Day 1 Newcastle to er… Darlington (81 miles)

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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?


7 Replies to “Day 1 Newcastle to er… Darlington (81 miles)”

  1. Hi Dan,
    I’m a friend of your very proud mum’s, good luck on your trip. Had a look at your website, too, it’s great, love your pop up hidden pictures.
    Looking forward to following your adventure, have fun and take care.
    Best wishes,

  2. Greetings from a fellow Novocastrian, motorbike riding, DD Hammock camper. 🙂

    Enjoy the adventure but “Gan canny young’un”, with all that weight over the back end there’s plenty of opportunity for “heed wobble”.

    The “Pyre” is a pile of brashings, to give a bit of wind/weather protection. You’ve camped in the middle of someones shoot there, (game isn’t in season at the moment though so hopefully you wont get shot 😉 but it’ll be private land no doubt.

    The black barrel with the spring sticking out of the bottom is a feeding station, the birds peck the grain out from between the coils.

    Keenly awaiting your next update, 2 days and counting, with all that tech I thought you’d be online at every oportunity.

    Keep it shiney side up.


    1. Greetings! And thanks for clearing that mystery up for me!

      Luckily I didn’t get shot =D)

      My apologies for the late update, I’m too busy riding! I’ve been too exhausted at the end of the day to edit the pictures but I’m just about to catch you up, so keep your eye on the blog.


  3. How do Dan.
    Firstly I just wanna congratulate you on your web site. Great reads and wicked helpful tips.
    I’m new to all this hammock camping and I just wanna know if I need an under blanket or mat if I’m using a sleeping bag. I’m thinking of getting the jungle modula hammock and being from Carlisle I’d be using the tarp on top most of the time (as you’ll probably know it never stops bloody raining here!!!)
    Also, as I said earlier, I’m new to all this so is there any tips/must buys etc or can I get the jungle hammock, grab me sleeping bag and get camping?!?!
    Cheers pal.

    1. Hi Mark,

      When I first started, I thought I was man enough not to need an underquilt. My body temperature runs quite high and I like to sleep in a cool environment. I was wrong though! Cold Butt Syndrome is a real pain in the ass (if you’ll pardon my pun). So I hacked up an old army surplus sleeping bag and used that, it did make a difference and made sleeping easier.

      I’d already bought myself a Synmat7 for tent camping and didn’t think it would work in the hammock but I saw a YouTube video of somebody using one in a DD Travel Hammock, so I gave it a go. A good air mattress like this does a fantastic job of insulating and it works really well in a DD hammock because they’re more about a straight lay than a diagonal one – so if you’re going with the Jungle Hammock (which is AMAZING, I love it) you might want to consider that.

      DD have just released an Underquilt designed to fit their hammocks, so that might be an option. I don’t know what the price is but I use DD because their stuff is reasonably priced and really good quality.

      In any case, you definitely need something other than just a sleeping bag because the wind chill from under the hammock, even in our summers, is something to contend with. So must buys are – Hammock, Tarp, Midgie Net, Underquilt. If you’re going with the Jungle Hammock and anticipate camping in heavy rain, it might be worth getting a spare tarp for underneath your hammock, or a larget tarp to erect seperately for more protection.

      I’d say get the hammock first to make sure you like sleeping in one (it can take a while to adjust but it’s worth it) before you fawk out for anything else… And if you havent’t joined, then do so now! It’s full of useful information.

      P.S. Carlisle isn’t far from me, if you want to hang out some time =D)

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