Day 11. Tuesday, July 8 – York to Ripon, England

Wednesday 9 July 2014

It was a glorious 90% chance of rain sunny day as we pedaled over bridges,DSCN8194past churches DSCN8197and through beautiful York neighborhoods.DSCN8195It was 25 minutes before the homes thinned outDSCN8218 and the fields expanded gloriously.DSCN8220The SW winds we have had since starting this trip had switched to the NNE, thankfully only about 10 mph, so an nuisance, not hinderance.

Crossroads

DSCN8226 and villages were ornamented with flowersDSCN8225 and bicycles.  Evidence and obvious pride from hosting the Tour de France Stage 1 was everywhere along our route.DSCN8236Passed the Battle of Marston Moor Monument,DSCN8222the English Civil War (1642- 1646).  Shortly before noon, our crossroadsDSCN8233 led us to a restaurant brimming with flowers;DSCN8238 a cappuccino was in order.  But we learned from the couple sitting outside that we really needed to have the Tuesday pensioner’s (retiree) lunch special……so much for coffee.DSCN8250Way more that we needed for lunch, but it was delicious.

Back out on the country roads, it was obvious that this stretch between York and our destination was quite affluent.  DSCN8282 Farms were larger the homes huge and tucked way off the road. DSCN8285Afternoon skies began to darken a bit, DSCN8260as we made our way into Ripon.  A quick swing by the Ripon Cathedral DSCN8288then a mad dash before the skies opened up.DSCN8292It was a short ride today, (33 miles)as we wanted to spend some time with a friend from the Brac; Joan says Hello Bracers!photo-3Since we’d already seen the Cathedral and were not going to be biking the Dales, Joan insisted on showing us the area; once again following the exact course of the Tour.  DSCN8312Note to Bracers: Joan will show you an interesting time if she takes you to the Dales!

The ride (in a car) was magnificent and we were both Very thankful we were not doing the 18% grades on our bicycles.  Unfortunately, with the narrow roads photo-2and storm rolling in, DSCN8315we have very few photographs but a wonderful memory (and story).  Once back in Ripon we chatted, ate and drank until midnight!  Joan, we will treasure the day, forever.

Day 12. Wednesday, July 9 – Ripon to Hartlepool, England

Thursday 10 July 2014

Cool air (63°), glorious sun and screaming wind greeted us this morning.  Fortified by a wonderful breakfast, we regrettably said our good-byes to Joan (who sounds just like Julie Andrews).DSCN8331Within the first ten minutes, we were climbing a mile long hill.  Granted we are not in hill country (yet), but the grades make it feel like the Alps.  The scenery was once again stellar,DSCN8339 but the wind was brutal.  Having just seen the Dales, we thoroughly appreciated the Moors in the distance. DSCN8341Though we missed seeing the homes, we relished the estates with high hedge and tall trees; anything to break the wind, but that was not often.  Half our ride was on country roads, DSCN8348the other half, busy streets…DSCN8385….neither gave us a break from the 20 mph wind.  We ducked into a coffee shop for some relief and sweets.DSCN8368Back on the road, the wind felt as if it had actually gained intensity; never enough turn in the road to offer relief.  DSCN8371Occasionally we lifted our heads, bent hard against the brutal wind, to take in the scenery.  DSCN8352Pretty fields DSCN8381turned into villages, then towns and soon every city melted into the next; DSCN8391it was a maze of towns, traffic and wind.

We continued to push into the wind, thankfully not finding too many more hills.  At the edge of town of Hartlepool, running very low on energy, we stopped for an incredible chocolate milk shake; just enough to make it the extra couple of miles to a hotel.  In a residential neighborhood, the Bistro in our small hotel was exactly what our tired legs had ordered……and the food perfect.DSCN8401

Five hours in the saddle and 54 miles, it was time to get rest.

