"When Piggies Fly" Part 3: An Autumn Coddiwomple

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Rhode trip, Jul 8, 2017.

  1. Rhode trip

    Rhode trip guided by voices Supporter

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    Friday, September 28th

    Just a few blocks along High Street, and a right turn took us over the river and across the border and we didn't even notice that we rode right by the 'England' sign. 100 yards later, I stopped and turned around and went back for a photo. Mrs Trip waits just before the curve ahead.

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    That milestone out of the way, we turned off the A697 and pointed east. The river Till cut off our route, leaving Tiptoe a dead end.

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    ...it's down that way....

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    But we turned the other... through rolling fields riding east, into the sun.

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    Until up ahead... the North Sea blue along the horizon....

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    We're on a pilgrimage, you see, to Holy Island; it's also known as Lindisfarne. Which brings to mind the band of the same name, local boys from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, folk-rockers from the hazy recesses of my formative years. I'm humming along as I ride.



    But what really interests me now is the road to the island. You have to time your visit to coincide with the tides... it's submerged at high tide. The road crosses the vast muddy flats that separate the island from the shore.

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    You'll remember we rode the A93 over Cairnwell Pass, up in the Grampian mountains...the Highest point on a public road in the UK. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this is the Lowest public road in the UK.
    Two of the cardinal points of Britain... pretty cool, eh?

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    The island itself is pretty touristy, with a walk out to the handsome castle, and a bunch of shops and restaurants. The island is surrounded by a nature reserve.

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    Holy Island has been a center for Celtic Christianity since the 6th century. Lindisfarne was a wealthy monastery when the Vikings sacked it in 793... the attack that's commonly seen as the start of the Viking Age.

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    We rode around... for about 10 minutes. Interesting. But what's really interesting is that causeway... let's have another look....
    Holy Island is the end point of St. Cuthbert's Way, a 62 mile walking route. This is known as Pilgrim's Path, the walker's route from shore to island.

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    I don't know why there isn't a raised causeway and a bridge. Despite the warning signs, and the admonitions online, and the informational kiosks, about one vehicle every month gets stranded by the tide and the occupants need rescuing by the Coast Guard. If they can get you with a boat, it will cost you about $2500. If they have to use a helicopter, it's over $5,000. And, your vehicle just had a salt water bath.

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    I guess there is a bit of a bridge ahead, and on the right, an emergency shelter tower where you can get above the flood waters.

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    Did you call for an UBER?



    We left the causeway behind and headed straight west, up the low hills that overlook the ocean, and straight towards the larger hills beyond.

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    Well, those hills are out there somewhere, but for now its farms and hedgerows and rolling fields.

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    There they are... in the distance. The Cheviot Hills.

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    We're riding just a little south of due west, and we skirt around the northern end of Northumberland National Park.

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    Turned again at Akeld, in Old English, ac-helde, meaning 'Oak Slope'.

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    And this is the churchyard of St. Gregory the Great in the village of Kirknewton. It's old. Parts of the church date back to the Norman invasion, and it's been the sight of a church since the 7th century baptism of the king of Northumberland and his retinue in the River Glen nearby.

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    Across the valley is Lanton Hill topped by a large obelisk, the Davison Memorial.

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    "Look...up there..."

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    A large, old farm past the Bowmont Water.

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    We had to re-route a bit for a closed bridge.

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    I tried to convince Mrs Trip that we are on "cycles". She wasn't buying it.

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    We're riding along the edge of Northumberland National Park. The left side of the road is the park. And somewhere along here, we crossed back into Scotland. The ridge of the Cheviot Hills rising to our left, forms the border... no roads cross the hills.

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    We pulled over here in a passing place, and as we were standing there, a gentleman on a Royal Enfield Himalayan pulled up and stopped. He was a Scotsman out for an afternoon tour and we talked for a few minutes. I admired his bike... very TW-ish. A scenic spot, just past Hownam.

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    That's the Cheviot Hills.

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    The Romans used this valley, and a pass through the hills that has no road today. Along the side of the modern road we're riding are the remains of a Roman campsite.

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    It's difficult to make out the earthworks from the farmer's fields.

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    The hills, while not high, make for rugged terrain.

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    We wound our way through them, all the way down to Saughtree.

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    Then east... through Kielder Forest.

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    … and crossed back into England...

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    Past Kielder Water, and kept on south. Farm roads.

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    Up and over Black Fell.

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    And on in a general southwesterly direction.

