Leg 8 – to Newcastle & Warkworth

08 May 2013

After a good night’s sleep I awoke to a duller day requiring more layers due to an overcast sky and colder wind. Eating nearly  the last of my porridge I realised I’d definitely need to buy supplies soon, luckily I had a B&B stop at a colleague’s house planned for that evening.

After a quick check of the route on my maps, due to my Garmin still being disabled (must email them!), I hit the road in good time and pedalled back to Seaham, before turning North up the coast towards Sunderland. The clouds were building up and looking more and more threatening at this point however I hoped to avoid the worst of any rain which was moving up from the South. I stopped in Sunderland for a second breakfast at a McDonald’s, the first of the trip, because they have free wifi and I needed to do a blog update. Breakfast wasn’t to bad either as it happens.

Post hobbit breakfast I crossed the river, negotiating some serious traffic and exchanging a few pleasantries in the process. I actually enjoy the challenge of cycling in cities and it makes a nice contrast to sleepy country lanes. It doesn’t intimidate me, you just have to keep your wits about you and respect the rules of the road. Don’t jump traffic lights, it really annoys drivers! Mutual respect is the way forward.

Continued on to Whitburn Bay where there were a few kite surfers out braving the cold North Sea, then on to South Shields, a pretty dull and dirty ride so far.

Whitburn Bay and kites

Whitburn Bay and kite surfing

I turned inland following the banks of the Tyne and the Keelman’s Way cycle path, to get to Newcastle. After quite a few ups and downs, a few wrong turnings and random horses wandering about, I reached the cycle/pedestrian bridge in Newcastle and crossed over the Tyne.

Newcastle cycle bridge

Newcastle cycle bridge and Opera House


Up into Newcastle I rode a bit of a circuitous route to get to Gosforth, where work have our main office. I wanted to avoid the duel carriageways but succeeded in getting slightly lost due to the warren like nature of Newcastle and it’s suburbs, and the fact my map wasn’t fit for purpose at this point! It also started raining, typical.

Finally reached the office and had lunch with some colleagues. Great to meet up after a week on the road and take advantage of the canteen – got a free lunch too courtesy of the boss who should also be joining me for a leg at some point – no pressure Dave! Another colleague was a little late turning up due to his motorbike breaking down on the way up from Norwich, wheel bearings disintegrated which could have been a lot nastier than it was.

Back on the road, post a morale boost and with jelly babies in hand, I headed back to the Tyne and followed the North bank out to the coast, passing through Byker Village, which I’m assuming gave rise to the tv series Byker Grove with Ant and Dec, and then Wallsend. Wallsend was a bit unimpressive, I’d heard it wasn’t much but I expected a bit more for the end of Hadrian’s Wall.

Wallsend

Wallsend


I reached Tynemouth Village after cycling along Hadrian’s Wall cycle path, past various dockyards and ships, and found an impressive castle on the bluff.

Tynemouth Castle 1

Tynemouth Castle 1


 

Tynemouth Castle 2

Tynemouth Castle 2


After the morning’s ride the coastline was much more impressive, and nice to spend the majority of the ride on cycle paths or the promenade.

Tynemouth Village

Tynemouth Village


 

Tynemouth Castle 3

Tynemouth Castle 3

 

Into the mists

Into the mists


Continued on through Whitley Bay, where I didn’t stop, making really good progress despite the nasty weather. The sun would come out occasionally and make everything steam. Things looked quite eerie in the mists, especially the slowly turning now familiar wind farms. Sound also goes a bit different in the mist or fog so was a bit spooky, and I thought I might be cycling into Ravenloft (obscure reference there). I was also getting quite tired so started singing to keep rhythm up – probably sounded quite bad but belted out a few Queen numbers anyway.

Had a long yet invigorating stretch up to Blythe, where it started raining again so I put my waterproof back on. I decided not to bring waterproof trousers and just get wet legs. Lycra and thin shorts dry quickly so not regretting it yet. Crossed a couple of bridges and continued north to Newbiggin, which has a plinth in the harbour with two people standing on it. I assume these were statues rather than real people but it was still quite misty so who knows!

Newbiggin

Newbiggin – people on plinth

Continued on through Lynmouth and Ellington, where I passed a bit of a brawl between a group of girls, steered clear of that one, they fight dirty, not a great place. Back on route 1 I passed through Cresswell and then along a coastal track beside Druridge Bay. Really nice ride as the sun started to come out, and the route goes through a bird reserve. There were quite a lot of twitchers out, and a few other cyclists to say hello to. It was getting late at that point and in wanted to make Lynne and John’s in good time so pushed on harder, but had to stop a few times to admire the views.

Highland cattle

Highland cattle


 

At one random point I suddenly remembered where I put my passport and driving license, which had been worrying me for a while. They were cm’s from me in my handlebar bag underneath the money pouch. A safe place! Phew. Had some liquorice from Whitby to celebrate. Also noticed the Ridgeback was starting to make grinding noises, probably due to the rain and sand, so made a note to give it a wash down and lube the following day.

Finished with a ride through Amble, then on to Warkworth with the sun silhouetting the castle – got the picture somewhere but don’t think it’s uploaded to the cloud yet for some reason. A great days ride, bit longer than expected at 81 miles (plotted it on Garmin connect later that evening), but very satisfying to get through the adverse weather and see some friends.

Stayed at a colleagues B&B, No. 28, in Warkworth, Lynne and John Ross, thanks for putting me up guys! John had cooked a fine chilli which really hit the spot, and there was plenty of it to satiate my cycling carb requirements. Also had a couple of pints in their local and tried a different beer, Wymer I think, was very nice. Good to have a natter and swap stories of various adventures. Lynne’s sister is currently sailing from New Zealand to Tahiti, sounds amazing yet slightly terrifying. Good luck to her and her husband! I heartily recommend their B&B for cyclists, bikes can be locked away and they’re great hosts.

Found a note a work colleague had slipped into my panniers when I wasn’t looking wishing me good luck from everyone, thanks Jayne!

It was weird to go to sleep in a real bed again, but I was very quickly snoozing and looking forward to seeing more of Northumbria the next day, and places Lu and I visited a few years ago.

5 thoughts on “Leg 8 – to Newcastle & Warkworth

  1. Steve

    Just a random question – what tech have you taken with you, to do you blog, is it just your iPad? Am enjoying keeping up with your progress…

    Reply
    1. Bike around Britain Post author

      Hi Steve – use my iPad for the blog, and can hotspot it to the Internet via my iPhone if no wifi available. Other than that I have a now redundant Garmin, and a PowerMonkey charging unit.

      Thanks for the support guys!

      Reply
  2. Kevin Spratling

    Hello James, Kevin S here. Great blog – really entertaining and informative. Keep it up and best wishes. Sounds like things are going really well. Take care, Kevin

    Reply
  3. Simon Jones

    Great stuff. You should expand this into a book upon your return.

    I may have mentioned that Northumberland is one of my favourite places on Earth, so I’m thoroughly enjoying the blog and pictures at the moment! We stayed in Warkworth the last time we were up there and it’s a lovely village (town?).

    Given the loooong drive to get up there, I’m frankly dumbstruck that you’ve cycled all the way there. I hope you’re proud of what you’re doing!

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Self Propelled | Bike Around Britain

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