The last of my Northumberland "credited" checkpoints completed.
I've been to Whittingham before, hence the "credit" I had been given on this BCQ checkpoint, but it was good to formally close this off, along with Charlotte collecting the checkpoint. We had this route planned for some time but had been waiting for suitable weather. A sunny but breezy day met the criteria so we drove to a car park just to the west of Rothbury to start our ride.
Headed west to Thropton and then turned into the lanes through Snitter towards Netherton. We didn't expect the sound of a large vehicle behind us to be a Routemaster bus and we got a wave from the "conductor" as the bus crawled past us up a hill. As we approached Netherton we could hear the sound of bagpipes and it turned out it was the Rothbury Pipe band's World Tour of the Coquet Valley - by Routemaster bus of course! We watched them play one tune outside the Star Inn before continuing on our way through Alnham and into the Aln Valley.
Heavy rain in recent days lead to flooded roads in a couple of places, but all passable with care. I had ridden this stretch of the route on the Sandstone Way in 2016, but we then continued along the road where the Sandstone Way climbs over the moors to Ingram. Along quiet country lanes we avoided a passing shower before happening on a new cafe in the village of Branton (the Bosk cafe) where we decided to stop for lunch instead of our intended cafe in Ingram. Their menu was quite limited but they were happy to make us bacon rolls which were great.
A few spots of rain threatened after lunch but we stayed dry and the sun returned. The footbridge over the River Breamish was long and narrow but we successfully negotiated it and made out way to Ingram to take a look at the church.
Retracing our route to Branton we rode east to Powburn and then along lanes around the Hedgeley Estate and Shawdon Hall. Approaching the A697 we suffered a pinch flat on the rear tyre, but all changed quite quickly and back on track to Whittingham. We collected the checkpoint in the centre of the village and then cycled up a hill to check out the possibility of tea and cake at the Whittingham show. It was a bigger event than we had expected and despite a good offer of reduced entry fee we decided to continue on our way.
From Whittingham to Thropton it is quite hilly, and we appreciated the shelter of trees protecting us from the rising headwind. Great views of the Cheviot Hills to our right before descending Cartington Hill to Thropton and then straight into Rothbury for tea at the Sun Kitchen before pedalling back to the car. A lovely ride in a beautiful and peaceful part of the country.