Day 13. Thursday, July 10 – Hartlepool to Newcastle Upon Tyne, England

Wednesday 9 July 2014

No sun to warm the morning, so the constant wind made the 57° feel frigid.  Since we had missed the marina last night, we took a quick trip down to see the sights; rather disappointing.  DSCN8405We followed the coastal road, totally exposed to the bruising windDSCN8411 and continuous up and down, down and up roads.  No flowers graced the homes or stores that lined the road; an occasional field softened the ride. DSCN8412Not sure if there was little to see, or our struggle up and down the hills into the onslaught of wind kept us from seeing anything.  Tried to get a shot of a flag straightened by the wind, but this is all we could find.DSCN8415 After a couple of hours, we turned slightly inland for a bit of countryside;DSCN8420 we gained the sun, but were not able to loose the hills or hide from the wind.  It seemed as if we climbed twice what we went down, but nothing was flatDSCN8425or particularly interesting, except the “Angel of the North”.DSCN8430Our approach through the suburbs of  Newcastle offered a couple of churchesDSCN8435 tightly tucked among the rows of homes (and hills).DSCN8437On the banks of the River Tyne,DSCN8439 we dropped down to the waterfront. DSCN8443 Hoping to stay in the city for the evening, we found two college graduations made it impossible.  Managed a few pictures along the waterfront and the Millennium Bridge.DSCN8446As we pedaled away from the city, we were diverted off our path for a “police incident”, further complicating our uncharted course.  Checking the computer, we found a hotel eight miles away.  Halfway into our quest for a shower and a bit confused as how to get there, we were rescued by John,DSCN8451 who led us three miles through twists and turns we would have had difficulty finding our way through.  Eleven miles later and 49 miles done, we finally checked in shortly before Happy Hour (5:00 p.m.).  Somewhere north of York the dialect had gotten thick (Geordie) and we are both having difficulty understanding even the simplest of questions/answers.  As our “posh” waitress explained to us over our overflowing bowls of pasta, it was only going to get worse as we headed north….UH OH!

Day 14. Friday, July 11 – Newcastle Upon Tyne to Alnwick, England

Friday 11 July 2014

Flat countryside and no wind; not even the crisp 59° and grey skies could dampen our elation.  We sailed along the countryside, through villages DSCN8463and past churchesDSCN8464as if we had a strong wind to our back.  Experience has proven, when we see a grade sign for a downhill, the uphill on the other side is going to be a bugger.  One hour into our ride, our legs were woken up to the scream of a steep 15% climb.  Thankfully, the two climbs were short and we were back out into the countryside.  DSCN8487We passed wind turbines, quietly standing at attention as we passed; DSCN8476it was a wonderful day.DSCN8482Shortly before noon we dropped into Amble DSCN8493for a bite to eat and try to find a room further down the road.  We had a room at a town only eight miles down the road, but as good as we were feeling we wanted to go further.  But nothing was working for us, so we enjoyed the rest of the short ride.  We rolled along our own bike path DSCN8513past more churches,DSCN8488 villages pouring into the sea DSCN8522and even a castle.DSCN8497Of course to get to the 12th century Warkworth Castle, we had to pedal up,photo-2 then down DSCN8506then up againDSCN8508The eight miles ended up to be 10 and the flat countryside rolled more dramatically,DSCN8524but without any wind, the day could not have been any better…….longer, but not better.  Our pedal into town was once again graced with flowersDSCN8525 and a stone gate entry.DSCN8543With an early arrival, after our 40 mile day we stopped in a local pub for some good drink photo-5and delightful conversation that we actually understood!  The next few days will be long and hilly; we can only hope for the same weather.

Two weeks down!  Thanks to ALL that have commented on our blog; we cannot respond to everyone but DO read and enjoy everything…..keep ’em coming.

Day 15. Saturday, July 12 – Alnwick, England to Eyemouth, Scotland

Sunday 13 July 2014

Warning: there are a LOT of pictures of fields, today.

Loaded our bikes in the morning sun, the cool moist air of the last several days was gone.  We had a wonderful mile long drop out of town, quickly followed by a half mile climb into the fields.  Glanced back to catch a glimpse of the Alnwick Castle (dating from 1096)DSCN8551that we apparently missed while we were in town.  The rolling hills were minor,DSCN8570the soft palette of ripe grains contrasted against the dark pines and farmhouses were stunning.DSCN8563The farm/home estates were once again immense DSCN8576and the stone walls DSCN8572that were so prolific in the Dales once again were present.

We arrived at the coast minutes before the fog.DSCN8580    The low tide is dramatic, photoas was the fog,DSCN8588 just a bit more difficult to photograph.  The southwest breeze that was blowing in the fog caught us appreciative on our backs.

