C2C - Route 7
From Start: 197km (123m) | From Finish: 19km (12m)
Sunderland Centre 18km (11m)
You are riding along the Consett & Sunderland Railway path. It is easy to follow. Just watch out for all those barriers, designed to stop motorbikes and trail bike enthusiasts from abusing the route.
You will soon be passing the outskirts of Washington, where the route turns right to go through the pleasant James Steel Park and briefly onto the banks of the Wear.
The path now passes the entrance to the Washington Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Centre and then alongside the A1231.
The last few miles are amongst the best on the route, a leafy doddle through the River Wear Trail. You will cycle under the Queen Victoria Viaduct, the National Glass Centre which celebrates 1300 years of glassmaking in Sunderland.
Cestria Cycles 11 Ashfield Terrace - 0191 388 7535 C2C Features: the Penshaw Monument, a look-alike Doric Temple dedicated to Theseus, was built in memory of John George Lambton, the 1st Earl of Durham.
About the town
Chester-le-Street is the oldest town in County Durham, and was once a Roman settlement. On your way past (though you may wish to stop off!) admire the transformed transformers. These are great steel monoliths sculpted from reclaimed scraps which have assumed iconic status, and are now known as the Stanley Sphinxes.
Don't forget to look at the metal cows near Beamish. Created by Sally Matthews, they are surprisingly graceful as they stand beside the path, turning grass into rust.
There's also King Coal* by artist David Kemp**, next to the abandoned railway line at Pelton Fell. This was built of stone from the dismantled Consett railway station bridge and bricks from old kilns, while British Coal provided the crown. It was put together by a stonemason with local volunteers and was, by sheer coincidence, finished on October 15 1992 - the very day of the announcement of the closure of the last pits in Durham's once booming coalfields.
The Washington Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre is very near the route. This 100-acre waterfowl park designed by Peter Scott has a huge number of bird species and is visited by several mammals, including the scarce water vole.
This is where the mythical Lambton Worm resides. The legend runs that a young Lambton lad, fishing in the river against all advice, caught a small worm. In disgust he threw it into a nearby well and went off to fight in the Crusades.
On his return the "worm" had grown into a dragon which ravaged the countryside. A witch agreed to slay the beast on condition that Lambton kill the first living thing he met. Unfortunately it was his father, who of course he spared, and so failed to fulfill his side of the bargain, thus nine generations of Lambtons were condemned to meet untimely ends. A cheerful tale!
On the way you pass Washington village, the ancestral home of George Washington, winner of the American War of Independence and America's first President and Founding Father. Curiously, the start point of Whitehaven is where his grandparents had lived.
Places of Interest
The Washington Wetlands Trust. 100 acres of magnificent parkland, ponds and hides. 0191 416 5454.
Where to Eat and Drink
The Wheatsheaf Pelaw Grange 0191 388 3104
The Barley Mow Browns Buildings 0191 410 4504