Stats: 55 miles and 3650 feet of ascent
Cafes at: Kirkley Cycles, N1 Golf Centre, Elsdon, Wallington Hall, The Stables (just before Bolam lake, on right), Bolam Lake visitor centre.
A loop of the Simonside hills overlooking Rothbury and the Coquet valley, returning via Harwood forest.
1. Start at Kirkley Cycles (free parking available) and turn left. Keep going past the golf centre then turn right then next left, follow the road through the burn then take a right for Mitford, passing the pretty church on the left and castle ruins on the right.
2. At the top of the road turn left and continue until a right turn at the Dyke Neuk pub. Follow the road until a t-junction and turn right signed for Netherwitton where a left turn follows the river font to Ritton Bank, a fair climb up to meet the wind turbines (this climb features on the Virgin Money Cyclone sportive).
3. Carry on to Forrestburn Gate and turn right, then a short while later a left for Simonside. The climb ends with spectacular views of the town of Rothbury and the Coquet valley, then drops down through the tiny villages of Great and Little Tosson before meeting the river.
4. Take a left turn onto the B6341, and onto the climb of Bilsmoor (also featured on the VM Cyclone, this one is a timed climb during the sportive), then drop down into Elsdon.
5. At the village, veer left and over the bridge to begin the last big climb of Winter’s Gibbet, which starts off steep through several sharp bends then relents to a gentle straight rise to the gallows on the summit. This was used to hang criminals and cattle rustlers and takes its name from one William Winter who was hanged in 1791 for the murder of Margaret Crozier.
6. The road then rewards with a long arrow straight gradual downhill past Harwood forest. Turn right at the end and pass through the villages of Cambo and Wallington.
7. Turn left just before the bridge then a right and pass Bolam lake, turn left then next right through Bolam village and on to Whalton.
8. Turn left into the village then next right for Ogle.
9. Take a right in the village for Kirkley, pass the entrance for the Hall and zoological gardens and turn left to return to Kirkley Cycles on the left.
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