THE Olympic torch relay will take in Northumberland’s countryside and straddle Tyneside’s coastline when it passes through the region next summer.
Thousands of sports fans will get the opportunity to see the flame when it is carried through the North East in June.
Details of the route were confirmed today by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). On parts of the journey the torch will be carried by horseback, bicycle, tram and steam train. In Newcastle the flame will be zip-wired from the Tyne Bridge on to the Quayside.
It will pass through 40 of the region’s villages, towns and cities on its journey. The flame will be lit in Olympia in Greece in May before being flown to the UK by British Airways. The 70-day relay will start at Land’s End, Cornwall, on May 19.
The torch will visit parts of Northumberland, Tyneside, Durham and Sunderland.
Organisers said the torch will go through 1,018 villages, towns and cities and will be within an hour’s journey of 95% of the UK population. It will be carried by 8,000 torchbearers.
LOCOG chairman Lord Coe said: “I’m delighted that the Olympic torch relay will take the 2012 Games to almost every corner of the UK and that we have achieved our ambition to take the flame to within an hour’s journey of 95% of the population.
“Now everyone is invited to plan their welcome and find out where they can go to be part of this historic occasion.”
The Tyne Bridge zip-slide event in Newcastle will take place on Friday, June 15.
Coun Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle Council, said: “This is a thrilling opportunity for the city to be a part of Olympic history and in so doing inspire a generation of young people.
“Newcastle will welcome the torch relay in their thousands and there could be no more poignant backdrop for the flame than the Tyne Bridge, which is an enduring symbol of our people and our region.”
Coun Neil Bradbury, executive member for culture at Northumberland County Council said: “Over the years, many of us have watched on television as the Olympic torch relay has passed through countries and communities across the globe. Now, incredibly, it is coming right through the heart of Northumberland and will shine the world spotlight on the special people and places in our county.
“The Olympic flame will not be coming this way again in our lifetime. It is cliché but it is true, this really is a once in a life time opportunity for us all and I am sure that Northumberland residents will join together to show their support for the Olympics and to be a part of this exciting and memorable experience.”
Specific street-by-street details of the route will be announced next year. Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, said he hoped people would take part in the excitement of the relay is it passed through their area.
Newcastle’s St James’ Park is one of the stadiums that will host games in the Olympic football tournament. Nine matches will be played in July and early August including a men’s quarter-final.