Northumbria, october 20-23 2006.

Friday oct.20, ferry to Newcastle upon Tyne.

Peter had suggested a trip to England and we were keen to say YES. I've been to GB many times and I've liked it every time. The weather in Holland was bad to say the least, and England does have a reputation too... yet we've had all the luck in the world, rain at night and dry with sunny spells during the day. We left home at 15.30 to get to the ferry in IJmuiden. A short time later Peter and Connie showed up with the tickets. Once on board we secured the bikes and quickly went to deck 7 to make a reservation for dinner. To the bar, beer and wine (heavily overpriced), relax. The dinner buffet was excellent and the rest of the evening was spent at the bar where a Bulgarian guitar player did his best to entertain us.

First English lunch (Hexham).
Saturday oct.21, arrival and a short ride to get used to left riding.

After a quiet night we disembarked at 9.30. On our way to Chollerford, looking for a breakfast along the way. 'Opened for meals all day' the signs said. Problem was that their days start at noon. So hungry we arrived at the George hotel where we checked in. Quickly to Hexham for breakfast/lunch and then a little tour to the nortern parts of the Pennines. Near Cowshill (Cowshitt on the sign) we made some extra miles but in the end found the desired small road again. Back in the hotel we were informed that the landlord of the Battlesteads hotel (Wark) would come to pick us up for dinner. (Originally we booked that hotel, but for some reason we were directed to the George hotel for the first night). Torrential rain on the way to Wark, but this time we were in a comfy 4X4 ! An Okay dinner, then back to the George for the night.

Sunday oct. 22, Northumbria and Scotland.

It had rained most of the night, but soon after we got up the sky showed some changes. English breakfast, enough calories to get us through the day! We loaded up the bikes and rode to Wark where we dropped our surplus luggage at the hotel. It was dry now, so in a good mood we started the tour. We more or less followed the directions given in an article in a mc magazine. More or less, because I had looked carefully on the maps and had plotted a route over the smallest roads possible. Programmed into the Garmin miracle device it was going to be easy! The early stages went NE through the Northumbria national park. Beautiful road, beautiful scenery. One or two roads were flooded which gave the ride something extra. However when near Ingram we couldn't carry on as a complete river (the Breamish) crossed our path. Would have been fun on the Transalp, but we didn't want to risk our plastic. More small roads to Alnwick where we visited Alnwick Castle. Beatiful, not hard to see why it has been used in so may movies (Harry Potter!).

Crossing a road...

Alnwick Castle

We took our time to look around and had coffee outside in the sunshine. Back on the bikes, north to the coast at Beadnell. The coast was disappointing as usual, but as this was a part of Northumberland it had to be included. Further north, Bamburg castle being spotted from far away. Impressive, but we rode on. We wanted to get a glimpse of Holy Island and maybe even visit it, but the road leading to it was flooded.

End of road to Holy Island.

We had a quick smoke, the tide was coming in fast! Back to the west and south, away from the coast. We stopped at Wooler for a drink, a pee and money-from-the-wall and then headed to Scotland to get to the east of Northumberland National Park. A great road this B6357, lots of sweepers! We headed west for Kielder and even though it was getting dark we were impressed by the beauty of the park. From Falstone to Charlton we took a 1 metre wide road, lots of dirt on it, several fences and of course darkness. Very nice indeed. From Bellingham to Wark we picked up some speed and arrived safely at the Battlestead hotel. Decent drinks, decent food (Wark doesn't offer any other restaurants) and some amateur musicians made the day complete.

Enjoying some obstacles on our hike.
Monday oct. 23, a hike and return to the ferry.

After two days on the bike Eugenie had a sore bum and applying our 'ride&hike' rule we started out on a walk near Wark after breakfast. Rain at first, but sunny soon afterwards. A lot of sweating: the terrain went up and down, through trees, crossing brooks and climbing walls. Nice views, nice excercise. 3.5 hours later back in the hotel for a well deserved lunch, then back to the ferry. The VFR clock seemed to indicate we were late, so we broke some traffic rules and quickly arrived at the spot where we would join Peter and Connie. It turned out the VFR clock was wrong, we could have ridden much slower. Apparently the onboard computer is malfunctioning (the trip counter had unexpectedly switched to 0 the day before as well), maybe the battery is finally giving up.
The girls bought some food to take on the boat, we embarked etc. (see beginning of the story) and after dinner went to visit the 'nightclub' where we were entertained by dancers and musicians. One more night on the ferry and the trip was over.