Farewell Scotland

Posted by on 13, Oct 2023 in 2023 - Cathedrals, Europe, Tilly the Tandem, UK, Western Europe

Farewell Scotland
Typical coastal view
Not the place to be when it’s blowing a hoolie…
Eyemouth sunset..our last night in Scotland
Not much of a welcome !
Berwick upon Tweed…our first night back in Blighty
Fabulous Northumberland Coast
Hello Newcastle….
Quick fix weld
Dominating Durham Cathedral
Wish all bridges were like this !

One thing we’ve found again and again this trip is the inflated price of accomodation all over the UK. Rooms are mainly in excess of £100 a night and we’ve now adapted our length of cycle to stop at more affordable places and bypass the more expensive locations, so we had a short cycle on to East Linton where we had a nice house for the night before we headed on to Eyemouth and our last night in Scotland.

We both remarked as soon as we set off that it was windier than we thought, but the forecast hadn’t been too bad on my app (Windy) a windy day yes, but sideways and top gusts of 48kph and a wind of 25kph.

As fate would have it my app had updated overnight and reset itself so I read the wind speeds in kph whislt the app displayed them in knotts so the 48 kph gusts that I’d seen were in fact 90kph and the gentle breeze of 25kph was 45mph. Naturally I didn’t realise this until we trying to hang on to Tilly to stop her becoming a flying tandem.

Oh dear.

The fact that it was sideways was the saving grace, we managed to hide behind hedges for much of the start of the ride, just to give the wind a chance to build up momentum, but as we ventured on to the A1 cycle path,where the hedges vanished it was simply uncyclable.

We tried a couple of times, you could cope with the wind if it’s constant and perhaps with the vicious gusts on a wide lane, but with lorries hurtling past you adding their wash to the mix it was far too dangerous and we ended up on the grass a couple of times before Linda gave me that Yarmouth girl look that said “Walk or I’m getting a taxi”.

Once we got off the A1 we got back on Tilly and continued to hide behind hedges until our big climb of the day – up from sea level to 250m before dropping done slowly into Eyemouth.

The slope up wasn’t too steep for us and we did cycle most of this until it became exposed and then we had to walk, especially at the top on the flat. It was just too dangerous to cycle as the wind was very gusty and slapped you about too much. There are dozens of wind turbines on top and they actually took the force out of the wind so we could cycle again, and for anyone who complains they are noisy, cycling next to them is far far quieter than cycling next to a road.

The roll down was heaven and we arrived in the little fishing town of Eyemouth which felt a bit end of season and despite some sunshine was cold – we both felt we needed to get a peddle on and, like some of the migrating birds overhead, head south for the winter.

The next day, the wind had dropped to a breeze as we left Scotland in some unexpected sunshine and with Berwick hotel prices being sky-high decided to camp and the breeze promptly snapped one of our tent poles as we were putting it up.. But we carry a repair tube so got the pole mended and duct taped the hole in the fabric – which fortunately was only on the exterior of the pole sleeve and not the tent proper – and then froze to death overnight! Bloomin heck it was cold! We decided after that that camping was over for the year unless we suddenly had an Indian Summer or someone lent us a heater.

The ride out from Berwick south is fabulous. The path clings to the cliffs and there’s no road nearby, just you, the sheep, the cliff and the sea. And a grassy rutted path. We had to walk some sections but the view was well worth it passing Holy Island, castles and plenty of bays. It was a great cycle and we rolled into Amble to a hostel for the night. Bunk beds! The hostel had a lounge that was more 5 star hotel than hostel overlooking the marina and the kitchen was like it was from MasterChef. And we had it all to ourselves, so had pizza and chips and chilled out on the sofa.

We followed the coast down to North Shields, mainly hugging the coast to the mouth of the Tyne before heading upriver toward Newcastle.

We arrived in Newcastle to be greeted by kids saying “What the f*** is that? like” as we cycle past, and women going out with next to nothing on in the by now cold weather. Some things don’t change.

Newcastle is hilly I don’t know why we expected anything else but there’s some serious hills in the centre and obviously the cathedral was at the top of one. They’re not long, just steep, and hats off to the young lady coming down the slope we couldn’t push up wearing enormous heels, quite how she didn’t fall over I have no idea.

The cathedral was in the middle of a service when we arrived and so we decided to come back the next day as we had booked 2 nights here.

Newcastle still seems to be party central and we loved the old buildings and the cathedral, which used to also be the lighthouse.

We headed out of the city to Durham up hill of course and passed the Angel of the North, which the cycle path goes right past. It’s even more impressive up close than when seeing it from the road.

We arrived in Durham in sunshine and had a Greggs Vegan Sausage roll on a bench in the town square with the city welcome guides giving us a talk on the history of the place. It’s definitely one for us to come back to though not on Tilly we thought as we peddled up to the Cathedral. It’s huge and very impressive sitting on the hillside overlooking the river. It’s also not a place to leave Tilly outside so I nipped in and had a word with the staff and got Tilly wheeled in for safekeeping whislt we had a wander around and collected our stamp.

Everyone raves about Durham Cathedral and it is a fabulous Cathedral, but for us it wasn’t our favourite. It’s almost too massive and daunting.

Our next stop was the slightly less well known town of Darlington, home to the oldest railway viaduct still in use in the world, and probably one of the most disappointing things you’ll ever see. Viaduct is stretching it, small bridge would be a better description, hidden by another bridge. Oh well, it was on our route anyway.

Darlington though was very nice. The old market hall was a grand buidling, even in the pouring rain, and the town centre had been done up nicely.

We’ve not had the best of luck with Tilly this trip and our breakages record continued when we loaded the panniers on our racks only to find the rack had snapped at the part that bolts to the frame.

I managed to secure it with an oversized washer and bolt and as luck would have it we were about 1km from a welding company who kindly repaired the rack and even resprayed it and we were back on route to York. But would it be as impressive as Durham….

One Comment

  1. What a fabulous journey…. and what a fabulous record of it on these blogs! Wonderful.

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