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    The patchwork of fields turned into a series of gates. We opened and closed each one.

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    We're just on the north side of Hadrian's Wall, sneaking up on it like some far more sedate form of blue-painted Picts. And they didn't even see us coming... A couple of other backroads and we were in Gilsland, an out of the way little town with a hotel on the hill.

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    We decided to stay two nights, so we can have a full day of Roman antiquity tomorrow. Boo-yah!!

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  2. Rhode trip

    Rhode trip guided by voices Supporter

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    That's interesting, Blader54. We considered going in there for dinner. I wish we'd checked it out.

    Thanks, liv2day. There's a lot of diversity in the landscape... depending on what's exposed, what's sheltered... what's high and what's low.
  3. TheAdmiral

    TheAdmiral Long timer

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    Reminds me of here out west with the cattle guard and bypass.
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    The tidal roads would make me feel "unsure" of the road. Sure don't want to be caught out by the safety tower. Good stuff as usual.
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  4. Shaggie

    Shaggie Unseen University Supporter

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    Great to have you back

    :wave
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  5. glenn2926

    glenn2926 Been here awhile

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    Come on we’re waiting. Great write up. I love your views of my country.
    Thanks .
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  6. rockydog

    rockydog just a guy

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    curious to see if you stopped at Haggs Bank Bunkhouse and campsite just east of Alston, great moto stop
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  7. Rhode trip

    Rhode trip guided by voices Supporter

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    Saturday, September 29th


    Ha, ha, @glenn2926, thanks... that is pretty funny... and thanks for the encouragement. I've been pretty busy but I've also been at somewhat of a loss. Looking through today's photos, its mostly just piles of rocks. How the hell am I going to keep that from being boring? And the truth is... you probably had to be there. In my case, though, I had recently read a couple of historical novels that were set, at least in part, at Vindolanda. This Roman fort and the town that grew up around it was built well before Hadrian's Wall, and is a mile or two south of the actual wall itself, as well as just a few miles from Gilsland. We rode there in the morning, paid our admission, and wandered into the site.

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    We practically had the place to ourselves.

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    Archeology, to me, is a lot like Physics. Not only do I not understand it... I think it's beyond my capacity to comprehend...how can they figure these things out from the fewest of clues...and yet they have extraordinarily detailed information about the fort and the people who lived there. Take this, for example. The Emperor Hadrian toured the area before the wall was built, and this is probably the very house he stayed in.

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    One of the things that makes Vindolanda unique was the discovery of thousands of small, postcard sized wooden tablets that were used for notes. Orders for the army units. Shopping lists. Love notes. A birthday party invitation for the wife of the legion commander. They were preserved because of the wet, oxygen poor conditions of the soil that covered them. They are mainly kept in the British Museum in London, under carefully controlled conditions. But they've provided a glimpse of the individuals themselves who walked these cobbled paths.

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    Another extraordinary thing at Vindolanda… the shoes! Over 6 thousand well preserved shoes have been found, as if the site was originally occupied by a legion of Second Century Imelda Marcos-es… Strappy little sandals. Hobnailed boots. Children's shoes, carefully constructed from butter soft leather. Hand tooled slippers to impress the other girls at the banquet. The latest fashions from Rome and Londinium. Why I didn't take any shoe pictures...I don't know. I had to steal one from the Vindolanda Trust website.

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    These are round houses, occupied by Britons living at the fort.

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    Tucked into the narrow valley at the foot of the fort is a house and outbuildings... once the center of the surrounding farm... now a museum and a gift shop and a café.... that all paths lead to...

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    Also down in the little vale is a reproduction Roman temple.

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    Back up the hill, and around the corner of the fort.

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    and there are reproductions of Hadrians Wall. First, the earthen ramparts and wooden gate towers built as a first line of defense.

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    And then replaced over time with a "big, beautiful wall!" "And the Picts are going to pay for it!"
    No, no... sorry. I'm getting confused. Different wall. This one is a nice, crenellated stone wall. I don't know who paid for it.

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    Mrs Trip said, "get a grip."
    I followed her back to the bikes, and we rode back past the route of the 'Stanegate' (stone road in old Norse).

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    and past a restored farmhouse just before heading east on the B6318 road...

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    A couple of miles to the site of Housesteads. You have to walk up the hillside to get there.

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    Housesteads is one of the forts built along Hadrians Wall, which forms the camp's north perimeter. It's higher here, with a sweeping view of the Northumbrian countryside.

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    The remains of Hadrian's Wall curls along the ridge above the plains to the north.

