Saturday, 13 July 2013

Border Raid into Northumberland

The cracking weather continues and despite developing a bit of a cold I grabbed the day and drove down the coast to Berwick.

There are a few national cycle routes pass through Berwick and I had a plan to link up various bits into a day out. Unfortunately I didn't have a map but I thought I would be able to find my way somehow.

I started out cycling west following the route of the river Tweed and the border between England and Scotland. This photo is taken in England. Just ahead in the dip, and you're in Scotland.
The forecast had been for some cloud cover and lower temperatures. No chance, It was roasting and I was enjoying every minute of it.

I can think of a certain little dog who would love to attend the above production.

After about eight miles the road dropped and crossed the Tweed for the first of many times today. The Union Suspension Bridge dates back to 1820 when it was the longest suspension bridge in the world.

Captain Samuel Brown, who designed it, pioneered the concept of using iron rods instead of cable. Its still holding firm although it is only rated for two tonnes gross weight.

Into England again and it was a steep old climb back up from the bridge, past the honey farm, and back onto the main road.

On and on, in the stifling heat. There wasn't even much bird life around. Everything was taking it easy apart from a fool on a LHT. Norham Castle is a great old ruin. It dates back to the 12th century and changed hands numerous times during the wars between England and Scotland.

It's a steep descent into Norham village and then the inevitable climb back out before following miles of empty roads stretching out through the fields of barley.

Eventually I picked up the track beside the River Tilt. It was slow going at the start with roots and rocks making for a bumpy ride, but once into the blessed shade of the trees the track settled to packed gravel.

Beautiful trail with lush greenery and the gentle murmur of the river.

I could have cycled along here all day. Every lazy meander of the river brought even more stunning views.

I took the chance to stop at a little bench, have a banana, more water, and just soak up the sunshine and the view of the river. The board in the pic is a guide to the local wildlife. It is wonderfully illustrated by local primary school children. It was a pleasant distraction trying to figure out what all the animals were. The drawing of an otter appeared to be sporting a particularly fine moustache!

Up from the river and past Etal Castle.

The village of Etal was picture perfect and just to remind me that I was definitely in England, there was a game of cricket taking place on the village green.

Everything was becoming just a bit too twee so onward past Ford,

 and on to a long hot stretch, following lanes and unmade roads through the fields.

I thought fortune was smiling on me when I came across this ice cream stall but there was no-one there!

There was no choice but to keep on pedaling towards the Cheviot hills in the distance and the town of Wooler.

Wooler church has an exhibition about the battle of Flodden Field (in case you hadn't guessed). Its the 500th anniversary of the decimation of the Scottish Nobility and the death of King James IV. It was a tragedy for Scotland and the afternoon of the 9th September 1513 shaped the future of the land.
I had something to eat in Wooler then basically started back roughly following the outward route. I took a diversion by Ancroft to look for the Roman Road and paid for it with a lot of climbing.

When I finally got back to Berwick the long awaited cloud had rolled in and the pictures were quite dull. It was another long hard sixty plus miles, but I kept the fluid levels up this week and managed to eat a bit more. I also bought a decent OS map for Northumberland on my way home. There will be plenty of evenings spent plotting routes for my next visit.



  1. Those pics bring back memories exploring on my motorcycles, Norham, Etal, and around Berwickshires often deserted country roads. Looks like you had a great day Ped -:)

    1. It was a long day. Exploring tracks and trails on the LHT is great but it takes time!

  2. Wow, what a beautiful route! You have a talent for rides with lots of variety.

  3. It's a beautiful area. I've been looking at the map and have new routes planned although they may have to wait a few weeks for the sake of martial harmony.

  4. Beautiful as always. I like those "unmade" roads as you refer to them. I find myself searching for more and more of those in my part of the country (Canada). As a teen, when it was all about speed, I cursed at the sight of unmade roads - now its my strongest impulse to get on them!
    Cheers to another lovely post.

    1. Thanks for the kind comments Wilson. I enjoy linking up gravel tracks but I'm quite happy to have a smooth road for those last few miles at the end of the day!