Seahouses to Melrose
Another sunny start to leg two of our Coast & Castles ride. Initially heading inland from Seahouses with a light westerly wind, taking the quieter back road to Bamburgh. Leaving Bamburgh Castle behind, we continued inland to Belford where we were faced by our first real challenge with a steep ramp averaging 6.5% but hitting 14% about a third of the way up. “Well that was one way to get the blood pumping” lamented someone.
As we made our way north following the NCR Route 1 we passed through Detchant and East Kyloe before stopping at Fenwick. “Oh look, there’s a cafe there” said one voice. Unfortunately it was still too early into the ride to justify stopping so we continued onwards to Lowickmill and Ancroft before dropping into Berwick-upon-Tweed, the original home town of Pugwash.
“Well Pugwash, lead the way” was the general consensus. First item on the agenda was a brief stop as we passed one of Pugwash’s ex-houses. After crossing the main east coast rail line we headed down into Spittal where we passed Puggy’s Primary school. From there, we continued along Dock Road adjacent to the River Tweed before crossing the Royal Border Bridge. At this point we were beginning to feel a little hungry so decided to stop in town for a lovely lunch at Lowry’s cafe on the Quayside.
When we were ready to resume the ride, questions were asked. “We’re not going back up that hill are we?”, “Is there easy way out of town?”. Unfortunately 🎵The Only Way is Up🎵. The “easiest” option was to head up Ravensdowne passing the Barracks then through the Cow Port to the “Stanks” taking the beach road, which borders Puggy’s ex-golf course, to re-emerge at the top of Castlegate.
Leaving Berwick we headed along the “Canty’s” road (as kids we called it “the seven hills to Canty’ s”) crossing the England/Scotland border shortly after passing Canty’s Brig then recrossing back into England over the Union Bridge (known locally as the Chain Bridge). Immediately over the bridge we were faced with a short sharp climb up to the Honey Farm and our second refreshment stop at the quirky “cafe bus”.
“Ding Ding! Time to move along”. As we gathered at the exit someone asked “Are we all here?”. “No we’re still waiting for Seadog, he’s faffing with his garmin” came the reply. When he rejoined us he advised that he couldn’t get his navigation to work. The next leg took us to Horncliffe then past Norham Castle and back into Scotland over Norham Bridge.
Welcome to Scotland the sign said as we were immediately faced with the 3rd of four “categorised” climbs this time ranging between 5-10%. Continuing to follow NCR1 along the Tweed valley passing North of Coldstream. On reaching the turn to Eccles we stopped at the junction to regroup however Iain kept his head down and failed to see us all waiting. “Where’s he going?” we thought “Iain! IAIN!! IAIN!!!” we yelled. Unfortunately “that boy was not for turning” at least until Seadog caught up with him to advise the “error of his way”.
On passing through Eccles, Mark enquired hopefully “Ooh is this where they make the cakes?”. A little later after reaching Ednam, Heather suffered a puncture. Assisted by Neil, Seadog and Iain repairs were effected quickly.
The next leg continued to Makerstoun passing North of Kelso and Floors Castle. By now the “gentle” climbing was turning a bit more “lumpy” as we approached Dryburgh.
Then as the Tweed turned North we came to the “bumpy” bridge, officially called the Dryburgh Suspension Bridge. Someone in their wisdom thought it would be ‘wheeze’ to fit rumble strips along the length of it making it a very uncomfortable crossing on a road bike. “Think I lost my dentures there” ventured Matt waggishly. “That’s loosened all my fillings” added Mark.
Back on the road again we came to Newton St Boswells and the 4th climb of the day around the Eildon hills. Much like the previous climbs the average gradient was around 5% occasionally hitting 10%. After relishing the traffic free downhill section we stopped to regroup. “Well where’s Seadog?” we asked. After waiting a while we decided something must have happened, so Neil started to head back up the hill to see if he could find him. Turned out that he’d had his head down and hadn’t seen us all make the left turn to Eildon, only realising his mistake on reaching the main A68 with no sign of anybody.
Eventually we all made it to Burt’s hotel in the centre of Melrose where Mark and Pugwash headed straight to the bar to quench their “drouth”. The Ship Inn across the road was our choice for dinner establishment where the wine flowed as “free” as the river Tweed.