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Pedal Power by Nick Veasey
  • Writer's pictureAnnette Culshaw

Riding in Reiver Country..

Castles, Roman and Reivers

Day 7: 07/09/19

It is Bob writing the Blog tonight as although Annette is happy with her achievements today but is cream crackered !

An interesting day involving riding at sea, reaching the northernmost town in England and continuing to ride the National Cycle Route 1 which starts in Dover and passes through Thanet!

After a slightly later start than normal - tiredness is starting to show - we rode inland from Bamburgh a little before crossing the A1 and railway lines. Annette always has much to say about my bad luck with traffic lights - they are always on red for me, and so are the rail crossings! We crossed the track on three or four occasions and everytime we had to wait for the train to go through - London North Eastern Railway at about100 mph, certainly the draught felt like it!

After country lanes we approached Lindisfarne (Holy Island) and had to cross the Causeway. We were fortunate in that the tide times permitted our crossing and literally we rode where the sea should be! What a fascinating experience. As far as you can see left and right is a flat area of sand and mud virtually level with the road and the sea comes in at a fast pace - but not as fast as Annette was pedalling! It is three and a half miles across to causeway to Lindisfarne and what is it like when you get there?

Well, I was expecting to be spiritually uplifted, it being one of the places I had always wanted to visit. The history here is just mindblowing and it makes you think about early Christianity, the Lindisfarne Gospels (produced in the 8th Century), St Cuthbert, the Danes and Vikings and massacres in the 8th Century. Unfortunately, I wasn't as uplifted as I hoped!

Lindisfarne is now just a popular tourist spot with English Heritage and the National Trust doing there best to preserve our history and heritage whilst the place is covered with pubs and car parks and coach parties - what have we done to this unique place? St Cuthbert will be turning in his grave! Even on the way back to the 'mainland' there was a dead Grey Seal at the side of the road. Overall, it's fair to say that Lindisfarne didn't really come up to expectations.

However, there were a few photographic opportunities: at Lindisfarne Priory and Lindisfarne Castle:-

Lindisfarne Priory
Lindisfarne Priory

Lindisfarne Castle
Lindisfarne Castle

On leaving the Causeway we had a choice in our continuing route. We could either choose an off road route which our notes stated was unsuitable for road bikes (our Hybrid bikes have narrow tyres than mountain bikes) or a longer route via the country lanes - both had the same destination - Berwick on Tweed. Well, Annette had the spirit of adventure today - or was it that she wanted the shorter route? Either way we chose the off road route and what a delight it was as the following pictures will hopefully demonstrate. There were a couple of areas where we were cycling about 3 inches close to the edge of the cliffs, others where we were following a track of 4/5 inches in width. All in an area which felt like riding on the moors (The Pennines) where I grew up. It was adrenaline producing and altogether exhilarating.

The area surrounding the cycle track
The area surrounding the cycle track

So, this off road route of some seven miles or so took us towards Berwick on Tweed which was our eventual destination for the day. We are now in Border Country - that narrow band of country either side of the England and Scotland Border. Whilst we did not have Hadrian's wall to keep us English apart from the Scots the Reivers were doing their best to 'encourage contact'

Approaching Berwick on Tweed from the Cycle Path
Approaching Berwick on Tweed from the Cycle Path

You thought that we could not spell Rivers properly in our previous posts? Well we thought it was a missprint when we booked the holiday! In fact Reivers is the correct spelling and there is a fascinating history involved!

Border Reivers were raiders along the Anglo-Scottish border from the late 13th Century to the beginning of the 17th Century - they were very much involved in pillaging, theft and a number of other misdemeanors! So, that is the issue of Saints and Raiders. Walking through the town tonight in search of food, we were convinced we saw many of their descendents! Several groups of 10 or so men, all of them large and imposing and very loud. Their ancestors would have been proud!

Berwick on Tweed
Berwick on Tweed

We arrived in Berwick on Tweed pretty tired today - we had a headwind of 20/25 mph all day and we were pretty glad to find our accommodation to get a breather followed by an excellent Indian meal.

I have to say that our bikes coped brilliantly on the off road section. I was carrying 2 panniers and a backpack as well and the bikes were just brilliant - great credit to Oxygen Bikes for producing a great product - and, incidentally, they have been greatly admired on a number of occasions on this trip!

We are now plotting our route and timings for tomorrow as we are heading to Kelso. The Tour of Britain Cycling Race is based there tomorrow so it will be a little hectic and their route crosses ours at a couple of points - I think we will be travelling at a more sedate pace than they will be doing and we couldn't quite make the qualifying times to enter the race!

An enjoyable day, wall to wall sunshine, stong winds, and lots of interesting things to see. This area continues to captivate us!

Fond wishes

Bob and Annette


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