Five: Northumberland: near Berwick upon Tweed to near Ainlwick. - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

June 9, 2013

Five: Northumberland: near Berwick upon Tweed to near Ainlwick.

Two hours gone uploading photos in which the Internet went slower than usual at one point. The pictures are the easy part apart from having to stop so often out on the road. Doing the Google map can be tedious on a small screen; all that dragging and zooming-in to find the road Is on. The creative part, the text takes the most effort but the most rewarding when it's done and polished. Fear not I have no intention of making this, "A Picture Story" journal.

Back to Sunday.

I must have slept like a stone as I don't remember anything from laying down until waking this morning. I found the small bag I keep small items, poked inside and took out my phone and got radio reception. I tuned in during the shipping forecast at twenty-five past five; it told of low pressure out in the Atlantic, on it's way. Then past the half hour, the general forecast gave "Cloudy to begin with in most North Sea coastal areas" that was me "with the sun breaking through by early afternoon. Another fine day just about everywhere."

The evening before, I was too tired to think of doing anything, so after breakfast of muesli and milk and tea, I'd to write-up my notes for yesterday. I don't know why I do this because if I'm updating the journal a few days later, I set the notebook aside and write on the key-pad direct from memory. So after this delay and the ten minutes or so it takes me to take the tent down and pack it, along with everything else on the bike, Is ready to push the bike away at half seven.

I've left no trace of me having been here.
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I was not doubling back, pushing the bike back along the barley field which was three quarters of a mile long; where the long coarse grass along the hedgerow made it hard going yesterday, with the lowrider panniers at the front digging in. Instead the footpath sign pointed to "West New Briggin" a quarter of a mile along a lane way, although overgrown with saplings, the lane was sufficient wide to get the bike through without the front-panniers catching. Is thinking it would take me back to the road. It did, from where I rode for just over a mile on a small by-road until coming to a crossroads with the A698, where I turned left towards Berwick.

North East Northumberland.
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Railway Viaduct over the Tweed. I counted twenty-eight arches.
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On the bridge over the Tweed, I saw to the left, an impressive nineteenth century railway viaduct with twenty-eight arches, it crossed high above the houses on the nearside riverbank.

I had come to Berwick on the hope of getting some of the journal updated. It was a steep uphill to the town-centre; where, I took out my computer and sat down on a bench by the war memorial. It being overcast meant I could see the screen out-of-doors. But all networks needed security codes. I packed the computer away in the pannier again and rode down the street past a fancy old stone facade with a clock-tower, to where on the way up, I'd passed two cafes on the same corner. But it was only quarter to nine and both were shut this time of a Sunday morning.

Nothing was open, so I wondered should I wait or go on. I rode a little up to a street-corner and saw a post of signs pointing this way and that; two pointed up the same steep street, one to a church and the other the city walls; that's were I decided to go.

Church in Berwick.
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It was right on top of the hill and there was a big square in front of the church. I took a photo and took a few more, trying to get it right in the dull light. While two old ladies nattered across from me. The one with a dog on a lead complained that, the new housekeeper at the rectory didn't thank her for helping out and made her feel less than welcome.... I rode along out of earshot to an interpretation board and read all the bits on the history of Berwick.

Interesting what you learn.
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Intent on leaving town, I happened upon the YHA (Youth Hostel Association). They'd have wi-fi, so I leaned the bike outside and got my computer out. But found they use a pay-as-you-go network.

A couple opened the door carrying bags. And with the door open the smell of coffee and breakfast whiffed out, which made me think it may be a long road today without any coffee shops open, so I entered and had two croissants with my filtered coffee. I sat at a table with my coffee and bet into a croissants, which was nice on the outside but uncooked on the inside. There was one chocolate puff-pastry left which I when up and had away. That was cooked. Delicious. The sound-system was playing REM, Man On The Moon, which soothed while the coffee stimulated. The following track was Queen, Bicycle. An appropriate song for me.

Back down the hill to the river, I was going to cross back over the bridge which I crossed on the way in, but veered right towards the docks having seen a B road signposted. And a block further, saw an Asda supermarket on the left; which it being five to ten, I'd only a few minutes to wait until opening. I bough enough to do until tomorrow.

