The Land of the Prince Bishops

Early start meant breakfast at about half five ! the weather looked a bit overcast but a least it wasn’t raining, which was a positive. We were set to meet up just after seven at the Horse and Jockey, Stockton for a big ride into County Durham and the North Pennines.


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Eventually Roy and Mick came over the horizon and it was game on as I jumped on the back as they ploughed up the road without stopping, better late than never !

The route to Wolsingham and Clive’s house, our guide around the North Pennines, via Bishop Auckland, was just one hard slog taking it in turns to suffer the relentless wind and the continuous incline.

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After coffee we headed out to explore this corner of County Durham that would take us into Cumbria, Northumberland and back to County Durham.

We followed the River Wear through Stanhope, St john’s Chapel and on to our first real climb of the day, Cowshill

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We had a re-grouping at the Allendale turn off, a quick photograph and it was off again climbing up School Hill heading for our first cafe stop at the Killhope Lead mine museum.

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The bikes locked up on the bike stands, we went in search of the cafe. With no full english breakfasts on offer we settled for a sausage and bacon bun and a pot of tea, which was an excellent choice as they came packed full . Much hilarity was had with Roy and Mick explaining the reason for the naked suits to the cafe staff.

Re-fuelled, it was off again on the A689 climbing up again to Killhope Cross. The head wind was still blowing and the road ahead just disappeared into the low cloud which all made for a hard climb that had the group strung out.

A Killhope Cross in the fog

We all regrouped at the top as the boy racers in their hot hatches burned down the hill, then it was our turn and the descent was quite fast and a bit painful on the arms as my jacket whipped  in the wind. A quick right turn and it was almost a dead stop as the road reared up and the sound of crashing gears kept the forward momentum just about going !

We were now in Cumbria and Roy had collected another boundary sign sprint, I’m going to have to do my homework for the LeJog or it will be an easy win for Roy.

It was another climb up heading for another unseen border that Roy started sprinting for so off I sprinted after him just failing by the tread of his tyre ! We were now in Northhumbria and after a short descent, off came the jackets as the sun made an appearance that lasted for the rest of the day. We climbed again with what felt like a gentle hand pushing us up hill as we had turned out of the wind. After the climb we descended  to Allenheads .

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A quick toilet stop and shop for liquids then of out of Allenheads and up another hill and another border this time crossed first by Mick who then pedalled back to the sign on the other other side of the road and tried to claim two !

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We now descended on smooth roads past the last remaining mine headgear in the Pennines, Grove Rake, and on to Rookhope which was the most beautiful descent of the day. I was a bit further back and got stopped at some road works on red and nearly lost the others but remembered Clive had said watch out for the left turn, so up left I went and there was Mick then at the top Roy and Clive where waiting, disaster averted !!

No more hills now Clive said, apart from the one that was rearing up in front of us ! caught Roy out anyway . That was the last of the hills and we rode into Stanhope, which had now come alive since we went through this morning. We decided to stop and take a cafe break in the sun, Tea and a massive 99 ice cream with what Mick said was, Monkey Blood, on it. looked like raspberry  sauce !

A short ride to Clive’s house and a bit of work done to Mick’s headset by Roy whilst taking in another coffee and it was goodbye to Clive and head for home.

The route back was retracing our ride in but this time it was mostly downhill and at speed which left my hanging on the back struggling to get my jelly babies out of the bag and into my mouth. Turning right onto the A177 and with the promise of a stop and a pint at the Horse and Jockey, it was full on racing for the stop.

A well earned pint and a couple more sponsorship donations because of the suits and it was head off home and another hundred plus in the legs.




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