4/6/18 – A Day of Numbers

By Martin Gibson

95 miles, 5 bikes, 4 intrepid students, 4 missed turnings, 3 level crossings, 5 castles, 2 abbeys, 1 causeway crossing, 1 slightly decrepit member of staff  and 1 puncture.

During a staff news time meeting, the College Principal, Revd Professor David Wilkinson mentioned that we still needed to raise some money for the new St John’s College Learning Resource Centre (LRC). Having done a sponsored bike ride for the LRC 3 years previously, I thought it might be a good time to do another one. I mentioned this to David and he suggested a ride from Lindisfarne (Holy Island) back to Durham and see if any students would be interested.

Asking for volunteers, 4 students agreed: James Caple, Andrew Hess, Joash Lawrence and Sebastian Nickols.

We chose the date of 4 June as the Cranmer Hall students were going on an end of year retreat to Lindisfarne that day and we could “hitch” a lift, with students on the bus, and the bikes and me being transported in the college van. We all cycled into college for about 8.15 in the morning to load the bikes onto the van and catch the bus to Lindisfarne.

Before setting off for Lindisfarne, I reminded the students that I am a similar age to their parents and as I (sort of) know the way back to Durham, would they mind not leaving me behind…..

We set off from Lindisfarne at about 10.45, in cold and dry conditions but with a favourable wind and lots of encouragement from the Cranmer Hall students and staff. We had a damp crossing of the causeway to the mainland as the tide had only just gone out an hour or so earlier and the road was still rather wet. Once onto the mainland we generally followed the Coast and Castles Cycle Route until we reached Warkworth, just under halfway back to Durham. This route stays away from main roads as much as possible meaning we had an almost traffic free ride for most of the way.

Even with the Coast and Castles Cycle Route being well signposted and using a Garmin cycle computer as a “sat nav”, I still managed to take us off course twice in the first 10 miles or so, luckily realising very quickly and helped by my cycle computer beeping at me. Apart from heading about 100 metres down a rather steep hill in Belford which we had to ride back up, no harm was done.

Following the Coast and Castles Route to Bamburgh we enjoyed some spectacular views of the coast and Bamburgh Castle. Bypassing Seahouses and Beadnell, we continued on to Embleton and Longhoughton enjoying more brief glimpses of the coast and Dunstanburgh Castle ruins.

Just before reaching Alnmouth we passed a nursery where the children and teachers all applauded and cheered us as we cycled by.

Eventually we reached Warkworth for a quick cuppa & large pieces of cake for most of us (one of the many advantages of doing long bike rides).

bamburgh castle

After Warkworth we moved away from the coast but still keeping to virtually traffic free roads we headed towards Morpeth. Just before the hamlet of Tritlington, someone shouted “Puncture”. Seb had clipped something in the road and sufferred a rear wheel puncture. After a quick change of innertube and check of the tyre, we were on our way again in less than 10 minutes, arriving at the outskirts of Morpeth a few minutes later.

Avoiding Morpeth town centre, we passed Newminster Abbey and headed south towards Ponteland, again keeping to quiet back roads. Having enjoyed about 60 – 70 miles of virtually traffic free roads, meeting a traffic jam in Ponteland was a bit of a surprise. Luckily, we managed to negotiate our way through and on towards Throckley and Newburn to the west of Newcastle.

Crossing the River Tyne on Newburn Bridge (currently closed to motor traffic but still open to pedestrians and cyclists), we headed on through Blaydon, Dunston and Team Valley before the gentle drag up to Birtley seeing the Angel of the North to our left. From Birtley, through Chester le Street, almost there.

From Chester le Street, we followed the cyclepath alongside the busy A167 for a few hundred metres before turning into the back road to Durham. The penultimate climb of the ride took us passed Finchale Training College, Newton Hall and the Arnison Shopping Centre as we arrived at the outskirts of Durham. Final couple of miles into Durham was rather busy with traffic but we took things carefully.

Descending Framwellgate Peth (with one of the best views of Durham Castle and Cathedral – though with the traffic we didn’t really have the chance to enjoy it), across Milburngate Bridge and up the slip road to the Market Place.

The last half mile to college, including Saddler Street, the final climb of the ride, was a nice finish. As was being welcomed back to college with a round of applause from some of the college staff members having cycled 95 miles in total from Lindisfarne to Durham, raising more than £400 (so far) for the new Learning Resource Centre for College.

Well done to the 4 students for completing the ride, a very impressive achievement as this was the furthest any had ever cycled in one day. Hopefully they even enjoyed the day, the route we took and the scenery as well.

Thanks to all who have very generously sponsored us. If you have read this, and would like to consider sponsoring us, please see the link at the end of the article. Please mention that you are sponsoring the Lindisfarne to Durham cyclists.

This was not the end of our cycling for the day as we all had to ride our bikes back home, and Joash wanted to complete his 100 miles, which he did.

bike ride thank youThanks to all who have very generously sponsored us. If you have read this, and would like to consider sponsoring us, please see the link at the end of the article. Please mention that you are sponsoring the Lindisfarne to Durham cyclists.


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