Hexham. Yes, we have reached the end of Stage 2. We left Ferniehurst shrouded in mist and rather damp - but beautiful. The weather improved with a rather chilly patch mid morning. Hexham is positively balmy. We may even be able to abandon the fleeces! We have spent the day riding through stunning countryside - rolling moors, woods, lush green roadsides and surrounded by bird song. I even heard a cuckoo this morning. When up among the hills it was easy to imagine the Reiver Clans that once ruled the area - the Percy's, Laidlaws, Armstrongs - and of course Young Lochinvar. This is the country of Scot and S.R. Crockett. We had been well warned about Carter Bar and how testing it would be. In fact it proved much less difficult, just a long slog uphill. The real challenge came after as the A68 following the path of the Romans goes up and down, up and down, up and down - often moving from a realitively gentle gradient to a stiff, steep gradient on the same rise. The downhill was exhilarating, the uphill a test of muscle and determination. The other challenge, the traffic since this is one of the main routes south and though not a dual carriageway favoured by lorries. Today also seems to have been the start of a motorcycle meet as Robocop clad riders roared past us in a steady stream - luckily going the other way, as was a small group of vintage cars. So now we face Stage 3 as we head to Durham. Fingers crossed for a good day.