Day 3 – Stanhope to Tynemouth (via Consett)
Bleary eyes open to the unexpected glow of early morning sunshine. Breakfast is a makeshift, but satisfactory affair – which is fine as I’ve had prior warning from Dan that the first ascent of the day might not be good powered by a full english.
When you’ve spent a couple of days in the saddle, and ideal way to start off your third morning is by bumping along a pot-holed farm track for about half a mile. I can recommend it. It’s a much better day than the previous two, which bodes well for a decent days riding.
We ride back to Stanhope, and quickly we’re on the ascent again up the appropriately named ‘Crawleyside Bank’ – this is a tough long slog with a couple of false summits. Nigel’s now bound to the psychological trigger of Simon’s unclipped show hitting the tarmac for the occasional break on the way up.
When we get to the top of the hill and turn off onto The Waskerley Way (Previously the Stanhope and Tyne railway). The old station houses a cafe, and there is insistence that we stop here today after yesterday’s cafe debacle. It’s very nice, and worthy of a return visit.
Then we’re off on a fast descent down the old railway line on a pretty descent track. there’s plenty of mountain bikers coming the other way this morning. And then we suffer a bike failure as Simon gets a front flat tyre. After a slightly testing few minutes, as Simon has the tightest fitting tyres ever made (at least that’s how it seems).
The railway line takes us all the way to Consett, occasionally taking us off track where a bridge no longer bridges the gap. Some of the viaducts are still in place, including this one – Hownsgill Viaduct – which has had a fairly significant modification to stop people clambering over.
Around here we also encounter the bizarre sight of one man and three children manouvering a full size trampoline along the path. It’s unclear where it’s come from or where they may be taking it too, but as Simon says “its’ not nailed down”.
A brief navigational error on my part around Consett means we nearly set off towards Sunderland, but we quickly correct ourselves and are back on the path towards Gateshead. It’s brilliant that almost all of the final day is off road, but the bank holiday does mean we spend time dodging other cyclists, dogs, buggies, and various other path users. The journey into Newcastle takes a long time but its an easy ride – and soon we’re riding along the north side of the Tyne. Initially through the industrial part by the old Vickers tank factory, then into the city centre, the back into the industrial areas of Wallsend and North Shields.
And then, despite the signs continually saying “5 miles to go” for many more miles than that, we find ourselves on the seafront at Tynemouth. A short final haul around the harbour towards the castle and we reach the finish! Not quite as dramatic as the sign at Whitehaven, but still a worthy finish 150 miles later.