Day twenty: Bye bye Bonnie Scotland, hello Sunny England
As with many of the days that preceded this one, the morning started with a long cycle ride. This one was some 102km, and I was on a mission because we had arranged lunch with some of my relatives just North of Berwick-upon-Tweed. It was lovely to stop and catch up with friendly faces, but the pressure was on to keep going and move on to Holy Island.
Because my luncheon date detour had taken me inland, my route had been a slightly different one to what I would have taken. But that circumstance meant I chanced upon one of the quaintest little bridges I have ever seen, beckoning me over the River Tweed and back to England’s green and pleasant shores. The Union Bridge at Horncliffe is a unique little chain bridge and is the oldest suspension bridge still carrying road traffic. The selfie I took there is one of my favourites from the entire four weeks.
Time to get my breath back and get all Holy…
As I entered England and waved goodbye to ten memory-packed days of hard graft, magical scenes, friendly people, the harshest and kindest of weather and the fresh, cool air of the country’s Northerly lands, I took a moment to consider. Scotland had challenged me, smiled at me, taken my breath away at times, but always had the good grace to give it back at the end of each day. Thank you, Scotland.
That cycle ride took me back to the coast, and across the causeway to Holy Island and what a ride that was. With no land obstructions and the wind right behind me, I reached a full 48 km per hour on the bike across the causeway, my fastest stretch of the whole adventure (Where is a speed camera when you need one). Holy Island is aptly named and, despite the hoards of tourists that were there, it definitely gives off an innate serenity and beauty which made it a highlight of the East Coast.
From the Island, Tim and I got into the Kayak (I had finally persuaded him to join me), and we paddled past Lindisfarne Castle, around the headland and down to Bamburgh Castle. We were joined by a troop of curious seals, bobbing up and down around us, clearly enjoying the glorious sunshine and deep blueness of the ocean as much as we were.
The day finished with a cycle ride which took the team and me down to Creswell and a well-earned good night’s sleep in the campervan.
The battle of East and West.
On reflection, as I drifted off to sleep that night I couldn’t help but compare the crossing of England into Scotland ten days earlier with what I had done this day. In one instance I was seemingly fighting for my life against the toughest tides on the West and in the other enjoying a gentle, sunshiny freewheel over a quaint little wooden bridge. I think the smile on my face as I approached dreamland that night was not actually the contrast at all: it was the self-revealing realisation that I probably enjoyed the first crossing the most.
Any adventure is full of its ups and downs, victories and challenges along the way: but it is the bigger picture which sees you through in the end and the lessons you take from it which make you stronger for the next time.