Directly below my muddy shoes, almost 760 feet under the earth 1,400 men once hewed a living from the hot, dark, grimy pit of the land.
Less than 40 years ago the landscape would be scarred with soot, sound, smoke, grime and fire as armies of men and boys earned a living mining coal as their fathers and grand fathers had done before them.
But now it’s silent, calm and green with just me and a bike looking out over the Tyneside skyline.
I’m standing at the top of a former pit head that was once part of one of the world’s largest coal mines.
It’s probably my last bike ride of the year and I used a crisp autumnal day to complete a 30 mile circuit of the old waggonways that used be to train tracks for transporting coal.
They’re now converted into bike tracks – one of which leads to the top of this massive hill which used to be the main pit head.
The Rising Sun Colliery closed in 1969 and the whole area is now a 400 acre country park, widely enjoyed by cyclisits and walkers.
Coal was once the fuel of the British economy and Tyneside was one of the key areas of production, hence the phrase ‘coals to Newcastle’ entering common use as an indicator of its abundance.
Amazingly that idium was first coined in the 1500s.
Bike rides and my musings on the winds of economic change have collided before in this earlier blog.
Nobody could argue that the rising sun is now more natural and beautiful, but there’s something wistful about standing in a spot that was once at the heart of the global economy and is now a peaceful backwater.
Particularly in the midst of a recession that seems to be especially damaging to this part of northern England.
As an aside, I’m promised that if you look hard enough you can spot a lonesome stag (picture courtesy of @AnnaClareONeill) but I didn’t spot him.
So a fantastic ride, with amazing views but part of me wonders what the economic view will be like in the next few years and how the financial wheels will turn for the North East future.