There's only one problem with Edmundbyers – and I accept it's not a problem for everyone. But for anyone south of Cambridge, it's clear: it's a long way away.
Never heard of it? Well, it's only a little place but it's a very pleasant one, nestled at the top of the magical B6278 in County Durham. The perfect place for a weekend break.
I was in need of some time away from the screen, having just finished Bikers' Europe (if you haven't got yours yet, you can order it here). Pushing to meet my deadline had left my eyes feeling like they'd been sandpapered and dipped in vinegar – and all that writing about great roads made me want to go and ride some. The only catch being, of course, that a quick trip to Europe wasn't really on the cards.
But with that big job done and, more importantly, my girlfriend's birthday to celebrate, a trip was necessary. She had in fact already got everything in-hand, right down to the necessary baby-sitting cover to allow us to get away on the bike.
The plan had been to go to a music festival in Stanhope... naturally cancelled at the last minute as Covid meant only football fans or rich people going to Ascot and Wimbledon could enjoy their outdoor events. But with accommodation booked at The Burnside in Edmundbyers, we decided to go anyway. What a good decision that turned out to be.
Admittedly, we weren't entirely lucky with the weather. A bit of drizzle on the way up and the way home, but nothing too bad. We both have Held textile suits that shrugged it off – but I admit I swapped a fun stretch of roads for a more basic (and time-saving) leg of motorway on the way up.
With no bands to go and watch, instead we had a nice, relaxed ride on some of my favourite roads – up through Kielder Forest (though not on the unpaved Forest Drive... I didn't think Ali would fancy it) and into the Scottish Borders, before looping round to Alnwick for a stroll around. From there we nipped to see an old school friend – probably the first time in 20 years – before heading back to Edmundbyers. I know I'd have had fun at the festival, but I think I enjoyed going for a good ride more...
That night we walked up to the local bar... sorry, The Baa (yes, that's what it's called) for pizzas in the beer garden with the craziest ornaments ever. That's what a riding weekend is all about.
Next day we were treated to brilliant sunshine as we headed south. After the majestic run to Barnard Castle (insert "eye test" joke here) we jumped south to York on the A1(M) before heading for the Humber Bridge and the brilliant roads of the Lincolnshire Wolds. These were followed by the less brilliant roads of the Lincolnshire Fens (which carried on into Norfolk) but by then the race was on to get back before Ali's kids finished school. We managed it, more or less.
All in all, a simple but satisfying three-day trip. I've added our routes to the Day Trips page if you want to repeat it yourself.
• Just in case I haven't begged enough... if you haven't got a copy of Bikers' Europe, please check it out. If you have ordered one, it'd be great if you could leave a review on Amazon. Thanks.