On Friday I rode down to Darlington. At this time of year, getting any bike out over any distance is a bonus. Nearly all 97 miles of tarmac were filthy, the low sun shone permanently in my eyes riding south and it took nearly two hours to clean the bike when I got home. It was all worth it. Having taken the quick route when outward bound, on return I took the scenic roads through Wolsingham, Frosterley, Stanhope and Blanchland. Riding across Stanhope Common, I was treated to these wonderful sights. All taken within a few minutes of each other, the light was changing fast. A few miles further on, I descended into the mist and damp of a very foggy afternoon – the price was worth paying:
… week gone by. After a dull and dreary weekend, the sun finally appeared late Sunday and from then on, the week mostly took a turn for the better. Monday was cold, particularly across the moors, but fine enough to get the Scrambler out. Tuesday felt a little like Christmas as I drove to Allendale Brewery to collect a hamper and crates of beer. Bright skies and frost appeared on most mornings such that the camera has spent a lot of time pointing at the sky. Thursday was even good enough to take the GS north, across filthy roads to Otterburn and then on single tracks to Sundaysight, Greenhaugh and Bellingham. Nothing is quite as good as being alone on two wheels in wild, empty places.
… recent rides out on the BMW GS. In the first, a brief journey to Derwent Reservoir in County Durham where, like most places at the moment, the place was teeming with visitors. This included one very adventurous young boy who was running along the dam edge in pursuit of his friend on a bike. He survived …
A few days later I headed west to Anthorn, the home of the Pips:
The airfield was built in February 1918 as a Fleet Air Arm (FAA) airfield. It was abandoned after World War I ended, however the RAF reinstated the airfield at the beginning of World War II as an emergency landing ground for nearby RAF Silloth.
The site was taken over by the Royal Navy in December 1942, and renamed as RNAS Anthorn. It was commissioned in September 1944 as ‘HMS Nuthatch’. The airfield served as No.1 ARDU (Aircraft Receipt and Dispatch Unit), a unit that accepts aircraft from their manufacturers and prepares them for operational use. The last official flight took off from the airfield in November 1957. It was then put on Care and Maintenance, before it closed down in March 1958.
In 1961 the site was chosen to become a NATO VLF transmitting site for communicating with submarines. One of its main functions is to transmit Greenwich Mean Time to the rest of the world. This time signal is heard as ‘pips’ on the radio and is used by everything from train companies to speed cameras. The aerial masts can be seen from miles around, especially at night with their distinctive red lights.
Text from the Solway Military Trail website.
The result of all these two-wheeled miles is that I am now just 4 miles short of achieving the 2020 #ride5000miles target. There was a time, earlier in the year, when this seemed a very unlikely objective.
… is usually quiet, but not this year. COVID-19 and the resulting staycations has resulted in a once quiet coastline being overwhelmed. This is all good news for the local economy I guess but not what I have come to expect of Bamburgh and Lindisfarne. Once the school holidays are over, I assume things will quieten down again, always assuming the little darlings can be persuaded to return to education. The couple of Bamburgh images are from last week and the Holy Island images from today – 12th August:
Sometimes the unplanned rides are the best. I just knew I wanted to be on open, high ground as the sky over Hexham was full of promising clouds. Heading south from Blanchland, I found myself riding up Bale Hill towards Stanhope Common and there, on my right, was a scene from Poldark, a chimney rising from an untamed landscape. Except, this was County Durham, not Cornwall.
The chimney belonged to Presser Pumping Station. Some of its history was recently revealed by local resident Stanley Wilkinson who lived at the ‘villa’ at The Pressor (sic) from 1935 to 1956: The 2 shafts and the big building and chimney were built for the lead mines many years prior to our family moving there. It was around 1953 when my father suggested the Durham County Water Board pump water from the old mine workings to augment the Consett water supply. He and I worked down the shaft clearing obstacles and making ready for the pump and piping installation; scary as hell but (we) completed the job. I migrated to Australia in 1964 and have lived in Indonesia for 25 years. (from https://www.geograph.org.uk/)
The clouds did not disappoint while the weather to the west was particularly ominous:
This drone flight takes you towards Hunstanworth and then back to the Pumping Station – it is a very fine portrayal of this wild landscape. John Twist, the drone pilot, is standing close to where I took my images.
It was inevitable that my resolution to post once per week on WordPress would eventually come unstuck. That was predictable, the last eight weeks less so. Cooped up for so long, it was also inevitable that when a hint of freedom appeared, all other priorities would be thrown to the four winds. On 13th May it was finally decreed safe to ride motorcycles again, although not over the border into Scotland where the restrictions remain. I have lost no time in clocking plenty of miles, some menacingly close to Reiver country …
In the mornin’ you go gunnin’ for the man who stole your water
And you fire till he is done in but they catch you at the border
And the mourners are all singin’ as they drag you by your feet
But the hangman isn’t hangin’ and they put you on the street
This small place, tucked away on the edges of the Solway Firth, has been on my motorcycle radar for some time. At just over fifty miles from Hexham and on the coast, it is a comfortable riding distance on a good day and, today turned out to be just perfect – not much wind, no threat of rain and mild. Huge skies, a wide open estuary and a flat landscape makes it photogenic in an Ansel Adams sort of way.
It was only when I returned home that I started to look for more information on the place, not the logical way of doing things. Had I but known, it is right up my alley, having both canal and railway history. This from the Visit Cumbria website:
The village of Port Carlisle, originally known as Fishers Cross, was developed as a port in 1819 to handle goods for Carlisle using the canal link built in 1823. The canal was 11¼ mile long, and had 8 locks which were all built 18 feet wide.
From a wooden jetty, through the entrance sea lock and one other, the canal ran level for nearly six miles. Then followed six locks in one and a quarter miles, with a level stretch to Carlisle Basin.
Sailing boats made their way by the canal from Port Carlisle (about one mile from Bowness-on-Solway) to the heart of the City of Carlisle. Boats were towed to the City (taking one hour 40 minutes) enabling Carlisle to be reached within a day by sea from Liverpool. Barges collected the grain and produce destined for Carlisle’s biscuit and feed mills. The canal built specially for this purpose ended in the canal basin behind the present Carrs (McVities) biscuit factory in Carlisle.
There is even the remains of a railway viaduct at Bowness-on-Solway – I am going to have to return!