Thursday 30 July 2015

The Bridges of Newcastle - Part#2

My visit to Newcastle to see the bridges over the River Tyne at the start of this month was cut short due to the searing heat of the English summer. So I returned yesterday on my Honda CBF250 to complete the tour in "fresher" weather. This is a 300 mile round trip and about as far as I'd want to go on a 250 in a day.

 The Gateshead Millenium Bridge from the Tyne Bridge. This bridge opens to allow the passage of shipping. There a guy rode a bike over it while it was open. video

 The Swing Bridge & High Level Bridge

 The Swing Bridge & Tyne Bridge

 The High Level Bridge seen across the roofs of the city.

 Cast ironwork of the High Level Bridge

 The Metro Bridge for the Tyne & Wear light railway system.

The New Castle that gives the city its name. "New" in the sense that it built in the late 12th century. (plus a bit of a railway bridge)

 You're never far from a drink on Tyneside - the Central in Gateshead. (and more bridges! this area must have more bridges per square mile than anywhere on earth)

King Edward Railway Bridge. The train is (probably) the East Coast service between Edinburgh and London.

 The last bridge in the city - the New Redheugh Bridge

It's lashing with rain, I'm 150 miles from home and I didn't bring waterproofs. Luckily it was a passing shower.

 The CBF at Hadrian's wall on the way home

Tuesday 28 July 2015

Serious Cycling

I came across this bicycle outside the transport museum today. It's a recumbent equipped with luggage, a screen and a trailer for touring. The flag is France. The weather here is currently cool & damp, bad even by Scottish standards, so the rider may have been seeking a rest in the museum.

Saturday 25 July 2015

Travel Blog

I'm currently following a blog from a guy doing a bike tour from Ankara in central Turkey to Nordkapp in arctic Norway. He's riding a Yamaha MT-09 Tracer (FJ-09) The blog is in Turkish but if your press "translate" you'll get the general idea of what's going on (in the last post he took the ferry from Germany to Sweden) Some good photographs - Brno in the Czech Republic looks nice.

facebook blog here 
The route "15 countries, 30 days"
The bike
Brno, Czech Republic

Wednesday 22 July 2015

The Famous Grouse Experience

I always have a laugh when I pass this sign at the Glenturret Whisky Distillery near Crieff. The experience, as I recall, is nausea, vomiting and a splitting headache - but each to their own.


Monday 20 July 2015

Every Picture Tells a Story #1 - "Marseilles, August 1980"

In my study there is a box of old photographs. Many of them were taken during biking trips over the years. So, in what may become a series, I'll take you for a trip down my memory lane.

The first photograph is titled "Marseilles, August 1980". After riding for about 5 days due south Europe ends here at the Mediterranean. I remember my first sight of the Med and was amazed that the sea could be azure blue rather than grey.

The photograph is of a skinny version of myself in silhouette at a memorial on the seafront. By the miracle of Google Maps I found that it's the Monument aux morts de l'armée d'Orient et aux héros des terres lointaines (Monument to the dead of the Eastern Army and the heroes of distant lands) We didn't spend much time here because it was too hot and soon headed to the cool of the Alps.
 From Google Maps

 Our well loaded Suzuki GT500 somewhere in the south of France

 Making camp at Abbeville in northern France.
Going to and from the continent we camped at the Hackney Marshes in London. The campsite is long gone now and although it looks a picturesque location Hackney is a fairly rough area where few would wish to stay. But if you're from Glasgow it didn't seem too bad.       

Sunday 12 July 2015

Back Roads to Dundee

After the fun of my trip to Berwick upon Tweed I decided to go for another back roads ride on my CBF250. This time I chose Dundee, a city 70 miles (as the crow flies) to the north east of Glasgow. Finding back roads route was tricky. The trip was through the heavily populated central belt of Scotland where there are many town and main roads.

In Coatbridge there is a section of the Monklands Canal. This was built in the late 18th century to transport coal from there to Glasgow. Much of the canal is gone, the M8 motorway in the east of the city was built over it.

At the entrance to a park in Coatbridge is a steel arch by sculptor Andy Scott. It depicts industry & nature on either side and, eh, superheroes in the middle.

In the town there are sculptures depicting the trades in the heavy industries that dominated this area in the past.

 The "Orange Walk" - not a welcome sight in a predominately Catholic town.

 Another junction another lack of signs. Oh well, eeny meeny… 

 Lost in North Lanarkshire.

South of Falkirk is the village of California. It is unusual in Britain, or Europe for that matter, to find a place named after another place. The origins of the name are uncertain but this was a coal mining area that was developed in the mid 1800s at the time of the California gold rush and it is thought that the town saw a connection to the "black gold" mined here. There is now no sign of this past. Its name is, in truth, the only interesting thing about the place.

 The Forth Rail Bridge with a cruise ship behind.

 Falkland in Fife

A statue of the guy that paid for the church in Falkland. Included here because his name was Oneisiphorus Tyndall Bruce

 The River Tay at Newburgh

 Balinbreich Castle
 The CBF and a field of oilseed rape

Ornate Victorian drinking foundain at Newport-on-Tay. Inscribed "The Gift of Mrs Blyth Martin, 1882". Nice to see someone has given it a fresh coat of paint.

The Tay Bridge in Dundee. The 3.5 km long railway bridge was opened in 1878 but a section collapsed during a storm the following year killing 75 on a train. The event was commemorated in a poem. Unfortunately it was by William Topaz McGonagall, the world's worst poet. It starts…

Beautiful railway bridge of the silv'ry Tay

Alas! I am very sorry to say

That ninety lives have been taken away

On the last sabbath day of 1879

Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

The bridge collapsed because the piers were inadequate to withstand wind loading, which was poorly understood at the time. The deck was re-erected on stronger supports. The old foundations can be seen to the right in the picture above.

Saturday 11 July 2015

A Splash of Colour #2

Gorse isn't the only thing turning the countryside yellow see here Over the last decade or so Oilseed Rape is increasingly been grown for vegetable oil. 

Monday 6 July 2015

The Bridges of Newcastle

A run last Tuesday to my favourite British city - Newcastle-upon-Tyne. I took walk along the riverside for a look at the seven bridges that cross the Tyne in the city centre.

The last bridge on the Tyne before the sea is the Gateshead Millennium Bridge. Opened in 2001 this footbridge opens to allow the passage of shipping.


 Newcastle beach!

 Sage Gateshead concert hall

Looking upstream at the Tyne Bridge and the five bridge behind it. I'm sure the jetski is breaking the Tyne's 6 knot speed limit.

The famous Tyne Bridge. Opened in 1928 this has become a symbol of the city. 

The bridge is home to a population of Kittiwakes. The city seem proud of them but as one who maintained bridges in a previous life I'm thinking about the damage their guano does to the paintwork.

 Swing Bridge (1876) On the left is the castle that gives the town its name.

 High level Bridge (1849) carries railway (upper deck) & traffic (lower deck)

Upstream of the High Level Bridge are the Metro Bridge, the King Edward (railway) Bridge & Redheugh Bridge. I intended to walk up to these bridges and over the Tyne & High Level bridges for the view, but gave up. It was too hot (well, 80F/27C) but that is scorching for northern Britain and too much for me in biking gear.

I chucked it at the old Fish Market

The bridges inspired a work of music in 1970 - "The Five Bridges Suite" on the album "Five Bridge" by prog rock band The Nice. I've just re-listened to it and it's ok if you like orchestral/jazz fusion. It's marred only by the occasional vocals of Lee Jackson. Two bridges have been built since the album - the Gateshead Millennium Bridge and the Metro Bridge for the light railway system.