After getting to the Dolphin Centre faster by bike than by car, I took slightly longer to get home. About 2 1/2 hours, in fact.
I left the town centre along Coniscliffe Road, to the Baydale Beck, where I took a bridleway north to Archdeacon Newton. From there I followed a set of three bridleways to Burtree Gate, followed by a quick spin along the dual carriageway to find the entrance to the bridleway starting near the roundabout (hint: enter the lay-by from the northern end, the other end is chocked with nettles), which I followed to Coatham Lane, before heading south down Patches Lane and then across to the A167. From the A167, I headed to Barmpton Village, via Ketton Farms, and from there home.
Lots more animal life was disturbed, including loads of butterflies who were sunning themselves on the trail (so, sorry for all the hurricanes).
Very roughly, I estimate I covered about 20 miles, in about 2 1/2 hours, mostly off road. All of it was rideable, though there was some very long grass to ride through in places.
During the ride, I saw way markers for three of Darlington's way-marked trails: the Heighton Boot, Salters Circular and Catkill Trail. I'm going to call into a bike shop in town to see if I can get another copy of the leaflet detailing the rides, so I can attempt each of them as intended, then I might attempt a combination of all three.
This ride was brought to you in association with Benadryl Plus+, Taking the Long Way Home and sunny Sunday afternoons. I think I've found my summer homeward-bound commute.