Monday 13th August 2012 – Day 1

Middlesbrough – Druridge Bay

73.90 miles

2469 feet climbed

3229 calories burnt

Cumulative miles cycled round the coast = 73.90 miles

After being spurred on by the closing ceremony of the Olympics Games last night, we were all ready to set off to our starting point – the North Shore of the Transporter Bridge.

We packed up the rest of the bits, shoved the bikes in the van and set off at 8:30am from my parents house, arriving at the North shore of the Transporter Bridge by 9:30am.  Sarah from DFW Adoption in Durham was there to greet us, she took photo’s and a quick interview to help us distribute PR to the local press.

If you’re wondering why we picked the T-Bridge, it’s because I was born in Middlesbrough and my Dad worked on the ICI plant down the road, so it seemed as good as place as any! Plus, we wanted somewhere t’up North so we could cycle in to Scotland as soon as possible.

The exact start point was called Port Clarence, most of the surrounding area is chemical works and we had to cycle through the centre of it all to get to the coast.  One section that was fun, was Seal Sands, aptly named because we saw a river with loads of seals sunning themselves (not sure if it’s that detailed in the picture below);

Onwards from Seal Sands was a lovely Tioxide plant, the smell of the chemicals for some strange reason smelt like roasted peppers. You can see it chugging out all sorts of stuff in the photo below.  Apparently the chemical Tioxide is what makes the toothpaste you buy white, information courtesy of Dad;

We headed past Seaton Carew (or should that be Seaton Canoe!) then through Hartlepool, known for Hangus the Monkey and the Marina. We went onwards through Crimdon Dean (which seemed to consist wholly of a static caravan park) and then on to the three collieries (Blackhall, Horden and Easington).

Being away from the North East and living in London for 5 years now, it’s always a shock to see how financially deprived Northern towns are. They just never seemed to be able to get themselves back up and running after the coal mines shut down.  Every park bench we cycled past, sat old men with cans of cider drowning their sorrows, a very sad sight to see!

We then headed out East and finally caught glimpse of the sea at Seaham.  It’s strange – we’re cycling the coast and it took us nearly 25 miles on the first day to spot the North Sea! From here on in, we stuck to the coastline and met up with the Motorhome for lunch at Souter Lighthouse, just south of South Shields.  Harry and Mum cooked us up a feast – cups of tea, bacon sandwiches, and cake.  It got a bit chilly, so I cracked out my all in one fox suit and that seemed to go down a treat with the locals, who thought I was a mouse!

After lunch we headed up to the mouth of the Tyne (i.e Tynemouth), then headed in land ready to find the cycle tunnel!  That was certainly an experience, we took a decrepid lift down to the tunnel, down there it looked like something stuck in time, similar to the old fashioned London Tubes but a darn sight smaller.  There were kids going up and down on their skateboards and bikes (damn school holidays!), but we got through unscathed, even though Dad and I both have claustrophia!

We popped out at the north shore of the Tyne and followed the A189 until we hit the coastline again.

As we were cycling through Cullercoats Bay, I remembered I’d recently been there with the other half and it was nice to see the ice-cream parlour and fish&chips shop were still going strong.

After about 53 miles we stopped at Seaton Sluice, where we’d agreed to meet up with the support van, they picked a great spot, i.e. a pub, so we stopped and had a pint of lager shandy!

There was nothing of note after the pub stop, just the usual sprawling farming fields, apart from when we came to Lynemouth.  This was where we stumbled upon a massive (and I mean MASSIVE)  derelict aluminium smelting plant.  My Dad – an expert in North East industrial history commented that it was the only smelting plant in the UK and now it’s no longer :-(.

It was only another 5 or so miles until Druridge Bay where we found the support van.  This is where things got interesting as we needed to find somewhere to park up to sleep.  We stopped on a small coastal road, but I soon found a stranger to ask whether we could pitch up.  Unfortunately it was warden controlled and National Trust property meaning we were NOT able to stop and we had to move on.  We basically backtracked and found a lay by to park in. Throughout the evening we had lots of dog walkers as company, taking their dogs to the beach.

As it was the first night, it was difficult to sleep – still excited from the day’s events and getting used to living in such a confined space (plus sleeping next to Mum!) but I think we managed!

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