Thursday, 22 May 2014

A not so short ride to Finchale priory

Bikes,cycling,pedalling,more bikes and what I do when I go out and who with on my bike...Ah well here's more.

The night before this latest adventure I went to bed with an idea of just how I was going to shoot this little movie of this pretty steep hill I had found. A few days previous I had been out with John and quite by chance we came upon this hill, that at the time didn't look all that steep, however it proved to be quite difficult to get up. Part of the reason for me was being on my NS Soda at the time which is only equipped with a 10 speed gear set-up, so no granny to drop to, to help me up.

Anyhoo when I got in from work on Wednesday John had been on the phone saying he fancied a ride to Finchale Priory. I told him about my plans for heading out and capturing some footage and he agreed we could put Finchale off to another day.

Finchale priory

Well in the meantime Lee txt'd me asking were we going out for a ride, as he was off work and returning home from a hospital visit with his wife Michelle. Michelle has been diagnosed with a rare form of nasal cancer. The area where the nose and throat connect is called the nasopharynx and the specific type of cancer is called nasopharyngeal cancer. Poor Michelle is having to undergo radio-therapy and chemo and though she has no choice other than to be brave, she is doing exactly that as well as being very positive and supportive in my endeavours on behalf of my self and Arctic One.

Lee said " do you fancy going for a short ride", just a short 20 mile local loop". A quick discussion with John and we thought "ahh why not". After all I can always put this hill and movie idea off until another day.

So John and I head over to Lee and Michelle's and meet them at their house. We have a little bit of a sit down in their back garden to go over some fund raising ideas we have been talking about. We also dicuss where we are going for this short 20 miler. John says "How's about Finchale Priory" (John has already been out with his sister Kelly for a morning bike ride of about 16 miles and it's a rather hot day) Mmmmm this could be interesting I'm thinking.

Off we head Lee in front as is the norm he's like a bloody whippet that lad, me I'm more like the proverbial tortoise, my only chance to win a race is if I slip him some sleeping tablets and hope he has a snooze mid way through an adventure. Not that I'm saying the tortoise slipped the hare a Mickey Flynn lol. We ride towards Craghead. I quite like this one little section of road or path which ever I decide to ride on as it always reminds me of one of my first ever rides out when I became an amputee and I was so gutted I couldn't get up this tiny little incline. Now it's not a problem and we turn right at the Punch Bowl pub and follow the road up. This section of road also always brings memories streaming back to when I was a small lad. My nana and grandad Johnstone lived in Holmside Terrace for years, my dad says he lived there as far back as he can remember as a child. The row of houses backed right onto the Craghead pit yard where my grandad worked as a boiler man. My underlying memory of my grandad was of him always being "as black as a craa" Craa meaning crow. He was also a part time chimney sweep lol. I remember my nana and grandad not having much, but what they did have was always clean and tidy and cared for. I loved falling asleep in front of their real fire and to this day when ever I sit in front of an open fire my eyes become heavy and I drift of with memories of Holmside and my nana and grandad. Isn't it funny how things stick in your mind. I seem to recall one particular day when drifting off in front of Tv as I watched some motorcyle racing and seeing 2 riders come off as they hit a hare which ran across the race track. I'm not sure if I dreamt this, however I can recall it and it feels real to this day as is evident in me telling you it. I can also remember crying for ages as my nana soothed me as I had jammed my fingers in one of her kitchen draws and the make shift swing which was set up in the outside toilet, yes no inside toilet in those days and awful crinkly cut newspaper which was like sand paper on your arse Ouch!... WoW it's a proper reminisce this lol I better just mention I can also remember clippy mats then move on.

Time to stop day dreaming we are now onto Wagtail Lane and go past the "windmills" as I call them. Actually they are 2 of the biggest turbines in Europe.At the end of Wagtail Lane we cross over and head down into Chapman's Wells, this is a pretty local route for us I really like being here it's quiet and really pretty. 

The next bit I hate with a passion, it's coming off Chapman's Wells's and onto the main road to head towards Burnhope. This is the bit where I'm now going to have a rant... It's about car drivers. So if your a car driver reading this who doesn't cycle please take this on-board however don't take offence. So ok we are on the main road, about 8 to 12 inches out from the kerb, single file...So why the Feck do car drivers feel the urge to pass us doing about 80 mph, missing our handle bars, by what feels like a gnats prick. oh and what really peeves me off is when they see oncoming traffic realise "Oh maybe I should have waited", but Oh no just swerve in, right in front of the cyclist they have just passed. I'm now considering getting myself a Dog -Cam or Bullet cam just so I can catch these cocks on video, capture their details as in number plate then take great pleasure in reporting them and putting them on Youtube. Now I know there are also cyclist's who can be complete idiots, however when you just out for a leisurely, fun ride and your abiding by the rules of the road and you Do want to get home for your tea without being killed or permanently injured, why can't these people just slow down a bit? I mean what's 30 seconds or so to wait until it's safe or to give someone that bit extra room. Ok that's me done...Next!

