TWO readers enjoyed an enviable view of tomorrow’s (July 5) Tour de France route, after taking a helicopter ride over it hours before the world’s greatest cyclists take to the road.

The Northern Echo and Black Sheep Brewery in Masham joined forces to provide two readers with a two night stay at top York hotel Middlethorpe Hall plus the helicopter ride over the Stage 1 route.

The flight-of-a-lifetime was won by Elizabeth and Ian Clough, a semi-retired civil servant from Brandon, Durham, after successfully answering a Grand Depart related question.

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Fresh from the helicopter trip, Mrs Clough said: "It's been absolutely brilliant and we got a really fantastic view; We went out over York and Harrogate and over the route and saw all the decorations from the air - where people have been putting yellow jerseys on the roofs."

The couple will also spend Saturday (July 5) in Masham as guests of the Black Sheep Brewery for Le Grand Party, where up to 20,000 people are expected to celebrate the occasion.

"We have always followed the Tour de France on television but never dreamed that we would one day see it live," she added. "The other great thing is that my husband's also a big fan of Black Sheep beer!

"The thought of staying in such a lovely hotel and the helicopter ride caught my attention, which is why I entered the competition and then forgot all about it until we got a phone call to say we'd won. I could hardly believe it, we were both absolutely thrilled."

Jo Theakston, sales and marketing director of Black Sheep Brewery said: “Elizabeth and Ian are the envy of Yorkshire and the North-East after this incredible flight.

“This is one of the most exciting weekends Yorkshire has ever seen and it is hugely rewarding to be able to give this prize, thanks to our partnership with Newsquest (publishers of The Northern Echo).”

The couple were also treated to afternoon tea on the terraces of Middlethorpe Hall, a country house built in 1699, where they spent Friday and Saturday night. The luxury hotel is now part of the National Trust.