Pack. Forgetting stuff is likely as only have 10 mins turnaround.
Cycle to Waverley. Usual aggressive person shouts at me on bike. Oh well!
Take train from Edinburgh Waverley (1630) to Berwick upon Tweed (1711) – Virgin. Staff delightful. Send them a tweet to tell them I love them…@Virgintrains
Remember it’s one occasion bike is treated nicely – even gets own ticket. Enjoying this moment.
Arrive hostel. Find big bike shed. Trip going well.
Check in. Find hostel to be a re-used granary complete with art gallery, community cafe and great rooms. Reflect on the power of hostels. Charitable place to stay. Free meals for kids under 10. Supporting good stuff for a really long time. Forget towel. It was inevitable. Remember toothpaste. It’s a bonus.
Walk City Walls. Feel a part of history. Reflect on shortness of life compared to history that’s gone before and will follow after. Visit local Spar crossing one of the brilliant bridges. Talk to lovely woman in Spar. Reflect on warmth of people in North of England.
Walk some. Spend a moment watching a small canoe fight across the Tweed. Feel power of ocean. Think how world can be at once overwhelming and at once inspiring.
Return hostel. Cook dinner. Read a book from library about a woman who walked England in a bee suit to bring to life disappearance of bees. Note to self to buy book. Forget to make note of name. Find letter in book thanking YHA Berwick for being so lovely when author stayed.
Go to room (no 405). Chat to roommate. She’s off to Mull to volunteer for a week with National Trust. Looks 45 – actual age 58. Tell her this. She says waits till morning. Next morning she still looks 45 – actual age 58. Tell her this.
make and eat huge bowl of porridge with 3 dates. Man from Hexham offers to make me a cup of tea. Leave hostel after borrowing bike tool to fix my rapidly dropping seat!
Cross bridge out of Berwick.
Get to a beach bit. Have lost blue and red cycle signs. Ask nice guy collecting bins. He points me in right direction where he often does his running he says.
Cycle. Terrain rough, weather rubbish. Feeling good though. Reflecting on choice. Choice to get out of bed and head off on my bike in crap weather.
Cycle past a farmer. Reflect on mashed up path. Hard for bike. Necessary for his work though. Reflect on balances of our world. Pass a strange house with a message about a cat.
Keep cycling. Have to open lots of gates. This is hard as keep losing balance. Pass some cows. Reflect on story read about people being crushed by cows. Decide to cycle past not looking at them. If I cant see them they cant see me.
Pass some sheep. A pheasant is hiding under some greenery. Reflect on Roald Dahl somehow…and those birds hidden under the cape of the pram. Reflect also on how much see when on bike. How much hear…the smell of green wet landscapes !
Reach causeway for Holy Island. Tide times in hostel seem to bear no relation to the ones here – probably me! Speak to some people. Decide to go across an hour before official time as locals assure me it’s fine. Cycle cycle cycle. It’s flat. Expanses of sand increase my calmness. Blanket of small pink flowers draws my eyes.
Reflect on magic of a place you can only access at low tide.
Drink best coffee of life. Eat best cheese scone. Later tweet to let Pilgrims Coffees know of their new world records.
Walk out to the beach seeing the lime kilns first. Many people build cairns. Why?
Cycle back along causeway. See pilgrims walking over sand in bare feet. Reflect on pilgrimmages.
Use small hand written map to find route to Wooler. Cycling is nice. Quiet. Hedgerows. Arrive Wooler. Hostel in converted army barracks. Used for womens land army during WW2. Bought out by local community at 2007 after YHA wanted to sell it. Walls decorated with wonderful murals. Rooms named after women who worked in land army. Great to be surrounded by inspiring women
Little by little people arrive. Great conversations. With Fiona from Dundee walking st cuthberts way with friends. We reflect on model of hostels – she’s going to tell people to stay in hostels not hiltons. we talk about juicing while she prepares a million juices from lots of really green leaves and avocados. kitchen smells of lime and mint.
Chat to Lucy and her husband. she’s director of a mountain festival . i’ve missed it this yr but shall go next yr. we exchange details. we’ll meet again. spend some time looking at my maps…next trips!
earlyish start. weather rubbish. Start cycling. Stop after 300 metres to check map. Find route. Head up a big big hill. Look back. All around green. Recall a conversation in Burma about green being easiest colour on eyes. Starts to rain. Continues to rain. Keep going. Dont want to stop. Waterproofs are overrated.
3 miles later.
Stop. Legs freezing. Put on waterproofs. They feel a bit tight. The unkindness of the Scottish Winter!
Keep cycling. It’s quite hard. Reflect when it feels tough on the little birds who come in and out of the hedgerows. If they can be bothered to fly about I can cycle! They never have a warm bed to go to. and still they sing.
Finally reach Bamburgh. Castle????? Oops = it’s gone.
ask man with a dog. He points to a vague outline. It’s just shrouded in mist!
enter a cafe. worry immediately as it’s really busy and there are no small tables
staff make me really welcome. Get me a seat next to the heater. Eat a Seahouses crab salad and a large cappuccino. Sit for as long as seems appropriate to dry off. Go back out. Weather no better.
Continue cycling. Sing in my head Gnarls Barclay Crazy. Makes me laugh! Cycling taking me much longer than usual. Unfit or conditions?
Reflect on choice. Bike v Sofa. Bike wins…..easily.
hedgerows…little birds with a sparkle of yellow. trees. not many cars…not bad!
Arrive Alnmouth. it’s been 40 miles of damp damp damp. Sit in a semi heated waiting room. Read my book. Eat a kit kat. Reflect – happiness.
1705 train arrives. Bike on. Step up feels like a one metre climb. Reflect – fatigue. walk through first class to my standard class seat. a man reads a book called mindfulness for depression. another works on a spreadsheet. it looks dull.
Get coffee. Listen to man in next seat thanking his friend graciously for buying him a kindle. says he’s using it all the time. when i next look over he’s on his phone.
get off train. collect bike. step still feels high. meet a lecturer getting her bike. offer to help her with it. we walk out platform together. she asks about my trip. she says i’ve got “grit”. I say it beats the sofa! She’s been at a wedding in London. She’s wearing shorts, a t shirt and a nice jacket. I’m wearing cycle leggings, waterproofs, and 4 layers on top! She assures me she’s not cold.
Go to lift at way out to Calton Road. Meet a woman wearing shorts again. She tells me she’s been to church today. She’s a midwife. She says she’s just off a nightshift. She loves her job of bringing people into the world. She couldnt sleep as her neighbour decided to hoover at midnight. She’s feeling tired.
Reflect – it’s been a good 48 hours.