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Ladies Trip Report - Romaldkirk Field Centre

Romaldkirk Field Centre 20th September 2014

First thing on a drizzly, misty and miserable morning, 9 hardy ladies set off from Stockton Football Club on Bishopton Road West.  

We headed along Darlington Back Lane to Sadberge, then down Neasham Bank and over to Barton where we had a quick stop at the Truck Stop. We then went under the A1(m) and turned left to climb to Melsonby. There was more climbing to follow up to Caldwell and then into Winston before a downhill to Whorlton and a nice flat road into Barnard Castle.

We received a very warm welcome from the staff at No. 3 cafe, and we were able to lock our bikes up outside against the railings. Toasties, chips, tea/coffee and cakes were enjoyed while the next part of the journey was hastily rearranged due to the bad weather we had experienced all morning. 

We had been planning on riding up to 80 miles that day, including a lot of time up on the moor tops, after Barnard Castle, but because of the weather, we decided to cut it to a maximum of 55 miles overall. Which for most of us was another 20 miles or so. A shorter route was available for those who wanted to ride direct to the Field Centre, which was about 8 miles away.

After a nice chat with a gentleman in his 80’s, about his new Giant road bike that he got just a few weeks ago, who was proudly telling us how much he still rode at his age, we set off again.  

We came out of Barnard Castle past GlaxoSmithKline, and turned right for the start of the hills proper.  It was a lovely stepped uphill that wasn’t too taxing that had a nice downhill on the otherside. The hills after that were not quite so easy! According to my Garmin, we rode from a base of around 165ft (at Barnard Castle) up (with a few hills and downhills in the mix), to 1167ft near Woodland, close to Hamsterley Forrest. Apparently there was a gradient of 25% at one point! It certainly felt like it in parts! After Woodland there were more hills but they were nothing compared to the ones we had just climbed, and then there is a lovely downhill to Romaldkirk.

The Field Centre is actually past Romaldkirk, at Baldersdale and yes, you have guessed it, you climb all the way out of Romaldkirk to get there! All the way from Stockton to the Field Centre there are wonderful views but the view from the decking is beautiful. Well worth a few pictures, which of course don’t do the view justice! 

We left the bikes on the decking while we got ourselves showered and changed.  Everyone had brought their own things to drink, some ladies had even kindly brought a drink to share between us all.  We had all chipped in for dinner and one of the ladies’ husbands bought everything the day before, and prepared and cooked it all for us, while we were lounging about in the main room. This was very welcome, absolutely delicious and followed by cheesecake made by one of the girls.

There are a number of bunk rooms in the Centre so the couples had their own rooms and everyone else fell into the rest. It has a main room with comfy couches, a conference table, a projector and a widescreen tv; a smaller room with more couches; a main boot/coat/bike storage area; a kitchen; and a number of toilets and showers.

Breakfast was again provided for us and eaten outside on the decking, to take advantage of the beautiful view and nice weather.

We set off a little earlier than planned as everyone was ready to go. The ride back to Barnard Castle was direct and mostly flat or downhill. We managed a fast pace through some lovely villages and found ourselves at the bottom of the high street. Up past the very imposing Bowes Museum and onto Whorlton where we turned left onto what had been a lovely downhill the day before! Straight over the A67 and off to Staindrop, where we passed the c2c group, training for their big ride the following week. A fast ride to the bottom of Walworth Bank where we were promised ice cream at the top! We arrived at Archers at a perfect time as it was empty (full when we left). I think we tried most things on their extensive menu. Belgian waffles with vanilla ice cream, treacle tarts, sugar cornets with cornish ice cream, brownies and scones. 

After saying hello (and of course thanks!) to the dairy cows that had produced our ice cream, we set off again. One last proper climb into Heighington Village and we were soon back over the A1(m) and rolling through Great Stainton, Bishopton and Redmarshall. A quick blast by some of the ladies down Bishopton Road West, in an attempt to get a Queen of the Mountains on the Strava section, was defeated by the traffic lights turning red! We rolled back into the Football Club car park, ready for our well earned Sunday lunches.