A MOTORCYCLIST has died and another has been left with serious injuries after two separate crashes in the County Durham dales yesterday afternoon.

Shortly before 5pm yesterday, a man riding a Honda motorbike was in collision with a tractor near Cox Farm, on Nettlebed Lane near Toft Hill, Bishop Auckland.

The motorcyclist sustained serious injuries and died at the scene.

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Durham Police said he has not yet been identified but is thought to be a man in his early thirties from the Bishop Auckland area.

The driver of the tractor, a local man aged 57 was unhurt.

The rider was one of three motorcycles travelling south along Nettlebed Lane towards the junction with the B6282 when the collision occurred with the tractor. The other riders were friends of the deceased.

The road was closed to traffic until about 9pm while officers from the collision investigation unit began their enquiries.

At the same time police were also dealing with a collision in Middleton-in-Teesdale, involving a BMW bike and a BMW car. This had taken place a few minutes prior to the crash on Nettlebed Lane.

The motorcyclist in this incident was also travelling with other bikers, heading east on the B6276 when the motorcycle left the road after colliding with the car.

The rider was a 62-year-old man from Carlisle who was taken by air ambulance to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle. He was found to have serious, but not life-threatening injuries. The driver of the car, a 69-year-old man from the Northampton area was uninjured.

As several Durham officers were already dealing with the fatal collision, assistance at this incident was given by Cumbria Police.

Police are appealing for witnesses to either incident to contact the collision investigation unit via the non-emergency 101 number.