Monday 21st November Light to very strong NE – E (50mph)
Cold, very icy morning, cloudy and showers before very heavy rain
The owner of the Island View bed and breakfast, Chiswick is an ex-squaddie who left the Marines after being injured by a land mine whilst on tour. I listen to his tales over breakfast, taking the meal slow as there is thick frost outside and I don't want to set off before some of it has melted. I have no intention of cycling down the A1 with ice on the roads.
I take the country lanes and find the Sustrans cycle route 1. Now I know what to expect as I cycled this way north back in July. I know that really there isn't a cycle path, just a muddy field with cows and a narrow strip of frozen mud along low sand dunes.
Avoiding large cow pats I push the bike for a few miles, stopping to photograph a stonechat and a pale goose amongst a large flock of pink-footed geese and greylags.
A gravel path that is cycle-able has a dyke alongside it. A little egret flies out of and a kingfisher darts down the middle; both are birds I haven't seen for months and are great to see.
Two young people are sampling the water from a larger water course further along the path. Working for the Environment Agency they are checking for nitrate levels in the water. Too high they say and with the number of cows, sheep and other crop levels around the area it is easy to see why.
Carrying on along I am stopped by a lady out walking a small, friendly dog. “Are you The Biking Birder?” She asks. Hence I meet Julie, out celebrating her birthday no less. Julie tells me that Ian, her husband will be disappointed to not having met we as he is a birder. She also says that we have met before, back in January at Dart's Farm on The Exe Estuary. It is such a cheer me up moment. Happy birthday Julie and thanks.
The route takes me past Budle Bay where there are a number of duck and gulls to see. Then over a hill before a downward plunge into Bamburgh.
Maybe my favourite castle view from the top, Bamburgh Castle looms large in front of me and the quickly passing shower with hail no way diminishes the magnificent scene.
Through Seahouses with The Inner Farnes beyond a white-capped seascape; the wind has been strengthening throughout the day and is now very strong. Coming from my left side, from the east, the going gets very tough.
Fifteen miles to go to my abode for the night I cycle hard and after drinking a whole litre of pure orange juice I find that it all becomes a bit easier!
Rain starts to fall heavily but finding a cycle path for the last three mile stretch from the Alnmouth turn to Warkworth means I can cycle safely in the dark and the rain. Reaching The Sun Hotel I may be soaked but I am so happy. Over forty miles . . . Go Gary!
41.14 miles 1355 feet elevation up 1415 down