Coasts and Castle Bike route followed by Hadrianís Cycle route to Carlisle in Cumbria
Following my cycle trip along the Danube last summer, and despite the very soggy UK summer, I decided I wanted to do another cycle trip. It wasnít hard to find some friends to join me on this adventure, so although the forecast was bad we booked bed and breakfasts and set off. The journey to Edinburgh was far less traumatic than flying to Germany, loading 4 bikes onto a car is so much easier than dismantling them for a flight.
What followed was a week of laughter, cycling, cake, sunshine (with occasional showers), great B & Bís, more cake, wine, and a little more cycling. We covered nearly 300 miles in total.
Day 1: Leaving Edinburgh via various tunnels and disused railway lines then on quiet roads over the moorland hills down to Innerleithen. Just a few showers and not much cake, we had to pace ourselves!
Day 2: Leaving Innerleithen along the River Tweed on beautiful quiet lanes to Melrose for cake and coffee and then continuing down to Floors Castle on the outskirts of Kelso for a look round the grounds and of course more cake.
Day 3: Heavy overnight rain and a bad forecast resulted in a slow start to our day to Berwick. But by the time we had our waterproofs on the rain had cleared up and, although there were plenty of big puddles, we stayed dry for most of day. Crossing borders, cycling through large puddles and avoiding a collapsed road all before lunch. South of Berwick we followed the cliff path, described as Ďshared useí Ė what we didnít realise was this meant shared with sheep. An eventful few miles which was very muddy and which left some of us walking, although not 16 year old Thomas, it was his favourite stretch of the whole journey! Whilst tryng to close a gate Marion fought with a cattle grid (and lost!), and I decided to lie down on the grass for a while after falling off my bike. A few bruises later we finally arrived at a lovely B & B near Holy Island. Another day interspersed with coffee, tea, cakes, scones, sweets and best of all - not much rain!
Day 4: Waking up to sunshine, what a treat, so a diversion to Holy Island was called for. Explored the island, repaired a puncture and sampled more coffee and cake before setting off to Bamburgh for lunch.. Strappy tops to waterproofs and back again for our longest day, ending in the lovely village of Alnmouth.
Day 5: Alnmouth to Tynemouth became known as Ďchain dayíÖ first Tomís chain came off and got stuck which took a few threats to bring it out. Then Helenís came apart which lead to much discussion, trial and error and internet searching before we managed to mend it. We had the correct tools all along we just could remember exactly how to use them. A pleasant picnic lunch on a revamped Blyth quayside and a beautiful ride in the sunshine through Seaton Sluice and Whitley bay to Tynemouth, on what was looking destined to be a cake free day, but we were saved by our bed and breakfast which was also a tea shop!
Day 6: Tynemouth is the start of the Hadrianís cycleway but the Coast and Castles doesnít end until Newcastle city centre so for a few miles we were covering two route at once. We knew we were definitely on the right route when encountered some Roman soldiers (didnít know they carried backpacks! Didnít check to see if they were Gregory packs). Great cycle tracks up the Tyne to Hexham on the sunniest day of the trip, although now heading west the wind was definitely in our faces.
Day 7: A damp start, on our last day of cycling, but the rain soon cleared up. Today we were following Hadrianís Wall over the Pennines - the wind was definitely in our faces, we even had to pedal downhill! A stop in Haltwhistle for our final cakes of the trip and a quick look at the train-time table to see if there was an easier way to cover the last few miles. But as it was Sunday there was too long to wait so onwards to Brampton to await our taxi home.
Overall fantastic routes and we would highly recommend them, we just need to find a weekend to finish Hadrianís cycle route to Ravenglass, although west to east maybe easier.
Written & Cycled by Heather from Bramwell International