This is a mixed route of road and forest track passing by the Roman fort at Vindolanda and crossing Hadrian's Wall at Peel Crag. It's not desperately long but it is quite undulating so there's a fair bit of height gained and lost. It certainly seemed like we gained more than we lost...but there was a biting headwind and we were breaking ice on the forest track...
Fourstones is about 4 miles NW of Hexham. There are a couple of pubs and a Post Office. Take the road heading W to pass through Newbrough. It climbs steadily for the next few miles until the gradient eases and you're in open country with views of Housesteads over to your R. Grindon Lough is a nature reserve and the lake itself doesn't appear to have any outflow - a tad strange.
As the road starts to go downhill you can see the layout of Vindolanda straight ahead. Look out for a R turn which takes you steeply down to the E entrance of the fort. The route now passes to the R of some farm buildings going steeply up, though only for a short distance. The W entrance is up on your L by a car park.
In a mile you'll reach a T junction. Turn R and you're now actually in the Northumberland National Park. There's a Visitor Centre on the L just before the main road. The Twice Brewed Inn is a couple of hundred yards along to your L if you fancy a detour, but our route crosses the road going up towards Steel Rigg. It's a bit of a haul but when you reach Hadrian's Wall there are some good views of Peel Crag and Crag Lough over to your R. Take a stroll along the wall if you've time.
The route continues, uphill in parts, before heading down to a T junction. Turn R to head N. When you pass a farm called Edges Green there's just a mile before the road ends and the forest track begins just at a gate.
Some of the ruts are just at that depth to catch your pedals and when it's wet, riding in between them is just a little on the soft side. It improves after a couple of miles, though, and is now a fairly hard surface all the way to Whygate where you rejoin the road.
Take a R turn to head uphill throught the trees and after a mile or so you emerge from them into more open country. This is Broadpool Common and offers reasonably relaxed riding for a while. Pass Ravensheugh Crags on your R and soon you'll be able to enjoy the roll downhill to meet the B6320.
Turn R onto the main road but only for half a mile or so. Look for a R turn signed for Fourstones. It's a bit of a slog in parts but once you get to the crossroads at Milecastle 29 it's pretty well all downhill back into Fourstones.
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