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Pedal Power by Nick Veasey
  • Writer's pictureAnnette Culshaw

Back on the road again...

Updated: Jan 6, 2020

Romans, Reivers and Castles

Day 2: 3/9/19

Thanks to all of you who made offerings to the Weather Gods last night. It is however a bit of a shame that some of you must have drunk the red wine instead of leaving it for the Gods. I have to say that we have our suspicions about who the culprits are and we will be having words when we come back!!

So, the weather today was better than yesterday, thanks to those of you who did leave the offerings. We did indeed have gentle breezes behind us, but we got pretty soaked crossing the Pennines this morning. I discovered that my rainproof overtrousers were not rainproof at all! However on the fabulous, long descent into Hexham the rain stopped and we even saw patches of blue sky in places.

In spite of the rain the ride was splendid and we enjoyed the day enormously. The countryside round here is beautiful. There were many challenging climbs which we have grown to love, and of course the descents are amazing. The most challenging parts of the ride for me were the cattle grid crossings!! I am a wimp with them! The are perfectly safe to ride over, but my head tells me differently.

My face says it all!!

After much climbing we arrived at Vindolanda, fifteen miles into our journey. Vindolanda lies just to the south of the curtain wall of Hadrian's Wall and has a very different ‘feel’ to other sites along the Wall. It lies upon the first Roman frontier in the north – The Stanegate Road and in a stunning landscape which lets your imagination really connect with its past. Although first built by the Roman army before Hadrian’s Wall, Vindolanda became an important construction and garrison base for the Wall, a Hadrian’s Wall fort in its own right. During this time Vindolanda was demolished and completely re-built no fewer than nine times. Each re-build by each community, leaving their own distinctive mark on the landscape and archaeology of the site. It is huge.

Vindolanda Excavations

After Hadrian’s Wall and the Roman occupation was abandoned by its imperial armies Vindolanda remained in use for over 400 years before finally becoming abandoned in the 9th century. The history of the buildings is explained at each individual site.

A recreation of a section of the fort defenses on Hadrians Wall
A recreation of a section of the fort defenses on Hadrians Wall

We left reluctantly, only to discover in the car park that a section of my front tyre had burst out of the rim of the wheel!! Thankfully Bob popped it back in, but it gave us a few anxious moments. A big climb up to the highest point of the ride at Crindledykes (262 metres above sea level) was exhilerating and the long, long descent towards Hexham will be an abiding memory.

We witnessed the Pennine effect - i.e the rainfall is shed on the western side of the hills predominently whist the Eastern side is much drier. Certainly we had the classic example today!

We were more than ready to stop for a cuppa in Hexford. It is a delightiful and bustling little town. I took the opportunity to buy a new pair of waterproof overtrousers...(not that it is going to rain anymore on the whole ride!!) Bob explored the Abbey which he loved, he didn't know an Abbey existed in Hexham so he was keen to explore! He loved the Bishop's Stool which is possibly made for Wilfred in 674AD - just a tad older than Bob!

Bishops Stool, Hexham Abbey

Elevation Day 2

Whilst preparing this blog we have noticed that sun is forecast in the morning - fingers crossed! Our ride tomorrow is along the Tyne Valley to Tynemouth via Newcastle.

Fond wishes

Annette & Bob

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