We didn't plan to go and the date was wrong but one of the joys of cycling can be stumbling on the unexpected.
One of our regular routes is to cycle along NCN 72 (Hadrian's Cycleway) to Wylam. By way of variety we often cross the bridge at Wylam and cycle along the south bank of the River Tyne as far as Newburn bridge before crossing the river and rejoining Hadrian's Cycleway for the journey home. In the past two of us have, on separate occasions, stayed on the south side and continued to Gateshead and the Millennium Bridge. It's fair to say that neither of us enjoyed negotiating the streets of downtown Dunston and weren't keen to repeat the experience. A chance encounter with another cyclist changed that. He said a new path west of Newburn bridge was open and that the route was much improved. It seemed worth a look.
Our outward journey included the obligatory stops for a puncture repair at Segedunum and a bacon sandwich at the Cycle Hub and upon reaching the bridge at Newburn we crossed over and began the journey to Gateshead.
The first section, part of the Keelman's Way, is a gravel path which runs alongside the river for about 400 metres. It then takes a turn south and at this point the beginning of the new section was missed. We followed the old route which joins the B6137 instead of bearing left into a new housing development. The old route drops down to the river just before Blaydon Station and at that point we realised our mistake and backtracked towards Newburn Bridge and then returned along the new section. This section features a piece of public art commemorating the Blaydon Races.
Beyond Blaydon Station there is a short on-road section through Blaydon Industrial Estate before rejoining the track alongside the river leading to Derwent Haugh.
At this point we left the Keelman's Way to pay a visit to Pedalling Squares, a recently opened cycle cafe. We have a mission to investigate all the cycle cafes in our area - it's a tough job but someone has to do it.
After a warm welcome and tasty refreshments we headed back down to the river to complete the journey to Gateshead. The route is mostly along the river apart from a short diversion for the benefit of shoppers.
Resisting the temptation to call in, we pushed on and arrived at another new section which ran alongside Dunston Staithes.
From here, the route continues along the river into Gateshead.
Once at the Millennium Bridge it was back on to Hadrian's Cycleway and the journey home.