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St Abb's Head, Scottish Borders & Northumberland cycling holiday - part 1

Last June I spent 3 days cycling in Northumberland and the Scottish Borders.

My friend and I stayed in at the YHA in Berwick. We cycled around the area, including St Abbs Head, Holy Island and Alnmouth.

On day two we cycled a 47 mile circular route from Berwick to St Abbs and back.

With a full day ahead we set off towards the Coldingham, the Scottish Borders and St Abbs Head. We stopped at Eyemouth for cake stop and found a lovely traditional bakers.

On reaching St Abbs we stopped for lunch at the cafe next to the Number Four Gallery. I’d wanted to visit anyway but also the owners had chatted to me while visiting me at York Open Studios last year. I wanted to understand what work would be best for me to exhibit there. If you’ve not been it’s a fabulous gallery and definitely worth a visit.

We had pushed our bikes to the spot most people walk to for a view of St Abbs Head. I loved the lines of the strata of the slate grey volcanic rock plunging into the sea. The hard volcanic rock was formed lava flowed from volcanoes around 400 million years ago. Tufts of thrift and other low growing vegetation cling to the cliff tops.

Just before the cafe stop and St Abb's Head National Nature Reserve we had spotted a cycling sign post. The road goes off left to Northfield’s. I’m always curious, so after lunch, off we went. The private road passed Mire Loch before reaching further down St Abb’s coastline. The road leads to a lighthouse Kirk Hill which is managed by National Trust Scotland.

The views are breathtaking. I must have spent an hour taking photographs and formulating ideas for linocut prints in my head.

Pettico Wick was my favourite view.

We knew we had got a hilly ride back and the threat of rain coming at 6pm. Sun and blue sky shone along the coastline, while dark storm grey clouds threatened inland. I do love the contrast between sunlight landscapes and moody skies. Twenty minutes out of Berwick, the heavens opened. We arrive back at the hostel like drowned rats! That night I sketched design ideas for new linocuts on my iPad.

I’ll be sharing my new linocut design inspired by my St Abbs Head photographs very soon.

I'll also be sharing more photos from our other cycling trips down the Northumberland coast.

To be first to hear about my latest designs, inspiration and workshops please join my mailing list or let me know.

I always love to hear your feedback on new designs. Especially in these uncertain times. Please do comment below.

Thank you


Trip Notes

Walking and cycling routes near St Abbs Head, Berwickshire.

See National Trust Scotland’s ‘Discovery Trail’ and ‘Lighthouse loop’ for walks that follow a similar route.

See the Cycle Scottish Borders website for similar cycling routes.


About the author

Michelle Hughes is a North Yorkshire landscape artist. Much of her work depicts the Yorkshire landscape and Yorkshire coast, including the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors.

Michelle loves exploring the British countryside by bike or on foot, camera in hand, capturing ideas for her next linocut prints. Back in her garden studio, Michelle creates simple but stylised silhouettes based on her photographs, and hand carves these shapes into lino. She hand prints with an etching press, using oil-based inks to create tonal blocks of colour. Michelle’s original linocut prints are limited editions.

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