Hadrians Way Cycle Ride
Brampton to Corbridge
We awoke to rain, well it is a cycling holiday, not just rain but torrential rain. We head down for breakfast which didn't disappoint, buffet style and delicious. After breakfast Peter sits down at the piano in the hallway and rattles off a few tunes. We are all impressed and surprised as none of us knew Peter could play.
Then Dianne the owner of the
place asked us to pose for photos for her web site, so charity T shirts on and a
quick picture. Then load up the van and retrieve the bikes from the dry storage
room ready for the off. We get as far as the archway to the road and see the
vehicles going past with spray and rain bouncing off the pavements. We opt to
stay under the arch for a while to see if it eases off a little. After a few
minutes it eases from a downpour to a shower so we mount up and set off.
Lovely dry secure storage for our bikes
Yes it is raining that hard
Nice ride out of Brampton, the rain is heavy
but the route is flat to undulating so we make decent progress. Stop for a photo
at Lanercost priory then we start the climbs up to join the route of the wall.
Nice flat riding but very wet
Lanercost Priory Colin checking satnav don't want to take a wrong turning
We stop for another photo at the first turret we come to, the rain has eased a little, we have a chat to more tourists who are walking the route. Have a laugh at Bob's expense as he thought the photo on the information board showed the Romans with push bikes, from a distance in the rain the designs on the shields did look like circular wheels, either that or the rain and altitude is affecting him.
The first turret
The romans with "bikes"
Dave feeling sense of achievement after a climb in the rain
Glen reading the information on the tower
saddle up say goodbye to the other tourists, Peter leaves them with a parting
word of wisdom. "Dont know why they call it a Roman wall, it just stays
put". I think the rain and altitude is affecting everyone. With the rain
and conditions I want to ensure we stay on route, so at a junction for a double
check I pull out the maps and ask Bob to check and ensure
that we are on route and taking the best option.
While Bob and I have been checking the maps Peter has cycled on up the
next rise. As we approach the top of the rise we find Peter laid on a bench we
try to cycle past but he isn't asleep just resting and larking about.
Is it a tramp?
No its Peter having a rest
My phone rings so we stop again, it's only
John from the Golden Lion at Corbridge just checking we are on our way and still
wanted the rooms for the night, after confirming we will definitely want the
rooms we carry on cycling and still rising. Then the road levels out and is flat, the views over
the valley to the south and the Scottish hills to the north are awe inspiring
even in mist and driving rain.
Great Views from the tops
Soon we come to Birdoswald Roman fort, there is a
cafe so we decided to stop for a break. The rain eases off and we sit outside.
Use the facilities, and are amazed at how many foreign tourists are looking
around. As we pass the car park we see there is a tourist bus in.
We continue on the roads but off the route
of the wall until we drop into Gilsland. The town has no cafes so it was a good
job we had stopped at Birdoswald. Gilsland is on a river so we know what that
means, a long series of climbs back up to the route of the wall which goes over
the Pennines towards the east coast.
Leaving Cumbria. Start of Northumberland and the big climbs
The climbs and the rain and mist go on and on.
We start the series of climbs and the rain
returns with a vengeance. Cars and vans go past and we get loads of spray from
the wheels, just as well that we can't get any wetter. Peters handle bar grip comes
loose, the rain has been that heavy, it takes till the end of the ride to dry
out and stay on the bar, the rest of the journey Peter is constantly having to
refit it, it is not much of a problem as he just pushed it back on while
cycling. The route turns off the road and onto a traffic free path putting a
wall between us and the traffic, always better and safer to cycle traffic free
in these conditions. As we top the last of the big rises the rain stops and the
route levels out we have reached the
top of the Pennines.
