This morning I’m making my way to Durham City, my stop over tonight will be a Premier Inn at the village of Pity Me, just on the outskirts of the city. The route will follow local cycle routes & roads.
Durham City lies on the River Wear & is well known for its Norman Cathedral & 11th century castle. Local legend States the city was founded AD 995 by divine intervention when St Cuthbert stopped at the hill of Warden Law. As well as being born in the city myself some other notable people are associated with Durham such as Rowan Atkinson, actor, Matt Baker, TV presenter, Tony Blair (attended the Chorister School 1961-1966), Barnabe Barnes (1571-1609), Elizabethan Poet died here & Count Joseph Boriwlaski (1739-1837), a dwarf spent the last years of his life in Durham.
The ride out through the city of Newcastle was surprisingly easy with clearly marked local cycle routes as well as use of the bus lanes. It was about 4 miles to reach the famous Tyne Bridge which I crossed into Gateshead.
Once again clearly marked cycle routes took me through old residential areas along the Durham Road, it’s not so affluent around here with lots of derelict shops & empty terraced houses. The mortality rate must be bad around here as a lot of the surviving shops are now funeral parlours, but then I think it’s the sort of area where if you walked into one of the greasy spoon cafes & asked for a bowl of muesli you’d get thrown out. Durham Road has a gradual incline up to a place called Low Fell at the top of the hill I came upon Sherrifs Hill.
I then headed for Chester let Street, the home of Durham County Cricket Ground, on the way I stopped close to the huge rusting landmark figure called The Angel of the North overlooking the A1. It was designed by Sir Anthony Gormley & completed in 1998, it measures 66 feet high & 177 feet across.
I then entered County Durham & passed through Chester le Street, originating from Roman times when it was called Concangis, it’s now the home of Durham County Cricket ground. On the evening of 5 October 1936 the Jarrow marchers stopped at the town centre after their first days walk.
Riding along the main A690 road I reached the end of today’s ride – Pity Me on the outskirts of the city of Durham. There are various theories on the origin of the name. Most likely as speculated in the Oxford Dictionary of British Place Names it’s simply a “whimsical name bestowed in the 19th century on a place considered desolate, exposed or difficult to cultivate “. It’s also speculated that it comes from Pithead Mere, referring to an extended area of boggy waste ground onto which the outwash from minehead pumping engines was discharged. Personally I feel that both these theories are a good description of the place today.
Tonight I’m staying at a Premier Inn which is secreted away on a retail park, finding it drained a good portion of battery charge life from my iPhone.
Today I did a paltry 24 miles & so was at my hotel quite early but decided against exploring this “desolate, exposed, uncultivated boggy waste ground”.