Atlantic Seaboard

Cycling from Land’s End to John o’Groats (LEJOG) via the Wild Atlantic Way.  Google MyMaps plan completed at https://goo.gl/raAtwt

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I think I have a plan.  Follow the NCR 3 and 4 from Land’s End to Fishguard and then catch a ferry to Ireland.  Connect to the Wild Atlantic Way at Kinsale and follow the Irish coast to Ballycastle.  Ferry to Islay, Colonsay, Oban, Barra (maybe Mull), then the Hebridian Way to Stornoway.  Ferry to Ullapool and then coastal to John o’Groats.  About 4,000km I think.  Mostly Eurovelo 1, but with many diversions.

April departure, unless work gets in the way.

Hypafix

It was a revelation when someone introduced me to Zinc Tape for blister protection and recovery.  I have been using this for many years and it has saved the day on many occasions.

Hypafix

Then someone told me about Hypafix tape.  A few youtube videos later and I realise this is used by runners and extreme athletes for blister prevention.

This stuff really works and is very easy to apply, maintain and remove.  It is useful stuff for improvised plasters – just add lint and disinfectant to a wound and seal in place with Hypafix.  If you do get a blister, you can build custom solutions with this tape quite easily.

But for me, it’s all about prevention. I tape up any part of my foot, which is beginning to feel it might blister beforehand;  usually my heels, but everyone will have their own blister hot spots.  A good covering of 1-2 layers really works wonders.

 

Google MyMaps

With a bit of effort, I have finally got my head around using Google MyMaps.  This is an extension to Google Maps that allows you to overlay points of interest (POIs), photographs and route information on top of Google Maps.  This aids navigation and can be used to record locations on your journey for future reference.

 

Here is the MyMaps I used for the North Sea Cycle Route.  It shows campsites, photographs (automatically geotagged), Ferries and other POIs.

Click on these links to interact with the map.  You can switch each layer on/off and zoom into each country:

http://bit.ly/2DgZuX5

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1w_99dhNkgjuy_vRZKJQ7A7o-QoU&usp=sharing

 

 

North Sea Cycle Route (Part 4) Germany to London

Part 1 – England/Scotland  Part 2 – Norway  Part 3 – Sweden/Denmark

My arrival in Germany was rewarded with a huge punnet of Strawberry’s, perhaps not as good as the Norwegian variety, but succulent nonetheless.  The landscape had barely changed, the same sheep tracks, gates and sheep droppings I had been cycling through for days.  On occasion, the track was on the seaward side.  The view of the Nordfriessische Inseln (islands) was ethereal, a mirage of sea, sky and man-made navigational towers.

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I waited at a railway crossing to see a surreal sight of a train, transporting cars, with the drivers and passengers still seated within – reading the days papers. Their destination was Sylt, the aspirational holiday destination which can only be reached by train.

I cross a huge tidal barrier, which guards the entrance to the River Eider. full of day tourists enjoying the endless North Sea views.  Continue reading

Cycle navigation

Every cyclist I meet on long distances routes seems to have their own unique approach to navigation.  Some are dedicated map users, while others have committed entirely to electronic means.

When I set out to cycle around the North Sea, I did a bit of research to see what would be an optimal strategy for each country I would cycle through, while keeping the weight to an acceptable limit.  I used a combination of the following:

  • Google Maps
  • Google MyMaps
  • Viewranger (Android and iOS)
  • Backcountry Navigator Pro (Android)
  • Garmin 520
  • Paper Maps
  • Signposts
  • Intuition

Each method has its uses, depending on the circumstances.

Google Maps

Mobile 4G coverage in Europe, even in remote locations, was excellent.  Perhaps not so in the remote areas of the UK.  Continue reading

North Sea Cycle Route (Part 3) Sweden and Denmark

Part 1 – England/Scotland  Part 2 – Norway  Part 4 – Germany to London

I crossed the Svinesund into Sweden missing Norway within minutes.  It is not to say that Sweden was that different, but I knew that I had been very fortunate to have good weather and perfect ferry crossings.  Not to mention the Norwegian people, who made me feel very welcome.

