustrans, is it not the responsibility of government to provide transport links suitable for use by all users? Sustrans are merely trying to fill the gaps, not always completely successfully I would agree.
 

Danny

Legendary Member
Location
York
One of the reasons I left Sustrans.

The section you mean, across the soggy field just North of Beal was attempted by a group of us a few years ago. Those of us on recumbent trikes had, err, the polite termis issues with getting across.

Sustrans definitely does not supply fit for purpose routes in all cases. In my opinion they are taking money under false pretences.
For the most part Sustrans do not actually supply or build routes, they have to negotiate rights of way across other people's land, which I assume is what has happened in this instance.

I agree the surface was pretty crap, but when I did it you could still ride along most of it, albeit slowly.

And as Snorri says the nearest alternative road is very busy.
 

Danny

Legendary Member
Location
York
I dont mind rough surfaces or even some flooding but I dont like field foot paths been way marked as cycle tracks and NCR 1is a cycle track or rather cycle route. To take it along an un fenced cliff top is wrong.
It was a great view and I never felt in danger.
 
As a walker, I would love the cliff top path, as a cyclist I feel it is not suitable and if the weather had been bad or the wind gusting I would have certainly been off and pushing. Sustran seem to have a reputation for putting backs up with a take it or leave it attitude.
 

snorri

Legendary Member
Sustran seem to have a reputation for putting backs up with a take it or leave it attitude.
Sustrans are a popular whipping boy for failings of local authorities and the trunk road authority. It can be interesting to investigate just who is actually responsible for shortcomings on the NCN.;)
 
Sustrans are a popular whipping boy for failings of local authorities and the trunk road authority. It can be interesting to investigate just who is actually responsible for shortcomings on the NCN.;)

But far less fun?

Having worked on getting proper cycle paths put in it is surprisingly difficult.

We had one stretch of NCN2 where a single house owner objected vehemently to cycles using the pavement outside his house that he organised a local campaign.

The result was for about three years a gap at this point..... Absolutely nowt to do with Sustrans!

Mind you we got our own back as several cars used to park on the pavement and grass verge.... we simply started complaining about the safety issues of his parking his car on the pavement..... it is now bollarded and double yellow lined!
 

byegad

Legendary Member
Location
NE England
For the most part Sustrans do not actually supply or build routes, they have to negotiate rights of way across other people's land, which I assume is what has happened in this instance.

I agree the surface was pretty crap, but when I did it you could still ride along most of it, albeit slowly.

And as Snorri says the nearest alternative road is very busy.
I know this, after all I was a Ranger for a number of years. However, getting right of way across a boggy field, sticking up a couple of signs and calling it a National Route is not enough. How can a stranger to an area know if the route ahaead is suitable for a bike with panniers, or a tandem, or a trike? They can't! This makes the NCN not fit for purpose.

As for alternatives, they exist, Longridge Towers is close to the A1 near Berwick and Bike Right is there every Easter. We ride South alongside the A1 down side roads, of which there are many. Sadly Sustrans preferred a boggy field to tarmac.
 

Danny

Legendary Member
Location
York
I know this, after all I was a Ranger for a number of years. However, getting right of way across a boggy field, sticking up a couple of signs and calling it a National Route is not enough. How can a stranger to an area know if the route ahaead is suitable for a bike with panniers, or a tandem, or a trike? They can't! This makes the NCN not fit for purpose.

As for alternatives, they exist, Longridge Towers is close to the A1 near Berwick and Bike Right is there every Easter. We ride South alongside the A1 down side roads, of which there are many. Sadly Sustrans preferred a boggy field to tarmac.
Fair point.

I don't actually understand why Sustrans don't at least suggest an alternative, as they do on other parts of the national cycle network. And they could make it clearer on the map that this section is a pure dirt track which can get boggy in wet weather.

As it happens when I rode this section the weather was good so the track was mostly ridable. IIRC correctly this biggest problem was the amount of loose sand in some places.
 

Danny

Legendary Member
Location
York
Sustran seem to have a reputation for putting backs up with a take it or leave it attitude.
I think you are being unfair. Most of the NCN is perfectly ridable and is happily used by tens of thousands of cyclists every year. Only a small percentage (less than 1% IME) consists of unsuitable stretches like this, and I think most people are prepared to accept that Sustrans are not going to get everything right.

Sustrans maps usually do highlight where there is a problem with a particular stretch of route, and I am not sure why they have not done so here.
 

P.H

Über Member
If it was my commute I wouldn't consider it practical. As a leisure route, I'm happy to use it, either slowly or occasionally getting off to push. IMO on that section, the views make up for any shortcomings. Sorry, but not all of us want tarmac and fencing. I understand in an urban area that a route primarily designed for utility cycling has to be fit for that purpose, but I feel for leisure routes different standards are acceptable.
As well as sustrans tracks I'll often use other off road routes that cyclists have a right to, I've come across a few of these where it hasn't been possible to push a bike. You don't hear such a fuss about these, yet cyclists have a right of way.
 
Top Bottom