Post by Mary on May 16, 2022
Spring is the season for our family bike tours before the summer guiding season begins. We recently returned from a fantastic family bike tour with the kids and my Dad, riding North to South down the beautiful Northumbrian coast. At 81, my Dad is still one of the strongest bike riders I know and an inspiration to us all. He had Jamie and I pedaling harder than we wanted to at times! Cameron says his Grandpa is too good for an electric bike and isn’t allowed one until he’s 90!
Our family bike tour followed a section of the excellent Sustrans “Coasts and Castles” route, starting in Berwick and finishing at Cresswell. Sustrans do an amazing job of keeping you away from busy roads and showcasing the best scenery the region has to offer. We rode on a mix of minor roads and easy tracks and hardly experienced any traffic at all. It’s one of the reasons why Northumberland is a great county for this kind of bike touring.
Many thanks to Altura for providing us with excellent panniers, waterproof jackets and trail trousers to test en route. Incredibly, we hardly had a drop of rain but the jackets were great for keeping the wind off. I loved the trail trousers and wore them every day. I’m looking forward to trying them out on the alpine trails.
Jamie and I were on a pair of ancient hard tails with 26″ wheels. Jamie felt like he was riding Cameron’s bike! They served us well though. Juliet and Cameron rode hire bikes from Tim at Berwick Cycles. Tim was really helpful regarding our trip logistics, opening up his shop when it was his day off to ride and collecting the bikes for us at the end of the route.
Our first overnight and first castle were on the stunning island of Lindisfarne. It’s a truly magical place when the tide covers the causeway and the day trippers go home. We misjudged the speed at which the tide comes in and were almost benighted on an evening visit to St Cuthbert’s island. We had to take off our socks and shoes wade back to the main island!
After a visit to castle number two, the spectacular Bamburgh Castle, we spent our second night next to Seahouses harbour. The following morning we took a Billy Shiel’s boat trip out to the Farne Islands to see the puffins returning to their burrows to mate after 8 months at sea. It was definitely a highlight of the trip and one I would highly recommend.
On day three we rode a beautiful remote stretch of the route past our third castle, Dunstanburgh, which is also my favourite. This was followed by a stunning off road stretch between Howick and Boulmer, which takes you right down to the seashore. Our last night was in the beautiful village of Alnmouth, where there are miles and miles of golden sand and hardly a soul upon them.
On the last day of our family bike tour we rode past castle number four, Warkworth castle, through the lively fishing village of Amble and finally alongside more beautiful, empty beaches to end up at Cresswell. Everyone happy and smiling, which definitely isn’t how all of our family bike rides end!
We’ll be heading down to the Alpes de Haute Provence for some more family bike adventures at the end of this month and then to the trails of Pfyn-Finges, near Leukerbad in Switzerland in early June.
We have a family from Australia joining us towards the end of June for their own family bike tour. If you’re interested in a family adventure on two wheels this year, please do get in touch. We have availability in mid-June, 2-9 July and 20-27 September.
We hope to see you and your families out here this season.