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Welcoming Inn the cyclists

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New signs welcoming cyclists at the Lindisfarne Inn Photo: Claire Thorburn

The Lindisfarne Inn at Beal is wheeling out a new project to welcome cyclists which has been funded by the AONB Sustainable Development Fund

Last night, 44 cyclists free-wheeled it in to eat and drink with us here at The Lindisfarne Inn at Beal.

As with all our customers, it was a real pleasure to welcome them through our doors. But what made this group’s arrival all the more rewarding was that they’d been drawn inside as a direct result of a new cyclist welcome project we’re wheeling out with The Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership.

A couple from the group had called in earlier looking for help with a bike repair after spotting our distinctive new signs. Our team swung into action and we were able to link the cyclist up with a local bike repair business, plying them with welcome refreshments while their bike was fixed.

The pair were so impressed by the cycle-friendly reception they’d met and the knowledge of our staff – to say nothing of our good food with its range of cyclist friendly options, that they returned with their friends – all 44 of them!

Slap bang on the Sandstone Way mountain bike route that swoops and soars for 120-miles from Berwick to Hexham, The Lindisfarne Inn is but a short pedal from the scenic Coast and Castles Cycle Route. And, as the nearest mainland inn to Holy Island, we’re perfectly placed for a pedalist pit stop among riders waiting for the tide to turn so they can skim across the causeway to Lindisfarne.

We’ve seen a real increase in the numbers of cyclists passing our doorstep. From professional riders, keen amateurs and groups to enthusiastic families enjoying a hired bike ride together.

We try to be mindful of the needs of all of our guests, so they get maximum enjoyment from their visit and return to eat, drink, sleep and explore with us again and again – and recommend us to others.

But when it came to meeting the needs of pedal-powered people, we began to realise our limited facilities for riders were putting a spoke in the works of our ability to attract a greater share of the cycle tourism market.

A chance meeting with Graham Vickers of Cycle Northumberland left us pedaling ideas about what we could do to gear up our offering for cyclists. How we could build a reputation among the cycling community that The Lindisfarne Inn was a good place to stop off? A place where they could stay to get a head start on the Sandstone Way and a great place to fuel up and recharge knowing their bike was safe and secure while they rested.

With advice from gear-guru Graham, we were able to put in place simple measures to be more cyclist friendly and put together a wish-list of equipment that would ramp up our offer for cyclists whether they were staying overnight or stopping by.

We work closely with staff from the AONB Partnership on a range of projects and our cycle-friendly vision and the information we’d been able to glean from Graham and other insider experts was something we were particularly excited to share – not just with the AONB but with other tourism businesses so together, we could really put Northumberland on the UK map for cyclists.

Firmly on the AONB Partnership’s agenda, The Northumberland Coast AONB Management Plan states that cycling is an increasingly popular activity – we submitted an application for matched funding support from their Sustainable Development Fund to help bring our project to life.

Our application, which included providing the infrastructure and facilities that would allow cycle tourists to feel welcomed and at the same time enhance their visitor experience, was successful!

We’re now well on the way to completing the groundwork of our cycle project, which includes bike stands, ones that cyclists feel happy about securing their four-figure bikes too – who would have known there are so many different types of bike stands? A new Cycle Cabin for day visitors or overnight use, an array of useful equipment to make cyclist’s lives easier and signage so we can shout about our offer to passing riders.

But a big part of our vision is to help other businesses be ready, not caught out by the needs of cycle tourists.

We want to share what we’ve learned – and showcase the facilities we’ve put in place to other businesses, so they too, can gear up their cyclist offering.

If we can grow the number of cyclist-friendly facilities across Northumberland, whether you’re an accommodation provider, visitor attraction, shop or service provider, the word will get out that Northumberland is a place that goes all out to welcome cyclists.

We’re opening our doors with a cycle tourism showcase event for businesses and partners on Thursday May 12th. As well as helping share some simple and cost effective preparations to put in place to make cyclists feel welcome and keep their equipment safe and secure, our event will launch a new Cycle Toolkit for Businesses that’s been developed by Cycle Northumberland.

It’s completely free to attend and you’ll get the chance to have a good nose around our cycle friendly facilities. Plus you’ll be able to tuck into our new ‘Explore’ fare we’ve developed with help from 24-hour endurance mountain rider Rich Rothwell, including delicious homemade portables for cyclists – and indeed anyone on the go.  

The Lindisfarne Inn’s Welcoming Inn Cyclists free event takes place on Thursday May 12th at 11am, with show-arounds between 12 and 3pm. For catering purposes please confirm your attendance to claire.thorburn@impactpr-m.co.uk 

Martin Marshall

Martin is the General Manager at the Lindisfarne Inn

Download the event invitation 

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