Posted by: brendaintheboro | April 22, 2019

An Easter “summer” cycle tour

What a fabulous short cycle tour we have enjoyed. The weather was exceptional for Easter time.

17th April 2019 Carlisle to Moffat

On Wednesday, we took the train across to Carlisle. We booked 3 months ago and got a good deal on ticket prices – less than half the price of the ones we bought last year. The down side, was a very early start at 5.45am. The difficulty with using the Northern trains is that you cannot book your bikes and it’s first come , first  served.  There were 3 of us and so we left home at 5.15am  to cycle the 10 minutes to the station.

I sat at one end of the train with my bike and the trailers  while DH and DS1 were at the opposite end looking after bikes and  panniers. We arrived in Carlisle at 8.35am and it was cool but dry as we headed out of town, using the Komoot app for direction.

It took us around behind the station and then out over the rivers Eden and Esk in low lying country and up to Gretna where we stopped and had breakfast sitting at Gretna Gateway. Gretna Green is the first place that you come to after crossing the Scottish border and people often eloped there to be married by the blacksmith. There is still a  popular wedding venue.

Continuing north, we came to the village of Ecclefechan and as we have ridden this way before, I knew  where we would turn  and was pleased to see that the cottage with its lovely garden is still being well maintained. I wished that the lady whose it is,  was about but unfortunately not.

Then it was off up to Lockerbie, another small Scottish town where we stopped at the Co-op to buy some food and then rode out of town passing the Memorial Gardens.  More than 30years ago , a plane was blown up by terrorists over the town  killing 270 people both on the aircraft and on the ground.

By now , the sky was brightening as we continued our northward journey. Komoot was working well and keeping us on safe roads and cycle paths as we passed through Johnstone bridge and along to Moffat out first campsite. This is almost in the centre of the town and is an easy walk to a supermarket

We hadn’t booked by were lucky to get a pitch with a hook-up so we could charge the bike batteries. I use more power than the other two but I have a spare battery , so no range anxiety. This was a good day to start the tour as it wasn’t too demanding.

Thursday 18th April aka Maundy Thursday. Moffat to Jedburgh

It was a very cold start but the climb out to the Grey Mare’s tail waterfall  at 10 miles had us warmed up. The climb was up to 1100 ft following Moffat water. We pulled in and walked up to the viewing point and I was really pleased to see that there was plenty of water coming down.

 

We also had 2nd  breakfast in the shelter of the carpark wall but didn’t stay too long as we didn’t want to become chilled and then had a nice decent to St Mary’s loch where there is a café and we stopped for a welcome hot chocolate. We talked with a motorcyclist intrigued by the way we are touring as he also has a e- mountain bike.

Continuing eastward, we were blessed with warmish sunshine, In the shelter of the wind it was hot but the wind took the edge off it. I have to say that the countryside was very impressive. There was yellow gorse blooming everywhere we looked and the slightly coconutty smell was divine.  There were lambs gambolling about in the fields and some very new ones and I saw hares hopping away from the road. I was amazed by the numbers of them.

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The Yarrow Water runs down into St Mary’s loch and the Cappercleugh reservoir and we continued along the A708 until just after Yarrowford where we turned off and continued along a minor road. I saw what I assume is the remains of a bastle house which was a type of fortified farmhouse from the time of the border reveres. There used to be a lot of robbing and pillaging that went on along the English/Scottish borders.

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Komoot then took us down a really awful path where I got off to walk due to loose gravel and rocks. I didn’t want a fall at this stage.  The route took us back onto the road and we sped along until we saw Selkirk on the horizon – high on the horizon and knew we would have another climb. So up we went and I have never been so thankful that someone was inspired to make an e-bike.

We had lunch in the town and then it was back heading eastward on minor roads and then a track. Suddenly before us was a river with a ford!!  We hadn’t expected it but there was a bridge that needed negotiating and it was a bit tricky but we managed.

 

From there we carried on down through Ancrum and then on the main road into Jedburgh. I have to say that most of the cars and wagons where very courteous and gave us lots of road space. I think riding with a trailer and flag does help.

