The Final Countdown

Waking from a sore hip as my roll mat was flat AGAIN, it was raining. I was too lazy to get up for a wee and too lazy to reinflate the roll mat so lay uncomfortably hoping that the rain would stop. It didn't. Unable to fall back to sleep I started packing things away, today would be an early start!

Sneaking out of the field I hit the road and headed for Kershopefoot Forest where I'd ride a trail to Kielder Water. The rain eased and the drizzle was start stop and that was fine with me. The wind was back though and in my face again even though I was now heading north rather than south.

It seemed like hard work this morning and the ups and downs were taking their toll. I had also run out of water and so when I reached the edge of the forest I took the chance to fill up from the stream.

Stream

I had been looking forward to this part of the route home as I have definitely chosen the scenic route and not the most direct. NCN route 10 seems to go all around the houses! Leaving the tarmac behind I hit the rock and mud into the forest. After only 5 minutes I was back in bonny Scotland as this route is a cross border one. It was nice to be back, haha.

Welcome to Scotland

The route wasn't too difficult but I was finding it very hard going. The bike seemed heavier and I was in my easiest gear and going at the pace of a snail. At this rate it would take hours to ride the 13 miles to Kielder. I think that my body is starting to relax knowing that it's nearly at the end and that's my fault for thinking of home. It's funny but already it seems like I was in the Islands months ago and I'm forgetting them - not good! I've prepared myself so much for this last week of riding back that it seems I've gone too far the other way.

The miles tick over slowly and I am glad to see a sign for Kielder Forest, the reservoir can't be too far off now.

Kielder Forest

I'd like to say I'm loving the riding but I'm just tired and struggling. I'm really hoping that there is a cafe at Kielder Water as I could murder a brew, maybe that's why I'm flagging?

Forest view

As I finally roll down the other side of the last hill I'm back to road and see a map of the area. There's a water sports area about 2 miles away and that has a restaurant, woohoo, tea here I come! I actually enjoy the muddy track and arrive just before noon, definitely time for some lunch.

An hour or so later and I'm fed and watered and ready for the afternoon. It's amazing what a bit of rest and some refreshments can do and the aim for the day is to get to Bellingham. Route 10 seems to have transformed into the Rievers route and it's quiet and scenic.

Fields

The route is testing with short steep hills and then long downhills and although it's tough I'm happy with my progress. Rolling into Bellingham is strange as I was here last December on my Sandstone Way bikepacking trip and I head back to the same cafe, the Rocky Road Cafe. It's 4pm, too early to make camp and so I have a cuppa and consult the map. I decide to keep riding for another 10 miles to get a head start on tomorrows miles and so get back on the Beast for round 3 of the day.

The riding is good and my legs are still responding to the hills so I keep on spinning away and taking in the hill scenes.

Hill view

Just after 6 I start to look for a spot to camp. I could keep on riding but it's best to get setup looking at the threatening clouds. Also it means I can eat and rest well before the morning. I've achieved the goal I set myself of another 10 miles so I pitch my wet tent and to my delight the sun appears for the first time today!

Sunny camp spot

I've eaten and my tent is dry and I'm sat on the grass enjoying the evening sun. Tonight is my last night of the trip and I can't believe 12 weeks have gone by. Tomorrow will be a long day but I know I can do the miles to make it back to Seaburn. I was worried that the end of this trip might make me really miserable but I'm content now and ready to see family and hug the ones I love. For now though I shall sit and drink in the final hours of daylight and enjoy my last night in the tent. Tomorrow is a big day!

Trip Summary:

  • Miles ridden = ???
  • Ice creams eaten = 10
  • Ferries taken = 36
  • Islands visited = 28
  • Wild camp nights = 47
  • Ticks removed from body = 14
  • Distilleries visited = 8
  • Breweries visited = 4
  • Bothy nights = 6
  • Trips to A & E = 1