Day 3
Ashington to South Shields
29 Miles

 


We awoke to drizzle and grey overcast clouds, 
Forecast had this as the best day, wrong again. Breakfast was good but with Covid requlations in place service was slow.
We had our cooked breakfast but left before the toast came as time was ticking on.
The night before Peter had looked at an information board outside the hotel and it showed a route to the museum down the side of the lake that would miss out the busy main road, we have a look and he was right. It shows a route round lake missing out the road. The fact it was like riding over a ploughed field was to be expected with a Peter short cut. Soon however we were on the good surface around the museum and making progress.


The lake outside the hotel

Coming down past the museum




It was a wet start with drizzle miserable weather.
My Sat Nav was playing up and would not find our location so we had to navigate using the maps, paper maps in wet conditions is never a good idea. The first section is tricky with many turns and crossings, especially the turn out of the museum onto the cycle route that would take us south,  but  Bob and I  got it sorted, it just took lots of stops at every junction (and there were lots) to be sure we were on the right route
Luckily I had plastic pouches for the maps so it kept most of the rain off. Once on the correct path it was a great route, traffic free and good tarmac surface.

 


Intent on making sense of the map

On route with nice traffic free cycling

 


The route settles to being straight through some trees and although we are beside the main rd, there is enough distance and trees for it to be most pleasant, although somewhat damp this morning.


Dave is leading so we all stop and wait to see how long he takes to realise he is alone. It seems like ages before he comes peddling back to look for us, worried he had gone off on the wrong route.
It is good to play tricks on each other with no hard feelings about it.


Finally a signpost


My Sat Nav eventually finds my location and just in time, as there is another tricky bit coming up. Just before Blyth the route leaves the track beside the main road and takes us onto a minor road  for another big loop through Cambois, a small village by the coast one road in and round and out again at the other side beside the river Blyth, There is a turning and a warning of a weight limit naturally we have to stop for a photo and pull each others legs about our weight. 


Pause to read signs

Hope we can meet the weight limit

 

We then climb up to go over the main road before following another minor road  that leads eventually to Dene Park,Country Park, where we cross the river Blyth and go immediately left onto a tarmac traffic free route that follows the south bank of the river towards Blyth. The route is popular with other cyclists and walkers, even on a damp day like today is.
Then as we approached our turning that will take us into Blyth we could see where we had been 30min before just on the other side of river.
Oh the joys of cycle routes, but a great route, very enjoyable. 


Stop on the bridge leading to the country park

The view from the bridge

Another bridge pose, Peter loves a bridge

Glad its a ride under and not up and over bridge


The Route goes along the side of the the river for a short while then drops into the top of Blyth leaving river side. 


Cycling beside the river heading towards Blyth. Whats that on the tree branch?

Its a Cormorant just resting

The north of Blyth is very industrial they even have colour coded enterprise zones. We come to a sign that says we are entering the orange zone.  It just has to be a photo stop.

 


Just had to be a photo stop

 

We wind our way into and through the town centre past the docks heading south. There are some interesting art works and Peter tries another short cut, that doesn't work out. He never learns. 


Interesting art structure

Peter goes for a close up.


Peter realises its a no through route 

 

After the town centre and docks the route settles into a nice open area and a lovely park.
The Toilets are open so we make a comfort stop.


Comfort break

Discussing best route through park and should we ditch our jackets yet.

Note council workmen (match Daves outfit) fortunately, 
they were working outside so the toilets were still open

No one wants to cycle through the water feature


Then it's an Easy route down to Seaton sluice. Straight and flat with the wind at our backs, Well it was easy for most of us, Peter decides to try a short cut and cycle through the sand dunes,  he still hasn't learned his lesson after the Holy Island crossing. Guess some people never learn

 


Peter tries the hard route

Seaton Sluice tide out again

Lovely little spit with a sheltered cove

The bridge with the view

Great views all around

Next is a nice off road section towards the top of Whitley Bay and its famous Spanish City, or sometimes referred to as White City because of its white dome. It is a great landmark, once it was the area where all the rides were, now it has been redeveloped into small shops and cafes, but is still well worth a visit. To our left is St Marys light house, another land mark and only accessible at low tide across a short causeway.


