Coasts and Castles has to be one of my favourite UK tours. The last time that I organised it, I was absolutely blown away by the amazing beaches in this part of the UK. Of course the tour is called Coasts and Castles, but I guess that at the time of organising it I had not actually really thought too deeply into it. Back when I did this tour the official Coast and Castles cycle route map actually had two routes. One route went along the coast from Tynemouth to Edinburgh the other route went along the coast for the first 100 miles before going inland to Galashiels and up to Edinburgh. Back then, I actually did both routes; the route that went inland, although hillier was far more interesting as the scenery was more varied; so this was the route that we did this time round.
Day 1: We started in Tynemouth, but not at the actual official start point as that was down a hill and the idea of going down a hill to go back up a hill didn’t really appeal to any of us, so we started outside of the Tynemouth Priory.
Our first day of cycling was from Tynemouth to Alnwick. A fairly flat route which was just over 40 miles long.
The route hugged the coast, so we had spectacular views out to sea. All of the route was along the well sign-posted NCN 1 cycle route. It was either quiet roads or off road tracks that could be easily be negotiated by bikes with skinny tyres.
Day 2: Alnwick to Berwick Upon Tweed. Unfortunately due to the timing of the tides we were unable to pop over to Holy Island, but we still had a fantastic sunny ride up to Berwick Upon Tweed. The hardest part of the day was cycling through a field of cows they were particularly scary as they started to charge towards us.
It was a sunny 53 miles. We had so far been really lucky with the weather.
Day 3: Berwick Upon Tweed to Melrose. This route went inland and part way through the day we left England and entered into Scotland. As it was 41 miles, this was our shortest day of riding on the tour and this meant that we got to our destination, Dryburgh Abbey Hotel in the early afternoon and were able to chill and relax in the beautiful grounds of the hotel. Ideally Galashiels would have been our preferred destination, but there was nowhere that was available and suitable for our night’s stay. So this would obviously had a knock on effect to our last day of cycling and meant that that our last day was going to be our hardest and longest. of the tour.
Day 4: Melrose into Edinburgh. The weather was amazing and the long days meant that we could take all day to do the ride and we did!!! We had a hilly 63 miles to do. We got to Edinburgh at around about 9pm. We used the time to stop and stare and take in the spectacular views.
Day 5: Edinburgh. Our last day was a chance to leisurely look around the city whilst waiting for our trains.