Saturday, 15 October 2011

Jum today

One of the quirks of place-names around here is that an ending of -gham is normally pronounced "jum". So Bellingham, for example, is pronounced "Bellin-jum" rather than "Belling-ham". This isn't always the case though. Chillingham is pronounced the way it is written.

What has been confusing me even more are two places fairly close to each other called Edlingham (pronounced Edlin-jum) and Eglingham (pronounced Eglin-jum). I get the two of them muddled.

Both names have Anglo-Saxon origins. Edlingham was the home of Eadwulf, and Eglingham the home of Ecgwulf. This was before we had post-codes, and Anglo-Saxon postmen obviously liked to keep things simple.

Today I decided I would ride to both. They looked like interesting places, and they are connected by about 10 miles of quiet country lanes. I thought it would make a nice ride, and it might stop me getting them mixed up. And pronouncing them wrongly.

This was definitely one of my better ideas of the week. Both places are lovely. Edlingham is perhaps the more interesting to visit. It boasts an 11th century church, a 14th century ruined castle, and a large viaduct left over from the old Alnwick to Cornhill railway. For what it is worth, it also lies on the Devil's Causeway, an old Roman Road that ran from Hadrian's Wall to Berwick-upon-Tweed. But Eglingham also has a church with a 13th century tower. And it has a pub too, but I forgot to take any money with me, so I didn't feel I could really drop in to sample it.

The main point of the outing though, is that the road connecting the two is terrific for my level of cycling. It rolls gently, without being too strenuous, and the views are wonderful. It's also very quiet. I thought I was going to be able to say that I only saw one car in almost ten miles, but just as I was entering Eglingham there was another. Two cars in almost ten miles isn't too bad. Almost like having a dedicated cycle path to myself.


The ride out wasn't bad either. It was a bit more hilly than I am comfortable with, but it was almost as quiet as the main stage. I must have seen half a dozen vehicles in about ten miles. And the views here were quite something too.

My route back was on a busier road (at least a dozen cars in nearly ten miles), and the views weren't in the same league, but it was an easier ride - because it was largely downhill.

I've seen quite a bit of wildlife today - mostly pheasants, but there were also a few circling birds of prey that I can't identify. Judging by the quantity of fresh road-kill there were even more pheasants around yesterday. It's a bit puzzling how so many of them managed to get hit by so few vehicles.

The only other cyclist that I saw was on the way back. For a long time they were riding ahead of me in the distance, but then they stopped and as I passed they were crouched over something on the verge. Naturally I stopped to check that everything was OK. "I'm fine", was the answer, as they put a fresh pheasant into their pannier bag.

Today was perfect autumn weather for a ride, but this would be a good route even on a day that was less than ideal. I'll definitely be going the same way again. However, we have other plans for the rest of the weekend, and I'm afraid I won't be visiting either 'jum tomorrow.

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