Take an area with more sheep than people, a huge military range next door, some of the steepest, most remote, private terrain in England add 500 people, a barn, cinema screen, and bands and you end up with a one-off experience - The Naughty Northumbrian.
A name and idea conjured up by Tommy Wilkinson, legendary trails built by Carl Davison and a touch of high hill romance added by Barry Kemp, the Naughty Northumbrian is fast becoming one of the iconic UK events.
Held in the Northumberland national park, the event takes in 3 steep, technical forested stages and 3 open moorland stages. With 6000ft of ascending, and 4500 ft of total descending the loop is on the bigger side of the spectrum.
Most riders arrived on Friday evening to enjoy a few ales from Wylam Beer co and take in the 14ft cinema screen with films from Stoked on MS (The raffle raised 300 for the charity) and a full showing of the Gamble film keeping the spirits and stoke high.
Saturday practice was a beautiful day - dry, lots of sunshine but some testing liaisons pushed riders physically, and with rain forecast for the Sunday we made the decision to cancel the day's longest stage - the 500m high point of the route. While this took off about 4 minutes of timed descending, the majority of riders were pleased with the decision to come the following day! With the stunning views, the stage was awesome on Saturday, but the trade off for such height is big exposure to the elements.
The forested stages are now legendary to those in the know, and with a new trail created over winter, many were commenting that stage 4 on Saturday was the best Enduro event trail they'd ever been on.
With many tired legs returning to the beer barn on Saturday evening for some live music and DJ'ing, the swim spot and rock jumps into the Coquet saw plenty of action, along with the BeTherpies massage tent that eased plenty of aching muscles!
Come Sunday, riders were greeted to weather better than forecast and the forested trails remained dry throughout thanks to the dense cover that Kidland provides. As time went on, the weather did get worse - so those that had a few beers on the nighttime and chose a late start slot got the worse weather conditions.
Most riders were here to beat their mates but the entry list included names like Chris Hutchens, Liam Moynihan, Scott Mears, Wes Fife, Liam Little, James Purvis and Louise Ferguson.
Come the end of the race James Purvis put in a ride that we all knew he was capable of, smashing the field by 30 seconds while Scotty Mears and Chris Hutchens took 2nd and 3rd a mere .4 apart! Louise Ferguson took control of the women proceedings by riding smooth, light and fast across the stages to take the win from Jessie MayMorgan and Kirsty Macphee.
With all said and done, the Coquet Valley made sure that the Naughty lived up to its name and provided a chilled out, mini-festival vibe in a unique location.
We'll be back for more next year, so keep an eye out for dates and entries soon!