Chris and I have enjoyed a couple of cycling holidays together and in 2011 decided to tackle a challenge, to do the 1000 mile route in stages, as we did the South West Coast Path in our walking days.
Land’s End to Plymouth
Friday 6th May
Chris picked me up from the station and took me up to have a nice dinner with him and Vic. We packed the bikes up next morning and caught the train to Penzance.
It was quite a hard cycle to Lands End and we stayed in the Hotel there. Distance 17 miles plus 1.5 to Plymouth station. After dinner in the bar we went for a stroll round – no stick for Chris! It was spectacular.
Saturday 7th May
Raining. Met a group from Cycling Adventures who were setting off for John o’ Groats which they intended to reach in 14 days at 75 miles/day. We went slightly wrong at Lamorna, heading towards the cove.
I had to walk up the hill out of there and on a couple of other occasions. The weather cleared and we had a coffee at Mousehole. We stopped at Marazion at a beach hut for lunch a Cornish pasty and a drink eaten at a picnic table. We cycled on to Camborne where we booked into a new Wetheroons hotel, leaving our bikes in the receptionist’s office. We watched the scene for a few hours until 10 when we went to bed.
Sunday 8th May
Up to sun shining get through the windows but then disaster. Chris’s bike pedals just spin round. The only cycle shop in town was closed so we caught the train back to Plymouth. The bikes had to be put into a normal carriage until Truro because the platform was too short. Then we rushed them into the storage racks and rushed back to our seats. Vicky met us and collected Chris and his bike and I used google maps to guide me to their place. After lunch we took his bike to Ashburton where they ran a diagnostic test and promised to fix it next morning. Di and Mel turned up to Criccieth and Andy took her and Nicola to lunch at the Castle.
Monday 9th May
The bike shop in Ashburton could not fix the bike so Chris cancelled our accommodation and I bought new train tickets home. We drove to Taunton and the shop Chris bought the bike from had it working within a minute using a blow from a hammer to free the clutch. Too late to continue the trip. I cooked a meal for them.
Tuesday 10th May
I didn’t sleep well and thought we could salvage something of our trip. Chris agreed and we set off for Plymouth station and onto to Bodmin. The weather was glorious, contra to the forecast of continual heavy rain. The flowers were stunning, particularly the wild garlic.
We lunched in Luxulyan
and ate an apple overlooking the Eden Project.
The hills were steep and long. We caught the ferry to the Old Ferry Inn, booked in, caught the ferry back to Fowey, walked around.
Wednesday 11th May
After a lovely breakfast we pushed and rode our bikes to the top of the hill. Then we cycled into Looe where we stopped for coffee.
Another steep hill out of there and cycled on to Seaton where we stopped for lunch, surrounded by dogs.
The route down was via steps on the coast path. We were using google maps not cycle paths. Again a long steep hill out.
The weather got steadily wetter until we reached Torpoint and the cycle through Plymouth was awful, with the hills, the traffic and the rain. But we arrived at Chris’ by 1600 absolutely exhausted. I showered, dried off my stuff and packed, putting my bike in the car and my panniers and contents into my big rucksack, ready for the next day’s journey.
Plymouth to Exmoor
Tuesday 5th April
Train to Plymouth, meal with C & V, change pedals on Chris’ bike, raise saddle etc.
Wednesday 6th April
Vicky drops us off by the Plym,
cycle under flyover to Tavistock. Lovely ride into town through a park where we had tea by the swimming pool. Stayed in B & B
and had a meal in a trendy restaurant.
Thursday 7th April
Steep climb out of Tavistock onto disused railway
which shortly went over two very impressive viaducts.
We stopped for lunch at the Castle Inn in hot sunshine
and stayed in the White Hart Hotel, Oakhampton and ate in the bar which turned out to be where gays meet.
Friday 8th April
Easy ride out of town. A highlight of the day was a steep climb under and onto another viaduct onto the Granite Way. Stopped for tea at Yarde
and ended up staying, sleeping in a yurt.
