Hadrian knew his business…. that is one heck of a garden wall. Approaching from the north, by bicycle, on rough tracks one can see easily why the wall is situated where it is – making full use of all the natural terrain to make any attack difficult, I would say especially by bike 🙂
However, after another wet and windy day my personal theory is the romans built the wall to shelter from the wind and they were only there for four hundred years waiting for the rain to stop.
We made ‘camp’ in the Twice Brewed pub with excellent views of the wall, with some very well matured Roman beer.
Tomorrow’s weather forecast was even worse so we hatched a cunning plan – we would ride a short day to Corbridge where we located a car hire company that would look after our bikes while we went, temporarily back to motorised transport to go and visit our good friends, Carole and Keith. They happen to own a holiday house next door to our home in France and they are going there this weekend. This is the plan: we have been carrying kilos of extra gear, in case we were forced to camp in winter conditions and just gear that we have not used in over 30 days of travelling they will return this gear home for us. We are hoping that being liberated of all this excess baggage will allow us to step up our daily average without bursting a blood vessel. We are not trying to rush but we are already behind our worst estimate and the cost of the extra time on food and accommodation is too much for our budget. As we planned, we hired a car to take our excess baggage to our friends. The plan seemed to work as we returned to pick up the bikes to continue on our route and although we only had the afternoon we set off with renewed vigour… Our average speed increased by 30%! This could be the effect of us trying to shake off the stiffness of riding in a car, plus the general stress of thrashing up the A1.
We finished early at Wylam, first finding a rather good bakers/cafe that also did B & B – unfortunately they were full for the night but recommended an establishment just up the road.. this turned out to be another great find. It is a restaurant that also lets rooms… first impression was reserved as the building was closed up with a for sale notice on it. Being closed was not a surprise, as we were early afternoon arriving. I found my way around the back to find a ramshackle garden, with various motorbikes, including a rather impressive looking Harley Davidson. A young lady appeared out of the garden shed and I made the usual request for our requirements: double room and somewhere safe to put the bikes ‘no problem’ . We were shown the room which was not yet ready, but was big and comfortable looking. We were offered the bar to sit and wait for the room. This was part of the restaurant which was quite eclectic, with walls papered with newspapers – it seemed a bit gloomy at first, but it was not open, and the impression would change later…. We were first. to take a seat for dinner, and the only residents, but the room slowly filled as we ordered our meals. We, as usual, were trying to economise, so went for a lower priced option of a two-course meal, choosing a main course and dessert. We were still given home-made pitta bread slices with interesting dips to eat while we waited. We both chose something they called ‘The Duke’ which was breaded turkey escalopes with brie, cranberry sauce and bacon topping, actually served in a bun with chips! BUT although I am not usually a fan of a full meal being served in a hamburger roll, this was truly different.. all, including the bun virtually melted in your mouth, with distinct flavours that we were not being served anything ordinary. Then came the dessert Janet had an Eton Mess, which she tells me was superb, I went for the interesting sounding black forest croissant pudding….. I have never experienced the like… to taste something SO special so new, well it’s been a long time, it also melted in the mouth with another new flavour with every bite.
Sad thing is the owners are selling up….. they want to go travelling 🙂