Sunday 26 September 2010

Day 11: Tweedsmuir to Hexham : 98 miles, sunshine all day, cool

Cycle route alongside Talla Reservoir
I decided to leave at 07.30 today - I was a little concerned about the distance and total height I'd have to climb. There was a light frost on the ground by the reservoir and the temperature was 1degC and so I felt quite pleased I had bought the new gloves. By the way, for those who have asked me the frost damage I suffered from my trip across to Tongue has now all but disappeared.
The change in temperature had in part been as a result of the clear blue sky overnight and this continued all day. In fact this was the first day I haven't needed to put on my waterproof trousers at any stage - so unfortunately people were subjected to my raw cycling tights!
Talla reservoir constructed 1897-1905 to provide drinking water for Edinburgh. The Talla railway along the Tweed valley from Broughton mentioned yesterday was used in its construction.
I have to confess that for the first 5 miles of this journey I only had to transport myself and the bike up to the Megget Stone as my parents kindly offered to take the panniers up by car. As you may see from the photo there is a fairly steep climb away from Talla.
My route then took me past Megget and St Mary's Loch which was a fantastic early morning ride and the miles just seemed to disappear.
B711 to Hawick
Taking the B709 south, I took up riding along with a professional cricketer from Nottingham. I must admit to forgetting his name but it was great to meet up. He retires next year and was taking 10 days to cycle from John O'Groats to Land's End - an average of 100 miles a day. He did admit to have a companion with him taking the bulk of his gear and also practising for her massage exams in the evenings to make sure he was ready for his next ride. We parted at Tushielaw as he was heading for Carlisle via Langholm (the 'Lonely Planet' route) and I set off towards Hawick along the B711. The B711 is a another fabulous and easy ride and I make great progress along here arriving in Hawick in good time to enjoy a piece of fruitcake near the centre of this.
Hawick is a pleasant place with its sandstone houses and I am familiar with it from the Melrose Sevens rugby where it always seems to do very well. The town also styles itself as the home of cashmere and the knitting capital of the Scottish Borders.
The landscapes opened up as I continued to head south-east towards the border country with England.
South-east of Hawick on A6088
Crossing into England near Keilder
Still not quite halfway I was making good time as I was a little ahead of 10mph target by this stage. The border came just have a hearty lunch of ham, mustard and tomato filled rolls and with it the sky had become more overcast but still pleasant.
The area around Keilder Forest and Water has changed dramatically since I last visited c 1979 with the completion and opening of the Dam in 1982. There are now all sorts of water sports, cycle routes, walks and a Youth Hostel around the vast area.
Kielder Water is a large artificial reservoir in Northumberland in North East England. It is the largest artificial lake in the United Kingdom by capacity and it is surrounded by Kielder Forest, the largest human-made woodland in Europe. It was planned in the late 1960s to satisfy an expected rise in demand for water to support a booming UK industrial economy. It was constructed between 1975 and 1981 by an AMEC/Balfour Beatty joint venture and was opened in 1982. It took two years for the valley to fill with water completely once construction was completed. (Wikipedia info)

Kielder Water is also the site of England's largest hydro electric plant. In December 2005, RWE Npower Renewables bought the rights to operate the plant and sell the electricity generated by it, with a contract lasting until 2025. Following the takeover, the turbines were refurbished in 2005–2006, which increased the efficiency of the electricity generation. Controls were also updated, meaning that the plant can be operated from Dolgarrog in Wales.
The plant generates electricity using dual turbines which produce 6 megawatts (MW) of electricity. It also uses a 5.5 MW Kaplan turbine, which generates electricity when water release takes place. A 500 kilowatt (kW) Francis turbine also generates constantly from the compensation flow of water from the reservoir into the North Tyne. This gives the reservoir a total generating capacity of 12 MW, and an average production of 20,000 MWh of electricity per year, a saving of 8,600 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year compared to fossil fuel based methods of generation. (Wikipedia info)
After Keilder I mainly followed the River North Tyne down to Hexham and although I'd had originally thought this would be the easiest part of the day it turned out to be the toughest. Whether this was the switch back effect of the up and down hills, because it was the end of a long day or because the wind had picked I don't know. However, I was relieved to be made very welcome at my brother's family house in Hexham. Thank you.
I've had a number of requests to mention the food I'm eating more often. Therefore I thought you might be interesting to know that I stocked up recently with some snacks to have when I'm feeling a little peckish.
Mum's home made fruitcake bagged and placed handily in a front pannier!
If you're looking for more detail on what to do with the fruit you see in hedgerows etc. - I'm not the person to write much about there. However, fortunately I have a good friend who writes a popular and interesting blog, The Knit-Nurse Chronicles. In a recent article she covers the recipe for making the most of your sloes into gin.  
Pictures from the Knit-Nurse Chronicles - read for yourself at

1 comment:

  1. Wow, an impressive day's ride and some fantastic photos! Really good to hear that you had good weather for this long section of the trip, and also that you are eating well! Thanks for the plug too...!