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Newcastle to Darlington. Certainly not as the crow flies! I had hoped to get further on Day 1 but I left so late in the day that it was not to be.
I leave Newcastle during rush hour, okay I’m stuck in a bit of traffic but it feels good to be going somewhere other than to and from work! It’s not long before I’m turning off the A69 and heading onto twisty B-roads. Credit due to the Bike8 team, I’m only a few miles away from my normal weekend ride-out and already I’m discovering great roads that I wasn’t aware of.
The experience is dampened, quite literally, by the foggy weather however; I quickly come to realise that these are roads I wouldn’t normally use for fun in weather like this, let alone while luggaged up to the teeth! Corners that would normally thrill me are frightening, and corners that would normally test me are terrifying.
The back end is so much heavier than I’m used to and I almost get the front wheel in the air as I’m pulling away from a green light – that was pretty scary, I might have to look at how I’ve organised the gear and move the heaviest stuff into panniers (rather than the top box) to see if that helps.
The first stop is at Derwent Water, I’ve modified the Bike8 route to take this slightly more scenic detour around the reservoir, so I feel obliged to stop and take a picture. It’s a typical Summer’s Day, of course, beautiful blue skies and placid, reflective waters, well worth the stop… honest!
Leaving Derwent Valley means climbing roads that would probably be amazing (I’ve left the traffic far behind by now) if it weren’t for the freezing fog descending, limiting visibility to about 10ft! The Sat-Nav is invaluable here; acting as a forewarning for how the road plays out ahead of me. Eventually I come back down through the Peak District to clearer altitudes and I’m able to enjoy some more twists and turns, albeit in much lower gears than I’m used to – I had better get used to these switchbacks before attempting the three mountain passes in the north western leg!
Knowing that the light will start to fail around 9.30pm, I find a nice copse to hang the hammock in at 8.30pm. It takes me a while to decide which trees to use, then I enjoy a dinner of tinned Mackrel and oatmeal pancake (I’m in the middle of the Dukan Diet, if you must know – it’s very good and, in any case, those foods are easy to travel with), and go for a wander through my new grounds. I felt sure I’d picked somewhere isolated enough to avoid disturbing anyone but apparently not: someone’s been gathering wood and building what looks like a pyre (yikes!). I have no idea what it is really, perhaps it’s an illegal whiskey still? Can someone please put me out of my misery?
Anyways, I have a long day ahead of me tomorrow – to make up the miles missed from today – so I’d better get my head down and go to bed. Having all my mod-cons with me means I’m up late listening to music and playing on the internet as usual! There are no stars visible because of all the fog and clouds, and the weather forecast for Darlington (which is not far from where I’ve ended up) says 88% humidity, 70% chance of rain, so I’m deploying the Extra Large Tarp. I don’t think it will rain… but better safe than sorry, right?