|The rather unnerving entrance to the Jarrow Cycle Tunnel -|
does this mean flippers and snorkel are essentials?
|Spectacular tiling - still undertones of swimming though.|
Gosh, it's a long way back to the coast along the Tyne! Safety first means sticking to cycle routes away from heavy traffic and it also means adding on the miles.
It was great to meet up with Michael near the Tyne bridge and get a guide through to South Shields, excellent company with lots of local knowledge and £5 donation - what could be better? We passed Swan Hunter on our right and the remains of an old roman town on our left. We found ourselves confronted by the Jarrow Cycle & Pedestrian tunnel and a lift down to a tiled masterpiece.
|Michael discussing Swan Hunter|
We trundled down the coast to Sunderland following excellent signage feeling confident. Then we hit Sunderland, Wearmouth Bridge and things began to get tricky. Initially we got directions (and a donation) from Peter Darke of Darke Cycles. We just had to pose alongside some of his early morning artwork before heading south.
|Sunderland gearing up for the Olympics.|
National Route 1, so beloved of Day 4, became National Route 1 of the mysteriously missing signs, back of beyond tracks and middle of nowhere confusion. The Route is actually pleasant enough, the cycling a bit rough and lumpy at times but there's nothing like standing in the middle of a field trying to guess which direction to pedal by the position of the sun to start up some 'interesting ' conversations!
We put in a 72 mile day with nothing but breakfast and coffee at Kitty's Kitchen, Ryhope to sustain us. We entered Darlington and (sorry Claire) we hit a bit of a black hole. We had some great off-road cycling when Jake piled down the tracks at 17mph on his narrow road tyres having an absolute blast.
We were thrilled to see a sign for Darlington, less thrilled to cycle a further 5 miles before actually seeing the town.
Then, disaster! Our B&B was an unmitigated horror! Apparent surprise at our arrival on bikes, despite the name 'bikewithJake'? Rubbish was piled high outside & in the kitchen, no bed made for Jake, no tea making facilities. We dropped our bags and headed straight out for something to eat. The prospect of food did not make the prospect of the B&B any better so the food was put on hold until we had done a bunk and booked a room in a hotel 1 mile down the road.
We went from the ridiculous to the sublime, courtesy of Philip but it was very much the right thing to do.