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!
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.