|From:||Low Eighton (NZ268575)|
|Distance:||4.1 miles (6.6 km)|
|Meets:||A1, A167, B1288, B1426, A167|
|Route outline (key)|
The B1296, which mostly consists of 'Old Durham Road' and 'Sheriff Hill', is, as the name hints at, the old route from Gateshead to Durham, and as such the old route of the Great North Road. However, this particular route was bypassed long before classifications were brought in, in 1922, so this was never the A1; however, it is just as significant as the route which eventually took the A1 classification, which itself is now the A167 through Low Fell.
The road begins at a large roundabout junction with the A1, usually referred to as the Angel of the North junction.
This is where three routes of the A1/Great North road meet. The oldest is our route, although this has been realigned to meet the A1 roundabout; there is the A167, which is the old A1 through Low Fell and eventually across the Tyne Bridge; then of course we have the current overloaded A1 Gateshead Western Bypass which flies over the top.
We follow the road up Long Bank, with the old road (now buried under the A1) quickly joining us from the right, now gated off and the tarmac ripped up. We then take a brief diversion outside the Co-op supermarket to bypass the centre of Wrekenton. The road then reaches traffic lights where a spur continues ahead to join the B1288 whilst the mainline TOTSOs left and then the road runs in a fairly straight line past playing fields before it climbs up to the top of Beacon Lough.
The road now descends down to Gateshead, where you can get a good view across to Newcastle - St. James' Park is clearly visible. On a clear day you can even see across to the mountains in the distance.
The road continues from here to betray its important origins by being quite wide, but otherwise unremarkable, and then terminates with a roundabout with the A167, which at that point is being carried on a flyover which is a leftover from the cancelled Newcastle motorway bridge scheme.
The old Great North Road used to continue straight on at this point and head down to cross the Tyne where the Swing Bridge currently sits.