Rachel Recommends… Getting on Your Bike
I’m not sure whether it was the Olympic-effect, the inspiration of my new favourite mod Bradley Wiggins or the promise of pub lunch at the end but when my other half suggested a borrowing a couple of bikes and heading out to cycle through Derwent Walk Country Park last Saturday I found myself eagerly agreeing!
It was a crisp Autumn morning, the sky was azure blue, the sun was almost blinding but the temperature was bitterly cold so I wrapped up in my snuggly fleece and bobble hat, donned a pair of sunglasses and set off to one of the North East’s most popular cylcling and walking routes.
The Derwent Walk Country Park is a mixture of ancient woodlands, beautiful meadows and picturesque wetlands, located along the old Derwent Valley Railway. It’s also home to part of the Red Kite Trail, providing plenty of opportunites to spot magnificent red kites and a variety of other rare wildlife.
Although there were lots of families, dog walkers, joggers and other cyclists enjoying the park at the same time as me I found the whole area to be extremely tranquil and as the pathways are quite flat I was soon cycling along at ease. I couldn’t believe this lush landscape was just a few minutes away from one of Europe’s biggest shopping destinations, the Metrocentre, somewhere I was usually much more likely to be found on a Saturday morning, oh what a fool I had been!
The North East of England is full of great places to visit by bike, if you’re new cycling like me then you could ease yourself in by starting off at the friendly Cycle Hub on Newcastle quayside where you can hire a bike quite cheaply and be at the iconic Angel of the North in Gateshead in well under an hour. Or if you’ve been sat in the saddle for a while now then how about taking on the rather more challenging Coast to Coast cycle route which is a 140mile journey from Whitehaven in the West to Tynemouth in the East. I’m not quite sure my thighs could take that sort of punsishment just yet, although according to the C2C Guide there are plenty of great places to eat and sleep along the way which may well entice me one day!
In the meantime I’m going to take the advice of one of the other cyclists I met during my visit to Derwent Walk Country Park and check out Cycling Weekly for the latest news, equipment reviews and route suggestions. I’ll also be wishing Bradley Wiggins and his coach Shane Sutton a speedy recovery after their recent injuries while cycling. Remember folks, if you are going to get on your bike then cycle safely!
All images by Rachel Kershaw.
Rachel Kershaw is 31 and lives in Newcastle Upon Tyne but is originally from Rochdale. With parents who have never even owned passports, it was inevitable that Rachel would fall in love with holidays in Britain. It was her genuine passion that saw her win the opportunity to be VisitEngland’s Fan in a Van in summer 2012 – an adventure that involved ten weeks on the road in a vintage VW camper blogging about everything from bungee jumping, hot air ballooning and surfing to visiting museums, zoos and numerous British eateries! What a lucky lady!