Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Cycling in Northumbria - Sustrans Route #68: The Cheviot Hills

The "big ride" on our holiday followed Sustrans number 68 (the Pennine route) through the Cheviot hills. You can head up into Scotland via this route, but we took it as far as Wooler, a small town in the Northumberland National Park. As much as I wanted to cover a good 70-80 miles on this day, we only ended up covering 55 miles, but still it was one of the most challenging rides we've ever done - the verdict was unanimous!

We took a couple of wrong turns when heading out to join the cycleway, which gave us our first taste of how relentlessly hilly the landscape is here - struggling over hilly roads to find you've come the wrong way only meant more hilly roads on the way back! The hills didn't stop; up and down and up and down and up and down. They weren't sharp, steep hills as they are in Yorkshire, but rather long, slow, painful hills, without much of a euphoric race downhill once you tip over the brow!

Cheviot Hills Elevation Map
Compared even with our tougest ride, it was much hiller as you can see!

Still, the scenery was incredible - it would have been easy to believe that we were in Scotland already! The landscape was harsh and remote, and it's easy to believe that you could hide in this part of the country for days without risk of being found (just as Raoul Moat did last summer).

The great thing was that we didn't feel like giving up the whole time. We were tired and sore, we were looking forward to getting home and having a shower, but we both felt like we could do it. No one got off and cried because they just couldn't face another hill! This is good news - this tells us what we need to know: we might actually have a chance at completing the 100 miles after all.

See that small splodge heading up the hill? That's me!

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