Sunday 16th September 2007
Chester-le-Street to Whitley Bay
The forecast is still good - the sun isn't shining but we don't mind the clouds if it is not raining. The route into Newcastle is difficult - to avoid the main road would mean quite a few additional miles and maybe to little advantage in the suburbs of Gateshead. As it is Sunday morning there shouldn't be too much traffic so we decide to stick to the main road and head off northwards along what I presume was the Great North Road before various bypasses were built. The first stop this morning is the famous Angel of the North by Anthony Gormley - 20m high and 54m wide and weighing 200 tons. Because of its exposed situation the foundations are also massive anchoring it to the rock 20m below ground. A couple from Wolverhampton request us to take their photo and then they reciprocate by taking ours.
We carry on through Gateshead and attempt to follow the cycle routes leading down to the Millenium Bridge. We eventually reach the Tyne and pull up at the Baltic Centre - an art gallery on the banks of the river. A cup of tea is called for. Christine is very much looking forward to looking round the gallery - but when we enquire we find that this is the week when they are changing over the exhibits in 4 out of the 5 galleries so it hardly seems worthwhile paying the standard entrance fee just to look at one gallery. A great pity.
And so to the bridge, a cross between a suspension bridge and a swing (up and over!) bridge. We learn that a boat will be coming up the river soon, so we hang around waiting to see the bridge in action. The walkway is to the rear in the photo - this is normally, of course, in the horizontal position with the supporting arch overhead. The whole structure rotates by about 30 degrees to let shipping pass underneath. Time for an early lunch - being Sunday we decided to have a carvery in a local pub on the river side rather than risk not getting a meal later in the day.
After lunch we go in search of Newcastle Cathedral - the Cathedral Church of St Nicholas was a parish church until 1882 when Queen Victoria created the Diocese of Newcastle therefore making it a cathedral. It is well hidden behind other tall buildings and not at all well signposted but we eventually arrive at the doorstep. The door is closed and so we proceed around the building looking for other means of entry - but there are none. Fancy that, a Sunday, and it is only open during service times. This is the most northerly cathedral in England and for a second time that day we are disappointed. We discover that we should visit it in the week when it is open for longer hours. We take a single photo and move on.
The cycle track from Newcastle to the coast at North Tyneside follows the path of an old railway line which makes for easy cycling. We had learnt from talking to people on the river bank by the Millenium Bridge that the QEII liner will be coming in to dock at Tyneside tonight, making a farewell trip around the UK before being permanently docked at Dubai in the role of a floating hotel. This we understand will be about 4.30pm. We carry on along the cycle path past the Royal docks where we stop at the information centre and pick up a leaflet about the event, have a cup of tea and also visit the Lightning clock - for more information on this visit the Geograph Web Site. I come away without a photo of the clock as I decide to take a movie instead to show the grandchildren. As we approach Tyneside the crowds get bigger and bigger - at times we are not able to cycle on the proper path as this offers the best vantage point for people waiting for the arrival of the liner. 4.30pm comes and goes. 5.00pm comes and goes. Eventually someone spots the ship on the horizon but by 5.30 it doesn't appear any closer. We are to learn later that the windy weather was making the approach to Tyneside difficult and dangerous. With time marching on and storm clouds gathering we decide to carry on to the B&B in Whitley Bay and therefore the only shot of the liner that we have is taken with maximum zoom on the camera. (The liner did manage to dock later in the evening.) It starts to rain as we cycle along the coast so we are glad that we didn't hang around any longer to wait for it.
Mileage today 24.2 miles Total mileage so far 604.0 miles