Posted by: brendaintheboro | April 25, 2015

Marsh Road Muck Heap

rubbish in the bushes

rubbish in the bushes

As some of my readers know, I volunteer with others to help keep our cycle tracks clear of litter. Unfortunately, here in the Boro , NCN1 passes along through industrial areas and then past some taxi firms who act as though the road and surrounding land is for their exclusive use. They fix cars on the roadway and through things like old  radiators, headlights, bulbs and used gloves down. Along with plastic bags, cartons , bottles and tins that are carelessly discarded, this all makes for a very unsavoury aspect for cyclists who pass through the area on the way into town.

We volunteers met at 9.30am . We were a mixture of Sustrans and Middlesbrough Cycle Rangers and 4 young  LDS missionaries who were helping as part of their service here in Middlesbrough. I borrowed the cycle centre cart which is rather like a stop me and buy one ice cream cart. I have to say it was an experience to ride- fixed wheel and a parking brake – and it pulled constantly to the right despite us blowing up the very soft tyres. It was needed however, to transport the pick up sticks, bags etc.

So we set too , working with a will as we knew we had about 2 hours before the arranged pick up by the local council refuse department.

volunteers at work

volunteers at work

We concentrated on the start of the road coming from town , as our last volunteer session had made a big difference at the far end.  However, we did go down there , as litter had started to collect again there. Interestingly, talking to one or two people, it seems that some of the other businesses along there are tired of the mess and in the very recent past the sewerage system had to be cleared out as it was blocked up by plastic gloves. I picked up approximately 3 dozen of them in various colours. It is the sort of thing we carry to protect our hands from oil when working on cleaning our cycles, so obviously they are being used in the same way.


We worked away steadily filling the bags and by the end had about 30 bags plus an old car radiator, various car mats and some pieces of sheet plastic. It was a good mornings work and I would like to thank all the volunteers who gave up a Saturday morning.WP_20150425_11_27_49_Pro

rubbish cleared from the bushes

rubbish cleared from the bushes

Yesterday, DH also cleared an area at the far end of Marsh Road which we call the curly whirly bridge. There was some litter but mostly it is leaves and other natural debris. He left the bag for pick up today and  when Freddie rode past on his way to the work area , he wondered who would leave a bag of rubbish there. All was revealed, when DH went to collect it ready for the pick up. We used every bag that we had been supplied with.CAM00152

Clean and tidy once more.

Posted by: brendaintheboro | April 21, 2015

Barnard Castle on a sunny day

We looked at the weather forecast for Tuesday  and it was good with only light winds. Even better was the fact that I had a work free day, so we decided we would make an early start to head for Barnard Castle.

It was just after 6.30am when we rode the quickest way to the river, crossing the A19 on a footbridge to Teesside Park. There were hardly any cars about so it was easy to get along and into Stockton. We followed NCN14 up though Hartburn and we were soon riding along to Elton and Long Newton  and along to Middleton St George, to pick up the track into Darlington.

We were surprised to see a new cycle/footpath bridge has been built just after the college were the old footpath still exists.  There has also  been a new stretch of cycle path alongside the dual carriageway which made getting up to Blackwell much easier except on a corner where that  is still  being built.

By now it was about 8.30am , and the traffic into Darlington had come to a standstill which was good for us as we needed to cross it to get down to the roundabout at the junction with the A66. We turned left here and then in Stapelton we turned along to Cleasby. By now it was time for breakfast and it was lovely sitting near the green to have a bite to eat.IMAG0006

It was  still quite cool but by the time we had climbed out of the village, we decided to stop and do a bit of a strip!! We also had brought our new cycling sandals and I have to say they were lovely and comfy to wear, keeping feet much cooler than our gortex shoes.

We then continued on through Manfield and Eppleby. I was hoping we hadn’t missed the  daffodils on the green. Some were still blooming but it would have been nicer at Easter.IMAG0007

Then we continued on through Caldwell but went wrong somewhere and we ended up in Forcett before we realised we had “made a detour”. So we backtracked up to Caldwell and found our way using the NCN165 signage found our way to turn off for the bridge over the Tees to Whorlton.IMAG0013 IMAG0014

The bridge has wooden boards and when a vehicle passes over , it sounds like thunder. I was really pleased with myself because  the climb up out of the valley has a very sharp bend in it and I have always walked it previously. Not today. I climbed it without having to get off.  Result!! I think it may have something to do with a 20plus pounds weight loss , this year.

Then out of the village , we passed rode along past Barnard Castle public school and Bowes Museum.


