The Cycling Campaign this week received a query from a resident of Newton Aycliffe, asking about a “safe and pleasant” cycle route for families to use between the two towns. As this straddles two local authority areas, this is something that they would have to tackle through cooperation. But always wanting to short circuit such difficulties, we have decided to look at the problem ourselves.
Above is the section of the Darlington Cycle Route map concerned – green routes are labelled “traffic free path”, brown “rough bridleway”. The dotted green lines along the A167 from the motorway to the White Horse in Harrowgate Hill signify “walk your bike”, an interesting concept for a cycle route map.
The Campaign will be sending out two members shortly to rekki the area. Reports to follow. Meanwhile, any on the ground experience from cyclists would be welcome on this blog.
All the bridleways are non-starters as far as practical cycle routes go. The lane to the west of the A167 (Patches Lane) is ok in the drier months but to be avoided at all costs through the winter, even when on a MTB ride. The bridleways to the east of the A167 are too out of the way, of too rough, to be of practical use.
I would use the road past Brafferton to avoid the motorway junction, to get me to Coatham Mundeville. From there I’d ride on the pavement until I reached the start of the 30 limit near the White Horse, where I would rejoin the road.
The A167 from Coatham Mundeville to the White Horse does have a painted hard shoulder, which could be used as a cycle lane, but it disapears at pinch points and isn’t particularly wide. The pavement is very wide, and has no houses which open directly onto it; it also has very little foot traffic on it. I’m not a huge fan of pavement cycling, but this is one I’d happily ride on.
I have had stuff thrown at me from passing cars when riding along this road, so take care.
Of course, once you rejoin the road at the 30 limit, you still have the right-hand-lane-to-go-straight-on problem at the roundabout to cope with…
Thanks for that Mike. We went out today, and our experiences more or less confirm your ideas.
Patches Lane is appalling, and really shouldn’t be classed as a cycle route at all, not to mention Whessoe Road on the way there. Even if it were developed, it would feel unsafe for many cyclists, due to its remoteness.
The pavement on the east side of the A167 is by far the most practical route and, as you will see shortly from the video we took, strangely and expensively paved as you approach the built up area.
Our only disagreement would be not to cycle past Brafferton – it’s ridiculously up and down without gaining any altitude either way, a considerable detour (unless you want to stop for a pub lunch as we did), and the alternative has a shared cycle/foot path all the way to the motorway roundabout on the Newton Aycliffe side (south side of road) which has a good surface. Crossing the motorway is therefore not as difficult as it might seem.