Day 1 – Newcastle to Alnwick. We started at the station in Newcastle on a fine May day. Fortunately, it was a Bank Holiday weekend in England (but not in Scotland) and we got incredible weather.
The scenery on this ride made it an absolute pleasure. We stopped at the uber-trendy café at Longsands in Tynemouth (wait if you want to hit Whitley Bay instead!). Alnmouth is great for an ice cream stop before you head inland. The Youth Hostel at Alnwick is really comfortable for small groups and clearly set up for Coasters. It is a real bonus to be in the centre of town so you don’t have far to stagger for grub.
Day 2 – Alnwick to Berwick.
A short push up the coast gives you a great chance to stop near Bamburgh castle. The village is beautifully preserved (and stuffed full of coffee shops).
Lindisfarne and Holy Island might be great on a warm day but watch the tides and the wind. I never made it to any habitation as I had to stop in a dune to refuel.
There’s a stretch of track not suitable for road bikes (across a golf course).
Berwick YHA is a really cool building – an old warehouse by the quayside. They have great service and do food too which makes it feel much more like a hotel.
Day 3 – Berwick to Earlston.
Over the border… You get a growing feeling of anticipation as you approach the Scotland as much is made of this great dividing line (brown heritage signs everywhere). There are also diversions to Coldstream (guards in uniform?) which I managed to resist. I went to Kelso for an old-fashioned gut-busting café stop. You know? When you order a sandwich and salad, and then a bun…and then another shortbread (for the road). We stayed in a lovely hotel at Earlston with very comfortable beds and a few little extras (tea and biscuits).
Day 4 – Earlston to Edinburgh. Through Innerleithen in the Scottish Borders (hipster cafes) before romping up the hill with my iPod blasting out with “climbing music”. At the time it really did the trick though I bonked (ran out of energy) as I reached our destination just south of Edinburgh (and where I ended my journey).