Once in the town , we rode along to the castle and sat in the grounds finishing breakfast and while DH talked to a caravanner , I went off and bought some ice cream. Some volunteers are planting up veg boxes so that people can take the food for free later in the year. Great work.

I went to a supermarket and  changed into my capris length  pants as it was even warmer and I reapplied sunscreen too.

Then it was back to Whortlton but turning up so we could cross the A67 and return by a different route. Little Newsham was the first village we came to an then a little way on we crossed a ford but on the bridge  before entering Langton.  Then it was off towards Headlam and through Summerhouse. The A1 is soon reached and the road goes beneath it. Back in Cockerton, we had another brief stop and some ladies from the Methodist church  filled my water bottle for me.

We decided that we would return home via Sadberge, Bishopton and Redmarshall and were home just before 5.00pm having completed 75 miles.

Posted by: brendaintheboro | April 5, 2015

Boroughbridge Bimble

I am borrowing the word “bimble” from Ilona aka MeanQueen ( Life after Money) , who uses the word to describe a gentle , wandering around. So on Thursday morning , about 10.00am,   we set off to cycle to Boroughbridge loaded up with our cold weather camping kit. We used our usual route through Yarm, Kirklevington, Deighton and Brompton before stopping for a brief lunch sitting on a bench outside a supermarket in Northallerton. Although it was sunnyish, the wind was still cold but fortunately not blowing as hard it has been in recent days. Indeed , looking west , we could see snow on the tops of the Pennines.

Then we were off again heading along the A167 to Topcliffe and then stopping again in the little village of Asenby for another short break .  Off again , we crossed the bridge over the dual carriageway and on climbing up to Cundall and then turning off to Boroughbridge.

The hedgerow bottoms are awash with “Easter lilies” aka daffodils and they shone so brightly in the afternoon sunshine.

riding through Cundall

riding through Cundall


We were so pleased to see that some of the really bad road surfaces from last year have been replaced but there are still potholes to be avoided.

It was lovely to arrive at the campsite just outside of Broughbridge and to get the tents pitched in the dry. One of the chaps, Simon, who we camped with last Easter, had ridden over on Wednesday and had a tough time into really strong headwinds. The campsite manager put us near him , up near the river bank which is one of my favourites spot.


I bought this small Vaude tent a couple of weeks ago.  It is a little lighter than our usual home made one , but a bit cramped although it says 3 persons. We were very pleased to have taken a tarp as well. We used it to cook under and also to store the bikes  during the night.WP_20150402_19_46_20_Pro

I was awoken by rain about 1.30am and thought that the weather forecast was proving correct. We had a bit of a lie in and hoped the rain would stop. Well it did- sort of. There was a bit of mizzle in the air so decided that we could still ride up to Ripon. We passed through the villages of Bishop Monkton and Littlethorpe before arriving in Ripon. We went up to the market square  where people were gathering for a Good Friday open air service.IMG_1327


We were sitting listening and I saw that they were giving out hot cross buns that are a popular Easter treat. They were provided freely to everyone who wanted them by the churches in the area. I also met an old colleague who I haven’t seen since she retired 15 years ago which was really lovely.

By now the rain, had started falling steadily , so it was time to don the waterproof trousers before setting off back. We followed the Way of the Roses cycling route back to Littlethorpe but followed the road back around towards the racecourse. We crossed the canal on a footbridge and got onto the road to Skelton on Ure.

I stopped to take photos of sheep and lambs thinking of the Saviour’s admonition to feed my sheep.IMG_1331

I then saw my DH helping our son up the hill and it reminded me that God our Heavenly Father is always there to give us a  helping hand.IMG_1336

Back at camp we met some newly arrived campers who were struggling with unfamiliar equipment and so pitched in to help them . Boroughbridge  site has a recreation room and so we spent the evening in there playing table tennis and watching the TV. It was warm and dry , so welcome on a cold damp night. It is one of the things I like about this site.

Saturday dawned dry and cloudy and it didn’t seem like it would allow a dry pack , so we just got on with it. So it was a 10.00am start reversing our route back home. We were lucky that it became sunny. As another cyclist said, Northallerton was like a scene out of Wacky Racers with car drivers  trying to bully their way through at roundabouts. We were careful in the traffic and decided to stop in Brompton instead. Despite a bit of a headwind we were home in about the same time having covered 107 miles.

Posted by: brendaintheboro | March 28, 2015

Bardney Round

Last weekend, I needed to be in Lincoln for a work related conference and so as last year we decided to go and stay at Bardney, about 9 miles from the city. It is on the Water Rail trail and the Bardney Heritage centre is a great place to spend a night in the Bed and Breakfast run by Barry and Lynne. We first came across it in about 2008 and have seen it develop over the years.


