Craster to Beal
It had been hoped to visit Holy Island during our tour of Northumberland unfortunately the tidal crossing times were not in our favour so had to settle for a cafe stop at Beal instead.
Setting off north with the wind generally behind us, we made swift progress through Embleton and Beadnell before a comfort break at Seahouses, a coastal village boasting no fewer than three Fish and Chip shops. It is also the goto destination for boat trips to the nearby Farne Islands.
Further up the road we came to Bamburgh where we paused to admire the imposing vista of Bamburgh Castle.
Continuing along the coast, we passed through Budle, Warren Mill and on to Belford where we came to our first challenge of the day with North Bank Hill averaging around 10%. Chris managing to bag the best time to the top.
Our cafe stop was the Barn at Beal offering wonderful views of nearby Holy Island and back down the coast to Bamburgh.
The return route took our troops further inland however chaos ensued almost immediately as the instruction to cross directly over the A1 fell on deaf ears when the “lead” bunch headed back the way they came and everyone else behaved like sheep, ignoring the inner voice saying “I’m sure Neil said straight across” . A quick phone call from Neil then advised them of the “error of their way”.
Further confusion arose when the lead bunch making their way back to join Neil and Heather came to a junction. “Now which way do we go?” was the forlorn cry as they failed to notice the Neil’s directional arrow accompanied by “BK” in large letters scratched on the ground even though they’d run directly over it.
On the way back to Belford the group tackled the Bowden Doors climb with gradients varying between 3-6% and occasional ramp up to 7-10%. Heather managed to grab Strava “Queen of the Mountain”, yet another to add to her collection. Chapeau!. Shortly after that climb, Sarah became unwell (“nothing to do with the previous evening” she said) and had to abandon. Fortunately Knights International Rescue team was on hand in the form of Alison to collect her and the bike. While on her way a further emergency call came in to advise that Matt had suffered a “mechanical” and would have to abandon as well.
On return to the house, coffee and cake had been laid out on the table. Not just any cake though, a birthday cake kindly decorated by Alison to celebrate Chris’s upcoming birthday. A chorus of happy birthday and it was time to dig in.
Later when everyone had changed it was time to head off to the Jolly Fisherman pub for a quick pint before returning to sample the three different curries available.
After dinner it was time for more fun and games. First up was Heather’s game of “guess the person”. Two teams firstly trying to guess who was being described, the 2nd round using only one word then the 3rd round by miming. Much hilarity ensued at the various antics used to convey the identity.
Next up was Sarah’s game of “humbug” where each person had to hum a tune from a card for the others in the team to guess. Cue further amusement as people struggled to find the right tune.
By this time, Neil being gutted by finding himself on the losing end once more, decided to be quiz master instead while we played a round of “guess the intro”. Vicky had us all in stitches with her puppy like antics as she became so enthusiastic that she even answered for the opposing team.
Rounding off the evening we had a number of songs from Pugwash, Neil and Sharrin with the “piece-de-resistance” being led by Sarah as she had us all waddling around the table like a bunch of emporer penguins.