Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Leg 6, Day 9; Cullercoats to Redcar

The last day of our 2015 tour started rather earlier than planned.... We found out last night that the pedestrian tunnel under the Tyne estuary was closed for repairs and that the pedestrian ferry didn't start until 10am on Sunday... This therefore involved a 25 km detour inland up the Tyne and into Newcastle to cross the river and head south again!

Given the deadline of a train from Darlington at 2pm, we set the alarm for 6am and were on the road by 6.30am...

Our first Station of the day, just down the road, was Tynemouth where we took a quick photo outside before cracking on.

The roads were clear at  this time of day on a Sunday which was fantastic, however progress was slowed somewhat by numerous wrong turns as we ploughed our way west through the Tynemouth and then Newcastle suburbs, directed by an American woman's voice on Rad's iPhone, giving instructions in feet!

The centre of Newcastle was fantastic, with some amazing architecture along the river. We crossed over on the Millennium bridge which we both thought was epic -  Well worth the extra effort.

From there we headed south east, back towards the coast, to our second station of the day- Sunderland. The crew were out on exercise as we arrived, but we had a brief chat with a couple of the chaps at the station and were soon on our way again.
Heading south, we ploughed along minor A roads and B roads, with wonderful sunshine and a light tail wind. Near perfect conditions to end a generally amazing week of weather.
As we slogged up a hill, about 10km south of Sunderland, disaster struck again as my chain broke for the second time. Noticing upon closer inspection that it was the same link which Rad showed me how to 'fix' only yesterday, there were question marks over whether sabotage was involved! Thankfully Rad had picked up some rubber gloves to deal with the oily chain, so there was far less mess than yesterday, and we were soon back on the road.

Having lost some time with this mishap, we got our heads down and powered our way further south (on somewhat tired legs...) Our next station was Hartlepool- set in a very industrial part of the country. The crew were extremely welcoming and filled out water bottles with juice, before sending us on our way.

We raced on southward, eventually finishing in Redcar ahead of schedule at 12 noon, having covered 115km... Pretty knackered but glad to have made it in time, we picked up a few presents for our children from the RNLI shop and grabbed a quick shower at the station, before catching a taxi to Darlington for our return journey home. 



A fantastic week, with great weather and meeting with yet more incredible, selfless and wonderful RNLI crew along the way.

Over and out until our final trip, in the summer of 2016.

Leg 6, Day 8; Greymare to Cullercoats

We woke this morning at Greymere Farm, having had the first good nights' sleep in a week, thanks to the fact that we were in wonderfully comfortable beds, rather than the floor of another RNLI station!


Georgie and Chris Leyland had laundered and dried our kit and clothes (which were now no longer offensively smelly, having been washed first time this week!), produced a fantastic breakfast for us, and gave us an incredibly generous donation, before sending us on our way south. We are both hugely grateful to them both for a fantastic stay and for all their generosity. It was wonderful catching up.

The forecast for the day was good, which was a huge relief following the previous day's soaking. We immediately made good progress through the beautiful rolling Northumberland countryside as we headed south.

Our first stop of the day was Seahouses- the station was perched on the edge of the town's harbour, busy with tourists heading on boat trips to the beautiful Farne Islands, or along the coast to see the seals. A quick photo and we were back on the road.

On we ploughed, through the rolling countryside, until we reached the small and very beautiful fishing village of Craster. As there were no crew were about, we took a quick photo and headed on.... 

Just as we were leaving Craster, disaster struck as my chain snapped. Thankfully, Rad had all the equipment required to fix it, and at last had the opportunity  to use it! Quarter of an hour later, and with a lot of muck and oil all over us, we were back on the road heading further south (in very cool shades!)

The third station of the day was the busy seasie town of Amble. We were welcomed by the RNLI shop staff who gave us tea, filled our bottles and gave us oil for our chains. A brief picnic lunch (kindly provided by Georgie Leyland) in the sun, while watching the fishing bats and some children swimming in the harbour, and we were underway again.

Gone are the days of two days' cycling between lifeboat stations, as was the case in parts of the North West of Scotland, with regular RNLI stations to visit again now each day. Not far down the coast we reached Biggin, where we were welcomed by the mechanic who was undertaking some important repairs to the boat. We had a good yarn with him while he worked away and understood that this was the oldest Lifeboat Station Building in Britain, having been established in 1851. Just outside were a fleet of old timber fishing boats, which were still active, focussing on Lobster Pots and Salmon Drift Nets.

As we cycled on through the countryside (much of which being 'off road' with yet more dubious route planning by Rad) we passed a small aircraft meet, and decided to stop off for lunch. There was an amazing collection of light aircraft on display, with people having travelled from right across the country in their planes. A burger from the bbq, and we were soon chatting with a few of the enthusiasts, who surprised us by the fact that these small (2-6 seater) planes could be bought for £5k - £60k - not much more than the cars that you see on the road. With a range of some 800 miles for many of them and speed of up to250mph, it was certainly very appealing, and gave us plenty to chat about as we cycled on...

The next RNLI station was Blyth- quite an interesting industrial town centre, which had embraced renewables, with turbines along the waterfront. No crew in site, so a quick photo and we were off again...


The final stop of the day was Cullercoats, where we were staying for the night. We were welcomed at the station by an RNLI beach lifeguard who was manning the rather busy beach outside the station, and gave us a cuppa. 

A short while later, Frank and his wife dropped in to show us around the station and settle us in for the night.  Rad also took it upon himself to do a spot of lifeguard duties....

Following a shower, blog writing and general sorting and washing of kit we headed down the road to an Italian for supper of Caneloni and Salad before bed.