Day 17, 3rd June 2011, Middlesborough to Tynemouth

We are staying tonight at the Grand Hotel at Tynemouth, on the coast east of Newcastle.  Never in our wildest dreams would we have considered coming to Tynemouth, let alone staying at this wonderful old Victorian pile of a hotel, with its views out over the North Sea.  That is the point of this sort of touring.

Leaving Middlesbrough this morning was a bit of a trial.  The route markers were simply not there on some crucial intersections, a problem that haunted us all day.  Normally we wouldn’t care about it, but in this heavily populated and industrialised part of the world, the easiest way to thread your way through is to follow the bike route.

The first couple of hours was somewhat frustrating as we twisted and turned down suburban streets, through back alleys and across town parks, before eventually coming to another rail trail, that led most of the way to the sea.  The path rose gently out of the Tees River valley, meandered along a ridge line, before descending into the Tyne River valley.  The going was slow. 

Most of the route is on gravelled paths.  There are occasional places were there are a lot of people with dogs doing there own thing, and numerous gates designed to stop cars, but which require you to get off your bike and wrestle it through the gate.  This is another area where a bike trailer will not work for you, an issue we have covered at some length in our book.  Some of these gates are only a few hundred metres apart.  So we only made some 90km today, even though we were riding solidly until about 6.30pm.

The riding was generally easy and pleasant, and it is a miracle that the route designers managed to find a way through at all. Unlike a lot of mainland Europe, bicycle access is not the first consideration of road designers, so the route planners here have to work hard to find a way at all.  It is interesting that a lot of the very recent roads have a parallel bike path in the European tradition.

We reached South Shields and crossed the Tyne River on a ferry to North Shields, the point where we leave national route 1, the North Sea route, and join the Hadrian’s Wall route, number 72, to the west coast.

We probably should have got better maps, but with a combination of our large scale maps and TomTom on my Iphone we muddled through.

This was another day’s riding in perfect weather and with just a tiny tailwind.  We could not have asked for better.

Our old Victorian hotel of course has free WiFi, unlike the Travelodge chain, and a wonderful view at night.

I have the map zoom problem again.  Just use the zoom in (+) key to show the route, or the scroll keys to fit the map in the frame.

View 3 6 2011 Middlesbrough Tyneside in a larger map


On to Day 18                                     Back to the trip diary