Monday, 14 May 2012

Coast to Coast: The Final Chapter

Day three began with more of the same a couple of big climbs straight out the door; these hurt and rapidly sapped whatever energy had seeped back into the muscles overnight. The first is an up and over into the village of Stanhope where a seemingly impossibly steep road climbs back out onto the bleak moor.

During this final climb the wind turns against us and Lisa and I take it in turns to take the lead position offering the other a slight shelter against the headwind. Driven by the delicious rumour that a cafe exist somewhere at the summit we plod slowly on in search of the mythical tea and biscuits. The cafe materialises converted out of an old railway station, bikes piled in serried ranks against its walls as cyclists crown inside for warmth 

 Where's the Cafe?

From this station in the middle of a moor the old railway line ran down to the town of Consett and it's steel mill presumably carrying the ores grafted from the mines that littered these hills. Both mill and railway no longer exist but the route of the old line offers a beautifully graded long decent down back to green field and trees. 

Entering Consett we cross through the site of the old steel works, nothing remains but a giant metal cauldron mounted on rails that once fed the mighty blast furnaces. We grab lunch but with no way to lock our bikes it's spent out in the cold and for the first time during the ride the proper rain.

From Consett we follow another disused railway right into the heart of Newcastle, the track is muddy in places but passes over some spectacular viaducts giving views down into steep sided wooded valleys.

I must say I did not really enjoy the section through Newcastle and along the north bank of the Tyne. The cycle track runs past a procession of industrial decay, wast ground and demolished factories mere shadows of the cities grand industrial past. Dog excrement, and broken glass litter the roadway interspersed with tarmac melted from the heat of burned out cars; the contrast from Thursday and Friday could not be more stark.

Things improve as you enter the old town of Tynmouth the estuary opened out into a grand vistas and we cycle along the sea wall till the tyne spills into the north sea and our journey is at an end.

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