Hadrians Way Cycle Ride
Corbridge to South Shields
I quickly got ready and carried my stuff
downstairs. I hung my backpack on a hook, I wasn't going to put that on the
floor. Breakfast was OK, but no refund on the room as John still maintaining I
could of brought it in and it had cost him £100 to have snake removed. Oh well
suppose it makes an interesting story.
we go outside to find the sun is shining its
warm calm and the forecast is good, perfect cycling weather. We have the usual group shot, Glen says we
look like a pack of highlighters in our bright tops that are all different
then as we saddle up, Glen tells us about an American motorhome down
in the car park by the river that looks like it has been there for a few years.
Everyone wants to go and see it, even though I point out it's adding an
unnecessary climb to the day.
The pack of highlighters
Viewing the motorhome
It's a nice ride down and over the river we
view the motorhome, take some pics and set off, back up to Corbridge, then take
the road out which is a long 2mile climb, but as I point out, "it's the
last climb of the day, after this is all beside the river Tyne and flat".
Just as well as Peter has still got trouble with his handle bar grip coming
loose from all the rain yesterday. He also shows us a bruise that he got when he
fell off riding over the railway line as we were heading into Hexham, as he was
at the back at the time we all missed it so no photo I'm afraid.
We have a short break at the top of the
climb, then turn down a side road to the Tyne and follow the road along towards
Ovingham where a bridge takes us to the south bank of the Tyne.
I lead the way off the bridge through a
carpark to join up with the cycleway beside the river. I check we are all there,
no Peter is missing, where can he be he was right behind us on the bridge, he
must of seen where we went. Just as I decide to go back and look for him he
cycles into view. "Why are you all standing there?" Peter asks.
"Waiting for you" I say. " I was waiting on the bridge to take a
photo as you passed underneath" he says. So Peter pedals back onto the
bridge and we cycle on and under the bridge so Peter got his photo.
Peter gets his photograph
He will have to catch up
It's great cycling today, everyone has settled into a nice rhythm all the bikes are running well, the sun is shining it's nice and warm, the scenery is lovely as it's mainly through country parks or on old railway lines so the route is flat. When I am leading the others take turns to cycle behind me going "ssssss" that snake has a lot to answer for. We cycle on recrossing the Tyne on an old railway bridge, it even has a name "Hagg Bank Bridge" stopping to admire the engineering and the river coursing beneath.
Hagg Bank Bridge history
Lovely to cycle over
Dave poses for a photograph
The river is in good order today
Following the railway path the
going is easy and we are all settled in and enjoying it when we hear a shout
from a bridge going over the railway. We look up it's Ian, oops we were enjoying
the riding that much we almost missed our rendezvous cafe in Wylam.
We leave the railway path and head up into
the village, Ian has already picked out the best cafe so we are soon seated
outside enjoying our mid morning break. Ian had been watching our progress using
the tracking facility on Google maps so had known exactly where and when to meet
us. Technology can be great.
Nice coffee stop that we nearly missed.
Suitably refreshed we Saddle up and rejoin
the railway path towards Newcastle upon Tyne. We pass George Stephenson's house
right beside the line, it now borders a golf course that Dave has played on a
few times so we stop and admire it all.
George Stephenson's cottage
The new signage
The original sign
Then onwards through another country park at
Newburn. The route turns right at a junction to stay beside the river. With all
the rain we had yesterday there is a huge puddle. Glen Dave and Peter pick there
way round the right hand edge, Bob and I go to the left side I was trying to get
Bob to pedal through the puddle with me. Bob is not that daft and goes to the
far side where there is a dry path, I line myself up to ride through the puddle.
"It won't be deep and it's a hard surface donut will be fun" I say. I
set off and the water gets deeper and deeper until it's up to the bottom of the
frame, then my wheels get stuck in some silt that has been washed down and I
have no option but to put my feet down. My shoes had only just dried out from
yesterday and now we're full of water. I had to push my bike out of the puddle,
only to discover loads of green weed trailing off the wheels and gears. A soggy
wet mess, naturally no sympathy but lots of photos, thanks lads.
Made pics into an animated gif
Wet, muddy and covered in green slime
The route winds through the edge of an
industrial estate then continues to follow the river bank.
It's all flat and hard surface with a nice
wide shared footpath and cycle lane. The view down the Tyne is great watching
the bridges that span the river come ever closer as we cycle on towards our
planned lunch stop. It's a great route with the Tyne on our right side and new
build office blocks with landscaping on our left. As we get closer to the city
the footfall increases so we are weaving in and out of pedestrians who are
walking on the cycle lane part of the path. We approach the Quayside
Wetherspoons that is bang on route and bang on time as planned for our lunch
stop. Peter races ahead, hope he doesn't go past, but then Peter wouldn't race
past a pub maybe into one but not past one. He then stands on the cycle lane to
video us approaching.
Ian has managed to get the van parked and is
already at the pub waiting for us and has been chatting to some people
explaining what we were doing, telling the tale about the snake and even found
some other cyclist, a couple who were on holiday and just doing some little
pedal outs and another lad who was on a long haul on his own, says he does a lot
of that, he did give me his Facebook page name but I have searched and can't
find it. Ian is surprised to see us approaching on the route we did as Google
maps tracker showed us on the opposite bank of the Tyne, Technology can be
We have a long chat to lots of different
people who are interested in our ride. I am checking the internet while
we sit as one route option was to go through the Tyne Tunnel, something
Peter and I were keen to do. However the tunnel had been closed for repairs
since 2013 but was due to reopen that day at 1pm, ( after lots of missed targets
had already passed) the web site did not make it clear, so I tried phoning, only
an answer phone service so I emailed the help desk. Now we would just have to
wait and see if I got a reply.