David cooked us pizzas and served up a salad with a slug in it. The ladies hen night didn’t really affect us.
Saturday 9th April
Long ride on the rail line right through Bideford, where we had coffee and Barnstable, where we had lunch in a Whitbread pub. There was only one B & B option at Bratton Fleming which was very luxurious.
We managed to negotiate a deal which included dinner with our hosts Sue and Guy as we had to pay for a bedroom each.
Sunday 10th April
Long climb to the top of Exmoor in another day of glorious sunshine.
The views were quite stupendous.
We finished our trip at the junction of cycle tracks 59 and 3 and descended down the valley to North Molton where we met Vicky in a pub. Back to Plymouth for tea, packing and supper.
Back home on the train
Exmoor to Wells
Up at 6 to drive to Mark’s mum in Wellington where I met up with C & V. Weather not great, intermittent rain. Drove in Chris’ Rover to Dulverton where we had a drink in the Lion, where we stayed that night.
Dropped off much of our luggage. Drove from there along cycle route 3 to Insford Gate where we finished last year. Ate our lunch in the car there in the mist and occasional rain and finally set off at 14.20. Vicky wasn’t too envious but we hoped she find her way home with the sat nav. Had an exhilarating ride back, hardly needing to get off the bikes at all as it was generally downhill, getting soaked only right at the end.
Dulverton is a pleasant place on a river but traffic is a problem.
We walked down to the river, had a delicious pint in The Bridge and then went back and had a pie, a pint and a pud in the Lion before retiring early.
Set off with a threat of rain, crisscrossing rivers and streams on little country roads till we reached Wellington which was very busy when we arrived. We had a few steep hills to climb and some wonderful long downhill stretches and managed to avoid the rain in spite of the promise of heavy showers.
The lunchtime sandwiches were as good or better than any I’ve ever bought. I left Chris looking after the bikes while I looked for accommodation – found a very busy but rather down at heel pub on the High Street, The Vintage. This turned out to be a good place to stop and we had our beer there, our food there and good company too with a disco to keep us awake till the early hours.
Set off in bright sunshine and soon we were back on cycle route 3. Went up an amazing sandstone gorge and some lovely lanes. Most of the day was spent on the Bridgewater Canal. We got rained on and the headwind made travel difficult. There were quite a few other cyclists on this stretch and we level pegged with a party of two Mums and three daughters. We stopped for lunch at Maunsel Lock and Chris pumped up a lady’s tire. He phoned Helen’s parents, whose house was only a few metres from Route 3 and we had a coffee there. Eventually made Bridgewater tired and Chris seemed dispirited but we ended up in a lovely hotel, The Old Vicarage, in the centre of town.
We walked down to The Fountain, by the River Parratt, and had a pint then walked to the only suitable (only just) eating place, a Wetherspoons, where I struggled through a beef pie and we both watched in amazement at the parade of women pouring in for their Saturday night out. Almost all were underdressed, unsuitably so and trying much too hard. In bed by 10ish but I watched a Horizon programme on my IPad.
Set off in uncertain weather, sheltering at various points in the morning. A highlight was the sight of a swan’s nest with 5 eggs and one parent preening themself before sitting on the eggs. Disaster struck just before lunch, Chris’ bike had a puncture. We struggled to get the tyre off but the landlord’s son produced a screwdriver and we managed in the end before having our lunch there. In the afternoon we rode through a nature reserve set in wet lands and arrived in Glastonbury. Chris found us a room in the George and Pilgrim hotel. We slept for a bit then took a photo of the amazing medieval building. We had a meal, I sent mine back and was rewarded with a pint of ale each.
As predicted by the landlady the TV switched itself on in the early hours.
Woke up to pouring rain and a dismal weather forecast. We decided to phone Vicky and see if she would pick us up so we could be spared the wet and cold. She agreed she could make Wells for 12. We had quite a pleasant ride to Wells in spite of the rain and then looked round for a suitable place to meet up. We found an outside yard with a big umbrella and had a coffee and I changed from my wet shoes and clothes. We then walked towards the A39 roundabout just as she arrived. We loaded the bikes and drove back to my car. I then drove home.
