Posted by: brendaintheboro | August 28, 2018

A Bank Holiday Tour

Thursday saw us up at the Crack of Doom in order to get the 5.47am train. Yes , you saw the correctly. It was a very early start, cycling to the train station. I have to say that Northern Trains are not the best for transporting bicycles. You cannot book, so its first come , first served and they say only 2 bikes per train , but in practice , they take more. The other bigger problem is, that the space for bikes is just too short. This means that even with the front wheel turned in, there is still not room on the older trains. Consequently, DH stood all the way on the 3 hour journey  steadying the two bikes, as they couldn’t be secured to anything. Luggage had also been removed too. It was a good job Carlisle was the last station on the line, as it gave us time to get off. There was also a delay, as there was a potential suicide threatening to jump off a bridge and they had to wait until the police talked the person down.

So we arrived in Carlisle after 9.15am and I had asked DH where he was . The Premier Inn. What we didn’t know was, there are at least 3 in the Carlisle area and we got to the nearest one to the train staion only to find it wasn’t the correct one. Duh!

The lady in there wrote down directions for us and we got to the BroadGate one well but it is up near  junction 42 of the M6 motorway so traffic was heavy at that time. Fortunately for most of the way , there is a cycle track.

We went up to meet our friends who are cycling the Lands End to John O’Groats route with their 2 little girls on trailer bikes. I had to put on my yellow cape and helmet cover as it began to rain heavily after we had breakfasted.

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The girls loved it and asked me to play being a bride , so they could hold the cape like a train of a dress and had me walking around the carpark while everything was readied for them to leave.  As you can see , I had great fun. Looking closely at the photo. it looks as though one of them has 2 heads – she hasn’t but moves so fast.

 

Carlisle to Haltwhistle 

We left at the same time as the Jones family  but we didn’t ride back down into Carlisle, as we could go up over the M6 and then head down to Wetherall and join the NCN72 route there.P1020265

The  map was a bit obscured for the way we needed by the Carlisle insert but we found it easily. The way isn’t too  bad along here, with rolling countryside but it was becoming increasingly wet. When we came to Warwick Bridge, I was fortunate as a car stopped to let me out onto the main road. It was then I realised it had Dutch registration plates, so their natural instinct is to give way to cyclists. Thank you to the Netherlands.

From here, the route twists and turns its way up through  the busy little market town of Brampton and along to Lanercost Priory. It was here I called for a halt as the rain was heavier and it was now time to eat again. There is a very nice café here so I asked if I could plug the battery in – no problem  – so we ate nice paninis and had hot chocolate to warm up. There were lots of walkers who are walking Hadrian’s wall and I spoke to a couple of American ladies who were enjoying themselves despite the weather.

Once through Lanercost the climb begins – gently at first and then up to Banks where the steepness increases. I was using Bluebell and increased from Eco mode to Tour  mode to help with the climb. I stopped a little after Banks for DH to catch me up and then it was off again .

 

Even though the weather wasn’t too good, the rain at least abated a bit  and the views are beautiful even in the wet.

 

We rode on and looked at one of the milecastles that were dotted all along the wall. Its amazing they are still standing even after 2000 years.

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The climb continues to Birdoswald but we didn’t stop at the museum and I remember a previous occasion when I walked up that hill. Now I swooped down, chased by DH but with the e-bike assistance I was up the other side with no difficulty.

Part of the path near Gilsland has been resurfaced which is really nice but when you get to Greenhead, the road in the village , I would describe as “dire”. It’s possibly an unadopted road  and not well maintained. The path then goes off road and I had a bit of difficulty here. I think it was because I got the gears wrong and the surface wasn’t good but I ended up walking a short stretch ably assisted by DH pushing the rig for me. Once up at Walltown Craggs, it was an easy run down into the town of Haltwhistle , calling into the Co-op for some supplies. I saw Co-op and stopped only to find it was the funeral place Heehee. DH might have needed it ,he says, if he had had a heart attack on the climbs.

We cycled down to the Camping and Caravanning Club site to the south of the town near Park village and were well received. I asked if there was any chance of a hook-up for my battery and was greeted with a very enthusiastic yes.  One of the assistant managers even came to ask about the e-bike and how it all worked. He is thinking of retiring at the end of the season and may invest in one. We were really fortunate that the sun had come out for pitching the tent and stayed dry in the evening.

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This was early morning as the sun rose. We used a home made tarp to cover both bicycles.

Haltwhistle to Bellingham

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During the night, I had awful leg cramps not once but three times. I hadn’t packed any salt, my usual remedy and so wolfed down some crisps. They helped a bit but I knew I had to get some salt in case it happened again. I was going to go to the Co-op again but didn’t really want to carry a whole tub. I spotted a butchers and asked if they had any. The assistant was only to happy to put a small amount in a plastic vacuum pack  and a plastic bag for later use – no charge either. Thank you to W M H Fresh Farm Meats for your kindness.

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We then set off eastwards along the South Tyne valley following route 73  through Melkridge and along to Bardon Mill. We saw some scarecrows dotted about  through the village in  a celebration for the Bank holiday weekend.

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After this there came the big climb. We have been to Vindolanda , a big Roman fort on a previous trip so opted to use a small route up to near the highest point on Hadrian’s cycleway. First was the climb up to Westend Town and this scarecrow was on the corner.