The road signs have changed colour and the cycle posts unreadable, but the roads are clear through the forests towards Strömstad, a beautiful seaside port.  I eat most of my food reserves for lunch before extracting Swedish Krona in a country which is rapidly becoming cashless.

A long slog against the wind eventually brings me to Tanumshede and an ICA Supermarket which would embarrass Waitrose for the quality of food.  Last time I was in Sweden you could only buy flour and yeast; you were expected to make your bread.  

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I stock up with all sort of goodies and head out to a coastal campsite.  When I arrive, the site is full. I have to ask very nicely to find a pitch as it is full-on Midsummer festival time. I also need to buy a Camping Card, which is mandatory, but this gets good use later.

Friday night is for families, but Saturday night is for the unattached generations, with no holds barred.  Most of the rowdy songs are in English.  What a party. The toilet blocks are a scene of devastation, and everyone is asleep.   Continue reading

North Sea Cycle Route (Part 2) Norway

Part 1 – England/Scotland  Part 3 – Sweden/Denmark  Part 4 – Germany to London

Flying from London Heathrow to Norway was easier than I expected, once I could negotiate Terminal 5 with a bike box. Unpacking and reassembling my Thorn Sherpa in the baggage lounge drew stares, but not as many as I exited Customs dressed and prepared for the next 4,000km of my journey back to London. A surreal scene.

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I had no idea where I would stay that night, but the first task was to find the Hanseatic quayside at Bryggen. This set of buildings marks the start of the North Sea Cycle Route, continuing south and around the coast of Norway towards the Oslofjord. Encouraged by the quality of the cycle paths and roads, I pedalled all the way to the Hahljem and caught the ferry.

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It was then only a few miles to Fitjar and a deserted campsite, apart from a French cycle tourist. The midges were swarming, so I spent a few hours chatting in the communal kitchen about cycle touring and the route south. Cycling 100km in half a day bodes well for the task ahead. Continue reading

National Trail popularity

Digging into the web site statistics, I am surprised at the web site traffic for the National Trails.  Is there an inverse correlation between my favourite trails and their popularity?

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You would expect the Pennine Way and South West Coast Path to lead the table, but why is the West Highland Way so low in the chart when it is easily the busiest path I have walked.

North Sea Cycle Route (Part 1) London to Norwick, Shetland

Part 2 – Norway  Part 3 – Sweden/Denmark  Part 4 – Germany to London

Distance is nothing – only the first step is difficult, well pedal rotation for this journey – to cycle around the North Sea starting in London heading north to Norwick in Shetland and then on to Bergen and the coast route home via Sweden, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium and France.

This journey will be the longest extended trip away from home. I estimate 60-80 days according to the detailed plans I had been making over the winter. A few short trips on a new Thorn Sherpa, as yet unnamed, confirmed riding comfort and carrying capacity. To keep costs down, I set out to camp every night and do as much cooking myself.

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I booked a flight from Sumburgh airport in Shetland to Bergen and would worry about packing the bike when I got there. The flights departed every Saturday, so I timed my departure three weeks beforehand. I joined the National Cycle Route 1 at Hoddesdon, after cycling along the NSC 6 and 61 from Slough. This route would guide me all the way to Shetland.

Continue reading

Wild Atlantic Way

After cycling the North Sea Cycle Route in 2017, the Wild Atlantic Way has caught my eye.  The Irish Tourist Board do a great job of selling this route and have a wonderful App for your smartphone that couldn’t be more helpful.

WAW Route

The plan is to cycle from Plymouth, around the South West peninsula crossing the Bristol channel at Weston-super-Mare to Penarth, then catching a ferry to Ireland.  After cycling the WAW, I’ll then catch a sequence of ferries to cycle the Hebridean Way, and then from Ullapool to Cape Wrath and then perhaps to John o’groats.  Some 5,000km and 50 days, thereabouts.  Better take a good tent.