Wells to Pershore
Got up at 645 and set off at 730. Arrived in Framilode at 1118 and had a coffee and pee while I waited for Chris. We arrived in Wells at 1345 and I followed a taxi to Chew Stoke and then drove back in it to Wells. We had quite a good ride although the climb from Wokey Hole was tough. Arrived, shattered, quite late and after checking in went for a drink and a curry in The Stoke. The landlord of Orchard House was very interesting, having been a pathologist, and it turned out he was an Old Wycombiansian.
The day got off to a bad start as we climbed up a steep hill only to find we’d missed our turning.
But we shot back down to Chew Magna and soon made the outskirts of Bristol. The way in was partly off road but badly signposted and we went wrong a few times.
The centre was great and we rode round the floating harbour, stopping for a drink there.
Then on down the Avon George. It was still early so we decided to proceed over the bridge.
Things thereafter went downhill as the heavens opened and there was nowhere to stop for mile after mile. Cycling beside a flooded trunk road, tired and soaked with no end in sight was not great. Eventually we found a pub on the iPad but it didn’t do accommodation. Fortunately one of the customers found us a place and after a meal at the pub we cycled there only to discover we had to share a double bed.
Not a great nights sleep, each of us worried about disturbing the other. No cooked breakfast and our shoes, gloves and gel saddle cushions were all soaking.
Still set off in sunshine and covered 12 miles before coffee and equally well after.
Lunch was a roll sat on a pavement in the sun in Slimbridge. Puncture as soon as we left the canal which we fixed in record time – thorn. Arrived at Framilode early afternoon, booked in and then picked up my car from Chew Stoke which took 3 hours.
Had ordinary shower, meal and Chris too me to Frampton for a second pint in a smart looking grotty pub.
Breakfast rather late, drove to Cheltenham in two cars and spent an hour searching for a bed, finally arriving at the Midland. Left my car in the Premier Inn car park and drove back.
The cycle was lovely to Gloucester and we had lunch in the dock area.
After it was almost all on road and not very pleasant. We left the bikes locked up behind the Premier Inn and drove back to pick up Chris’ car and then drove on to Pershore where we found a pleasant coaching inn which we booked into. After showers etc. we drove to a more civilised part of town had a beer and had a lovely Italian meal.
Frost on the car in the morning. Nowhere near for breakfast so drove to Premier and ate at TGI Fridays. Sunny but misty. Navigated our way along busy B roads after a short spell on the end of this part of the cycle route. Had coffee in a pub expecting a load of old motor cyclists, lunch in bright sunshine in a pleasant garden. Got rather tired in the afternoon and were pleased to arrive at The Angel early afternoon.
It was nearly 6 by the time we had had a cup of tea and collected the other car. Nice meal and a couple of pints in the bar before Downton in the bedroom and an early night. The end of 2012’s attempt at the route.
Pershore to Stoke
Up early and drove to Bingley for breakfast. Chris phoned at 09:30 and I set off soon after. Met at John Seddon’s house at 11:30 and drove to Worcester in my car. Spent a stressful hour driving round looking for a hotel with vacancies. Eventually went on the Internet and phoned round and found a cancellation at Diglis house hotel.
Dropped our clothes off and drove to Pershore. Found I’d left the cover for my iPad somewhere. Cycled the 10 miles in bitter conditions and arrived as planned. Hotel was quite posh with views over the Severn and the beer and meal was excellent.
Breakfast wasn’t up to last night’s standard. Got a bit lost getting out of Worcester. Stopped for coffee at a country house hotel and drank it in the cold sunshine. Today I wore long johns and thermal vest. Came across an amazing smart pub in the middle of nowhere, The Honey Bee, just at the right time. The route was varied, canal towpaths, disused railway lines, rural roads and even a steep downward path through a wood. At one stage a flood challenged us but we made it through with just damp feet.
Bewdley is as attractive as I’d imagined, set either side of the River Severn with a magnificent bridge connecting the two halves.
