last updated September 15, 2015

Northumberland

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After the logistics of a trip to Rejkyavik with a 7 month old, the prospect of a simple car journey down to the grandparents in Newcastle seemed like a good plan. It was streamlined travel: I even left the bike at home. It so happened *cough* that the Tour of Britain was in the area so we planned a couple of half-day trips to Blyth (to welcome the riders over the border from Edinburgh) and Hexham (to see them off on the hilliest day, in the town Laura was born in). Sad but not surprised the local bike shop didn't rent bikes (this wasn't Spain) I was delighted that the Cycle Hub had a decent road bike down by the Tyne at Byker.

The next day I headed off toward Kirkley Cycles, north of the airport and Ponteland. A rough but welcoming farm steading is the setting for a proper bike shop. Big workshop, good filter coffee on tap, wood burner burning. Curiosities around. I was heading west across the A68 and, with the weather turning, bought some thermal leg warmers to supplement my optimistic summer outfit (when do you ever really ride summer clothing in northern Britain?).

The only problem with the new route was it's biggest asset - the many small roads that you have to navigate. I was always at my map trying not to take a wrong turn (but still managed to) - it was a real orienteering challenge but the trip was well worth while. And I needed my new layer Over a stunning road to Sweethope Loughs shrouded in fog, I soon crossed over toward the edge of Kielder Forest National Park where I made the mistake of getting on a cycle path through fields and gates. Not unpleasant but not for today or my road bike. Head to Bellingham and stay on the roads - not the Reivers path. God knows how long that would take you to do the coast to coast on that route (or maybe it was just me?).

A wild and quiet ride back made for being quite contemplative and, not for the first time, had me pay my respects to the hills of northumberland. Back home in time for tea, I had a tour of more outstanding areas of natural beauty, North and South Shields, before handing my bike back and changing into a spectator for a few days.

Posted by stupot at September 15, 2015 07:21 PM