Tynemouth to Haltwhistle via Parkhead Station and back home again.
It was a nice early start on a bright Bank Holiday Monday when the NTR guys decided to head up to the Derwent Walk before all the dog walkers came out to play. Tired legs from previous day’s rides or family commitments kept the numbers down to just three regulars and one NTR first timer.

So at 08:00 on the dot, four of them set off on a long but non-technical CX ride. Morne said he’ll probably do the 56 mile version. With a decent tail wind they made good progress and were at Park Head cafe well before 10:00 and as usual the cloud had closed in to restrict the view. They were disappointed to see 20+ bikes parked up outside Parkhead Station café knowing it’d be chaos inside but, after waiting for not too long a sandwich and hot drink arrived, was eaten and they were back on the bikes.

A brief road section to follow but Morne, a keen MTB’er, was itching to get on gravel again. After a rather stony, loose descent into Rookhope and a double puncture they set out to ride a couple of the highest roads in England over to Nenthead. They all set some good times on the climb considering they were on CX bikes and Suzanne set top tens on Strava segments all day. Suddenly, it seemed, the sun was out and it was a getting warmer by the minute.

A quick blast to Alston on the road with Tony on the front……half a mile off the front! Once they arrived at Alston, a quick stop at the village shop was required to top up the bottles and an excuse for a quick bask in the sun for 10 mins. Oh, and they nearly lost Suzanne who didn’t get the memo to stop at the shop.

After Alston they jumped onto the off road South Tyne Trail that runs alongside the South Tynedale Railway line all the way to Haltwhistle playing gate relay as they went. This was a great, easy trail with the highlight being the Lambley Viaduct – be warned though you have to climb some steps to get up there. Next up was a quick detour to the Wallace Arms for necessary refreshments and to discuss the options for returning home. Beer and train home or ride home? £13.10 for the train… let’s ride.

After crossing over the Alston Arches Viaduct into Haltwhistle they headed on road up to Vindolanda and then down into Hexham. This fast section followed the NCN72, and with Tony leading the way again, burning off some roadie for fun, we passed through the Northumberland County Show at Bywell.  Tens of thousands of people were at the show, who would have thought as they approached the crossing point they would hear the shout of ‘Hello, Suzanne!’  What are the chances of that?

Morne turned off before Ovingham, having done a cracking job for 86 miles, and the three of them pushed on along the cycle track to Newburn for more refreshments and a decent meal in the sun.

They resisted the pull of the Big Lamp Bitter and set off for home. 120+ miles with 6200ft of climbing on a CX bike with more than half of it off road is a long day out, 12 hours ish, but it was a cracking day.

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