The approach into Bamburgh for coffee was highlighted by the dramatic Castle.DSCN8611Our planned stop after 20 milesphoto-3 was sidetracked by meeting Egbert and Gertrud from Germany.  DSCN8622We had a wonderful conversation, but needed to continue.  Just as we were leaving, Henri (also from Germany) that we’d briefly met yesterday, joined the group.  We left them as they chatted away in their native tongue.  Leaving Bamburgh is when the real hills began; DSCN8632not the ones we have complained about to this point the climbs became longer and the fly-downs fun.  With the ups and downs pretty balanced we had time to recover before the next climb.  In the next town, on one such drop we stopped for lunch,DSCN8643 only to climb a big hlll immediately after.DSCN8642  As our course took us closer to the sea, DSCN8639we became confused when the path we were instructed to take had a locked gate across it. photo-4 So we unloaded our bikes, lifted the bikes over, packed up and rolled on.  photo-5The pathDSCN8667 turned to a trail, then to a field. DSCN8672 For ten miles we slowly maneuver over the creeks, DSCN8670past the stunning cliffsDSCN8704 and through the cows. DSCN8700 Our progress had slowed trememndously. DSCN8696 We rejoiced when we were on pavement again,DSCN8688 even though it was climbing.  The coast had been captivating, DSCN8698but we were tired and needed to be there; we did not even care that the clouds were building around us.  The afternoon became a blur. Somtime before 5:00, we touched the Scottish Borders, but our road turned us away and up a hill, so the photo op was missed. Another 15 minute climb and were were at our bed and breakfast in the middle of nowhere.

DSCN8743Thankfully, we had made a dinner reservation when we booked the room, which was excellent since our legs were carrying us no further than the 60 miles we had already traveled.   The scenery today was some of the best we’d experienced but it was not easy.

End of Week 2

Saturday 23 August 2014

Louth, England to Eyemouth, Scotland

Week 2

350 Miles

1 Day with Rain

Day 16. Sunday, July 13 – Eyemouth to Haddington, Scotland

Monday 14 July 2014

All night, we listened to the pouring rain on the skylight in our loft room. The rain had stopped by the time we woke, but the ceiling was low and the air very damp.  DSCN8751We wanted to make it to Edinburgh today for a much needed day off, but it was at least 60 miles and with the threat of more rain, wind in our face, plus the hills sure to be awaiting, we were not confident it would happen.

The morning began with a mile long downhill DSCN8761with half as much upDSCN8756 and that is when we stopped counting.  For the next ten miles we climbed,DSCN8765 some tough grades, some minor,DSCN8767 but always continuously up.   The trees on this ridgeDSCN8772 had managed to adapt to the continuous wind as had technology,DSCN8778 the sheep, however, seemed quite indifferent.  DSCN8779At the ridge, before our drop the view was brilliant (English slang for awesome).  photoTwo miles into our wonderful downhill a fork in the road had us pulling hard on our brakes.  The “bike course” pointed right towards the sea (which seemed questionable to us), but after our bike course excursion of yesterday, we had second thoughts.  A chat (included repeating the heavy Scotish brogue instructions three times) with a local advised the right fork “will be hell up, you need to go that way.”DSCN8798We went with his recommendation and choose the left leg of the fork.  Not sure if it was a short cut, but it was paved, the vista fabulous DSCN8793and we made forward progress……perfect!   Once back on the “course” the path led us along the highwayDSCN8804 and then turned to dirt.DSCN8808  Memories of yesterday returned; thankfully the path did not have dangerous, unseen ruts, just beautiful wildflowers.DSCN8812

Our pavement returned just before Dunbar, DSCN8829where we met Graham and Rose (on a bike holiday from Manchester) over coffee.DSCN8827With only 11 miles to the next town where there were accommodations, we frantically started searching for a place that would take us further.  Everything was booked unless we could make it to Edinburgh.  With less than half the mileage to the city completed by 1:00, we thought it wise to be happy with the last eleven miles.  Managed to slow down a bit, with the shorter day, and enjoy the incredible sceneryDSCN8820 and classic Scottish golf courses.DSCN8830We passed the Bass Rockphoto-2pedaled along canals DSCN8841and beside more glorious fields.DSCN8842Our last few miles were not without struggle, with plenty of hillsDSCN8855 and wind in our face we were happy with our decision of staying in the next town.  The town of Haddington is quaintDSCN8864 and very picturesqueDSCN8865but not a sole was around on this Sunday afternoon.  Headed through the village square and directly to our hotel, DSCN8873that just happened to have a tavern downstairs; perfect place to watch the finals of the World Cup.  We partied with the locals, enjoying Scottish pie and Scotch Whiskey; the evening sky was putting on a showDSCN8877 as we headed upstairs at 9:30.

Traveln’ may slow down bit, thirs’ scotch to be drunk!