Day 88: Alnwick to Eyemouth, July 15th
We couldn’t get our bikes out of the Inn’s cellar until someone came in to open the place, so we did a little sightseeing in the morning. We’d heard that Alnwick had a famous used book shop, so we sought it out. “Barter Books” did not disappoint. It is, easily, the best bookstore I have ever been in. It’s in a former train station, and it had coal fires burning (in July, yes, but it was a misty and cool day), a model train running over the bookcases, and a beautiful cafe in the old waiting room. If I lived in Alnwick I would go there every day. Deb bought a paperback, but I resisted; my eReader has no charm, but it is very light.
The mist was now rain, so we lingered, then we shopped for groceries. By the time we started riding it was 11:30. This turned out to be a mistake.
We started the ride with a long climb in the rain on a busy road. Conditions quickly improved, but the meandering cycle route seemed determined to take us east and west more than north. We had a room booked in a small hotel, but we were worried that there would be noone there to check us in.
That nasty bolt came loose and started rubbing Deb’s rear tire again. We stopped and I did a better job securing it than before.
At one point the route devolved into a grassy track. It was like nothing we’d ridden on before and we had to pause to make certain we hadn’t taken a wrong turn. Later, when it was far too late to be of use, we saw a sign that warned us that we had been riding through a former military training area, and that touching any metal objects we found could kill us. But yes, this was still National Cycle Route 1, also known as the “Coasts and Castles North Route”, and is still part of the North Sea Cycle Route.
There were plenty of castles though. Most impressive was Bamburgh Castle.
Approaching Berwick-upon-Tweed the trail became a cliffside dirt track. Deb tried very hard to appreciate the spectacular views of the sea, but it was a little more treacherous than she liked, and it did not help that we felt we were racing against the clock. Shortly after this excitment we crossed into Scotland. We also left Cycle Route 1 and picked up Route 76, sticking to the coast as we headed for Edinburgh.
To top it off, Deb got a flat. Fortunately this one was a slow leak and we managed to go the last 12 km only refilling it twice.
When we finally climbed the last hill and arrived at our hotel, we found a phone number on the door. The man knew right away who was calling. “I’d just about given up on you,” he said. Actually, he was very friendly and helpful, and he said he didn’t mind the late check in at all. Our bikes got a nice dry stairwell for the night and we got long, hot showers and a sweet, sweet bed.
Distance: 90 km