Judgling from a very muddy survey expedition today, Sustrans have a lot of work on to link [[Cramlington]] to Bedlington via the old Humford Mill stepping stones over the River Blyth.
The project publicity concentrates on the exciting river crossing, but the section to the South leading to East Hartford will be the real challenge.
The first section starts out in a plantation NE of Hartford. Dropping down a flight of wooden steps, the path lowers down to the flood level of a small river and turns into a muddy swamp.
Heavy rains must swell the 1m wide stream considerably as man-made rubbish hangs in scrubby trees. A small metal bridge crosses the water and the adventure proper starts. The path hugs the side of a V-shaped dean cut by water and the sound of the flow is never far away.
The Council improved the path many years ago with wooden posts forming steps up the steep valley side and small foot bridges crossing drainage pipes. Nature has worked unseen on these foreign structures and most are rotten.
Several large trees now lie across the wet path adding to the obstacle course of briars and muddy scrub. In one spot, a topped trees have formed a considerable dam and forced the water to eat away at the bank path.
Once through the dean, the much larger River Blyth takes control of the terrain and things level out. 18 stepping stones take you across to Humford Mill and on to the first bit of tarmac. This is an ideal cycling spot, with a car park and a quiet road leading up hill to St Cuthberts Church in Bedlington main street.
A information board proclaims this area as Bedlington Country Park, and if Sustrans can get through the mud, fallen trees and scrub, this will be a great cycle route. It avoids both Plessey and Bedlington bridges which have steep hills with narrow bridges that cars have trouble staying on, making cycling rather dangerous.