The Jedburgh campsite is fairly small and not the smartest. The site manager said it was still 1970 style but it suited us and again we were given a lovely pitch with a hook-up to charge the batteries. I had used up a full battery and was on the spare .

Friday, 19th April 2019  aka Good Friday Jedburgh to Dunstan Hill

It wasn’t a cold night but when we woke in the morning, the mist fell and got thicker as the time went on.  There were lots of birds – crows I think – in the trees and as they awoke and took flight they  bombed the tent and I had to clean it up.

We packed up a  wet tent and then rode along into town and then climbed up steeply into sunshine and when we reached the top had to stop to strip off  as we were so warm – indeed sweating.

We rode past Cessford and its castle up on the hill.

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Then it was up and down to Morebattle which I noticed had streets named Thimble Street and another called Teapot Street which tickled me . From here we pressed on to Town Yetholm where we sat in the sun to eat.

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There is a small shop/post office and I bought bananas, my favourite fruit. The village is the crossing point of the Pennine Way and the St Cuthbert’s Way long distance  walking trails. Apparently, this was the site of many battles in former times. We met a couple of cyclists, a lady and her daughter who were out on a spin from the town. It was lovely to see a young girl out riding .

Then more rolling countryside flew along as our wheels turned and we rode into Wooler. I was there a few years ago and didn’t want to climb Chatton hill so followed NCN68 south and came across surprise ford No. 2. This was across the Coldgate water.

 

It was a bit of a push and then on the other side DS1 realised that a bolt that held on his rear carrier had snapped. A couple of road angels came to the rescue and helped remove the remains of the bolt. We had a spare that wasn’t quite the right size but with a bit of persuasion it when on  and with the security of cable ties, we carried on. By now the sun was blazing down and I had to stand in the shade to stop overheating. There were lots of large farm vehicles and while talking to our road angels, I discovered that all of the small farms have been bought out and arenow part of a large conglomerate.

We carried on and then realised that Komoot was trying to take us onto the A1. I wasn’t going that way so we had to continue riding onward towards Alnwick but the app rerouted us and we got to the Dunstan Hill campsite having cycled  56.5 miles. Even DH was nearly out of battery power  ( his only battery) as there had been an increasing headwind. The site was full but we were given a back packing place. One of the very kind site assistants let us put our batteries  on charge in the awing of his caravan.

There was also a Fish and Chip van on site and even though I am not a fish and chip eater , I wasnt prepared to cook having cycled nearly 60 miles. So a take out it was.

Saturday 20th April 2019 Dunstan Hill to Angel of the North Fishing Lakes

We know there is no Camping and caravanning club site down in Tyneside and so rely on visiting relatives when in that area. Fortunately , one of my brothers has the Angel of the North Fishing lakes and so I phoned and asked if that was a possibility. My other brother was full with visiting family so we plugged in a route to take us down there. On examining it , we realised that it would take us through central Newcastle upon Tyne on major roads so that was a no go. However, we decided to head down NCN 1 along the coast down to South Shields and get the ferry across the river Tyne. It was a glorious day, but typical of the North East coast with a slight haze and a cold wind blowing off the sea. However, the route is relatively flat and on paths or quiet roads ,and is one I know well having ridden it many times but I never tire of it.

We got away with perfectly dry tents for a change  so packing up was easy and we were away by 8.30am, heading south and we had only gone about 3 miles when I stopped to photograph the geological formation here. Lots of the coast is magnesium limestone but here there areP1020778 are some basalt columns.

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We have seen similar columns when kayaking out to the island of Staffa years ago and also at the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland on a cycle trip some years back.

Carrying on we when down through Longhoughton and Boulmer before the off road path to Warkworth. Its easy to miss the path and DS1 who has driven it many times but not cycled it , did not know of its existence. Its just after the bridge at the bend on the outskirts of Alnmouth.

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Warkworth has a fine castle and a climb up to it before the off road path to Amble. It was packed with strolling families so we kept on the road and out the other side to East Amble Cemetery where we stopped to eat . Interestingly, it has a sign that its a war graves cemetery  and there seem to be more of these appearing.

