North Sea Cycle Route

I have been having fun with Google Maps. Now the whole of the North Sea Cycle Route has been mapped out as I plan the route and decide how how I am going to navigate.  I have a few paper maps, but Google Maps, MyMaps, ViewRanger and BackCountry Navigator provide too many options.  I have also used OpenCycleMaps too, downloading custom routable maps for each section that I can just about squeeze into my Garmin GPS. See http://garmin.openstreetmaps.nl for more info and perhaps donate a few Euros to this project.

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My Android Nexus 5X is more than up to the job of storing the maps, and the UK section is adequately covered by the Ordnance Survey offline 1:50k maps. Plus, at last, OS have re-released the Road Map series at 1:250k, which is nigh-on perfect for cycle touring, other than it doesn’t show cycle tracks, but it does cover the whole of the UK in 8 maps.

Now to overlay campsites, points of interest, ferries and find a means of attaching photos as I progress, as I mean to use this Blog in real time, with weekly updates.  Just add StreetView and I can start now with a virtual tour.

Back to Stanfords next time I am in London.

Finished…

…after 12 years of sneaking time off and pounding the paths I have finally finished all 19 National Trails. Some 3,000 miles, over 150 days, perhaps 6 million steps over the most beautiful and awe inspiring countryside in the the world.

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Now what to do?  Shall I wait for the completion of the England Coast Path and completed the Wales Coast Path first?  What about a Scottish challenge?

Actually the plan is to cycle the North Sea Cycle Route next year, if time allows. Some 6,000km from Bergen to Shetland via Dover.  See the Cycling section as it evolves.

I even got a LDWA Diamond certificate. How sad is that?  There are only 25 odd members who have them for all 19 trails.

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Martyn

Quote

“Walking is the exercise that needs no gym. It is the prescription without medicine, the weight control without diet, the cosmetic that is sold in no drugstore. It is the tranquilizer without a pill, the therapy without a psychoanalyst, the fountain of youth that is no legend. A walk is the vacation that does not cost a cent.”

– Aaron Sussman & Ruth Goode, The Magic of Walking

Nan Shepherd

For those of you who managed to see Secret Knowledge “The Living Mountain: A Cairngorm Journey” presented by Robert Macfarlane on BBC Scotland (still on BBC iPlayer) the story of Nan Shepherd inspired me to read her book.

TLMNS

If you love the mountains, I highly recommend it.

Pembrokeshire Coast Path

Overview

(Photographs pre-digital era, scanned film prints)

A great alternative to the SWCP, if time is limited. An excellent introduction to the pleasures of coastal walking.  Outside the holiday season the path is quiet and there are numerous remote cliffs, headlands and beaches to rival any in the British Isles. Rugged and rewarding.  Pay attention to the tide tables at Dale and the military range closures at Castlemartin, as alternative routes involve road walking.

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Completed in September 2004, my first National Trail, inspired by a journey I took when I was 15 and responsible for committing me to this life long adventure.

Time of year

Ideal times are late Spring or early Autumn, when the YHA hostels are quiet and the bird life is more pronounced.  Seal Pups can be seen seen from September and wild flowers proliferate in the Spring.   Continue reading

“Hey mate! Where’s the Ski Slope?”

“Hey mate! where’s the ski slope?” is one of the more polite comments I get using walking poles on the National Trails from unenlightened bystanders. So why do I love my Leki trekking poles? My conversion to the walkers equivalent of 4 wheel drive has been a gradual process over many years. Initially, I used a only one pole on my early heavy weight backpacking trips and now use two carbon Leki poles on all my adventures.

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After a while, using the poles becomes second nature to the point where you forget you are using them, especially when they are light weight. I perhaps have 4 walking modes, depending on the terrain:

  • Level easy going – difficult to describe, but the pole placement is every 2 steps, about half my walking cadence. Emphasis is on stability. Placement is approximately level with the leading foot, driving the pole gently rearwards.
  • Uphill, easy terrain – pole placement is every step, right foot with left hand pole forward, driving purposefully up the hill with arm and leg. Placement is ahead of the leading foot.
  • Uphill, difficult terrain – pole placement is more random for optimum balance, but using my arms to pull up my weight, trying to imitate the uphill, easy terrain mode, as best I can.
  • Downhill – palms on the top of the pole, controlling my descent, usually with hands outside of the straps if the descent is very steep. Placement to give security and stability.

A Canadian skiing friend of mine Continue reading