LEJOG Day 12 Middlesbrough to Newbiggin by the Sea NCN Route 1 All the Way!

66.8 Miles Cycled
3180 ft of Climbing

After another comfortable night’s sleep in yet another £39 Travel Lodge I got my stuff together and headed off. The trip to Middlesbrough was a bit of a detour, I needed to head back to Stockton on Tees to pick up my route again. The 5 or so miles to Stockton was along the same route I cycled the evening before. I made a quick pit stop at Halfords to top up the air in my tyres and eventually I was back on my way, today was all about NCN Route 1. My goal today was to cross the River Tyne. 

I have to say that the trail I picked up in Stockton was fantastic, on a smooth tarmac surface I made good progress. It was a bright sunny day and the path was tree lined and offered plenty of shade. It felt good to finally be in the North East and I was looking forward to the ride up through County Durham to Sunderland then on to Tyneside.

I was excited to finally be cycling on NCN Route 1, which would take me all the way up to Berwick. After 5 miles or so I arrived at Wynyard Woodland Park where the trail followed an old railway line, the Castle Eden branch of the North Eastern Railway. The trail had left the smooth tarmac and I was now cycling on a dusty loose surface through some lovely countryside.

NCN Route 1 Sign Teesside
NCN Route 1 Sign Teesside

The first 15 miles or so were a gradual incline and nothing to strenuous and as I neared the height of the climb the views over the North Sea were amazing on what was such a lovely June day. Passing through the Durham countryside there were constant reminders of its industrial past.

County Durham Sign

I picked up the Castle Eden Walkway still following Route 1 and I got to a place called Station Town. After almost 2 weeks on the road I had a trouble free time until Station Town. As I cycled through there were two motorbikes speeding through the village ridden by young lads wearing balaclavas. As I rode down a back street one of the bikes accelerated towards me on his back wheel missing me by a short distance. Despite this I brushed it off and carried on.

The Castle Eden Walkway turned in to the Hart to Haswell Walkway and the route did get more difficult. The smooth surface of the Stockton branch of NCN Route 1 was a distant memory and the path now was rough. It was hard going at times and if you are considering cycling this on a road bike I would think again.

I eventually arrived in Seaton and this is where the route heads down hill towards the North Sea Coast. I picked up the Hawthorn to Ryhope Way which was again still offroad and rough however it was very good cycling. One disappointing fact was that despite enjoying a virtual traffic free route from Stockton, the trail is littered with hazards. I was never far from fly tipping, litter, glass and dog mess throughout the whole of NCN 1 in County Durham.

I arrived in Ryhope which is just South of Sunderland and it dawned on me, I had now cycled Coast to Coast. Not the traditional route, my route was from the North Cornwall coast near St Ives to Ryhope! another milestone.

Navigating NCN Route 1 through Sunderland, What a Mess

No sooner had I arrived at the coast my route then turned inland again and this is where the fun began. I am not sure what was going through the heads of the Sustrans route planners when they decided the route through Sunderland but it had me puzzled. At points the path is little more than a 1ft wide hogan path through a playing field and was far from enjoyable.

This combined with the broken glass, litter and general filth made the cycle through Sunderland a nightmare. I passed the dry ski slope at Silksworth and then dropped down towards the city centre. Still the route was on traffic free trails which was one plus point however I would rather have followed the coast. At one point I approached an underpass only to be met with a sheet of broken glass, remains of a fire and shopping trolley. It was treacherous and dangerous and I was glad to cross the Wearmouth Bridge and leaver this behind.

Sunderland Part of NCN Rote 1
Cycling the treacherous NCN Route 1 through Sunderland

What was a great morning of cycling through County Durham and Sunderland did leave me scratching my head. The enjoyment of many people is being spoilt by a few. Peoples inability to pick up dog mess, take litter home and generally have no respect for the environment gives an awful impression of this area!

NCN Route 1 Monkwearmouth to South Shields

I skirted Monkwearmouth to the mouth of the River Wear and I was back on the coast once more. I had left behind the earlier hazard ridden paths and I was now headed for South Shields. This part of the day was fantastic. With the North Sea on my right and the sun shining I passed through Seaburn and Whitburn stopping briefly to admire Souter Lighthouse. Passing Marsden Grotto I had South Shields in my sights. Passing the small roundabout brought back memories, I was now on the final section of the Great North Run, a place I had sat as a child many years ago cheering on my brother and the crowds as they completed the run.

Crossing the River Tyne on the Shields Ferry NCN Route 1

Shields Ferry NCN Rote 1
Shields Ferry NCN Rote 1

After navigating South Shields I found myself on the banks of the River Tyne. There are two options to cross the river my bike, The Shields Ferry or the Tyne Pedestrian Tunnel. On another day I would have chosen the tunnel but today due to time I chose the ferry.

The Shields Ferry is a focal part of NCN Route 1, for a small fare I boarded the boat, parked up my bike and enjoyed the short trip to Tynemouth.

This was great moment, I was finally North of the Tyne, yet another milestone on what had so far been an amazing journey. The Northumberland Coast was ahead of me and I was on home territory.

I got off the ferry and rode through North Shields Fish Quay. Following the River Tyne I then came across the Mooring Buoy Art Monument. The Mooring Buoy Art Monument marks the start and finish of NCN Route 72, the Reivers Cycle Route, and NCN Route 72 the Hadrians Cycleway.

Bike parking on The Shields Ferry
Bike parking on The Shields Ferry
NCN Route 1 Sign Tynemouth, Mooring Buoy Art Monument
Mooring Buoy Art Monument

Both of these routes are on my list of journeys to complete at some point soon however today I was heading North.

It was now late afternoon and I started to look at places to stay for the evening. My previous research had highlighted one thing, accommodation in Northumberland was expensive. Not wanting call it a day at Tynemouth I started to look for accommodation, places that were available earlier in the day had disappeared from Airbnb and I was starting to get concerned. I eventually found an affordable room in Newbiggan by the Sea, this meant I had another 20 miles to ride.

It was a pleasure to cycle the familiar sea front of Tynemouth, Cullercoats and Whitley Bay. Passing St Mary’s Lighthouse and on to Seaton Sluice the path was good and the sun was still shining.

I approached the Port of Blyth and came across a gun emplacement and spent a few minutes admiring the view before heading inland to cross the River Blyth. With 10 miles still left to do I ploughed on through Bedlington Station, East Sleekburn and Cambois eventually crossing the River Wansbeck and on to my destination Newbiggin by the Sea. After checking in to my Airbnb I headed out in to Newbiggin and was pleasantly surprised. Fish and chips washed down by a couple of pints brought my long day in the saddle to a close.

NCN Route 1 River Blyth
NCN Route 1 River Blyth
beach at newbiggin by the sea
Beach at Newbiggin by the Sea

Today had been a great day of cycling, the sun had shone all day, the mainly traffic free trails, the milestones of my unofficial Coast to Coast and crossing the River Tyne put a smile on my face.

I was now in Northumberland and I was excited at what the next day had in store for me. The Coast and Castles route had started and in the morning I was cycling the coast of my home county Northumberland.

LEJOG Day 12 Newbiggin by the Sea to Eyemouth