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End Of The Tour

Posted by on August 23, 2016

I could have ended in London, where we stayed with my mum for a couple of nights and met up with our eldest son who helped to set up the Deptford Cinema, a community project which featured that night on BBC local news in one of those coincidences of timing.

Next day we left for Bradford, where I wrote the first part of this blogpost. The journey was about as mundane as it can be on a succession of identical motorways. Bradford is a lovely and much underrated city. It has a cultural mix of industrial heritage from the mills an influx of new ideas from Asian culture and its expansion of tourism to include film, arts and food.

Last night we ate at a British-Asian fusion restaurant where the food was so enticing, we ordered too much and took the remainder back to our hotel for breakfast. We searched for some of those seriously sugary and brightly coloured Indian sweets in a shopping mall. If you wanted a riposte to those who think that Brexit is going to turn back the clock, then the sight of this multicultural and energised city centre will do it. You only have to witness this place to see how narrow and misguided that view of Britain is.

It's a world away from 1976 and all the better for it. That was just after the referendum to stay in the Common Market, which I couldn't vote in because I was living in France. I hope that if we make it to our sixtieth wedding anniversary, our children don't have reason to regret the fact that we are no longer part of the EU. And I wonder at the fact we made it to forty years together.

Though we knew how to get home from Bradford we let Google maps get us out of the city and forgot to turn it off. It then gave us an alternative route home from the A1 at Scotch Corner. It was a completely bonkers way to go, but the most wonderful and inspiring route into the Allen Valley that we could have imagined. Along the A66 and up into Teesdale via Barnard Castle, Middleton-In-Teesdale, past Bowlees and High Force waterfalls, up the North Pennines AONB.

It took us through St Johns Chapel, Ireshopeburn, and near the point where the Tyne, Wear and Tees rivers begin their separate journeys to the sea. Then along the East Allen Valley from its own source and down into Allendale. On a late summers evening it was magnificent and as picturesque as anything we had seen. At one point it did look like we would end up on a dirt track, but it's name, Stoney Lane, turned out to be unnecessarily pessimistic and we were soon back on a two lane blacktop.


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