Unusually, the bedrooms are actually old railway wagons that have been converted into a sleeping area with ensuite shower and WC.


There are two wagons with 2 beds each and a converted farming field wagon that sleeps 4. We think its great value at £30pp per night. Barry cooks breakfast in the station house which also serves as a café. They hire bicycles and specialist disabled cycles are available but he told me they are rarely used. A great shame as the trail that passes the centre is a lovely into Lincoln or down to Woodhall Spa.

We have cycled this trail a number of times so I decided we would sort out a route for ourselves. Unfortunately, the wind was vicious so we decided to head into the wind as it was blowing from the NE.

Scan_20150328 (2)

It was hard work cycling on the B1202 but it was fairly quiet and a bit of a relief when we reached the turning for Short Ferry and climbed over the railway bridge before crossing a stream and on along past Fiskerton Fen.  Once in the village itself , we turned right towards Reepham.

This area of Lincolnshire is very flat and during WW2 , there were many airfields built. We passed a memorial to some

of the fallen airmen who gave their lives to defend our freedom


There were also a couple of poignant poems but the photos didn’t show up too well.

In Reepham itself , we stopped in a sheltered spot just after the railway line and enjoyed our breakfast as we hadn’t had it before leaving home and had brought it with us, cereal, fruit and yogurt in leak-proof boxes. Despite donning warm jackets, it was too cold to sit for long so we were soon off again turning left for Cherry Willingham.

We were surprised by a short hill and saw a lovely church with daffodils blooming on the bank.LAPTOP - IMG_1320 LAPTOP - IMG_1321

There was a chap standing with his painting easel, portraying the church and daffodils and I went over to talk to him. I thought it was unusual to be painting outdoors on such a day but he was hoping to enter a parish / diocese church painting competition.

Back along into Fiskerton, we turned down a lane and crossed Five Mile Bridge over the river Witham. It was drizzling a bit but we were wrapped for the weather so continued down to Potterhanworth Booths and  slogging along the B1190. There were plenty of cyclists coming towards us but they had the wind on their backs.

Back at Bardney, we were only too pleased to go into the café for a hot chocolate and scone and jam.

I had taken my folding Dahon Speed TR and the next day I was glad I had. Lincoln was holding a 10K run and despite the signs saying the roads would be closed from 10.00am , they were closed by 8.00am. Nothing for it, stop in a layby, unfold the cycle, don  my cycle helmet and ride where cars could not go. 17.5 miles

Posted by: brendaintheboro | March 14, 2015

Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge Reopens

The iconic symbol of “the Boro”, the transporter bridge has been closed for refurbishment for the past 18 months and this week it has finally started to operate again. As it is free for the next month we decided today, we would take the opportunity to take a ride on the lowest bridge crossing of the Tees. Cyclists will be charged 60p  for crossing which takes about 4 minutes.

So we set off from home in a biting ENE wind at about 6C but it felt much colder as we cycled down Linthorpe Road and arrived at the bridge a short while before the first trip. On a Saturday it begins operating at 9.30am until 12 noon and then is closed for an hour before recommencing at 1-3pm. During the week the first crossing is at 7.15am until 6.15pm with an hour closed for lunch.IMG_1291 IMG_1292

It is closed entirely on  a Sunday so not so useful for cyclists wishing to cross.

There were a couple of cars waiting and 2 lads on bikes waiting to cross. The bridge now has enclosed but glazed areas for pedestrians and cyclists and its easy to see down the river as the gondola crosses the water.

Some years ago, there was an outcry when a TV serial was supposed to show the bridge being taken down and sold to the US for a casino to be built. People actually went down to see if it had been taken away !!

On the north side of the river, a new short stretch of cycle path has been laid.

IMG_1297 IMG_1296

We cycled on and went up to Cowpen Bewley, a tiny little village near to Billingham. It has a  village green and a pub but nothing else. There is a plaque on the wall of one of the houses.IMG_1298 IMG_1299

As you can see it is called the Ivy House and was built in 1680 and repaired in 1995. We didn’t linger long as it was too cold. A couple of ladies were just mounting their horses and we were careful as we rode past. Its better to give then a wide berth and not spook them.

We cycled along to an unfamiliar part of Billingham   because out usual route was too  boggy  due to the recent rain. However,  we had an idea of the direction we needed to go and were soon on our way to the Norton crossing of the A19. We called into a supermarket and picked up a few items before cycling back down and along the river to Newport where we crossed the Tees again. Then it was a quick ride back through the town and home.

We soon had toasted crumpets and a warm drink which were needed to warm us up. Only 17.5 mls today.  This link may work to look at the route.