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    rough stone remains cover the hillside, marking the dimensions of the fort.

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    Housesteads is more impressive than Vindolanda, with it's commanding position high above the lands that surround it.

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    The stone piers in this building supported the floor, allowing air to circulate beneath, and protecting the food stored here from the damp climate.

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    The wall looking east...

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    The rolling landscape of the north, beyond the wall.

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    … and the wall looking west.

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    The wind rustles the grasses outside the walls. Housesteads would have been a hard posting during the winter on a cold, windswept ridge.

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    The Bastle House.

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    Back down the hill, through 2 gates. The white, fluffy things are automated English lawnmowers, keeping it all neat and tidy.

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    Riding west now, along the B6318 road... this part, at least, running along the route of the original Roman road.

    You really couldn't make this shit up.
    Along the old road you come to a village, which according to Wikipedia is called, "'Once Brewed', but also 'Twice Brewed', as well as 'Once Brewed / Twice Brewed'.
    If you arrive here from the east, a sign welcomes you to 'Once Brewed' whereas if you're coming from the west, it's 'Twice Brewed
    '"
    The name comes from the ancient inn along the old military road. From Wikipedia again, "There are several stories which explain the name of the inn. The most romantic story has it that on the eve of the Battle of Hexham in 1464, Yorkist foot soldiers demanded their beer be brewed again because it lacked its usual fighting strength. The ploy worked as the Lancastrian army fled after an early morning raid. A more prosaic explanation is that 18th-century farmers tended to brew (and serve) weak ale, and hence "twice brewed" meant the inn offered stronger ale. A third theory is that Hadrian's Wall snakes its way across the brows, or "brews", of two hills where there is also a meeting of a pair of drovers’ roads."

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    We pulled into the parking lot to check the map or maybe put on another layer because it was getting on in the afternoon. A couple of slightly mud splattered guys on enduros were heading into the inn. They said they were riding with the TRF, Trail Riders Fellowship in the midst of their Hadrian Adventure Weekend event. Looked like a blast and the guys were really friendly. https://trail.trf.org.uk/2018/01/16/killer-kielder/

    We had another stop, though, and continued on west to the Roman Army Museum. The admission cost was included with our ticket to Vindolanda, and we wanted to check it out. I'm glad we did.
    We watched a short video in the theater about life on Hadrian's Wall as a Roman Legionary. The exhibits were also well done, really amazing reproductions of their equipment.
    This is showing a Roman Legionary on the left, and a non-citizen auxiliary soldier on the right.

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    Chariots

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    The emperor Hadrian.

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    The museum, while small, was really interesting. There were half a dozen or so TRF guys in there at the same time we were, but otherwise it was empty. I don't know what the nice ladies running it thought of everyone being in motorcycle gear. The guys told us they had been riding up in Keilder Forest, that we rode through the day before, and that the club had access to a lot of the trails that are normally closed to bikes. By the time we left, the museum had closed for the day.

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    We rode out along the route of the wall near the museum at Greenhead. This old farmers wall is probably built with pilfered stone.

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    Evening was settling in, with golden light and long shadows. The ridge line to the left is the Great Whin Sill, the line of cliffs that Hadrian's Wall was built along in this area.

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    On the hillside, one of the quarries where the stone was cut.

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    Through an old farm along the way. It wasn't far back to Gilsland and our hotel.

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    I hope you enjoyed today's little ramble among the rockpiles after all.
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  8. Rhode trip

    Rhode trip guided by voices Supporter

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    Rockydog, we did not go there, but I googled it and see that it was quite close by just a little ways south. If we had known of it... it looks great!

    PS. We are headed back to Motofeirme next weekend!
  9. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

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    Great stuff! Thanks! Just a couple of days ago I watched a Time Team episode on YouTube where they were digging the village that sat just outside one of these forts. They also found a street of mausoleums and the remains of a much larger and older fort. Time Team was on British TV for about 20 years or so, hosted by Sir Tony Robinson (aka Baldrick from "Blackadder") and a cast of professional archaeologists. The team has just 3 days to get to grips with an archaeological puzzle. Fascinating to see how much they can learn from just tiny remnants of things! Some nice soul has put all 200+ episodes on YouTube.
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  10. zookster

    zookster Chupacabra

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    Awesome update. "piles of rocks" indeed!
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  11. rockydog

    rockydog just a guy

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    say hi to that no good Martin guy for me and Lena, the French woman living in the hippie cabin. and have fun
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  12. Shaggie

    Shaggie Unseen University Supporter

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    Great update! We have those automated lawn mowers here too. Lovely pics and super interesting content/subject.