The rain has stopped
Twice Brewed inn nice stop
Clearly they have a sense of humour
Guess its a quiet place
Next stop is The twice brewed inn, again right on route. Ian is already there and parked up. Nice premises, the weather has improved so much we sit outside for a while but the rain returns and we have to move inside. Dave chats to the landlord and ends up buying a T shirt. The Inn and the drinks are that nice and varied that they all get too comfortable and take some persuading to saddle back up and continue in the rain. The sustrans route turns right, but my route goes straight on. I don't see the point of going two mile down hill to climb all the way back up to rejoin the road we are already on, Bob views the maps and agrees with me. He also picks another variation on the route that will avoid an unnecessary climb farther along. We continue on the gently undulating road past Sycamore Gap at Steel Rigg where Peter informs us is a famous scene that was filmed in the Robin Hood Prince of Thieves movie.
We come to a right turn down a narrow road, "that's it" I say "downhill to Hexham and flat to the finish". We are glad of that as the rain is getting heavier again. We put our rain jackets on all except for Glen who says " I am just as wet with sweat as I am with rain so I'm not going to bother with my coat". It's a nice ride down to the river, then after a comfort break and some chocolate bars we carry on and rejoin the sustrans route, which we follow into Hexham. The rain stops, great we are going to have a dry finish. The route crosses the railway line three times otherwise it's a nice ride past the park and caravan site. A bit of bad signage leads to confusion as we leave Hexham crossing the River Tyne but soon sorted and we are back on route towards Corbridge.
The River Tyne
We cycle past the Roman remains and turn into Corbridge and
the town centre. Ian has only just parked the van and I leave the others talking
outside while I go and check in and collect the keys. Bob and Peter don't mind
sharing again, that means the rest of us have a room each. I dish out the keys
last two are rooms 2 and 6. I ask Glen which he wants "just give me one and
stop messing about" said Glen, so I handed over a key without looking, Glen
got number 2 that left me with number 6 and the longest walk to my room, that
was the first bad choice.
We all agreed to get ready and meet in the
bar in an hour. I put my stuff in the room draped my wet clothes around the
window to try and dry them out a little then ran the bath for a nice hot soak.
As I was stepping out of the bath I saw a
movement in the door jamb out of the corner of my eye, just a shadow I thought,
and stepped onto the bath mat, then I saw the movement again so looked closer
this time and was shocked to see it was a snake. That's right a snake in a room
on the third floor, even in the poor light I could see the zigzag markings down
its back, so knew it was an Adder, the only poisonous snake in the UK. I was in
the bathroom, the snake was in the doorway and the exit and my phone were on the
far side of the room. Thinking quickly I wrapped the towel round my waist then
held up the bath mat like a matadors cape and holding this between me and the
snake slowly edged into the bedroom. The snake followed me out and headed
towards the rear of a dresser, so I pulled the dresser away from the wall this
let me keep an eye on the snake while edging towards my phone. Luckily
the last call I had received was from the B&B so it was easy to call
them for help.
It was answered by the girl behind the bar.
The call went something like this.
Me - Hello this is room 6 There is a snake
in my room.
Girl - Laughter.
Me - I know it sounds like a wind up but
there is a snake in my room and what's worse its an Adder and poisonous, can
you send someone up.
Girl- Laughter, just a minute.
Is there anyone in the bar that's with Colin in room 6 he says he has a
snake in the room, will it be a practical joke? Sound of laughter from all the
people in the bar
Bob and Dave were already in the bar so
Peter said he would go up as well as John the landlord who had called me that morning.
Meanwhile as I had my phone in my hand I was trying to take pictures of the
snake, but with the lowlight, and my hands shaking ( I had to hold my hands
against the wall to try and stop the shake) it was not very successful but I didn't
want to use the flash so its the best I could manage.
By now the snake was behind the dresser that
I had pulled away from the wall,
Peter came in camera video running, “where is the snake” asked Peter, “its
behind the dresser” I said
Peter had a look as it was gloomy in the
room he leant in behind the dresser, the snake jumped, Peter jumped further.
“My god there is a snake” said Peter. John who was stood in the doorway said
“Im not coming in I'm wearing shorts”.
" You'r in shorts, I'm naked"!! I exclaimed.
