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20 Thursday, 3.7., Kelso - Blyth, 166 km

Instead of the official route (still signed as R1) zigzagging through the fields I perfer the main road (A698) along the river. At the village Coldstream I already have quite a good section behind me. Some time later we cross the border to England for the first time (unfortunately the batteries of my camera run out at the last of the panoramas).

Bridge England/Scotland

Norham Castle
Then Norham Castle will be the first remains of an English castle. I don't care of the entrance booth, change my batteries and continue.

Union Suspension Bridge

Soon there is the next attraction: the longest suspension bridge of the world. Really! This is the Union Suspension Bridge and this was built 1820. At that time it was the first of it's kind and so the longest at all. A nice signpost shows a scene of the Opening Day and gives some informations. Behind the bridge we are in Scotland again. But only for a short time, then we get to Berwick Upon Tweed and say "Farewell Scotland". Berwick is a scenic harbour town with a couple of bridges for railway, road or motorway. The most beautiful is the oldest - as usual - and for pedestrians only.

Berwick Upon Tweed

Let it be sporty now. "Take care of the narrow path" is to be read in the guide. A gravel path leads above the cliffs, nice views of course. A man with a dog comes along as I produce one more panorama resp. just pull the bike behind me up above a steep bend. "A nice place here" I say. "Oh yeah" he says or did it come from the dog? We pass a gate and enter a meadow. Suddenly a flock of more than a dozen dark cattle in front of me stars to what is coming there. I think of a retreat but then decide to be courageous this time. So I approach this oddish conference, they just stand on the path respective the rests of it. Eventually they give way, glancing sceptically. This is because I do hard to cross a deep muddy brownish puddle. Behind me the phalanx is closed again, and when I have some distance I dare to make a photo. Then there is another gate and at the estate with the inventive name "Sea House" we are secure again.

On the other hand we are not quite out of the civilised world. The main east coast high speed railway line is just aside. Usually the rails are crossed by underpass or overpass but at one point there is a level crossing with an aggregation of signposts and instructions for use of the gates etc. They only forgot to advise that one should put his ear on the rails to prove if a train is coming.

Level Crossing

Dunstanburgh Castle

Bamburgh Castle

Coast near Holy Island
Thereafter is a cruel gravel path and we are happy when it ends. There is the road to Holy Island, which is only passable at low tide. I resign to go there to avoid that I sit there 6 hours or so before one can return.

After all this cow-shit and gravel I shoot ahead for a while on the busy A1 as long there is a shoulder to ride aside the carriage way. But when it ends we better turn to the cycle route again. And there I sit on a bench and look at the sea - the better way!

The landscape near Bamburgh gets more scenic and in consequence more touristically. So around Bamburgh Castle there are lots of busses and people admiring the old walls. Did I tell you, that I have a proper tailwind today? OK, this is the reason that I now stay to the pretty B1340 and make a good progress. But then I enter a country lane and have rest vis a' vis of the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle. This looks like the poor remaining butts of a former complete set of teeth. A man and a dog come along, the dog's name is Carmen, a Rottweiler. "When I was young and wild we did 100 miles the day" he says. May be he is younger than me and may be I do the 100 miles today...


Near Alnmouth I use the A1068 until Amble. Be happy to leave it there, for now we ride in the dunes and traffic free. This area is named Druridge Bay Country Park. Now and then there is a lake with swarms of birds. Once I miss a sign and find myself on a "Private Road" and end behind the barns of a farmhouse. Fortunately no biting dog around.

Back on the route I see industrial buildings and chimneys in front at the horizon. These will be the power station and aluminium works of Lynemouth. The authorities have made great efforts to keep the cyclist off the traffic. The cycle paths are signed properly and sometimes lead alog 4 track roads. The landscape is not so attractive - in consequence. You should make good progress at this stretch - so do I and finally achieve the 100 miles limit for today. But then I need an accommodation urgently. I look around at the town Blyth. Near the harbour I find a hotel which does not look too elegant (Ridley Park Hotel). A huge scaffold at the front - they just renew the paintings. I get a large room and pay the lowest amount of the tour (18 £).

