Saturday, 28 May 2016

After a fantastic evening enjoying Hexham hospitality, courtesy of Hugh  and Jill, we left a little later than originally planned. This did not, in the end, make much difference. Cycling through the Northumberland countryside was glorious, not least because there was glimpse of sun. Our journey has not been planned with sightseeing in mind so it was not a case of stopping at every stately home. However, we were cycling through lush green hedgerows and past houses and through villages built in the austere yet attractive grey stone that is such a feature of the north. Travelling by car may be convenient but it is certainly cocooning. On the bicycle one is aware of the scents - the trees, the hawthorn, the bog myrtle ...the green. Also the bird song. I really must recommend it!. However, though travelling through this lovely countryside, I do have to say the terrain was more than a little challenging. If we had hoped that the hills of the A68 were behind us, we were mistaken. There were long slow hauls followed by terrifying descents followed by another steep gradient that would go on for ever; the exit from Ebchester was, I think, the worst ( 13% gradient - luckily we did not know this when we started the climb). However, we met up with friends pretty much on time and have had a leisurely break surrounded by trees, donkeys - and hens! Thank you Kate and Nigel and girls for the welcome. Now we  are planning our next stage - Thirsk. The direct route is by all accounts a busy road, the aim to see if we can programme the GPS to follow something quieter. Fingers crossed.

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