Stayed in a dump of a pub after initially being put in a room that was already occupied. Pleasant Indian meal, then bed.
Chris wakes me up at 06:45. Rather meaty breakfast but good company. Set off up the hill in brilliant sunshine, get a bit lost but find our way to Wyre Nature reserve.
The first third was along a disused railway line, the second third was an exhilarating downhill ride and the third a long climb, pushing the bikes.
After a bit of road we crossed the Severn on a footbridge and had a coffee in bright sunshine at Arley.
After climbing out of the valley we contoured for a bit on minor roads before going back down to another footbridge over the river. The next section was a narrow undulating path running between the Severn Valley Railway and the river, a roller coaster ride.
We had lunch at the Unicorn, a pub set in a caravan site, before once again pushing our bikes up out of the valley.
The next section was a bit much for Chris, a narrow path down, over a ford then up past Chelmarsh Reservoir. I enjoyed the day as much as any but the last section did go on for too long. We had to cross two busy B roads and just wanted to get there. Suddenly we were there, in Bridgenorth, and our pre booked pub, The Golden Lion, was perfect. We strolled along the very attractive High Street and chose an Italian next to the pub to eat. Early night.
Friday 15th March
Off fairly early after another not really wanted full English breakfast. Flew down to the river and along until route stopped. Started again across rugby field and then a long stretch along an old railway line beside the river. Coffee stop across wonderful metal bridge just before Madeley. Then into and through Telford, mainly off road, although the last section was beside very busy and noisy roads. Weather dull with occasional rain.
Last bit along busy road into Newport which seemed crowded with school children. Stayed in the Victoria Hotel and ate at another Italian. Hotel overrun with students so we shot upstairs.
Saturday 16th March
A bit of a late start because of the breakfast, served by our host, lovely scrambled egg, tomatoes and mushrooms. Quite quickly back onto the named cycle track which took us on minor roads to an old railway line that ran all the way into Stafford,
where we had
lunch at Sainsburys. Found another railway line but at the end we couldn’t find the connection to the next section that ran along a main road.
A final section of country lanes before the A34 into Stone. The central Crown Hotel only had double rooms available so we again had to negotiate the A34 to the Stone House Hotel. Watched half of the rugby final in our room and the second half in the bar. Reasonable meal then bed.
Sunday 17th March
Last few miles of our trip along the towpath and country lanes to Barlaston and then a short detour to Tittensor to Chris’ car. Coffee with Marjorie and John and then lunch with Alisa and Richard. Taken by Chris to Pershore before he set off for Plymouth and I set off for Edgehill. Roast chicken dinner and nice chat with Jo and Mike and Skype with Sue and Dave (of Viola).
Stoke to Bingley
Phone call from Chris around 7, just after I’d got up. Ready to leave at 8 but flat battery. David Brooke’s came and helped jump start. Met up at John Seddon at about 11 in the pouring rain. Had coffee and got soaked packing up the bikes. Set off at noon and had lunch in the centre of Hanley. Got lost a few times in the city and afterwards as well but had an interesting ride through the Chatterley Whitfield Park and a wonderful 5 mile downhill stretch on an old railway line into Congleton. Found rooms in the Bulls Head and had a meal in the Crown Hotel but the place was dead.
Amazingly the rain held off all day after we started cycling. Chris’ battery on his borrowed electric bike was only a partial success as it ran out of charge half way through the ride.
Set off in pouring rain which eventually cleared up. Out of Congleton by the River Dane on roads to Macclesfield, stopping for a long lunch in Sutton Hall. No cycle route through the town but by Tesco we found a path that took us all the way to Marple on an old railway line.
Spent 45 frustrating minutes trying to find accommodation ending up in a more expensive place than we would have liked. Spent some time trying to work out tomorrow’s route as we won’t be on 55 and it’s tricky to see which routes we will be on.
Off at about 9 in bright sunshine back on the 55, signed but not marked on the SatNav map. Beautiful, rural ride through the Goyt valley to Stockport where we picked up a TPT route on an old railway line.
