Today is the half-way point on my journey from the South coast to the North coast. Chris is feeling somewhat frustrated at the slow pace at which I cycle (yesterday we had briefly swapped bicycles and conclusively determined that the difference was our equipment -- mine is a junky mountain bike, his is a quality touring bike). So feeling the need for speed, he made the trip to Newcastle on the high-traffic 'A' roads, while I took the slower more scenic back roads. Of course for me that's what this trip is all about, exploration rather than miles per hour.
Cracks and potholes in the road are marked and numbered. I'm honestly not sure what this says about Britain.
Today it was my turn to get a flat. Easily fixed.
The village of Yarm is dominated by this enormous viaduct that cuts right through it. I count more than 40 arches. There's no way to photograph it properly, it's just too long. It's even more impressive when one sees the date: 1848. Hand made, brick by brick.
Ok, who's the genius who placed the tourist office for Stockton-On-Tees down a maze of twisty little passages, all alike?
Disused rail corridors are fantastic cycle paths. Not only are they straight and level, but there are periodic bridges to shelter under from the periodic downpours.
Classic English hedgerows. They are everywhere, extremely dense, and full of wildlife. It surprised me to learn that they aren't natural; they are actively constructed and maintained.
A good portion of this trip is being done using the national cycle network. In some places they spend astonishing amounts of money, like this dedicated bridge to cross the A689 ...
... yet a mile later I wish I'd brought a machete.
Oh don't tempt me.
The west wind had finally blown itself out, which was really nice. However in its place was a steady rain. I actually quite like the rain (you'd be daft to move to Britain if you don't), but hour after hour of it did start to get on my nerves a bit.
I'd heard about the "Angel of the North". It was just a surprise to find it here, right in the geographic middle of Britain. I had assumed it was somewhere in Caithness or Sutherland.
One of the things I discovered today was that my waterproof map holder wasn't. As the day wore on the line of water crept higher and higher up the map. It turned into a race to stay ahead of the dissolving map. Just as I reached the hostel, Newcastle disappeared into illegible pulp.
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