Six: Northumberland Day Two: near Ainlwick to Newcastle. - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

June 10, 2013

Six: Northumberland Day Two: near Ainlwick to Newcastle.

I hadn't noticed the house yesterday evening, but did this morning when I'd pushed the bike the hundred metres or so back to the gate; a stone cottage a few strides from the wood entrance, it's back facing into the wood. I didn't see a light yesterday evening, nor hear a sound, so probably nobody was in occupancy. I did hear a Cuckoo close-by roughly at the house's back-garden, which would further say the house was empty. Perhaps I was so focused on getting off the road because it had gone eight I just didn't see the house.

Ready to leave my campsite. There was a stone cottage almost adjacent to the wood entrance.
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Starting where I'd left off the day before, on the highest point on the road between Ainlwick and Rothbury, I felt cold and the air was damp and it was colder as the road began to descend. A council bin-lorry passed and pulled in at the next house to empty the rubbish bins and cause me to brake and wait. Is glad the next house was a turn-off down a lane.

I hadn't checked the map this morning and so continued steep downhill in Rothbury's main street to the bottom, then gradually uphill through town. I thought there should be a turn-off south, but hadn't seen any roadsign for any such road. Perhaps the turning was beyond the town. But the road continued west with a steep slope to the left across the valley making any southward road look impossible. I'd gone near a mile when I came to a hamlet with a crossroads; nothing on the signpost was to anywhere in the direction I wanted, so I doubled back.

Where the street dipped down to it's lowest point, there was a corner on the right with a narrow street, which if any road led out of town south this would be it. It curved round and across a humpback bridge, the other side of which I saw what Is looking for; the sign B6342, Cambo 13 miles, the next town south on the map. There followed a steep hard grind up from the riverbank. Once I'd passed the last house the road levelled out, but ahead came a longer climb up over the slope along the south of the valley, in which I could see the road on the hill veer right, then left and right again, reducing the gradient.

The B6342; after climbing away from Rothbury, there's yet another climb ahead.
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And so it was not tough. I was able to remain on the second sprocket from the spokes while on the middle-ring and wasn't long crossing the last rise, where I stopped, not because I needed a rest, but because there were flowers by the roadside I wanted to photograph. Is thinking because it's so grey today, I'll have to take pictures of flowers and other in close macro stuff; and also, the landscape was nothing much to write home about unlike the previous days further north.

Once over the crest, I stopped to photograph these flowers.
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Grey. And not as inspiring as further north.
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A day to be down on the grass verge.
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Stone wall.
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The roadside.
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I still had pasta and enough sauce, plus vegetables which wouldn't keep and half a coconut sponge-cake from yesterday, but needed water. I passed through Scots Gap, Hartburn and turned right in Throghill. Then steep downhill to Whalton, where I turned left at the bottom along it's main-street. There was a pub on the left and the landlord was outside painting the seating. I rode over and politely asked could I have water, handing him the empty two litre mineral water bottle. "Jus water, nout else. Ay can put orange in it if ye lieke" he said while putting down the paint brush on the chair and straighting up. I told him I'd be using it for cooking. "Ay see" he said then rushed inside with the bottle. When he returned out the door screwing tight the top, he told me he was a cyclist too, he was although late fifties, athletic. He told me this when he looked at my bike and noticed my water-cage mounted pump, saying he tried using the same pump on his racing bike but it slipped down and interfered with the crank. Before leaving he directed me along the quieter roads into Newcastle.

Wild Flower Meadow.
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I was headed to Ponteland which had an aeroplane on the map with Newcastle International next it. I still needed lunch so stopped when I came to an open gate into a wild flower meadow, outside of which, was the concrete head and railings of a drainage channel underneath the road. I leaned the bike against the railings and sat down on the concrete, using the railing as a backrest. There was a bit of a breeze so when I lit the Trangia stove to boil water, the flame blew sideways and so it was taking longer to boil. In the end I'd to sheltered it with my chopping-board.

The time was only ten to one when I finished off the coconut-sponge-cake and drank the last mouthful of tea. I was going to write some notes, but Is feeling tired and instead I closed my eyes.........I opened my eyes. I didn't know I'd been asleep long until I looked at my watch. 13.39, almost fifty minutes.

Lots of small rises on today's road.
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Quite a fancy stone built for a Pub.
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I was near Newcastle now, but from Ponteland, about six mile from the centre, there seemed no alternative to the A696 to begin with; then, I spotted a service road alongside. This took me most of the way, until a roundabout where there was no other way that I could see; and so rode on the hard-shoulder of another A road, just to the next exit, where it was signed: Centre North.

The way into the city was hairy.
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The main pedestrianised shopping street made it look no different to other English cities. I was on the way to the tourist office, when I couldn't resist passing a Starbucks, to upload photos as well as a caffeine fix. That took longer than I intended. When I got to the tourist office, the sign on the door read "Mon Open 09.00-17.30" Now it was six. I asked a large man waiting at a bus-stop, did he know of a hostel. He narrowed his eyes and looked to the distances, then said "naw"; but then, as I began to push the bike along, a pensioner couple stepped forward from the bus-shelter, the man called out "ay, there'sa-backpackers on Grainger street, fif-ten pund a nite mind" He hadn't finished giving me direction to this hostel, when his bus came, but he finished as he held the rails on the automatic door, his wife and the other passengers had already gotten on.

EXPENDITURE: Total: £26.90.

An Americano and muffin in Starbucks: £3.95

Hostel: £16.50.

Fish and Chips, plus can of coke: £5.85

Bar of shop: £00.60

Today's ride: 74 km (46 miles)
Total: 538 km (334 miles)

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