P1020193 Here is DH resting before he starts to climb up again.

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Fortunately there is  then a flatter bit following the contour before climbing again. There were lovely views. I stopped and waited at the road junction which had this wind blown tree.

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It was cool and damp but there  was a great descent of about 5 miles into Newrough where we encountered a German couple on e-bikes. They were headed for Dumfries in Scotland but would find accommodation on the way, They said that they had been so pleased by the friendliness of the people they had come across on their journey and were so pleased when I spoke German to them.

We left them as they headed west and we road along towards Fourstones and up to the Chesters Roman Fort. I did go into this museum as its not one I have been into previously. There was a really good free tour and the guide said that at the time the Romans invaded with 40,000 troops, Britain had about 4 million inhabitants. So it was a huge force with such revolutionary technology that has changed our country .

There is a museum displaying finds that the Victorians have preserved and I talked to a chap who was running a “dig” for children. He said it kept children entertained while the parents had a chance to have time to look around themselves.

 

After this visit, we headed to Chollerford and then started a gentler climb on the B6320 . There was a road sign saying the road was closed 7 miles head. We knew the village of Wark was 7 miles ahead but didn’t know if the road was closed before or after this. We decided to just ride up and see.

Well we were in luck and although there was a chap sat in a car at the road block , we just rode through and then past the workforce who were just working on one side of the road. This meant we had the road to ourselves. It did begin to rain a bit  so we stopped and donned the rainwear.

We rode up to the campsite just outside Bellingham ( pronounced Bellingjum locally)  and again got a pitch  with a hook-up – all without booking because we arrived by bicycle. We got a choice of pitch too . It was interesting  to see this fungus in this old tree stump. I wonder if it is a bracket fungus?

 

The sun came out later and we rode the mile down into the village to buy some cake. yumyum. There is a lovely kitchen and sitting area at this site. When the weather is clear at night , it’s in  a dark sky park so you can see the stars. We weren’t so lucky but the sky must have cleared later in the early hours as it got quite cold for an August night.

Bellingham to Jarrow

 

Saturday morning saw us getting up and making breakfast in the kitchen while waiting for the tent to dry out in the early sunshine.

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Then we left the site about 9.00am and then  headed back down the B6320 back to Wark. In 2016, I rode across route 10 to Bellingham with my folder and had a real slog on the bit before the town. By coming down to Wark, that bad off road bit could be avoided. There was a stiff climb up to Birtley above the North Tyne.

 

I needed to use the turbo mode on a couple of occasions but the views were stunning in the sunshine.   We had to cross the A68  and there is a supposed crossing point but it is a bit of a joke – we couldn’t use it with full kit on the bikes – as it was choked with vegetation.  We did cross fairly easily though on the road and then we were on very minor/farm roads across to the church at Throckrington.

Then its down towards Little Bavington and Ryal before getting to Matfen. Here I knew there was a village shop / café. We stopped and again I asked if I could recharge the battery. The owner thought I wanted to bring the bike in. I explained that the battery is easily detachable and I could just plug it in. He agreed and  we sat and had a sandwich and the tiffin – a sort of chocolate biscuity thing was fabulous.

While we ate, the battery recharged to 4 cells and we were now on much gentler country.  We continued east to Stamfordham before using a small road  that took us to a much safer road crossing of the A69T that I used in 2016. You live and learn.

In Wylam, I spotted the sign for George Stephensons cottage and I knew the Wylam Wagonway ( cycletrack) was there. Again we were back on NCN72 and it was a lovely ride down into Newcastle where we crossed the Millenium bridge to Gateshead on the south side of the river. NCN14 then undulated down to Jarrow where we stayed with my brother and my SIL for 2 nights. This gave me the opportunity to go to church in South Shields and meet up with friends from so many years ago who I rarely see these days. I was glad we had made this decision as Sunday was the wettest day of the whole weekend.

Jarrow to the Boro 

We set off from Jarrow at 7.45am and road through South Shields up past Temple Park on well made cycle paths . Then we rejoined King George road up to Cleadon village where we took a road we have never ridden before into Whitburn , where we rejoined our usual route. We believe this saved us about 8 miles , rather than riding the river and coast to the same point.

We got home at 2.30pm having called in at a supermarket  so I was really pleased with how Bluebell had performed.

Ridden this week was 208.3 miles and YTD 3276.8 miles

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Responses

  1. A wonderful outing. Bluebell seems like a very good investment.

    • she is TP. means we can carry on doing what we love.

  2. After reading about your cycling adventures, I summoned the courage to suggest to my husband, (he is 58) that we take a bike ride soon as it cools down a bit here, in Illinois. It’s been hideously hot and humid for weeks and weeks, that wicked combo that saps all strength! Why does it take courage to suggest a bike ride to my Hubs? He’s a bit of a curmudgeon, and doesn’t get much exercise, and grumbles. Maybe we should get an e bike for him, and he would grumble less!! 🙂 LOVE reading about your adventures!

    • thanks Karla we were both about 55 yo when we took up cycling again, Since then we have cycled 10s of 1000s of miles so it can be done. E-bikes can be the way to go. watch this space

  3. Sounds like you’re certainly doing your bit to increase sales of e-bikes!!

    • well if it keeps us going or gets others on their bicycles all the better, The weekend’s trip was great but I couldn’t have done those hills without assistance.


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