Peter Jackson column

No doubt, when the statistics are in, this will prove to have been a glorious summer for British tourism.

No doubt, when the statistics are in, this will prove to have been a glorious summer for British tourism.

There's nothing like good weather to make us appreciate the attractions on our own doorstep.

And I was uncharacteristically lucky in choosing this summer for a week's cycling tour of the region.

Blue skies and blazing sun revealed the full magnificence of the varied landscape of our circular tour.

We went from Durham to Gateshead, from there to Tynemouth, then up the coast to Berwick, before returning via Alwinton, up the Coquet Valley and past Byrness to Bellingham, then through the Wark Forest and up the South Tyne to Alston, for the last leg, down the C2C, to home.

The North-East is truly wonderful cycling country, criss-crossed by a number of Sustrans traffic-free, or nearly traffic-free, routes.

This on its own, however, is not enough to attract significant numbers of cycling tourists to our region.

More than most, the tourism industry demands a high level of dedication to service if it is to thrive.

I'm happy to report that here, at least on the evidence of last week, the region performs strongly.

I quote one spectacular example.

As we approached Alwinton on Day Four, a large part of my front brake fell off and my wife got a puncture.

The tube of gunge I had been sold on the promise that it was good for a trouble-free temporary puncture repair, only succeeded in clogging up and breaking the bicycle pump.

This I reflected, as I rode ahead to our accommodation, at the Rose and Thistle in Alwinton, looked like the end of the holiday.

But the proprietor Gareth returned with me in his 4x4, picked up my wife and bike and, being a former engineer, easily repaired the puncture, before cannibalising his own bike for parts to fix my brake. Then he provided us with a replacement pump.

In happier mood, I reflected again, over my steak and ale pie, seated in the apple orchard and watching the sun beginning to sink gloriously over the Cheviots, that this is what makes the North-East a truly great holiday destination.

It is not only a question of Passionate People and Passionate Places, but people who are passionate about service.

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