Posted by: brendaintheboro | March 7, 2015

A tough ride

We had been watching the weather forecast all week and knew that the wind would be the  main problem today. That knowledge helped us decide on the direction to start off on. The wind was to come from the SW , so we decided to head off for Northallerton. We cycled into a head wind for almost the entire way and  I have to say that DH really did help. I wished that he had a tractor beam( StarTrek wise) but he doesn’t but where possible on quiet sections , he put his hand onto my back and helped me along. He really is my helpmate. We had set off at about 8.30 am and it took us 2 and a half hours to get to the town centre in Northallerton having cycled through Thornaby, Preston Park, Yarm, Deighton and Brompton and covered about 23 miles. I was soaked in sweat but was determined to make it. I went into a local shop that sells haberdashery and bought some binding for a dress I want to make. I also bought some bananas from the street market and devoured 2. DH only had one. Bananas do not travel well in a pannier bag. IMAG0050 This is the old town hall and DH’s handle bar bag. We couldn’t sit around long as although the temperature was quite mild , the wind chill soon set in. So  after a trip to the local supermarket to use the facilities, it was great to set off on the return with the wind on our backs. What a difference in speed. We returned through Brompton and Deighton , where we took a right turn and cycled along through Welbury and East Rounton before crossing the A19 on the bridge they built a few years ago.  From there we sped along into Hutton Rudby and the village green was remarkably sheltered so we stopped there and made toasted cheese sandwiches on the tiny stove we carry, using up the last of the gas in an old canister. There was a Fish and Chip van  selling its wares and it must be good because people were queuing to get them. We noticed people were waiting in cars so it must be a regular feature on a Saturday afternoon, IMAG0053 IMAG0054 IMAG0055 Ignore these dates, I used an old camera and it seems to have the date  reverted to years ago. So feeling fed, we set off again down the hill and then up the other side. Well I made it half way up , the surface is bad and with the traffic  coming up behind   , I felt a bit unsafe so dismounted and walked the last bit. Out of the village. we climbed again and then had a lovely run down through Skutterskelf, Tame Bridge and on into Stokesley , having another brief stop. This run down enabled me to get up into top gear and it did feel good. We continued on climbing up and then running down to Tanton . This road was busy at this time of day, now being after 2.30pm but car drivers were pretty good , on the whole giving us room as they passed. We wanted to get 50 miles in , so cycled down and then went through Coulby Newham, down cycle route 65 and along the fairly new Linear Park that I have written about previously. We did get our chosen mileage in coming in at 50.7 miles. I was so glad to get into the shower when I got home.  What  a great  but tough day. I feel so blessed  to still have the ability to complete a trip on a day like today.

Posted by: brendaintheboro | March 1, 2015

Spring is coming soon.

The days are becoming noticeably longer and we have started our early morning rides when its not icy or heavy rain. We set out about 6.00am when it is first light and mainly have been riding our usual river ride but between 10-12 miles on average. We arrive home about 7.00am ready to start the day.

It is noticeable that nature is waking up. The snowdrops are still blooming but they have been joined by crocuses and just yesterday I saw my first daffodils. Trees are also budding and it won’t be  long before the catkins are out. I love this time of year. It has been quite windy at times but at least I am blessed with the health to be able to get out in the fresh air.


Yesterday, I took the opportunity to ride to Redcar with my friend A. She and I met up and I have to say she set a cracking pace along through Eston, Lazeby and Kirkleatham before we took a cycle track down into Redcar to the official opening of a new cycle friendly café called Route 1. It is just near the Clock tower in the town centre.LAPTOP - Facebook-20150301-082751

This is a private enterprise and well worth supporting. They provide employment for some young people with learning difficulties and autism. The food is good and there is indoor cycle parking so you can see your bike at all times. Because of budget cuts, Sustrans employees will be having their contracts terminated at the end of March. its very sad because they have some such good work in supporting local cyclists.

Then   at 11.00am  we went on a 6mls ride with the local ride leader. There were only a few of us and the wind was blowing quite hard as we ploughed into it along the prom. Coming back , it wasn’t so bad but the sky was really darkening and rain threatened.LAPTOP - redcarprom

On our return journey home, we were joined by Y and C who had ridden over from Yarm. There was a bit of mizzle (very light rain) in the air but it didn’t amount to much but the wind was head on all the way blowing from the west mainly.

So during the last week I have cycled a little over 100 miles so feeling good .