    S
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  13. Rhode trip

    Rhode trip guided by voices Supporter

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    Thanks Blader54. I hadn't heard of Time Team before but ,wow, there is a lot of interesting videos there. I am familiar with Sir Tony, (though I didn't really know his name) I have watched all of his series Walking Through History. Not all of these are on YouTube, though. I love the show, it combines two of my favorite things.... history and 'serious walking'.


    Thanks, zookster. I guess it ended up more interesting than I expected.

    Will do on all counts.

    Thanks, Shaggie! I recently encountered an interesting statistic: There are more than 5 sheep for every person in New Zealand. And it then went on to point out that means there are 10 times more sheep than there are women. I think there might be a joke in there somewhere.
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  14. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

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    Hey Rhode Trip! I love 'Walking Through History' as well. Great stuff! After watching a couple of those I was ready to throw some hiking gear into a little pack and book a flight! Not only is the UK a place where, it seems, anywhere you stick a shovel you find archaeology, but there are all these great public walking paths.
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  15. Shaggie

    Shaggie Unseen University Supporter

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    [QUOTE : Thanks, Shaggie! I recently encountered an interesting statistic: There are more than 5 sheep for every person in New Zealand. And it then went on to point out that means there are 10 times more sheep than there are women. I think there might be a joke in there somewhere.[/QUOTE]

    Yup lotsa sheep here but due to other higher earning agricultural pursuits (wine for example), that 5pp is down from 40 or more pp 30 years ago, so good luck for the ladieeeees :crash

    As a joke, it’s more applicable to the Aussies these days! :pot :augie

    Actually, it’s ALWAYS been more applicable to Aussies....along with convict jokes and nature’s out to kill you comments etc etc
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  16. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Kick @ss update @Rhode trip, I seriously enjoyed looking through all the pictures of the "rocks". Those ruins are something else and it sounds like the whole experience was incredible. Thank you for taking the time to post the pictures and provide explanations for 'em, seriously neat stuff :thumb :thumb.

    Not sure if I missed the last post with going to holy island, but that place is really cool too (even if touristy). It's crazy that the road gets completely submerged, can't imagine that makes it easy to maintain. Great pics from that post too, so glad I caught back up with the adventure :-) :-)

    LOL...now that's damn funny :lol3 :lol3 :lol3
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  17. Rhode trip

    Rhode trip guided by voices Supporter

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    Sunday, September 30th

    We left the manicured lawns of the Gilsland Hotel behind, riding west in the quiet of a Sunday morning.

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    It was a cool, somewhat overcast morning. The mottled skies suggest the possibility of rain.

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    Past the gates of Lanercost Priory, founded in 1165 as an Augustinian house of Canons. A lover of music, Augustine of Hippo taught," he who sings prays twice."

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    We filled our tanks at a small, independent petrol station and repair shop. A rare endangered species almost everywhere these days.

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    Somewhere along here, we picked up the route of the TET-The Trans Euro Trail- which was heading in the general direction we wanted to go. It entered England back at the Newcastle-on-Tyne ferry.

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    Its a 38,000 kilometer route, winding its way from Africa to the Arctic Circle. https://www.transeurotrail.org/

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    Its a "show me what you've got" kind of ride. Paved backroads, dirt roads, green lanes and doubletrack. All laced together with some tricky challenges and seemingly hitting every mud hole along the way. "Deep Ford" the sign said as we rolled past. Down the hill, I slowed, stopped at the edge. "Whoa" No kidding, it's a good 3 feet deep in the middle.

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    Mrs Trip did not take a lot of convincing to turn around and ride back past the jeering cows who had turned out to watch us swim. We disappointed them by re-routing.

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    A short detour and we were back on track, still dry-footed. A grassy double track led between the fields.

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    Dropped down into a muddy hollow, sprinkling a bit now as well. A rain-dappled Mrs Trip.

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    A quick, slick descent, then back up the other side... on a grassier, less traveled path here beyond the last field.

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    And then back out onto pavement, and on to a country crossroad with a brick church.

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    Further on, another intersection. I'm intrigued by the "Unthank". Unusual, one would think. And yet on Wikipedia I found out there are 14 different places in the UK with the name. Not to mention an English folk group, The Unthanks. And a whole list of interesting people with Unthank as a surname.
    I also noticed its only 4 miles to Greystoke. Ancestral home of Tarzan.

