Woke up the tent with only the mildest of hangovers. The advantage of camping is it’s a lot easier to get and moving early in the morning. Which we probably should be doing. When we cut out the detour through the Northumberland National Park, the plan was that this would cut the distance from Berwick to Durham to around 90 miles over two days, leaving a lot more time for relaxing. Sadly, this seems to be completely unrealistic as yesterday was over 55miles, and today is looking like it will be over 60. Well, onwards! To breakfast.
Breakfast turned out to be a huge disappointment. After cycling 10 miles to Ashington, the town turned out to be, err, let’s say, less than inspiring. Or maybe we just had the bad luck if visiting in the drizzling rain, and picked the worst cafe in town for breakfast. Maybe I’m a snob, but it’s been quite a while since I was in a cafe that only offered instant coffee. There wasn’t even a cafetière. And as for the food? Well, I certainly took on enough calories for the day’s cycling. We really should have cycled back into Morpth and had breakfast there.
We then headed to the coast and then down south aiming for Whitley Bay to meet John for lunch. A pretty pleasant cycle for the most part. And by luck, we turned out in Whitley Bay on the day of their food festival. A perfect opportunity to remove the memory of that breakfast.
After lunch, we headed down and over the River Tyne. Given our distrust of Google Maps’ suggestions and our fear or A roads we decided to take the ferry at North Shields and avoid heading through Newcastle. Maybe there are great cycling routes through the city? Maybe it’s a death trap?
Getting off the ferry, we noticed some signs for a Roman fort, so went to investigate. I’ve been pretty interested in Roman history of late having recently worked my way through the entire History of Rome podcast. We had a good look around the ruins, reconstruction and museum before setting off for Sunderland.
After crossing the river, we stopped off at a bike shop to pick up some spare inner tubes. And then it started to rain. It wouldn’t be a proper cycling tour without getting soaked through for at least an hour. It was bad timing though, as working out how to cycle out of Sunderland, while avoiding the worst of the traffic was pretty hard. Smartphone touchscreens don’t work very well when wet, which made checking out map pretty hard. We made slow and steady progress, the rain cleared and we ended up cycling south out of Sunderland on some very muddy bridleway tracks.
Once we crossed the bridge over the A19 things got a lot nicer, with both the weather than the track improving.
We got into Durham around 8pm. The hill up to the BnB we had booked was pretty brutal. I’m not sure I would have wanted to cycle up it without the pannier bags, let alone the bags and having just cycled over 60miles. But the airbnb was great, so worth the effort. We dropped off our stuff, then headed back into town for a look around and a nice meal.