Cycling at the English – Scottish border

Every year Jos and I go cycling for a week. Last year we had a big tour in Spain with Jos, Marjo and myself. This year we plan to add a few kilometers (or should I say miles?) to our North Sea Cycle Tour project. We covered the Dutch, German and most of the Danish parts already and also the English route from Dover to Newcastle.

This year we add 300 kilometers from Newcastle to Edinburgh. We could continue up North to Aberdeen and Inverness, but that would involve a long way back to Newcastle by train (where we take the ferry back home). Instead we plan to continue from Edinburgh to Glasgow, down to Carlisle (I guess by train, given our time contraint) and from there back to Newcastle. Most of this itinerary follows quiet cycle routes through nice country side; hope the weather will be our friend.

This is our planned route:

Part 1. Newcastle – Edinburgh. This is a section of the North Sea Route and of National Cycle Network Route 1.

Part 2. Edinburh – Glasgow. This is along canals and is the bigger part of National Cycle Network Route 754.

From Glasgow to Carlisle we’ll take the train. There is a fast train operated by Virgin that takes bicycles; it’s free but you need reservations for your bike.

Part 3. Carlisle – Newcastle. This is a large section of the Hadrian’s Cycle Way, NCN Route 72.

We will use gps navigation and Sustrans maps, which I ordered online from Sustrans.

Noordzeeroute20071
North Sea Cycle Route
Noordzeeroute

Day 1. Newcastle – Amble 65km.

Yesterday we started our ‘Spring Tour’ by cycling from home to the ferry in IJmuiden, where we checked in for the overnight trip to Newcastle. The seas was more or less flat, but it was not easy to walk on a straight line, as if I had drunk too much. This morning we left the ferry walking between the big trucks.

After a quick coffee and some cycling around we were on our North Sea Cycle Route. It took quite some time to make some progress. We needed to look out for an ATM machine to get some English Pounds (the Euro is very handy, but don’t tell the English!). There was a moderately strong wind blowing in our face. We had some off-road tracks and detours. But at the same time it was a beautiful ride, getting more beautiful the more North we came.

After 65 kilometers we arrived in a village called Amble, where we had a look on our map to see which village came next. Not much for the first 40 or so kilometers, so we decided to stay in Amble. This weekend appears to be a Bankers Holiday, which means that almost all accomodations are fully occupied. We got the last room of the village. Tomorrow we have took hope for the best again.

Jos_walking_his_bicycle_off_the_ferry_in_Newcastle
Newcastle_–_Amble
June 4, 2018
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  • Created: June 4, 2018
  • Updated: June 10, 2018
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Route type: Distance > 100 km
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  • Time 79 h 8 min
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GPX_icon download gpx track:  Newcastle - Edinburgh (37 downloads)

Day 2. Amble – Berwick-upon-Tweed 85 km.

The views from the coastal path between Amble and Berwick-upon-Tweed are magnificent. The weather was relatively fine, but cold with only 9 degrees Centigrade. We had some wind in the back, some showers and some sun. The skies were as beautiful as you can imagine. Going North, we had the cliffs at our right and the extremely yellow fields on our left side.

Sometimes we had to cross via a beach and some rocks, cycle long stretches off-road and go up and down steeps hills. Still we enjoyed every moment.

The draw back is that we don’t make a lot of progress in terms of kilometers, but in this environment we forget about targets and goals, we just enjoy. Well, actually Jos enjoyed the last part of today’s ride more than I did, since we passed steep cliffs on a sandy trail. I was happy to feel the asphalt road under my wheels, even if the Englih roads feel like riding off-road anyway.

Amble_–_Berwick-upon-Tweed
Amble_–_Berwick-upon-Tweed

Day 3. Berwick-upon-Tweed to Innerleithen 106 km.

Today was a rainy day, exeactly how you imagine Scotland. We had our full English breakfast at 8 o’clock and started our rainy day at 8.30 am. Basically we followed the river Tweed, but that suggests a flat route. In reality we were climbing and descending all day.

Route 1 -sign-cyclists

Berwick is close to the English – Scottish border. Jos posed there in the rain. We kept our good humour all day, despite the rain.

Berwick-upon-Tweed_to_Innerleithen-01

Scottland is also the country of castles. Norham castle is just one example of the many castles we passed. This one looks slightly behind in maintainance, but others are very well kept, with gardens and restaurants. We did not take the time to visit one, since we wanted to make some progress on the road.

This area has a very nice scenery, with beautifull hills, old houses and lots of green. The rain has it’s positive sides. But it is also very quiet with only a few villages. It was hard to find a place for our ‘morning coffee’.

After a little bit more than 100 kilometers we arrived in Innerleithen, a small town. Fortunately there are some hotels and we picked the Corner House Hotel. This is a very friendly place, where they also did our laundry, where they have tasty Scottish beers and good Scottish salmon with fresh vegatables and cooked potatoes.

Jos_at_the_English-Scottish_border
Innerleithen

Day 4. Innerleithen – Edinburgh – Linlithgow 85 km.

Today we followed Route 1 to Edinburgh, from there we changed to route 754.

The name of the towns in the title of this post will probably not sound familiair to most readers. Innerleithen is a small town in the middle of beautiful scenery. This morning we started our tour by cycling along the Leithen Water, a nice small stream. We went up and up and sometimes down in a kind of desolate Scottish scenery with sheep, grass and hills.

