When I arose I realised that the nagging pain wasn't likely to go away, I recognised it as a recurring tendon problem that I've had a few times before. Best guess is between the chain jumping the gears and accelerating hard before going down the hill I'd done it a mischief. After a bit of internal debate I figured I'd trust to ibuprofen again and started to get ready for the day. We'd opted to rise late and just deal with the weather as it came so a cooked breakfast was awaiting us downstairs. Jeff and David had decided to get going early and made do with the continental sideboard that was laid on by the rooms.
After brekkie we took over the part of the pub where our bikes had been kept and got things together.
While this was being sorted Andrew who'd also opted to go late did some work on my bike, tightening up the rear brakes. After the huge, rapid descents we'd had the previous day I was a bit concerned about my bikes inability to bring itself to a full stop so I took it out for a quick spin and agreed, yes, the brakes were *much* more responsive now.
That done we were ready for the off. Some last minute conversation with Mum meant I lagged behind a bit and had to put some welly in to catch up, I rapidly did catch up as the rest of the party had hit another sodding 20 degree incline... We huffed and puffed our way to the top where it was necessary to wait on my Dad catching up with us and get Joanne's (Malcolm's wife) bike down from the car. A few more miles brought us over the Tyne to this charming Tea House/Village Shop/Local Brewery Supporter in Wylam. The beer looked very inviting but it was rather early so I settled on coffee and cake for myself and purchasing presentation Kendal Mint Cake for friends of mine unfamiliar with this delicacy.
Once all of this was sorted out we set off again our destination: The Hadrian's wall cycle path and eventually the charmingly named village of Wark with the bizarrely named hot Battlesteads.
The Hadrian's wall cycle path is a few things: Picturesque, quiet, rather more used by dog walkers than cyclists, not actually next to Hadrian's wall but rather near to some nice water.
It is also not a few things: particularly well surfaced, signposted or in possession of non-terrifying rail crossings.
It was a pleasant ride even with the odd encounter with non-signalled, DIY-gated rail crossing points. OK you could see for miles down the rails in each direction but as one of the generation of school children who got shown the "Don't cross the railway lest you have all your hopes and dreams destroyed. Also your legs cut off"
horror eductaional film I couldn't help but treat them with trepidation.
By this juncture myself and Ian were chugging along nicely on our own, my tendon was warming up nicely and all was right with the world. Then it started pissing it down again. I did a quick change into my waterproofs and we pressed on, Ian started to get away from me at this point and I started to realise why, I was overheating rather seriously. Ian was waiting for me to catch up and when I did I sent him on as I had started to feel quite faint and wanted to rest and eat lots of sugar. I also stripped off my waterproofs and decided to do the rest of the route without, if I got wet there'd always be a shower and dry towels at the other end.
Once I'd got going again Ian was way ahead so I moved on in quite splendid isolation, the weather was far from perfect but the roads were largely clear and the going not too hard. I crossed the Tyne (again) and I got a few nice photos.
I have to say here that rolling along on my own, at my own pace, listening to music was pretty much as idyllic as this ride ever got. Company is great but ocassionally you find yourself by design or circumstance peacefully alone with few cares to bother you, no one to cajole you along and no real reason to hurry anywhere. This was one such occasion and it's a very pleasant memory.
Eventually I rolled down a very fun hill into Wark and the magnificent Battlesteads hotel only a few minutes behind Ian despite my lesiurely pace. Ian reported that Andrew had last been seen shooting off down the hill past the venue. We debated if he would ever be seen again.
Inside Battlesteads I was met by many welcome sights. A well stocked bar with a selection hand pumps, comfortable seats on one of which Jeff was relaxing and next to him this little fellow, his name is Gilroy:
I got a couple of pints in for Ian, Andrew (when he returned, he'd gone to the shop apparently) and myself while fussing the cat and generally feeling rather content. Over time the other riders came in The it was time to change and, yes, there were baths. I soaked for quite some time before being called for dinner. Battlesteads, it should be noted, produces *excellent* food. Probably the best I had the whole trip and I gather the meal is included in a bed, breakfast and dinner price which works out very reasonable indeed. After dinner I sat with Will outside smoking and slowly tempting Gilroy back from his night-time wanderings. He entertained us for a bit attempting to down a bat that was making low passes over the road before consenting to be stroked. With that it was about time for bed, so that's what we did.