Friday night! The wind howled round the house-end where "Three Wings" and I were making final decisions for the three-and a-half days holiday, due to commence on Saturday at noon. It was not holiday weather, that point was quite evident. Further, it was not very promising for the wild open regions of the North Country, where our eager eyes had for a long time rested. Yet, we eventually decided to cast aside all alluring thought of easy repose at a place, Damson Dene, and make a start as early as possible on Saturday noon for Teesdale and the North.

Saturday noon; most decidedly unpromising, with a steady, persistent north east wind blowing, and apparently still enough rain to last indefinitely. However, 1-20 p.m. saw the two of us, oilskins head to toe (more or less), leave the  dismal home-town by tandem for the great open North. We had the idea in mind of reaching a small inn about sixteen miles north of Sedbergh for tea, but as we slowly rode up and up towards the summit of Coldweather hill, the Rothay valley, with it’s small inn seemed very distant and nigh unattainable.

However, prospects may brighten; sixteen miles had been covered when the clouds rolled by, and the clear blue of the heavens lay revealed. Divesting ourselves of our black outer attire, we chortled as we strapped cape and leggings upon the machine, although we little dreamed that we should not require them again during our meanderings.

On through Settle and Clapham, disdaining the side turning into Austwick, and a comfortable fire. Ingleton, and yet on familiar roads; we finally hove in sight of old Sedbergh, with its church well-nigh hidden by giant yew trees. We had no timepiece with us, so we were eagerly awaiting the verdict as to our progress; 4-45 p.m. it was, and all was well.  We had three-quarters of an hour to reach the Cross Keys for tea. Although riding to no fixed schedule, we had decided that we must reach our inn at Cautley by 5-30 p.m., in order to allow us ample time for the second stage of the journey.

At 5-30 we were dining in the low-roofed inn and gazing through a huge window at the view that caused the district to gain renown. Imagine a great, basin-like amphitheatre whose sides rise very steeply to a great height, and in the distance a silver-grey streak of glistening water cascading and tumbling from the very skyline down to browny green earth — Cautley Spout — a veritable lord of waterfalls.

Tea over and a short time for a pipe, then away again for a long, steady climb through the Rothay valley towards Kirkbv Stephen. The road here follows very closely the swirling river as it makes frantic ever-hurrying surges seawards. An exhilarating descent through the town of Kirkby Stephen and on through Brough, past its castle, which we had explored previously, to commence the hardest portion of the day’s ride, the ascent to the summit of Grains-o’-Beck, and on to Teesdale.  Stout hearts and steady climbing, broken occasionally by resort to the human hoof, and we finally reached the summit. The glory of achievement was ours as we gazed down towards the still distant Teesdale with yet sufficient daylight left for us wherein to find the farmhouse in which we hoped to satisfy our hunger and find repose for the night. Swooping down to Middleton-in-Teesdale, through the square, where a fair was creating it’s usual unmelodious uproar and smoke, and to Newbiggin.

Thus, for the first time in eighteen months we were once again on Durham soil. A very welcome and familiar sign of black and gold indicated oun shelter, that was if the gods were with us; they were, indeed, and we experienced that pleasurable satisfaction of hearing, "Yes? Come in. Welcome !" It is only the tourist, who, after a full day’s jaunting, mo matter how or where he spend his time, who can fully appreciate the common invite.

A wash, brief diversion on the wireless, supper, and we were ready for it, then a discussion with our host upon the life of the collier in the Durham coalfield. An intelligent, well-read and entertaining man, and he gave us some very interesting details regarding the coal situation in the Durham area. And so to bed, as Pepys would have put it, where we could hear a flooded beck hurrying, scurrying on its way to meet the infant Tees.

Sunday morning; a perfect morning, clear as a crystal bell. The valley looked almost toylike, with its farmhouses scattered about the hillsides, all white as snow, a very noticeable feature of Teesdale being the pristine whiteness of the dwellings, which are always kept so trim and neat. Breakfast, farewells paid and stage number two had commenced. A slow, leisurely start being our motto, we soon left the main highway to cross by way of a rough road over Three Pikes, nearly 1,600 feet high, into Weardale. A hectic descent, and we were in the main street of St. John’s Chapel, left turn and a long winding road that gave entry to East Allandale and the valley of the South Tyne. On through Wearhead, just missing the highest village in England and Allan Town could be seen far below, whilst far away northwards could be seen our land of promise.

At Allan Town we had to seek our way out, and no wonder, when one has the choice of about fourteen diverse routes. Over the shoulder of a well-wooded slope, and the glory of West Allandale lay before us.  Forests of pines, firs and larches, indescribably beautiful to gaze upon, with the South Tyne river, like a silvern worm, billowing in and out in its search for the sea. Continuing, we finally crossed the river several miles above Hexham, which place we had explored on a previous occasion, and to Humsaugh, close by the Roman Wall for dinner at 1-30. The giants refreshed, we were up and away, en route for Rothbury in alluring Coquettdale. On through rich pastoral country, fields cut for the harvest, past stately homes and limpid loughs (the only loughs outside Ireland) until we reached the heights above Rothbury. Visualise the sweeping moorlands of heather and bracken, a perfect combination of colouring with the rays of the sun emphasising the sublime glory of it all as would a master painter.  Below, a small colony of old, mellow-hued, red buildings called Rothbury, hemmed in by hillsides hidden by forests of dark green, whilst the Coquett trickled lazily upon its journey; a paradise indeed!