Spanish city white dome in the distance to Trevor's right

St Marys lighthouse just off the coast


We come off the traffic free cycle track  into the top of into Whitley bay. As the tide is out some of us decide to cycle out for a visit to St Mary's lighthouse. Some of the group don't want to divert to the lighthouse and just carried on to the Spanish city for a coffee stop and to meet up with Ian. We agreed we would all meet up again at one of the cafes at Spanish City.  We don't normally ever split up, always keeping each other in sight but as we had a rendezvous point and it was about 50/50 who diverted and who went on we decided it was Ok this time. while Glen, Trevor and Colin N carried on to Spanish City. Bob, Peter, Dave and myself went out to the light house,  


Deciding who is going to the lighthouse or Spanish City

Spanish City is a good landmark and easy to find

The tide is out so we head over the causeway to the lighthouse

The view back to the mainland

The view to the lighthouse

Impressive lighthouse only accessible at low tide.

The view over the sea is impressive

Dave goes for a closer look at the lighthouse

Just a little bit of info, more information is available inside the visitor center

The view out to sea need the lighthouse with all these rocks

 

Unfortunately by the time the first of our group arrived at the cafe, Ian had already left and was making his way towards the finishing point. Guess we had lost time and were running behind schedule.


The lighthouse group approach the meeting point

Thankfully the others are there as arranged

We can see what the attraction was


After a quick coffee and cake stop at Spanish city we carried on, towards North Shields using the shared pedestrian  cycle paths, I'm not convinced these are a good idea as pedestrians object to sharing paths with cyclists, but we only ride on paths when it is clearly marked as dual use. Dodging pedestrians is slow and hard work but better than dodging cars on the busy roads. Down to North Shields through the Tynemouth Priory which is a finish point for more than one cycle route.


Tynemouth Castle and Priory 

Dave cant resist a photo opportunity

Then out along the river side to catch the shields ferry. This is a crossing that was on my cycling bucket list along with the millennium bridge and the Tyne Tunnel, that I completed last cycle ride. It's very badly signed, and the turning was in the middle of some traffic light control roadwork's, we arrive at the terminal and the ferry had just left.
Oh well gives us the chance to take some photos.


The entry to the Ferry terminal down a narrow alley

Peter finds some recliners outside an office block to wait on

Pushing the cycles down the ramp to the jetty

We arrive on the jetty and have lots of tome to wait

and Wait

and Wait some more


Finally the ferry is on its way back

 


There was a sign that stated "due to Covid,  contact less payment only at the moment". I thought everyone had read the sign but Trevor had not and had carefully counted out the exact fare. Caused a bit of delay while he put his money away and got his bank card out.
There is a 10 bike limit on the ferry, which has stands to put your bikes in, some other cyclists came down for the ferry as well and it ended up carrying 9 bikes.


Getting the bikes safely stashed

All safely stowed ready for the short crossing


It was great sailing across the Tyne and good opportunity for more photos and to explore the ferry. 


Enjoying exploring the ferry, 

Looking down from the upper deck

Enjoying the crossing

Still a working port but not as large as it was

Coming towards the South Shields side

Docking at South Shields

My Memento of the ferry crossing

 

 

Then an easy disembark and follow the route round to Minchellas at South Shields to finish with  usual group photo and also an ice-cream, as the rain had stopped. Thanks to the ever present Karen and also Colin N's wife Julie who had  come through to meet us at the finishing point, as well as a big thank you to Ian for driving the support vehicle. With two cars and the van we were sorted for all getting home. It's nice to have a chat over an Ice-cream before we load the van and cars and head off for home..
 
Back home everything sorted all cyclist dropped off, bikes unloaded and van returned.
All went according to plan which was amazing after all the confusion and rearranging caused by covid, only one mechanical problem and that was only a puncture.
Another great cycling holiday completed, and already they are all talking about where we should go next year.



The finishing point

Group photo for the finish of another great ride
Bob, Peter, Colin N, Colin, Dave, Trevor and Glen

Rewarded with a delicious ice cream

Journey home. Guess we tired Dave out, bet he still wants to go next time. 



 

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