I headed inland and crossed-over The Great North Road.
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The road swung away from the Tweed-mouth, uphill and inland, and crossed over the Great North road, or the A1; this and the A696 running parallel, twelve to fifteen mile to the west, left me a corridor to make my way south, remaining on quiet B and by-roads in between. The landscape went from gentle coastal roll, with cool easterly breeze, to hilly in the space of a few miles. And it became warm without the sea breeze. What was formally all sheep pasture, was all now ploughed up to craggy slopes. And smaller dry-stone-wall enclosed fields were the deep green hue of wheat and of coarse the yellow stuff, though many of the crops were patchy because of the atrocious weather this past year. Indeed there were fields were the crop had failed and others which sat lea, where it was decided the weather was so bad at sowing time, that it was decided to do nothing. Further inland it was predominantly pastoral with only an isolated strip of green and yellow.

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Stone walls and patchy wheat on the hill.
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At The Crossroads. The small road turn-off to the left isn't on the map, but the place on the map is.
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All day I took small by-roads like this to avoid the busy A696 from Coldstream to Newcastle.
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Looking back after a bit of a climb.
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Farming can be the cause of destruction in the countryside, but the crops are just cultivated versions of wild grasses and plants. One sure way of destroying the countryside is development in the form of house building. This is what has happen in Ireland. The once Emerald Isle is no longer so green. Climb a hill and look at the view and the countryside is dotted white; there's bungalows everywhere. And at night the same view is like a city because of all the electric lights.

Here the houses blend. All are old restored cottages, or if new, built in traditional style. There's a negative social effect here in that only the wealthy can afford to move to tranquil countryside like this. Indeed having looked in an estate agents' window in Berwick, the houses are pricey; furthermore I hear a lot of well-heeled non north eastern accents.

Like the forecast gave, the sun was breaking through the hazy cloud; and while cycling past an entrance to a woodland, it was 12.43 when I checked my watch, so, I decided this was the place to lunch.

12.43 lunch-stop in a woodland grove.
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I know what this is, I just can't spell the name, but it sounds like: Roadie-den-drum. Actually it was introduced from Northern India and now grows like a weed.
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I'm the one on the outside looking in.
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They all came over to see what Is doing.
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Nice house on the approach to Ainlwick.
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No joking I was seeing 30-30 vision riding into Ainlwick at the end of the day.
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And couldn't hold the camera straight.
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Hard to describe the countryside, other than it was breathtaking throughout the afternoon. I remained on small narrow roads, passing a castle where I stopped a while to take a photo of a copper equestrian memorial inside the railings in the castle grounds. Then the cattle in the field across the road came over to the hedge in curiosity, so I photographed them too.

I reached Ainlwick at five and having found the right road to Rothbury, my planned route onwards, I man came after me down the street calling out "excuse me." When I'd stopped and had turned to face him he continued "are you looking for a youth hostel" I replied "No. But thanks all the same. I'm just looking for the way..... I intend riding towards Rothbury and stopping at the first woodland to camp." He told me it was quite a climb but there's plenty of camping possibilities that way

Though I needed water and asked were there was a supermarket. He pointed me further along the street and turn right at the lights. But on the way I saw a pedestrianised town square, in which on the un-shaded lower end, was a cafe with people sitting outside having coffe and eating alfresco, enjoying the sun. So, I though have a coffee, refill on water, and perhaps there's free wi-fi. When I went in, it was a lovely cafe and I felt flabbergasted finding such a place and felt lost for words how to say so, saying to the woman behind the counter. "Its nice to find such a nice cafe" "Of coarse, it-sa nice cafe" she snapped in a good humoured way.

There was free wi-fi and I spent an hour with my coffee at an inside tabble creating a page and updating photos. When I closed the laptop, I had a second coffee and a slice of carrot cake. which I took to an outside table.

It wasn't such a steep climb away from town as the man had said. And there was a wood at the summit were I camped. Because it was late when Is cooking pasta, the midgets bothered me.

EXPENDITURE: Total: £16.80.

Shop in Asda on the way out of Berwick: £9.80.

Two Americanos and a carrot cafe in a cafe in Ainlwick, were I used the wi fi: £7.00. Expensive!

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Today's ride: 81 km (50 miles)
Total: 464 km (288 miles)

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