John disappeared downstairs to call for a
pest control company. Peter went back down to the bar, and I was left with a
procession of strangers coming up from the
bar to have a look at the snake. All the while I am stood near an open window
with just a towel round me.
Eventually Ian comes in to have a look, he has asked John for something to try and put the snake in, so we now have a large plastic bucket and a broom handle to try and capture the snake. With a lot of coaxing and snake strikes on the broom handle, Ian eventually got it curled up enough to put the bucket over it and trap it.
Yes its a big snake
With those marking defiantly an Adder
The snake is contained
quickly placed some weight on the top and checked round to ensure it was contained,
unfortunately its head and tail were sticking out a little, It looked frightened,
I felt sorry for it but managed to move the bucket enough to completely enclose
it. Every one departed and I was left alone staring at an upturned bucket,
checking to see if was moving or any sign of an escaping snake. I carefully got
dressed all the while watching the bucket. My phone rang, it was the rest of the
cyclist group, “ are you coming down we all want to go for something to
eat”. As the bucket had not moved I agreed I would come down. just as I was going
down the stairs I met John with a pest control officer coming up the stairs who
was telling John “I have never dealt with a snake before” .
I decide to go back into the room to show
them what we had done to contain the snake. Pest control said he had come from Sunderland and would
release the snake on the way home if he could collect it unharmed. I was pleased
at that as I didn't want to hurt the snake, just didn’t want to share a room
with it. "We just need something to get it from the
bucket into the sack I have
brought" he said, we need something flat to slide under the bucket and trap the snake.
have just the thing" said John and disappeared soon to return with the pizza
baking tray/shovel from the kitchen, (hope it was an old one and no longer in
we slid it under the bucket and pest control man lifted the bucket with
the pizza shovel, as he
was moving towards the door I suggested it would be better to upturn the bucket
so the the snake was sat in the bottom rather than on the pizza baking tray, we
did this and looking in the bucket the snake was just laid unmoving. We went out
the fire escape rather than through the pub and once in the yard placed the snake
in a sack, then that sack into another sack and tied the top. Job done I ran up
the fire escape locked my room and went down to the bar to be greeted by cheers
and laughter from most of the bar. “He will have a pint of Snake Bite”
shouted Glen, more laughter. A quick drink and we decide to go out for a meal to
the Black Bull a place I have been before and it is really good food. I
telephone and make a booking for an hours time. We go out and head to another
nice spot I know in Corbridge. The Pele tower pub is very unusual its an old
tower in the church wall with a small bar on the ground floor and limited
seating, but up some steep worn stone steps you can find tables and chairs on
two higher floors. Dave loves quirky pubs and all the others were taken with the
different style of the place. Just look at
Doorway to the Pele Tower
The bar area
The stairs to the upper floors
First floor seating area
Dave tries the upper floor
Dave has to take a picture looking down
a drink in the tower we went along to the Black bull for our booked meal. We
were a little early so sat and had a drink in the bar.
On the way to the next pub we found another "Walton" sign so Dave obliged and posed again.
Dave the poser
Corbridge is a small place and by now the
tale of a snake in a hotel room had spread, so we all became minor celebrities,
we were the talk of the town. Peter went round a few of the tables sitting
chatting and showing the pictures and video on his phone. There were lots of
comments from people ranging from " I would have died, I would of been out
of there like a shot", to " you should have hit it on the head with a
stick and just killed it"
Naturally when we ordered the food they
insisted I had snake and kidney pie. Along with lots of other quips and snake
related comments we had a great night. The waitress thought it was great fun and
joined in. The waiter wanted me to send him the pictures to his phone so he could show
people who might not have believed him.
I sent the pictures and asked if it made the
local press to let me know so I could have a copy. As I have never heard anything I
guess it didn't make the press. Back to our digs and I searched the room with
the torch on my phone, nothing found. Emptied the kit out of my bags and
stripped the covers off the bed, no sign of any wildlife. Even so I sat up in
the bed all night with the light on so only slept fitfully, so much for a good
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