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The spire is all that remains of the two churches that  used to be on the site.  Then it was off again through Low Hauxley and my favourite Druridge Bay and on to Cresswell. As we approached,  I noticed a for sale sign and my heart sank thinking the ice cream shop might have gone. Phew!! its still there and its home made ice cream too.

There was an old guy from Newbiggin on a trike and a man and his son pulled in. The Dad was pulling a Mule trailer so a discussion on trailers ensued. There are toilets just over the road from the shop so its a good stopping point.

The old Lynemouth power station still stands and when it is  passed  you turn up to Bedlington and come down through the old mining villages which have sadly lost their old livelihood. The old miners spoke a dialect of their own called Pitmatic in these parts.

We took the river path down through Blyth and onto the sea front which was heaving with people more or less all the way along through Whitley Bay, Cullercoats and Tynemouth. We stopped to photograph St Mary’s lighthouse.

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The path is on the shared pavement  and we got some complaints saying we should be on the road. It was too dangerous with the amount of bumper to bumper cars. At one point, I pointed out the signs and told the lady that it is part of an international cycle route and she needed to read the signs that say to share the path carefully , which is what I  was attempting to do as I rang my warning bell. Give her credit, she did apologise as she hadn’t read the signs. They were all along the path.

I had to wait a short while at the castle in Tynemouth as I made better time than the others pulling their trailers. A young lean fit cyclist came up the bank wearing Lotto-Jumbo gear and I asked if he was a pro-rider. He had been but had to stop as he had developed a heart condition and now only rides for pleasure but he was interested in what we were doing.

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The Shields ferry cost us £5.60 for the three of us and there was another cyclist on before us. He had taken the train to Berwick in the early morning and was cycling back to Birtley near where we wanted to go but was taking a longer route.

So we rode along through Jarrow and up towards Primrose before taking the Bowes Railway path which was reasonable in places apart from the restrictors which were a nightmare. We ended up having to disconnect the trailer and then having to lift the bikes over. This happened a number of times  before getting on to a horrible , ? being repaired , re-laid bit that was a complete nightmare. I should have been on a full suspension mountain bike. Once down at the road we turned for the lakes. My SIL was worried as she was thinking we would have been there an hour earlier andt he road option might have been better.

Again , I ate food I wouldn’t normally eat but the steak pies were a treat, if a bit well done. It was an early night for us all.

Sunday, 21st April 2019 Easter Day – He is Risen

We don’t normally cycle on a Sunday but decided as we needed to be home, we would carry on. We sorted out a route and it took us through Birtley and the outskirts of Washington ( the Original) to Hetton le Hole and the top end of South Hetton. Its surprising when approaching a place you know well, from a different direction, you dont always recognise it. This was the case when we realised we were in Haswell. We did try to find the memorial to Tommy Simpson who was a Tour de France rider who died in 1967 on Mount Ventoux. We couldn’t find it so will look for it another time.

Continuing on we pushed on to Hurworth Burn and had 2nd breakfast there and completed the ride home by 1pm.

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In total for the week I completed 273 miles  making the YTD as 1381 miles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Responses

  1. What an excellent tour and you chose just the right week for the good weather.

  2. Looks like you had a great cycle around Viv’s Wood. Maybe another time come through Kielder and Bellingham and head on to the Otterburn Ranges and you can cycle past when the flags aren’t flying. This time of year is good as they are on the lambing break so there is no firing for a while.
    On Saturday you must have nearly cycled past Hauxley Wildlife Discovery Centre, just south of Amble. Duncan was working there that day and they do great scones with a view over a bird reserve if your ever passing again!
    I love that stretch of coast and have Happy memories of cycling down from Berwick. Duncan and I walked from Beadnell to Lesbury near Alnmouth as a training walk a couple of weeks before I did the Great North Run. Duncan isn’t a cyclist so I struggle to get him on a bike.
    Sally

    • Sally that stretch from Low hauxley to Cresswell is one of my favourite stretches of the coast. Sorry to have missed a visit to Viv’s wood but the campsite was closed for visitors as they are having building work done. – I checked beforehand. Now we are using e-bikes we need charging points so no wild camping at present. Maybe try Duncan on an e-bike. it makes such a difference to me


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