Cycling Around the Albemarle Sound

Views of Croatan Sound reward cyclists along Manteo's multi-use path.

Views of Croatan Sound reward cyclists along Manteo’s multi-use path.

My wife and I recently moved to the land along the Albemarle Sound. Cycling the area has been a great way to discover the coastal region. I’ve always enjoyed exploring a new place while I’m running, hiking, walking or riding. You instantly get a ‘feel’ of the topography, smell the fresh tilled farms and develop a muscle memory of the landscape. There’s something about cycling that causes me to reflect upon a pleasant nostalgia of distant journeys, dirt-ball adventures and happenstance encounters. So whenever I clip in, saddle up and ride along the white line of the highway, I eventually contemplate the past, present and future. If you’re planning your own cycling adventure along the Albemarle Sound, here’s a few pre-trip planning resources that might assist you with your next ride.

Albemarle Sound Advice

North Carolina Department of Transportation’s (NCDOT) Division of Bicycle & Pedestrian Transportation designated a system of bicycling highways. They publish free maps of each route. The state system of bike-friendly routes offer nine different routes that cover over 3,000 miles of lightly traveled highways. Several years ago, I traveled the 300-mile Ports of Call Route (NC Bike Route 3) from South Carolina to Virginia. The route leads cyclists along a historic colonial-era rendezvous of the Tar Heel state’s historic port cities and towns.

bike route

The Division of Bicycle & Pedestrian Transportation also publishes regional and local maps. One of the ‘go-to’ guides I suggest for cyclists of all levels is Bike Albemarle. The guide offers more than a dozen local loop routes, several connector routes and additional state and extended routes. The resourceful guide showcases interesting towns, points of interest, bicycle shops, restaurants and camping facilities. I’ve found the map the perfect planner and companion guide for local day-trips to weeklong outings. All of the maps provide a section of bicycle safety and NC state laws, which are useful for both novice and experienced riders.

Cycling the Outer Banks

There are several cycling options along the OBX albeit summer months may not be the best season for cyclists due to the increased traffic and visitation to the coast. The Dare County Bicycle Map offers a series of contiguous rides along wide paved shoulders, multi-use paths, and other longer routes including a section of the Mountains to Sea cross-state bicycling highway. The 7-mile side-path option along Roanoke Island offers a perfect outing for families. A number of historic sites and parks can be conveniently accessed along the trail including Roanoke Island Festival Park, NC Maritime Museum, NC Aquarium and Fort Raleigh Historic Site.

Part of a rewarding and successful cycling experience begins with a detailed map and a trip checklist. So order a free set of maps to help you navigate the scenic backroads along the sound. Be safe and invite a friend along for your next ride!

cyclingalbemarlesound

1

Craft Beer, Small Batch & Big Rewards!

Weeping Radish - craft beer on the Albemarle SoundA fine beer may be judged with only one sip, but it’s better to be thoroughly sure.

I laughed when I walked in the pub and read the quote inscribed on the chalkboard. Down near the bar, a couple was test-driving a flight of small batch beer crafted on site at Weeping Radish Brewery Butchery & Pub. Over the past decade, North Carolina has quickly sprouted into one of the top craft-beer states in the nation. According to the NC Craft Brewers Guild, “The state boasts the greatest number (132) of craft breweries in the American South.” Weeping Radish can claim fame as being the Tar Heel State’s oldest operating brewery and one of three microbreweries located within the Albemarle Sound corridor.  The Currituck County brewery has “proudly brewed on the Outer Banks since 1986.”

The unique brewery-farm-pub often surprises travelers making their manic drive to or from the Outer Banks. The brewery is located on the Caratoke Hwy. which straddles a narrow strip of rural mainland bordered by Currituck and Albemarle Sounds.

My wife and I scheduled a brewery visit while looping the sound on a 180-mile driving tour. I wanted to sample the “handcrafted 100% natural beers” so I set off on my own flight plan which included a chance to taste the microbrewery’s signature brews and a couple of their seasonal ales. The friendly waitress delivered us a paddle of seven, gently brewed beers. I reviewed the laminated beer cheat sheet which was placed below the paddle and in the same order as the flight of craft beers. Perfect!

 

Weeping Radish's flight of craft beersThe Bitter Bee was first choice in my flight and definitely the one which sounded the most intriguing. This was the brewery’s version of an American IPA but distinctively brewed with locally sourced honey. My wife & I took turns sipping on the golden-colored ale. We both noticed a subtle yet lingering taste of honey. The IPA was light on the “hoppy” side and it had a  ‘creamier’ texture than most traditional IPA’s. My first take: A refreshing summer IPA with a slight hint of citrus.