A really interesting satisfying day. The promised band didn’t start until 10:30 and by then we’d already gone to our room.
Woke up to pouring rain but by the time we’d had breakfast and packed it had stopped. Had to go into town to buy another map and set off around 10, back onto the Rochdale Canal. Amazing ride over the summit.
Coffee at caravan by roadside, lunch at Queens Hotel, Todmartin. Couple of times when there were signs saying towpath closed without offering an alternative. Stopped at sort of cooperative to have a cup of tea and my brakes renewed. Hebden Bridge didn’t have accommodation but the tourist information found us a room in Mytholmroyd which was a bit more upmarket and had a female singer.
Up at 7:30, on the road for 9. After level bit beside the railway we set off up a valley by Luddenden which took us after a long walk up a steep incline onto the top of the moors by a wind farm. After a long level stretch we started downhill with the idea of taking a shortcut on the Calderaire Link until we found out how rough and wet it was. A second shortcut turned out to be awful but somehow we made it. Looking for lunch we came to a beer festival at Oxenhope which was not a great success. A second hill climb then an exhilarating downhill run and we soon arrived at Harden where we washed down the bikes and were welcomed by Les and Alex’s hospitality.
Bingley to York
Set off from Alisa a little late but Chris was even later arriving just before noon. After coffee we set off down Effingham Road and through St Ives park down to Bingley. Down the canal, stopping for a shandy at a canal side pub,
through the autumn sunshine coming off at rush hour up to our booked hotel which turned out to be pretty grotty. After a leisurely bath we walked out and found a pleasant pub for beer and food.
I had a bad night with stomach pains and we were up early, setting off at 8:30. I received a puncture just after we passed Leeds centre and a second one shortly after, both caused by a sliver of glass.
Route finding was tricky and I had to use a combination of the cycle map and IPad SatNav.
Chris’ electric part worked spasmodically until he fell over, when it stopped entirely. After a further few painstaking miles we decided the holiday would have to be terminated so I phoned Sue and asked her to pick us up from Tadcaster, which we made an hour or so later.
I searched in terrible traffic for somewhere to stay and found nothing but a cycle shop. The assistant fixed the bike and I then phoned Sue to cancel her rescue but she had already set off. We then had a 12 or 14 mile ride to York which I had to really go full pelt for. We arrived by the race course and then had great trouble finding anywhere to stay. Eventually we found the Exhibition which was great.
2015 York to Alnmouth
31st May. York to Linton-upon-Ouze 11 miles
Retrieved my bike from Les’ garage and took everything down to Tom’s where I put it all together before cycling down to the station. Got on the wrong train but managed to get off at a station before it was too late. Chris greeted my from the train and helped me aboard. We, Chris on his new electric bike, cycled in a brisk, freezing headwind to Linton upon Ouse about 11 1/2 miles from York. Chris had booked us in to Manor House and after watching the cricket we walked down to the pub where we had a couple of pints and a delicious Indian meal.
1st June Linton-upon-Ouze to 35 miles
Neither of us slept well and the hosts were not over friendly. We set off at 9 and covered over 10 miles in the first hour on flat terrain. Had coffee in a lovely town, Easingwold, where we bought stuff for lunch. We made quite good progress and stopped for lunch in Felixkirk at a pub where a wedding was going on. The countryside was magnificent with the North York Moors appearing on our right.
The going for the last hour was hard on a steep uphill forestry road littered with large gravel stones. We made Osmotherly at 4 and were welcomed to the Golden Lion, a strange but quite luxurious pub, where we had a lovely but expensive meal.
2nd June Osmotherly to Hartlepool 44 miles
The first hour was wonderful countryside, starting in the moors and shooting down to the lowlands. The rest of the day was in deep contrast, urban but quite a bit off-road cycling. High winds all day. Difficult to find accommodation so we’ve booked ahead for tomorrow. Cycled almost 44 miles and arrived exhausted. Hartlepool, Stockton and Middlesbrough are all dumps. Found a great little real ale pub next to the station which closed at 8.30. We moved on to a superb Italian restaurant. Good evening!