After a long day no one can get me out to the streets or to the harbour scene. Out of my window I enjoy the view on cranes, fork lifts and containers.

21 Friday, 4.7., Blyth - Middlesburgh/Potto, 124 km

The full english breakfast is as usual a good base for the tour-day. I start with new strength and expectations. At first we pass some dunes on a gravel path. There are plenties of people with dogs around here, so have a glance to the surface of the path now and then. Most of the dogs are black and fat, I don't know why. As I see the small Island with St. Mary’s Lighthouse I remember my Newcastle cycle day in 1999. It is amazing, what hidden memories are stored in the brain and come out, when you meet places where you have been once upon a time.

St. Mary's Lighthouse

Tynemouth Ferry

So it is very enjoyable to ride along Whitley Bay to Tynemouth. There we get the ferry and cross over to South Shields. This areas are densly crowded so we have not so much original nature. But in spite of that there is a rocky cliff in the sea and this is quite black with about 50 cormorants Finally the big town of Sunderland absorbs us. We do hard to cross the River Wear caused by construction works at the bridge. The traffic is dense and the weather misty (so we have no photos). I come to Seaham on the B1287. All what I am looking for is the entrance to the next disused railway line.

Then cycling is a pleasure again. The rails were for former coal transportation from various collieries. Some signposts give informations. To lower the speed and progress they have installed tricky barriers again. Tandems and Recumbents will do hard. At one point they have blocked the route by rock barriers which can only been passed by zigzagging around. Sometimes the track is flooded, then they have installed wooden planks to pass by. And there a fine rest places with seperate arrangements to deposit the bikes. It is a pity that this section ends at the big town Hartlepool.

Restplace at the Railtrack

The R1-sign lead the cyclist to the sea promenade, what a fine route! But after a mile or so the promenade is blocked due to restauration works. So we must go back all the way and throw ourselves on the A178 to Seaton Carew. I study the map and find out: if I follow the A178 I will get on the direct way to Middlesbrough and the River Tees will be crossed by something named "Transporter Bridge". Let's find out what's about this. The traffic on this road is not so bad. On the left there are industrial sites, on the right nature reservates. So things are ballanced properly.

Transporter Bridge

Sooner than expected I reach the transporter bridge. A huge iron skeleton was to be seen already from far away. At the bridge a ship just passes by and some people take photos. I ask a woman "Where is the bridge?" "Just on the other side" she says."But I don’t see it" I say. "It will soon come over” she says. And she is right. There is a platform hanging on cables which is drawn through the air. This is something new after all these desastrous bridges until now. So I rub my eyes in the vivid center of Middlesburgh. Now I need a new map and ask in the tourist information. It would be "The White Rose Cycle Route". It is not available at the tourist office and they send me to a bookshop nearby. And there I get it, so the show can go on. Moreover we have bright sunshine meanwhile.

I sit down on a bench in the central park and study the map. Then I start, successfully at first but then I get lost as I never did before. In the southern outskirts of Middlesburgh near the golf course I follow (walking) a narrow grass path along a creek. It is wonderful like in a wild forest. Once the path has slid down into the creek and the bike with luggage must be carried over the gap. Dense stinging-nettles make the walk enjoyable. I soon realize that I am wrong, but hope once to get at any road or something like that. No, at it's end the path winds around a muddy basin and then turns all the way back. But there is a meadow and footprints on the ground. So I carry the bike up there and then find myself at the corner of a huge sport area. Of course a big fence around it. But at one spot there is a gap and a narrow wooden fence only. I unload the bike, throw it and the panniers over and finally don't forget myself. One hour lost - but I got my story.

And it goes on in a similar manner: I find back to the cycle path, then loose it again, find it back and so on. Finally we all together get out in the countryside and then things run better. It is really a fine weather now and ahead in the south there are pretty mountains, part of the North York Moors National Park. This will be the main part of the section tomorrow. May be...

At first I look for an accommodation and do hard as usual. At the nice village Hutton Rudby they celebrate a Village Summer or so and the only B&B is booked. The only hotel of the area is at the tiny village Potto. And really, it is, The Dog and Gun, and I get a room. Seems to be an excellent restaurant because many cars come up for dinner. Of course the people in the cars come up for dinner. I sit on my rolls and roastbeef and cheese.

