Thursday, 11 July 2013

Sustrans FestiVol Newcastle 2013

I had a  smooth 3 hour journey by train to Newcastle.  A welcome party at the station to meet us all.

Then a lovely 11.2 mile ride to our accommodation located in the Derwent Valley, at the National Trust’s Gibside estate.   The estate and grounds were beautiful, full of interesting wildlife such as  Red Kites, Deer, Swallows.  We had the freedom to roam and explore extensively.  However, the rule of NO CYCLING! on site,  made exploring in a short space of time a bit difficult.

We had various types of accommodation to choose from either indoor or outdoor.   I opted for a Westwood Yurt.   Despite the 10 min up hill walk from the main campsite to access the Yurts.  I was really pleased that I chose this option for my accommodation.   They were really very well equipped, comfortable and cosy.  We had fabulous weather, so I had no excuse to light the wood burning stove :(  

60 Sustrans volunteers arrived by the end of the evening. Once we were settled, we had an option to choose our activities for the next 3 days.  Our options were rides and walks of varying degrees of difficulty ranging from 13 - 60 miles per day.

We had 3 days of sunshine, sight seeing, rambling & riding.  We mainly used all off road and traffic free routes across Newcastle including National cycles routes 7,14 and 72, covering anything between 13 and 60 miles per day.   I stuck to the mid range distances of 25-30 miles per day.  

I quite enjoyed the cycling and the cultural city tours that we took, visiting, Millennium Bridge Gateshead, The Sage Gateshead, and St. Nicholas' Cathedral, Newcastle, and last but not least, Wylam with the beautiful Wylam Railway Bridge.   The design of this bridge was also later used for Tyne Bridge & Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Gateshead Millennium Bridge
Charles Earl Grey Monument

Our evenings were taken up doing various on site activities including listening to  live music performances, Kaylee Dancing, themed quiz sessions , networking and sharing ideas.  Many were inspired to do more Volunteer activities on their return home.

Birmingham & West midlands  based Volunteers
60 Sustrans Volunteer's gathered in their FestiVol 2013 yellow jerseys

Our last evening was spent modelling plaster-cine into our something that represented what FestiVol meant to us.

Healing Hands & Tea by Michelle
Beer & Bridges Artist unknown


Yurt, Gurt & Showers by Bonnie & Frank


Joining & Sharing by Kenny 
Happiness on Wheels by Donna

I guess I will be remaining in my day job for the foreseeable future

FestiVol Fun - Artist Unknown

Many thanks to the Sustrans staff , Volunteer Rangers and  Ride leaders  for organising the whole event and activities. You all did a fantastic job, and your hard work and dedication was much appreciated by many.  I hope you are able to gather sufficient interest to warrent organising FestiVol 2014. 

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