We head down the steep Peth Bank at Lanchester, Oh what do you know I'm not totally done another cock in a MINI beeping at John as he wants to be past...For flips sake we are doing like 30mph down there on our bikes and it's just a narrow winding road. The fella in the car passes us and guess what still has to wait at the junction at the bottom so he isn't actually ahead of us So Beep, Beep right back pal.

From Lanchester we get onto the Lanchester way and this takes us right down to Bear Park and into Durham. I have never rode down this side of the river at Durham and as we continue along the road and head off to the left we come across some amazing back roads which lead to Frankland Prison.

I took this as the sky looked so pretty with the fluffy clouds
A Tree
Same Tree different shot
It was a very enjoyable, if really sore ride for me to this point. The weather making me sweat and so rub.

We then followed the signs for Finchale Priory, got there and dicovered it closed at 4:30pm. John was not amused. All this way and no good photo opportunities, plus he was knackered bless him.

There was a residents site, it had a sign up saying NO ENTRY, except to residents. Well Lee got his eye on these funny looking birds. We thought they looked like turkey's from a distance and so in order to get a closer look we were naughty and crossed over past the No entry sign. John was on snapping away when this gentleman appeared behind us. "Errr can I help you" he said in a rather stern voice..."Oh crap". I turned put on my best smiley face and just replied with the first thing I could think of that may get us out of trouble "Emmm what sort of birds are these". "Guinea Fowl" the man replied "Oh where are they from I said "Guinea" he replied in a rather condescending voice. I remained pleasant and after this chap who looked after the Priory (I think) discovered we weren't actually scumbags he became quite amicable and shared some very interesting facts about the priory. Stuff like when it was built and where the stone for the building was taken from. When we decided to head off he even gave us directions to find our way onto the main road by going over the river way.

As we crossed the river John and I started taking more photo's, it was a better angle over this side. I was on the bridge taking some snaps and saw Lee was chatting to this man who was admiring my bike.

When I got over to them we had a right good talk about my bike and biking in general. This very nice friendly gentleman gave us more instructions on what to expect and the route from here and we headed up the trail whilst he walked up a more direct steeper route and up some steps. When I got to the top of this trail which was pretty darn tough. The nice guy was at the top. "Did you mange to ride all the way up without getting off" he said, "Yeah" I replied, "it was a bit tough in places, but I just kept going". "Well done" he said. Aww how nice, kind of made me proud for getting up. Lee and John joined us shortly after and again we had a good old chin wag, including asking what this gentleman what his name was. Turns out his name is Rob and he's a really nice fella (So if you get to read this Rob, we were all very pleased to meet you and I hope you enjoy my blog).

Off once more, down back roads heading in the direction of Great Lumley. When in Lumley the view right over to Mordor (Stanley) was amazing. With it being a nice day you could see for miles. I could see the windmills where we had started and the 2 radio transmitters both Pontop Pike and Burnhope, oh and the other array of windmills over towards Burnhope. Not sure if I could see as far as Tow Law and the turbines there.

From Lumley we drop down to the roundabout at Chester -Le -Street and it's only a quick ride to the other round about at the bottom of what we call the new road. The one, that leads to the motorway, Birtley or the way we have come and Chester. Lee choses to take us through the housing estate, it breaks up the ride a little bit. I hate riding up from Birtley where you go up by the little pub. I know from my old Cateye that it's 6.33 miles from that pub to home and it's just a long, boring drag all the way. not good when your knackered. Isn't it weird how you always have to go up a hill to get home. Suppose that's what happens when you live on a hill huh!.

Back onto the C2C, and it's really painful now, this isn't my longest ride out, but wow I'm proper sore and tired. I even have to take my pins out of my cams and just try and ride with no resistance I'm so wrecked.

As we approach beamish we say our goodbye's to John, it's easier for him to head straight up as it means he comes out on the top of his bank, where as Lee and me can cut across, up Beamish Hills, into No Place and then get onto the now famouse Farmers Trail.

As I get to the bottom and say ta ta to Lee I notice I have a little bit of play on my BB. Will have to get Ern to investigate that I think.

Well crank and BB been thoroughly investigated and yeah I need a new crank and BB. The crank shaft has worn. Not sure how long it should have lasted. I have had my Sandman over 2 years now,so maybe due for new components. Dammit I could have bought a new sleeping bag or sleeping mat. I also saw a nice tiatium cooking pot. Ah well will have to try and save up I guess.


  1. I remember my Nana's outside toilet and her real fire. I love real fires to this day - the smell sound and sight of them - nothing beats a real fire !

    Love the blog and photos are fantastic. Hope your sores have recovered x

  2. Thanks Michelle, yeah not feeling too bad today, well apart from stupid phantom pain kicking in just as I have decided to head off to bed....Grrrrr! x

  3. Great blog buddy, and class shot's almost as good as mine lmao, sleeping tablets live it catch you soon mate.