On, still on, through woods of pine and over hills of heather, we pursued our course, whilst the giant hills of this north country, the Cheviots, became more and more distinct as the evening passed steadily by.  Thus, it was about 7-15 when we entered Alnswick (called Annick) to gaze in rapture and considerable awe at the mighty castle which causes the great north road to deviate from its straight course to Berwick-on-Tweed. It was a wonderful pile that so enraptured us, that so invited our closer scrutiny, whose score of sentinels carved in stone beckoned us to enter and live again the incidents of this centre of strife in the north. But no, this was not yet for us; the north still claimed us; the sea was calling incessantly, as though Bamburgh was to disappear ere morning, despite its having withstood the turmoil of civic strife and the vagaries of the weather for centuries. On still, we entered the small sea-edge townlet, called, aptly. enough, Sea Horses, where, after manovuvring round we secured accommodation.

Considerably refreshed by a delightful supper, we strolled down to the small jetty, where we could hear the sea pounding away at the land that is called England. There, revealed occasionally by the gleaming revolving beam from the lighthouse built upon Lidisfarne Island, it was not difficult to visualise the heroic adventures of that immortalised Grace Darling.  Maybe the Vikings of old used to dread the very islands whose eye gleamed so steadily now, symbolical of the roots of Christianity planted here long ago by Paulinus. There, on that northern neck of England, two wanderers found ample reward for their labours. Back to our bedroom, with its furnishings assuming grotesque shapes as the powerful beacon light continued its monotonous vigil. A gaze northwards towards Bamburgh, the lodestar of the tour, a perfect vision was ours, silhouette magnificent and then to well-earned rest.

Taking early leave of Sea Houses the following morning, we were soon surveying the massive structure of Bamburg Castle at close quarters.  Built upon a high chiff ledge, exposed to the full fury of the northern elements, it stands a magnificent monument, to the dauntless, indomitable tenacity of purpose of our fore-fathers.  Away again, through the pretty village of Bamburgh, close by the castle, and  westwards towards Woller, the Cheviots and Jedburgh. It was excellent agricultural country through which we passed, and we saw many flocks of the famous Cheviot sheep being driven down the hillsides to the dipping ponds. There in the region between Woller and Jedburgh, we sensed an atmosphere of peacefulness and tranquility, rural England in very truth. On through this pleasant Arcady we leisurely journeyed, across the border into Scotland, and to Jedburgh for reireshment.

We had now arrived at the point where once agam we must turn the wheels towards home, so after a brief inspection of the Abbey, we followed the road alongside the river Jed, en rouve to Newcastleton and Brampton. After travelling for several miles through richly timbered country, we gradually climbed higher and higher, until we reached the crest of the curiously-named Note-o’-the-Gate Pass, that forms the only connection with Liddlesdale.  Habitations here were few and far between, and we could without ditficulty recreate the difficulties and privations of the tattered remnant of Bonny Prince Charlie’s army as they endeavoured to return to their own country after his disastrous rout. A survey from the summit showed only miles and miles of heathery moorland, unbroken by roads except for our own brown ribbon twisting and turning until it lost itself in the distance.

Downwards we sped, at a somewhat hectic pace considering the rough, broken surface of the road, and back again into pastoral country. On through Newcastleton, an uninteresting featureless place, over the steep shoulder of a moorland plateau, and we were back in England after the briefest of jaunts into Scotia. Despite the absence of any "official" time, we were now painfully aware of it being tea-time, but we had to ignore the symptoms of hunger as we journeyed through the wilderness of byways and third-rate roads to Brampton, where we delivered ourselves to a certain hostess, well and truly hungry after our wanderings in the border reglons.

It was 8-30 p.m. when we left to continue our day’s journeying to Melmerby, in the long, slanting rays of the setting sun, but now refreshed, we were veritable giants, and the miles simply slipped by as we followed the road through Castle Carrock,  and Croglin to Renwick. Travelling in the white beam of our headlamps, we conjectured upon the possibility of failing to secure accommodation at the house of our desire, but arrival at Melmerby, and a light in the house (albelt upstairs), once again we asked the question that is so beloved of the wanderer, and good fortune was ours.

It was another brilliant morning that awaited our pleasure as we rode away from the little temperance hotel that had harboured us overnight, and proceeded upon our journey to the south and home. Hugging the edge of the mighty hills which here form the backbone of England we slipped the villages of Ousley and Skirwith to Long Marton, where a sign pointing to Dufton brought memories back to us of an earlier jaunt from awe-inspiring High Cup Nick to Teesaale. On to Appleby, with 1ts  many historical associations, and then once again we began to climb gradually but surely until we reached the crest of Dillicar.  Away again, faster and faster, until the little church tower of Orton hove in sight. Now we lingered at the Lune bridge, just below Tebay, before making the ascent of the road that leads heavenwards to Grayrigg and Kendal.

We were now back in our normal "hunting ground," but we needs must sample a recent addition to the list of Black and Gold appointments in our area, so that meal time found us washing in a small temperance hotel, with the great limestone end of Farleton Fell stretching almost into the garden.

Satisfied and contented, we later continued our journey over familiar yet ever pleasant roads, noting the distinctions and differences of our own particular district as against others we had seen, until our wheelings brought us to our local Arcady, Downham. Evening found us rounding the end of our noble Pendle, contented, and still further convinced — if such could be — that cycle touring is the master key to a fuller realisation of the glorious heritage of England.