Houghton Cut, A690, Wearside

Date opened/built:



457 metres.


9-ft (1.83m).

Adjoining footway:


Road type:

Rural dual carriageway.



Both sides of road:


Adjacent to social housing:






Period mapping:


OpenCycleMap status:

https://www.opencyclemap.org/?zoom=16&lat=54.84785&lon=-1.46454&layers=B0000 No cycleways marked.


Period maps, newspaper reports.

New protected cycleway near Houghton Cut, replacing an earlier one.

The Houghton Cut was a narrow gap through a rocky defile until the start of the 20th Century, shows a “then and now” video from Houghton Heritage Society.

“This Sunderland Echo photograph shows the dual carriageway and cycle tracks,” stated the newspaper on 8 July 1938, adding that the widened road through the Houghton Cut would reopen in September that year.

The road has been rewidened several times since and the Houghton Cut is now more of flattened scar than a cut. It is far wider than in the 1930s, with later widenings wholly removing the period cycle tracks and footways.

However, in 2023, DfT/Sunderland City Council resurrected the obliterated cycle tracks with a “two-way cycle lane [to] run from East Rainton, adjacent to the City of Sunderland Boundary eastbound on the A690 through Houghton Cut and finishing at A19 Interchange.” Naturally, local and national media carried scare stories on the “dangerous” cycleway built in the “wrong” place. Newspapers interviewed locals who claimed roadspace had been taken away from motorists to build the cycleway; few locals will remember the narrower iteration of the road and its adjacent cycle track.


The Houghton Cut was ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZkpwlG8dWo

The road has been rewidened ... https://goo.gl/maps/py3NwS3NFRQgm3HU8

It is far wider ... “HOUGHTON Cut, the rocky defile on the road between Durham and Sunderland, was closed from to-day for the next three months while Durham Comity Council carries out a £38,000 improvement scheme, with which a beginning has been made. The complete scheme is expected to last about 12 months, but it is hoped that the road will be available for traffic at the end of three months. The work is being done by direct labour, and between 60 and 70 unemployed men from the district will be engaged for periods of 32 weeks. The Coun- ty Council has for some time been urging the Government to make substantial grant towards the cost of improvements to the highway and the elimination of this danger, and after protracted negotiations it has been able to obtain 75 per cent. From the top of the Cut, extending to Over-the-Hill Farm ... the road is to be widened to about 100 ft. over-all. There will be twin carriageways and two cycle-tracks, all separated by grass verges, and at each side there will be a 6ft. footpath.” Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette, 9 August 1937.


Explore the tracks