3rd June Hartlepool to Witney Bay 42 miles
We haven’t let the three punctures in my front tyre spoil a wonderful day’s cycling. Once we’d left Hartlypool we were on disused railway lines all the way to the centre of Sunderland, then we had wonderful coastal tracks, saw dolphins jumping, ships entering the Tyne.
The ferry brought us across the river and we cycled to Witney Bay, although I walked the last mile or so. Another 43 mile day – very tiring. We dropped on in the evening finding a lovely pub, The King George, with a good selection of ales (the Royal where we were staying had none) and excellent food again.
4th June Witney Bay to Warkworth 34 miles
Better weather so shorts. Fixed my puncture last night and found the spike in the tyre in the morning. Two wonderful coastal cycle rides connected by mostly off road bits by busy noisy roads.
Chris had a collision with a young rider on a blind bend both travelling fast. The young man knew it was his fault and his bike was badly damaged.
An easier day, ending up at a beautiful hotel, The Sun, in Warkworth, where we sat outside enjoying tea in the summer sunshine before showering and changing.
We had an average meal in a pub in the village then walked down to the river before having a coffee back in the hotel.
5th June Warkworth to Alnmouth 4.3 miles
Leisurely trip down to the station. Weather deteriorated but recovered. Train journey home successful.
Alnmouth to Edinburgh
Got ready for my cycle trip in the morning, getting cash, and checking with the station that I was OK to take my bike to Leeds. Repaired the front mudguard that had got damaged by having luggage put on it, finished packing and put my panniers on. Cycled to the station, had ages at Leeds to wait, then the train was delayed. Chris waved from the cycle doors and we stacked my bike with difficulty. Made Alnmouth after a couple of hours and cycled in the rain and fading light down to the Swan Inn where we had booked. Stored our bikes in a cellar room, showered and came down for a meal and beers.
Start of this section at 9. Brilliant ride along the Northumberland coast along a difficult path.
Stopped for coffee just after 11 at Craster. It started raining and the wind was in our face. At 12 it said 10 miles to Seahouses and by pushing ourselves we made it shortly after 1. Had a bowl of soup in Castle Inn and set off in pouring rain and strong winds to cycle to The Bell Inn in Belford. We managed 20 miles in these conditions, just.
Soaked. Nice hot bath after hanging our stuff to try to dry it. Chatted to two ladies from Cambridge who’d been holiday inn in the Trossacks.
Set off in lovely sunshine with wet gloves, shoes and bums. Got off to a good start and stopped for coffee opposite Holy Island.
We had a difficult cycle over fields for a good mile and another shorter section into Berwick. Lunched there and cycled round the ramparts. More miles along deserted country lanes but some long steep hills.
Made it to Eyemouth at 5 ish with a room with a lovely sea view 35 miles. Walked round the harbour but the place was dead. Had an Indian – only customers.
The usual hill climb to start the day but this time it was a long climb right up to the moors.
The way down was exhilarating at 25 mph much of the way. Coffee in a caravan site at a surfing beach at the bottom. Missed our lunch stop but arrived at our destination in Dunbar early, in time for a late lunch. After sprucing ourselves up we explored the harbour and the historic town before returning to our hotel for a lovely evening meal.
A varied days cycling, a bit beside a major A road, a bit on a deserted minor road, a lovely section on an old railway line and a bit along an urbanised coastline.
Arrived in Mussleburgh round 2
and after showering and changing caught the bus into Edinburgh where after a brief visit to an art gallery we watched a very exciting rugby contest between Wales and Australia and had a pizza before bussing it back. Tired, with sore bums but proud to have got here.
A pleasant cycle into Edinburgh,
stopping for coffee at a street cafe to kill time, but still having 2 1/2 hours at the station.
Managed to get the bikes into their hooks, with Chris taking all his panniers off. Sue picked me up from Leeds station and I had a lovely welcome back at the Millers.