22 Saturday, Potto - Goole, 133 km

No chance to go up in the National Park today. We have a slight drizzle in the plane but up in the mountains this would be worse. There is no sense to climb the hills only to get wet and to see nothing. So there is an elegant letout to circumvent all the mountains on the busy mainroads A172 and A19. This is of course everything but scenic, but after one fast hour I reach the town of Thirsk, announced as market town. And they really have market day.

Some time later I hit on the cycle route after it has left the National Park. It stays to be dull and there is not much to be seen of the landscape. We crawl along a high speed railway which is milled into the land dead-ahead. Sometimes we cross this track.
At one overcrossing near York there they are again - do you remember our meeting in 1999 with the Jacobite Train in Scotland? - people with cameras, camcorders and tripods. A man looks with desire along the railtrack and I ask him what is running. "There will be the Orient Express, starting at York at 12 o’ clock with a steam engine, quite unusual for this area”. That's it.

In any case I get out my camera too and soon we hear a whistle, the train really comes along with a steam engine. The waggons are old fashioned Pulman carriages. And at the end of the train the big bluff: an ordinary diesel locomotive. But I get my photo and think of Terje - the train-freak.

The last section to York is very nice along the River Ouse. But in York I fail at all. I don't find the tourist information. In a bookshop they don't know what a cycle map is. I get a detailed cost-free citymap of York instead. Soon I leave York behind, knowing, that there would be to see and to visit a lot - but you know me meanwhile?

Let us stand on railway lines. From York to Selby there is such a cycle lane again, but first we must cross the turf of the race-course. The path then is part of the Trans Pennine Trail, a popular hike and cycle trail hereabout. The path is mostly straight ahead. Nice bridges and undercrossings, no hills at all. Now and then there are symbols and signpost symbolizing the planetary system and it's distances.


of the Planetary System

At Selby there is a hectic traffic as well, but a nice cathedral. Once again I try to get a cycle map, but this time I only get a glovebox atlas of total Britain. This is not suited for a cycle tour. I don't know how to continue in the moment and this will have consequences. The first is, that I get lost two times during the rest of the day. At last I end at the town Goole after I passed the mighty cooling towers of a power station nearby. I feel to be surrounded by industrial areas. In Goole I find the Briar Croft Hotel, Clifton Gardens and get a room.

23/24 Sunday/Monday, 6./7.7., Return Journey

I don't know why, but things evolve today, one after the other on their own. May be I don't like to throw me on one of those A-roads - so I enter the railway station. There will be a train to Doncaster soon. At Doncaster there is a direct train to London. There one must change from King's Cross to Liverpool Street. Not so easy wihin 45 minutes and without any city map. The train to Harwich is waiting already. And then it is noon and I am in Harwich and I rub my eyes. The ship to Cuxhaven will go tomorrow, but tonight there will be a ship to Esbjerg.

But there is another dreamliner at the pier, a dream of steel and glass named "Grandeur of the Sea". I stroll around a while but no one does invite me for the journey of this ship. This will go to the Baltic Sea and to Petersburg. "You must go over to the pier on the other side, oh excuse me, a new bus is coming" that's all of the conversation with a service maid.

The next morning I am at Esbjerg, get my tickets and finally sit in the FLEX-train to Hamburg. I meet another tourer from Hannover and we have much to do to exchange all our experiences. At 9 pm I am back home again, they had thought I would come some days later.

So did I. But after I have thought about it I will tell you the reason of the fast return. All over the tour there were so phantastic impressions. And then I had the feeling to get lost in traffic andwithin  industrial sites. And I didn't want to spoil the memories of the highlights of the tour before. Next time I will buy the maps in advance. (Or read about the Sustrans Routes of Rural Rides of Ron Strutt). I will come to Hull and continue going south, maybe to Holland and Ostfriesland. But I must tell you: I did the Holland section at 1985 as nobody had the slightest idea of this phantastic North-Sea-Cycle-Route.
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