Route 1 -sign-cyclists
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Scenery between Innerleithen and Edinburgh
Near Innerleithen

After the top we arrived in a friendlier environment, with quiet villages. When we approaches Edinburgh the traffic became heavier, but not bad. We passed Edinburgh smoothly, stopped there for a lunch on an outside terrace (just nice enough weather to sit outside) and started the next part of our tour. This track leads us to Glasgow, where we plan to arrive tomorrow and runs along the Union Canal. The cycle path is the old tow path along the canal.

It was quite busy with cyclists, walkers and runners, which was sometimes slightly scarry when passing. The tow path is sometimes very narrow, especially under the countless bridges and muddy after the rain.

A channel outside Edinburgh
Jos on the cycle path near the channel

We found a room in the West Port Hotel in Linlithgow. The Tourist Information Office was terrible (no information about hotels and B&B’s, no prices, no addresses, no information about vacancies). A friendly lady called the hotel to ask if they had a room and walked all the way with us.

The weather was nice, starting off cold and cloudy, but warming up and getting sunny after 11 am.

June 10, 2018
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  • Created: June 10, 2018
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GPX_icon For the map and gpx to Edinburgh see (to be added] Download gpx: Edinburgh - Glascow (33 downloads)

Day 5. Linlithgow – Glasgow – Carlisle 45 km cycling + train

Today was another wet day. The friendly girl in our West Port Hotel called it horrible weather, but it was not that bad. We continued our route along the Union Canal, which was not busy today (a rainy work day). Jos enjoyed the exitement of the demanding route; I just tried to survive on the muddy track, the aquaducts with dazzling heights and the 600 meters long tunnel.

The tunnel was constructed during the early 1800s because the landowner did not want to see a canal from his villa. After the tunnel we arrived at the end of the Union Canal and the start of the Forth and Clyde Canal. The two canals are on different heights. The Falkirk Wheel is a revolving boat lift that was opened in 2002; it replaces 11 locks and covers a height of 35 meters. Follow this link to see it in action: http://nl.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falkirk-wiel#/media/Bestand:Falkrikwheelanimationmedium.gif

An aquaduct
An aquaduct
A tunnel under an estate
A tunnel under an estate

After 45 kilometers we approached Glasgow and we decided to avoid the frustrating ride into the big city. We took the train from Lenzie to Glasgow Queen Street station. From there it’s a short distance to Glasgow Central Station, from where we took the train to Carlisle. Tomorrow we’ll start the Hadrian Wall Cycle Route from here.

Our bicyce a a bit muddy after all the poor cycle paths. The roads are of a very poor quality anyway, with many generations of turmac patchwork.

My_Santos_bicycle_after_a_muddy_ride
The Falkirk Wheel

Day 6. Carlisle – Hexham 85 km

The Hadrian wall was the border between the Roman empire and the barbarians. Emperor Hadrian visited this part of his empire around the year AD 140. Today we cycled part of the Hadrian’s Cycleway (NCN Route 72), from Carlisle to Hexham. First we enjoyed another full English breakfast with two fried eggs, hash browns (a patato dish), bacon, no sausages, tomatos, shi’itakes, white beans in tomato sauce, cereals, toast and tea.

We started in Carlisle in the rain, but yet the weather looked a bit friendlier than yesterday, with some sunny spells. Later today it even became dry and for a short time sunny.

It was a tough day with extremely steep slopes. Even in my lightest gear, it was sometimes to steep. Just as in Scotland, the road was of a poor quality. Bumps and circumstances. Still we enjoyed the beautiful scenery with greener than green hills, old villages and farms, flowers and birds.

The Hadrian Wall
Jos at the Hadrian Wall
Jos at the Hadrian Wall

We are staying in the pub B&B Coaches & Horses, where Gill is taking good care of us. She even washed our sweaty cycling clothes, so tomorrow we can start freshly on our final day, back to the ferry.

Day 7. Hexham – Newcastle – ferry 55 km

The final part of our trip went from Hexham to Newcastle, where we had to check-in for the ferry to IJmuiden around 2.30 pm. Finally the weather was good (dry, but cool, with some sunshine and a favourable wind). I did not take pictures, so what I present here are a few pictures from a previous visit, when I walked the Hadrian Wall route.

From Hexham to Newcastle, there are not too many steep hills left. Once in the suburbs of Newcastle, the road is flat. The signs were very clear, so we didn’t need a map or navigation. In Newcastle we followed the river all the way until we reached the ferry.

We had lunch in the Cycle Hub, a nice combination of a cycle shop and a restaurant. http://www.thecyclehub.org They are at the river Tyne, just passed the city centre (to the East).

From there we followed the clear signs to the ferry.

Hadrian Wall scenery
June 4, 2018
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  • Created: June 4, 2018
  • Updated: June 10, 2018
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Route type: Distance > 100 km
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GPX_icon Download gpx: Carlisle - Newcastle (23 downloads)

Harwich – Scarborough – Hull

This route is part of the North Sea Cycling route. We cycled this part during spring 2010. We planned to take the ferry from Newcastle back to Holland, but we didn’t have a lot of time. So we turned around somewhere after Scarborough and took the ferry from Hull.

GPX_icon

Download link is: Harwich - Scarborough - Hull (36 downloads)

June 12, 2018
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  • Created: June 12, 2018
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