For one reason or another I’ve never been on a TRF run north into Northumberland in the Alnwick/Rothbury direction. Those routes are renown locally for their water crossings. The recent headline news story had made me wonder if that choice of direction was a good one but since that matter came to a conclusion early that morning it was no longer a concern, we met up near Prudhoe and off we went.
We were a group of eight with one guy who’d never been outside a field on a trail bike. He managed his inevitable off quite quickly but no real harm done to him (strained muscles?) or the bike and he got back on determined to continue. I stayed around the back of the group acting as sweeper and kept an eye on him. The initial part of the run was quite interesting to me as I’d never seen the trails we used and they were a bit different to ones I’d been on before with long grass, tall enclosing greenery and in one place greenery totally blocking the path which you just had to ride through.
I don’t seem to have done much trail riding this year and my riding was definitely suffering because of it. I nearly managed to drop the bike in the middle of the first big ford but caught it and only managed wet feet thankfully. Our new recruit had not considered we might be going through water, was not really attired for it and was rather nervous about the ford. He stalled halfway and had to push it the rest of the way but didn’t fall in.
I recognised the road we were on at this point, its one the Daytona knows rather well. Along there we had the first puncture of the day which was duly repaired.
We turned off that road and followed a trail eventually coming to a section of trail with warning tape. The reason was clear as a significant section of the bank had been eroded away leaving a 1ft wide strip. We made it through but had to wheel the bikes rather than ride them. I took the only photo of the day there but its poor quality, sorry.
Further trails followed and we ended up heading into Rothbury except the road in was blocked off with a significant police presence, no surprise there. Thankfully we were going the other way at that junction anyway. We looped around the top of the town through the forest and ended up in the next village over where we refuelled and talked a bit with the attendant about the events of the past few days.
We were trying to get to the lunch stop when we suffered the second puncture which was once again duly repaired. The next lane was through a field of lovely long grass so when a KTM lost a gear lever I wasn’t holding out much hope of finding it but it was on the gravel bit afterwards. We finally got a late lunch at Powburn.
It was starting to drizzle at this point but we sat outside under some umbrellas on the tables. Just as we’d finished eating the heavens opened with a torrential downpour so we waited inside until that mostly passed over. It was then more fuel and time to head back. We had hoped to get further north and sometime maybe I will but we were out of time today.
The trip back started off heading up Ingram valley, somewhere I’ve not been for a long time and had further fords but the river levels were extremely low and the ford crossings weren’t that bad. The deepest of the day (2ft?) had a bottom like loose cobbles which is different to any ford I’ve done before. I hit something half way over, got knocked off line but kept going. This meant I went over a large lump of dead tree in the water and missed the ramp up the bank on the other wide. The CRM happily climbed up the bit of steep bank anyway proving once again if you point it at obstacles and keep the power applied its amazing what it can climb over :).
The route back also ended up going through Rothbury, this time coming to it over the river from the south on the other side of the town which meant we went past the other side of the restricted area. Here there was media everywhere and someone in front of a TV camera doing what looked like a live interview next to the main road. They didn’t look amused at the eight bikes going past.
After this it was further tarmac with a few lanes and we were back to Hadrian’s wall and time to head home. It was a long day but I think the new recruit will be back again! I enjoyed seeing a different set of trails and hopefully will see the ones further north sometime soon too. Thanks go to Steve and the rest of the group for the day, the navigating and the good company.