Exploring the North Pennines with ease
Exploring the hills and dales of the North Pennines on two wheels could take a little less effort than usual following the launch of a new green initiative that will boost eco travel in more ways than one.
Thanks to a collaboration between several funders, the North Pennines Electric Bike Network hopes to ease both effort and energy consumption by offering an alternative way to travel through the countryside.
A fleet of 15 bikes are now available to hire from several locations, with more planned for the rest of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty next year.
Two programmes have come together to invest in this project. The North Pennines AONB Partnership’s Allen Valleys Landscape Partnership Scheme and Northern Lands, a programme which aims to attract 30,000 more visitors to the North East’s Protected Landscapes.
Make the most of the area
Andy Lees, Manager of Allen Valleys Landscape Partnership Scheme, which is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, said he hopes assisted pedal power will enable more people to get on their bikes and make the most of what the area has to offer.
“You can’t really get the best out of this place if you’re stuck inside a car. To make the most of this beautiful landscape you need the full experience and that includes the sound of the birds, the smell from our roadside wildflowers and the wind in your face.
“And although a regular bike ride through this hilly terrain can leave you feeling exhilarated, it can also leave you exhausted. It’s often a head down, pedal hard type of journey. Electric bikes give you the best of both worlds with the ability to sit back and enjoy the ride and, most importantly, the views.”
It is hoped that the network will benefit both visitors and locals, by making what can often seem a daunting ride into a more leisurely activity.
Powered by a battery that is concealed in a box underneath the saddle, the bikes can travel up to 20 miles an hour. The battery will last between 25 and 50 miles, depending on wind, hills and the fitness of the rider and can be charged fully in 3 or 4 hours overnight. Stopping at a pub or café for refreshment will also extend your battery life, as many of the local establishments will provide free battery charging while you eat or drink to give you several extra miles.
Praise for collaborative working
Melanie Sensicle, Chief Executive of Visit County Durham, said: “This is project is a testament to the power of collaborative working. Our protected landscapes are some of our most important assets and we want visitors to discover and enjoy them. These electric bikes will enable them to do so with ease.”
But while the electric bike is a far easier machine to handle than its pedal powered counterpart, it does take a degree of effort from the rider.
Making biking a breeze
Andy said: “It’s not solely powered by the battery, you do need to make some effort but compared to my regular bike it’s a breeze and noticeably takes the strain out of uphill rides. When I was trying out one of the bikes I passed a couple of road cyclists, who were quite rightly struggling with our famous North Pennines hills.
“I did feel a bit guilty about zipping past them but I soon got over it when I got home in record time with my legs still feeling like they belonged to me.”
Bikes are available for hire from The Hemmel Café in Allenheads, Northumberland, Ninebanks Youth Hostel in Mohope, Northumberland and North Pennines Cycles in Nenthead, Cumbria.
Other hire points opening very soon include the Market Place in Allendale and South Tynedale Railway in Alston. Introductory hire charges are set at £25 for 24 hours/whole day or £15 for a half day and roadside assistance is included in the unlikely event of the bike breaking down.
To book a bike, or for more information about hire, just call The Hemmel Café on 01434 685 568, Ninebanks Youth Hostel on 01434 345288 and North Pennines Cycles on 01434 381324.
Released: 11 June 2014