After a cold start week today’s weather was much milder.
I met up with Dave and Chris at our usual spot in Holywell Dene.
We took our familiar route along the old railway line then down to the promenade at Whitley Bay. From there we followed the coast along to Tynemouth where we picked up the path along the Tyne which took us along to the Hub Cycle Cafe on Newcastle Quayside.
From there we crossed the river at the Millennium Bridge which took us to the Gateshead side of the river. Here we joined NCN Route 14, the Keelman’s Way, which runs to South Shields.
For the most part the route follows the river and gives good views of the north shore.
The route leaves the river at Hebburn, close to an area known as ‘Little Aberdeen’ because it housed shipyard workers recruited from North East Scotland, and heads towards South Shields. At Jarrow there is a cyclist tunnel currently closed for refurbishment. There is however a replacement bus service which will transport bikes and their riders through the vehicular tunnel to Howdon.
Once at Howdon it is a short ride to rejoin Route 72 then on to Route 10. The ride back home was straightforward, apart from having to deal with a rear wheel puncture on Chris’s bike.
Here in the north-east of the UK we seem to have made a rapid transition from a mellow autumn to a cold winter. The temperature on Monday morning was 0° Celsius but the sky was clear and wind speed was minimal. Dave and I had planned to head north, avoiding most of the slippery and muddy paths.
We met at the bottom of The Avenue and headed along the Dunes cycle path towards Blyth. The track along the river was icy in places but the sky was blue and the sun was shining.
We continued through Bedlington, East Sleekburn, West Sleekburn and Ashington before joining the Coast and Castles Route which runs alongside the A189 Spine Road eventually taking us to the Queen Elizabeth II Country Park on the outskirts of Ashington. After a quick circuit of the lake, we headed to Newbiggin, our scheduled coffee stop.
Bertorelli’s, adjacent to the promenade in Newbiggin, is fast becoming one of our favourite coffee stops. Located in an attractive art deco building, the service is excellent and it’s perfect for a half-way break.
By now it was a glorious winter’s day and Newbiggin was looking at its best.
We left Newbiggin via Sandy Bay Caravan Park and rejoined the Coast and Castles route for a mile or so before heading into Cambois.
After passing through Cambois, Dave suggested we continue into North Blyth, once famous for shipbuilding (the first HMS Ark Royal was built at Battleship Wharf) but now known for wind turbines and the aluminium ore silos.
The diversion meant we had to double back (the ferry across the River Blyth no longer runs) to retrace our route back to Blyth harbour side.
Our final stop was for a coffee at Ciccarelli’s before heading home through the dunes and back up The Avenue.