Posted by: brendaintheboro | February 4, 2015

snow day


Yesterday, we awoke to a white world and by 9.00am there was a beautiful blue sky. As I had a free morning , we decided to have a snow ride . So the largely unused mountain bikes , with wider knobbly tyres , were got out to ride.
After the tyre pressure was inflated to 45 psi , we set off up to Devil’s bridge which is the start of our volunteer looking after the paths route.
I have to say I was a little nervous to begin but the tyres gripped well and confidence returned and we enjoyed the crisp morning air.

We rode along the linear park and on though Albert Park


Here we saw that the lake was frozen with snow lying on the ice. Ducks were sitting on the ice so I suppose they have well insulated bottoms!

Workmen were clearing the outlet of the beck as it was full of debris ranging from branches to balls.


Then it was down through town and onto the river path. We were very surprised to see virtually no snow and Portrack Marshes were clear.


The 2 little blogs on the horizon are the towers of Newport Bridge . We rode along the north bank of the river and crossed this bridge before retuning home. Only 14 miles but it’s great to be able to make the most of a sunny if cold day.

Posted by: brendaintheboro | January 31, 2015

short ride.

We had hoped for a decent ride today after heavy rain over night. We thought it would wash away the remains of the snow which has lingered on the cycle paths. No such luck.

We attempted to go out about 10.00am but then it rained heavily. A neighbour came and offered me some fabric she had bought but wouldn’t now use so that took up another hour or so. By this time it had faired up, a bit , so as we had our cycling attire on we set off up the good cycle track on NCN 65. There was slush and ice in unpredictable patches so we had to take great care. Once at Ladgate Lane, we turned left and rode along to Easterside estate and came down on the road. The Linear park has a place for a stream and its usually almost empty. Not today.IMG_1268

The rain and snow melt had water rushing through . Indeed DH remarked we could have gone kayaking on it today. We just home from here having only completed 6 miles. The windchill was also a factor in a swift return. So looking forward to spring.

Posted by: brendaintheboro | January 25, 2015

First long ride of 2015

The weather in the early part of the moth was not too good with very high, gusting winds and we had rain and snow too.  This curtailed my rides to shorter trips but the weather forecast for 24th looked fine.

We had an objective for the day and that was to reccy a field belonging to our friend Carole, to see if it might make a suitable overnight camp venue.  DS1 checked over the Optimus multifuel stove , while I assembled cheese sandwiches in toaster bags to take with us. At this time of the year, when temperatures are low, we find that the petrol stove gives the best performance. Even a mix of butane and propane doesn’t seem to burn too well.  The cold tends to inhibit the mixture gassing off to burn.

So about 10.30am , we rode from home, crossed the A19 on the footbridge and after passing Teesside Park, gained the river.  The footbridge was icy and so I took care not to slip on black ice. We decided to cross the river at the Barrage and ride along in to Stockton on the north side of the river. Unfortunately, there is still work going on and there were some walkers milling round because of a diversion sign. We rode along to check if it really was closed and it is completely fenced off temporarily. So back up the track  and we could report back to the walkers that they would have to cross at the barrage.

We went up and along past the caravan park and the supermarket to pass through the  industrial estate to Stockton. Crossing the market place, which is still being renovated , we followed NCN14 up and through the underpass towards Hartburn.

Here the traffic was busy and care needs to be taken crossing as the cars accessing the A66 take little regard to cyclists. However , once safely across we rode along through Elton and Long Newton before riding the A167 until the sign directs you into what appears to be a wood. In fact , this is the old road to Long Newton which was cut off when the newer road was constructed.  It was here we came across the remains of snow and ice, it being shaded from the sunlight.

We decided to avoid cycling through the Whinneys nature reserve because from past experience , we knew it would be very wet  even if not icy. So we diverted off NCN14 and followed the road down towards Middleton One Row instead of going to Middleton St George. I was a bit concerned , as at the best of times , hills and I  aren’t the best of friends!! As its been a while , I wondered if I would be off walking. I need not have worried. I managed to climb them all. Slow and steady wins the race.  Well it gets me up them, dropping into a lower gear and keeping my eye on something regularly spaced such as cats eyes in the road , I count the number of peddle strokes as I go from one to the next. its not for raod racers but it works for this mature woman ( old biddy.)

We had the OS reference and found the field but the gate was locked and we didn’t feel like hopping over the gate. We have since been given instructions on how to access it , so next time. I am so looking forward to camping but I do get that feeling at this time of year.

So another descent and climb had us into the outskirts of Yarm and decided to have our toasties in Preston Park.  It was fairly blowy but we were able to shelter near the bandstand.IMG_1267

It wasn’t actually too cold as we sat having a hot drink and the sandwich.  I love being out especially in the sunshine.  Soon we were on our way home and completed 27 miles getting home about 2.30pm.  I know its not far for some people but its a nice start for me.


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