Day 5 – 08/05/2003 (Thursday) Egglestone to Wooler
The Moorcock Inn does a very good breakfast, but it also lies about its location. If you click-through to their website you will see its address given as Hilltop, Egglestone. This is a lie, it is nowhere near the top of the hill. Well, I suppose the road does go down slightly for the first half mile or so, but then it goes up and keeps going up, sometimes alarmingly steeply for a long, long time.
On top of that my nemesis of a couple of days ago, the wind, was back with a vengeance. The first ten miles from “Hilltop” over the real top of the hill and down to Stanhope took well over an hour. It was so windy I was having to pedal going down a 10% slope to keep my speed up. The scenery was spectacular, and I had plenty of time to appreciate it, especially on the way up.
I made an executive decision in Stanhope and abandoned my original route over the hills via Hexham and Rothbury and took the wind and incline assisted route down the Wear valley which would eventually take me to Newcastle. It helped for a while. Going down the valley with the wind behind me I probably averaged over 30 km/hour for the first half-hour or so, but eventually I had to get out of the Wear Valley and into the Tyne. That meant more hills, though not as long and steep and more wind in my face, though not as strong.
My route now took me into Newcastle. The last time I had been to Newcastle was back in my days as an Engineer Cadet at South Shields Marine and Technical College. That was about thirty years ago. I would probably have saved myself about five or six miles if I had crossed the Tyne at one of the up river bridges. I decided that having made this detour through Newcastle that I might as well make a further detour and cross the Tyne on the Millennium Cycle Bridge.
Newcastle has changed a bit since my student days. The Quayside area which was derelict coal staithes and warehouses is now all smarted up and trendy. The roads also seem to have altered. It took me a while to find a way out that didn’t involve an urban motorway, but I eventually made it onto the back roads from Ponteland to Morpeth.
At this point my intention was still to make it to Duns today, but time was getting on and I still had over fifty miles to go. I decided that going straight up the main road from Morpeth to Coldstream would be quicker than the back roads. The A697 isn’t usually too busy because most of the north bound traffic goes up the A1.
There was one memorable point on the journey. I was descending in to a valley,I think it was the Coquet, and I looked across and thought to my self, the climb out the other side can’t be as steep as it looks, it must be foreshortening. The I looked down at my computer and saw it reading 85km/h and thought maybe it is as steep as it looks.
By the time I was getting up to Wooler it was around seven in the evening. There were still at least two hours in the saddle to get to Duns. I decided to stay the night at the Wooler Youth Hostel. I called my mum to say that I wouldn’t make it that night, but she could have my lunch ready for me the next day if she wanted. My sister offered to come and collect me and the bike, but the idea was to cycle up to Duns not just to get there, so I said thanks, but no thanks and had a night on the town in Wooler.