County has right balance of attractions, experts say

The first cycling 'hubs' in the UK are to be created in the North East, with a big push to integrate networks and tourist attractions that might appeal to cyclists.

Northumberland will be the host county, making the most of its natural beauty and topographical variety, and linking shops, B&Bs, pubs and hotels so they can make the most of an influx of cycling tourists.

The scheme, which will be carried out over the next 18 months once details have been finalised, was researched by experts from the International Centre for Responsible Tourism (ICRT) at Leeds Metropolitan University.

It is hoped the work will increase tourism and profits for small businesses as well as increase the number of cycle routes.

There will also be support services developed, such as cycle hire and repair shops.

The whole venture will be built around two cycling ‘hubs’ of Haltwhistle and Wooler which will become the focal points.

Other market towns will then join in which will, hope the team behind the project, establish Northumberland as one of the UK’s leading cycling destinations.

Project leader  Anna Waddilove said: “It’s about encouraging visitors to use Haltwhistle as their base and centre for their holiday, hopefully trying to attract them to stay. At the moment we’ve got cyclists arriving quite late in the evening, leaving first thing in the morning and not spending much.

“So while the cycling is important, the real focus is including local businesses and attractions."