Liverpool to Newcastle by car Wednesday July 5, 2017 We left, Belinda and I that is, at about 14:30, stopping briefly to leave keys for my brother before venturing down the motorways and A roads to Newcastle upon Tyne. It was an uneventful trip; the tandem stayed safely on the back of the car and the sat-nav thingy brought us unerringly to within 100m of the hotel. That last 100m took about 20 minutes to complete. But we stayed calm, didn't shout or make snidey comments about the other person's navigation skills or stupid sat-navs - we were a model, modern couple (or maybe just too tired to care). We did see the Angel of the North on the way up. It looked just like we thought it would, only about 1/4 of the size - memories of Spinal Tap sprung to mind as we both glanced at it then said, in perfect unison, "I thought it was much bigger than that!" Anyway, check-in was seamless, the tandem safely locked away and the bright lights of Gateshead/Newcastle beckoned. So, we marched across one of the miriad of bridges, stopped at the first eatery, and devoured two helpings of the Pitcher and Piano's finest muain courses. Back at the hotel we watched the end of stage 5 of the Tour, and then retired to bed, ready for our briefing from the Skeddadle rep. tomorrow morning and then the beginning of our journey northwards towards the fabled land of ice and snow, the home of devils and monsters and the lair of possibly the most over-rated poet in the English language - yes, we were on our way to Scotland, home of the brave and Robbie Burns .... Are we there yet pet ? Thursday July 6, 2017, 48 miles (77 km) - Total so far: 48 miles (77 km) So, we are off. We met the Skeddadle rep at 8:00 and he filled us in with details, most of which we already knew but the confirmation was encouraging. Then we loaded up the tandem with what we thought was a small amount of stuff and set forth on our journey to Bonny Scotland, well the first stage of it at least. Getting out of Newcastle was easy, we had done the same route a couple of years ago at the end of Hadrian's Wall, so we were quickly in Tynemouth where we paused for a photo op and then marched northwards towards Blyth. After a HUGE hill we arrived in Whitley Bay where we had a well earned icecream. (Note, hills have only got three gratings : HUGE, ENORMOUS and MIND-BOGGLING). We had been making good progress and the lilting North East accent was still charming and the friendliness of the people couldn't be faulted - all in all it was a pretty spiffing place. After Whitley Bay we continued up the coast towards Blyth, home of Blyth Spartans, a football team I had seen once, playing Marine so I was looking forward to visiting it ! On the way we went through some sand dunes that were the spitting images of the dunes on the Sefton Coast, we kept expecting to see Natterjack Toads. Eventually we arrived in Blyth, about half way to Warkworth our destination for the day. Blyth was a rather depressing place; run down, economically depressed with a high street completely filled with Pound shops and charity shops. It was not an experience we would repeat in a hurry. We left, riding, as always, North, and seemed to spend an age just crossing a blasted river - people should build bridges over the mouths of rivers to make life easier rather than making them detour inland through jungles and deserts just to get to the other side. - Surprising number of ponies in and around Blyth - just thought you should be kept informed, dear reader. The landscape expanded as we went upwards, and we entered the AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) which covers most of the Northumberland Coast, and it is an epitaph well earned. I had expect it to be bleak and windswept ( Too much watching Vera), but in fact it is simply stunning -awe inspiring really. We got lost in Amble, we ate icecream in Cresswell, and video-talked to Lucia on a cliff edge in the middle of nowhere, all of which were memorable, but the best sight was the Sun Hotel in Warkworth where we ended up after almost 50miles of HUGE hills, stunning scenery and lovely people. Total climbing : 1850ft Food was eaten, drink was drunk and we fell asleep before 9:30. But, before I go, I must tell you about the room. It was ...err... I am not really sure how to describe it, so a picture will have to suffice. No smoke without fire Friday July 7, 2017, 33 miles (53 km) - Total so far: 81 miles (130 km) We awoke into a gilded wonderland as Lucia called us on the computer. Afterwards we broke our fast, packed our bags and set forth towards Bamburgh, home of the castle. We encountered an ENORMOUS hill almost immediately but conquered it with only one ruptured aorta and one burst lung - not too bad for so early in the day. Our first destination was Craster, half way and home to a, supposedly, excellent fish resturant. We made steady progress although we discovered some things about my cycling jacket 1. It is very bright 2. It is waterproof 3. It attracts insects so well, that if I was a fly I would be the number one target for all the girly flies in a 30mile radius. Literally within a second of wearing it I was surrounded by a swarm of small, annoying insects all of whom wanted to either eat me or mate with me. We never did find out which, but I REALLY wish I had brought my black jacket! We walked out of Craster to Dunstanburgh Castle, a ruin of a Castle built by the Duke of Lancaster in 1313 to show off his power and wealth. It would have been rather speccy in its day, but since English Heritage wanted £5 per person to look at it, we declined and walked back to Craster. As we approached the town Belinda noticed smoke pouring out of the roof of a building. We expected to have to join in a water bucket chain and save the town from a fiery end and be hailed as heroes and have a statue built. I was already writing my speech when Belinda pointed out that it was coming from the kipper smoke house and was almost certainly normal .. Oh well, plenty of time to get a statue later. The food in Craster was excellent, and it seems that the town is the home of the Kipper (who'd have thought it heh!) - see how educational this is ? We left after exchanging pleasantries with a couple also riding to Bamburgh, we didn't see them again though as we pedalled. After lunch we meandered through the countryside, waving at cows, avoiding trains and cursing the HUGE hills. The last two days of the trip are significantly more hilly than we have encountered so far, so MIND-BOGGLING will put in an appearance then we imagine. We stopped for cake in Seahouses, a rather quaint seaside town, that had the misfortune to be under a rain cloud as we arrived. We hold it no ill-will however since they make lovely scones. We then travelled a few miles further north and arrived at the Victoria Hotel. Total climbing : 1350ft The hotel was good, the room small but clean and comfortable. It wasn't a "Castle view" as the photo shows, but the beer was cold and the food generous. We turned in after 10:00 and dreamed of hills and flies . If it is a Holy Island, how come it doesn't sink ? Saturday July 8, 2017, 32 miles (51 km) - Total so far: 113 miles (182 km) Wake up - yes Pack - yes Breakfast -yes Easy ride out of Bamburgh -NO ! It was long and steep, verging on ENORMOUS, but we conquered it and proceeded onwards towards Lindisfarne about 12 miles distant. We had to hurry because the tides meant that we had to leave Lindisfarne before 13:30, otherwise we would be stuck there for about 5 hours. We followed the map, turned a corner and were confronted by a MIND-BOGGLING ramp of 17% We considered walking up for a moment, but ground the gears and slowly, so slowly, made our way up until we crested triumphantly about 10 minutes later. Total climbed today : 1350ft The road to Lindisfarne was undulating but we made steady progress and eventually crossed the causeway at about 10:50 and parked the tandem next to the very nice English Heritage people. We wandered around, impressed by the size of the island and also the number of people who lived there. We had imagined it was small and mostly deserted, but actually has a small but substantial population and quite a bit of land - no wonder the Vikings invaded.