Enjoying the break by the quayside
There was a girl at the pub wearing a snake
pattern outfit, the guys persuaded her to pose with me for a photo as a joke,
but she had wandered off before we left so it was a missed opportunity.
We said our farewells to the other people we
had been chatting to and headed on, as we passed the Millennium Bridge, also
known as the blinking eye, we all had to ride over and back and have some photos
taken. People are kind and offer to take our photos so we can have a group shot
on the far side. Cycling back over the bridge we decide to have another group
shot, Dave asks a couple who are walking over the bridge if they would take a
photo, they are foreign but speak good English and oblige, after a few different
shots getting the bridges in the background they hand the phone back and turn to
leave only to say "oh now we have missed our bus," as a bus pulls away
from the car park. Nice one Dave of all the people to ask you pick that couple.
The Gateshead side of the Millennium bridge
The delaying photo on the middle of the bridge
We cycle off the bridge and carry on towards the ride end, still on the well signed Hadrians cycleway. A great traffic free route through Newcastle on hard surface and fairly flat with views over the River Tyne, we are all enjoying the last part of the ride, we are feeling the elation and the sense of achievement, we don't want it to end.
Not quite the end of the ride, but a similar sign to the one at the start
A great traffic free route through Newcastle
As we approach the point where we could drop
off the Hadrian's cycle way and take the Tyne Tunnel I check my emails on my
phone, technology can be great. There is an email from Tyne Tunnel, It says
check the web site to see if the Tunnel is open, I Check web site it's still not
confirming if the Tunnel is open, a bit of search of news feeds and social media
finds some people saying Tunnel is open. We decided to give it a go. Down side
is I have not programmed that route into my satnav. There are no signs, either
because it's been closed for so long they have either been removed or
and I get out the maps and pick a route that will take us to the Tunnel. Every
junction we keep checking the maps and before long we arrive at the road above
the Tunnel. Now there are even signposts to follow. These take us through lots of
cones and roadworks until we arrive at the Tunnel.
There are no people about and the entrance to the escalators
and information centre is closed and still in the process of being worked
on. Have we detoured for nothing? We take some photos and walk around the
entrance building, there is a sign saying Tunnel open but access is only via the
As we can only get two people with their
bikes in at a time we have to descend in relays. Other pedestrians and cyclists
turn up and join the queue. We have a chat and take more photos and find when the
lift comes back up there are people ascending so the tunnel is open all the way
through. It's nice and cool in the tunnel and very atmospheric, we love the
experience, we have to push the bikes for the first part but a tunnel employee
says we can cycle the rest of the way. It's a great feeling and another thing
off my bucket list that I have wanted to do for years. We arrive at the south
side of the Tyne and have to repeat the two by two process in a lift to reach
Waiting for the lift
Peter and Bob volunteer to try it first to be followed by Glen and Dave
All safe in the Tunnel ready to mount up
Cyclists pedal on their way
The escalators not yet working
Once all assembled we set off on the well
signed cycle route heading to the meeting point at South Shields, we had already
rang the welcoming committee and advise the arrival time. The route through
South Shields was on a cycle path, but it crossed lots of road junctions so
there was lots of stop start and I kept checking we were all still together with
the shout "are all the ducks in a row?" This worked fine until we
reached the point where the town centre ended and there was a set of new houses
beside the landing of the Shields Tyne ferry. Glen was leading with Bob on his
shoulder which is where Bob liked to ride, I checked that Dave and Peter were
there then took the signed route along the river side which follows the coast
all the way to the finish line. There was no sign of Glen or Bob. We checked
back up onto the main road, no sign. We waited still no sign of them heading
back, tried the phone no answer. I was loath to cycle on so we decided to keep
trying the phone. Eventually Glen answered his phone, he had just followed the
main road and hadn't realised we were not behind them but was now waiting in a
carpark. We continue on the route and soon caught up. It's only a short ride to
the end now so all in line and all together we head on down to meet our family
and friends who are all there waiting for us to finish. We decided to dip our
wheels in the sea as it is a coast to coast tradition.
Stones in hand wheels in sea, ride completed
The tide is out so it's a long walk to the
waters edge, we have the usual group photos, throw our stones into the sea then set of to walk back up to the
finish point which is a cafe, Peter says he is going to ride it and attempts to
pedal his bike but the sand is soft so it sticks and he falls off.
Back at the café more group photos, Ian throws a toy snake at me, think
it's going to be a standing joke for a while yet. Photos taken, ice creams eaten
and we load the bikes into the van.
The final picture before the drive home
We resume the seats we had for the start of
the journey and head home, all bikes and cyclists dropped off Ian leaves the van
at mine to take back to the hire place the following morning as it's just across
Another great cycling holiday, no punctures or breakdowns and a few more firsts, in the life of the Multi Day Men, including three new riders, who all say they had a great time, and already we are discussing next year's ride when most of us will be over 60 wonder if B&B do a concession rate for pensioners?
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