The flight guide described their Ruddy Radish as a “bright ruby colored, well-balanced dry hopped with strong malt character.” The medium body ale had a slight but pleasant buttery aroma and mild notes of caramel. The OBX Kolsch may have been my favorite! The crisp, light and fruity flavor and medium carbonated beer paired well with the pub’s soft baked pretzel — so well, that I treated myself to a 4-pack of OBX Kolsch to share with my friends back home. Oh yeah, and a mixed pack of Ruddy Radish, Bee Bitter and Corolla Gold.

On your next outing to the Outer Banks, be sure to stop by the brewery or search for the fine local craft beer at this location.

0

Common Bond in Edenton

 

Edenton BrickworksThe sun baking on the bricks grabbed my attention as my wife and I walked into town. “Edenton Brickworks” was stamped into a few of the bricks adorning the building that now housed a local law firm. It felt a little bit like an archeological ‘find’ embedded in a modern structure possibly laid many years later and most likely, long after the brick making company had fired its last brick.

I’ve only lived in this historic colonial town for a few months but I already know a thing or two about Edenton Brickworks. Maybe that’s because our cottage home and surrounding neighborhood is steeped in the brick maker’s heritage.

We live in the Historic Edenton Cotton Mill Village, which sprouted up in the early 20th century. The mill was built in 1900. J. A. Jackson of Hertford, NC was awarded the bid on the project to make one million bricks. Edenton Brickworks leased their brick making machine to Jackson during the construction of the expansive cotton mill. Some of the bricks were purchased in Hertford but the bulk of the bricks were made on site. After the building was completed, Haywood Cullen Privott, director of the cotton mill purchased 20,000 bricks left over from the project to construct his lovely Queen Anne Style home on 205 East King Street.

Haywood C. Privott House, 1900

Haywood C. Privott House, 1900

The W.O. Speight House, located on the edge of town, is another Queen Anne Victorian style brick home in Edenton. It was built and designed by the founder and owner of Edenton Brickworks. Oscar Will’s company made all the bricks for the home, cotton gin, and surrounding outbuildings. The home includes three floors, seven fireplaces and solid brick walls 18-inches thick. The plantation house and property was once the center of a large cotton and peanut farming operation.

W.O. Speight House, Edenton, NC - 1900

W.O. Speight House, 1900

17th Century Brick Architecture

Northeast NC was one of the earliest regions in the state to build homes constructed of brick. Early settlers from the northern colonies and particularly from Virginia first introduced brick-making techniques to the region along the Albemarle Sound.

As early as the mid-1600’s, wealthier residents began using brick in the construction of homes and buildings. By the next century, the coastal area was known for its brick and tile making. A fine example of 18th-century brick architecture still standing is the Newbold-White House in neighboring Perquimans County. It was constructed in 1730.

Edenton’s Walkable History!

My wife and I have been impressed with the area’s passion toward preservation, history and promoting the region’s heritage. We’ve found this enthusiasm to be quite contagious.

We enjoy taking walks through the historic town and isolating various architectural components so that we may learn more about the town’s fascinating world of old homes and buildings. Some days we focus on windows and doors. On other outings, clapboard or weatherboarding give us clues to a particular era. Domestic brick architecture can be an interesting feature as well. The manner or pattern it was laid often reveals the work of different bricklayers and various sequences of brick bonds used in the construction of a home or building.

Most of the techniques were imported from the Old World and include Common, English and Flemish bonds. The 1767 Chowan County Courthouse was raised in English Bond for the foundation and laid in Flemish Bond brick above the water table. Understanding these ‘bonding’ methods and physics of brick laying gives one a better perspective on the construction and detail of a particular structure. For example, a common bond technique may consist of one course of headers on top of six to eight courses of stretchers. The longest dimension of the brick would tie or “bond” into the wall creating more strength.

Flemish diagonal bond observed on 1767 Chowan Co. Courthouse

Flemish diagonal bond observed on 1767 Chowan Co. Courthouse

Sloping cornices of gables, segmental arches, decorative end gables and corbel lintels are other brick architectural details to look for in southern colonial architecture.

I’m always treated to new treasures and discoveries while strolling the historic streets of Edenton. It seems like a story unfolds around each corner whether it’s a visit to the Roanoke River Lighthouse, a guided tour of the Cupola House or a casual walk with the dog. To learn more about Edenton’s 300 years of history, come by for a visit and discover some architectural gems of your own!

 

Stretch the legs and take your family and dog for a lovely walk through Edenton’s Historic Cotton Mill Village. Visit the Edenton Cotton Mill Village Museum of History to learn more about its history and Preservation NC’s successful model to repurpose the mill and village homes.

0
Scroll Up