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    Still following the TET.

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    Threatening skies, but the rain stays in the distance.

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    A gravel track climbs another hillside.

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    and then curls around the ridge top, with a sleepy Sunday village spread out below.

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    Blue sky breaks out overhead. Rain among the hills.

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    Next up: Lake District National Park. A gate marks the beginning of the Old Coach Road, classified as a BOAT.... a 'Byway Open to All Traffic' in the lexicon of English road types.

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    We met a group of walkers here... we always say hi and act politely, but this was a rough crowd.... not friendly at all. We went on to find it more common in England than other places we've been for people to be obvious that they didn't like motorbike riders. We're not loud, we're not riding fast, but even on the small roads it would be routine for walkers to grab their little dog... they all have dogs... and climb frantically off into the weeds on the sides of the road when they saw us like we're a couple of Viking Berserkers bearing down on them. I'd feel like, Jeez, lighten up... I haven't run over any little pooches in a long time.

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    A cobblestone water crossing. Slippery.

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    Lots of blue sky now.

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    The Old Coach Road follows a ridge with spectacular views over the valley below. The wide fell and the mountains beyond all painted with the colors of Autumn.

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    Through another gate. This one had a small plaque: " paid for by the Trail Riders Fellowship"

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    Ha, ha. You can see Mrs Trip is still trailing some long grass streamers from our bushwacking earlier.

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    The last couple of miles were tougher riding. The road had been recently repaired with large, loose rock and the pitch got quite steep.

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    Made it! We met a guy coming up on a trials bike, he'd left his girlfriend and his van down where the road first got rocky. At the corner where the Old Coach Road met pavement, we stopped and talked to a couple of guys who'd come down before us. They were patching the case on a KLR650 that had gotten a hole punched in it on one of the rocks. I made sure they had enough oil, as I carry a MSR bottle full.
    It was a few more miles of pavement into Keswick, one of the main towns of the Lake District. We found our B&B, the Ellergill Guest House, and met our hosts Robin and Clare. They are both riders as well, and Robin is very knowledgeable about the hillwalking in the area, so we had a lot in common to talk about. Very nice people and a very comfortable place to stay if you are in Keswick. They also had parking for the bikes around back, which was super as there was not much else available, and what was is on the street.

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    They helped us carry our luggage, both in and out, with Robin giving me a good natured lecture about carrying too much stuff. "An electric tea kettle? Every lodging in England is going to have a kettle!" I sheepishly admitted he was right. I drew the line at the 7 pounds of road atlases and maps.... those are a necessity! Had a good chuckle, and then he tried to send me off with more... chain lube, etc. "Dude, you just told me I've got too much already!" http://www.ellergill.co.uk/
    The town of Keswick was a good stop, as well, with a lot of restaurants to choose from. (but I've forgotten what we had)

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  18. Shaggie

    Shaggie Unseen University Supporter

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    Location:
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    LuvverlyJubbly! Cracking update Trips!

    Shame about the walkers (dicks are everywhere unfortunately :bash)

    Shane
    Rhode trip likes this.
  19. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Oddometer:
    1,695
    Location:
    Sherwood, Oregon
    Excellent update @Rhode trip! The pictures of riding that section of the TET are fantastic, so neat to ride through the countryside like that. Glad you didn't have any issues navigating down that loose, rocky section.

    Kind of surprising to read this, I've always had an impression in my mind that the rest of the world was much more 'bike friendly' compared to the US. I know I've received plenty of stink eye when out on shared-used tracks, wouldn't expect it as much in Europe (though Shaggie's right - there are arse-heads everywhere). It's too bad those folks simply can't get that most of us riders are out enjoying the ride (though I'm sure there are riders who fubar it for us).

    In any event, really liked the update and pictures :-) :-). Finding a B&B who's run by fellow riders is great, especially when they offer secure parking and offer to help.

    Looking forward to the next one :D :D
    Rhode trip likes this.
  20. GNPskier

    GNPskier Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2018
    Oddometer:
    21
    Location:
    Whitefish, MT
    Finally caught up on this very well done RR. Thanks for sending me the link on the TW Facebook page. I must say, I was really leaning towards the idea of getting myself a bigger bike when the wife takes over my TW next month but this RR makes me want to just get another one so that we can emulate our new heroes; Mr. and Mrs. Rhodetrip. Such fun machines! Looking forward to seeing more of your journey...
    Rhode trip likes this.