Posted by: brendaintheboro | April 22, 2012

My first cycle tour

It was the summer of 1967 and  I was awaiting my ‘O’level results when my friend Ann L and decided we were grown up enough to go off  on a cycle tour. I had my  blue Kerry 3 speed bicycle and I think Ann was similarly equipped. I wish I had made a log and kept some photos of  that time but I didn’t.

I’ve been trying to remember it all so I might have some things mixed up. I do know I had a rear rack and carried a blue bukta single pole tent. This was one my brother and I used to put up in the attic of the Victorian house we lived in so that we could play at camping as we had no garden. I also had a sleeping bag and a meths burner in case we needed to cook. We carried all of this in case we couldn’t get into youth hostels.

The first youth hostel we went to was Edmundbyers  in County Durham. We set off from South Shields and headed off up through Consett. I can’t remember it raining so it must have been reasonable for August. In those days, you had jobs to do before leaving the hostel and we were assigned to sweep the floors.  We met up with two boys , also from our home town and  joined up with them to travel together. Strangely, Stephen, one of the boys was later to re enter my life , as my brother married Stephen’s sister.

We cycled up to Stanhope and then continued up the valley to a little village called St John’s chapel and turned off on a minor road over a big hill. I remember we stopped to shelter as it began to rain   which then turned to sleet. Once at the top, we had a long run down . Unfortunately, the road was still wet and there was a cattle grid at the bottom and I came off  and banged my head.  About 5 years earlier , I had some surgery on my brain, but back then we didn’t wear helmets. Fortunately, I didn’t suffer any damage and we were able to continue to descend down the alley to Langdon Beck youth hostel which at that time had been recently rebuilt after a fire, I believe. Last year, we cycled past that road end and  I  recognised it  instantly . The youth hotel doesntoo look so new now, but then neither do I!

I recall that  Ann and I took the next day off from cycling and we walked down into Middleton in Teesdale and then took a bus back up the valley. I do remember that day was bright and sunny. Next day , we set off for home accompanied by Stephen and his friend and stopped in Bishop Auckland for lunch. It wasn’t until many years later when I was in that town , that I could recall being near the  old town hall as that part of the town hadn’t changed too much.  We arrived home later that day and went to Stephens house to meet his Mam and Dad. Connie is still with us despite her having a bad heart all these years.   After that it was home to open the exam results . Not too bad  but room for improvement  which I later did.

It is strange to think at that early age, I thought I’d be old at 25. Here I am over 4 decades later, still fit enough to cycle the same sort of distances, I did as a teen. I thank God daily for the health that I have  and value each new day and opportunity to  get out on the road.

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Responses

  1. I love the memories of old tours, and like you I wish I had brought along my camera more often, or took more (and better) photos. There is something quite satisfying, in an elegaic sort of way, to ride past the old scenes and settings all these years later.

    • That’s one of the things we are looking forward to when we cycle the coast and castles route from Edinburgh in a few weeks time.

      • I’ve always fancied doing that route. It is meant to be quite beautiful.

  2. It is. We’ve done the route about 5 times with minor variations and always enjoy it. I think my favourite part is along Drurridge Bay. We happened to be able to buy train tickets to Edinburgh for £6 each including bikes. A bargain. My DH is a bit of a purist and would prefer not to use any transport but a bike but in terms of time practicality , it’s just not going to happen.

  3. I am the same way – I would also prefer to ride to and from the start of my tours but as with you guys, time constraints generally interfere with my grand intentions.

    My two favourite places to ride in the UK (thus far!) are Orkney and the Lôn Las Cymru route in Wales. Love them both.

    • We rode around Orkney on the NSCR and it is one of the places that stands out for me too. I’ve not cycled in Wales though. It’s on the list but I hope it won’t be too long before we can do it or I’ll be too old to cope with the hills.

      • The hills in Wales are worth the effort. Gospel Pass, in the Brecon Beacons, in particular offers a stunning view. I went up it, on a beautiful rural lane, comin up from the south and the view to the north when i reached the top if the pass was absolutely stunning. A real high point, literally and figuratively, on the Lon Las Cymru.


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