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Rhine Cycle Route: Day 28

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 28

Haarlem to the Ferry. 29th May 2023.

  • Mileage today: 12 miles.
  • Total mileage: 945 miles.
  • Disasters: zero 😁

With a little sadness we headed for the ferry. Only 12 miles again using cycleways.

At the ferry terminal they’d got our booking but said we’d not paid. My NatWest app showed that the payment was pending.

Anyway they wouldn’t let us board until I’d paid – again. Grrrrr 🀬 Let’s see how long that refund takes….

And that was it the end of our adventure…

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 27

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 27

Rotterdam to Hook of Holland. 28th May 2023.

  • Mileage today: 26 miles.
  • Total mileage: 933 miles.
  • Disasters: zero 😁

This is a little late because we’ve been on the beer last two days 🍻

9:30 start from our ripoff hotel. Because its a Dutch Bank Holiday prices were sky high and there was limited availability. Its not as if we were ripped off but the room was nice – it wasn’t. Very tired and dirty, just like us.

It was relatively easy to navigate out of Rotterdam and we made good progress on what was the last section of our route.

Soon we were out of the suburbs & back by the Rhine.

No it’s not a road it’s a dedicated cycle path !

We were both feeling mixed emotions – Happy to be completing our challenge but also sad it’s coming to an end.

Hook of Holland – the end of our adventure.

Our route, 933 miles through 6 countries…

EuroVelo 15 from Oberalpenpass to Hook of Holland.

Now how to get home πŸ€”

…a plan was quickly formed. Metro to Haarlem, night there before short ride to the ferry.

The plan worked easily. The metro/train we got was easy to get fully laden bikes on to (unlike UK trains who have a big step). The service ran every 30 minutes, even on a Bank Holiday. It was cheap.

The hotel in Haarlem was a good choice as well. Great room at a fraction of the Rotterdam price.

We then went out for a celebration beer. The beer we liked turned out to be 6.5% and a good night was had in Haarlem πŸ€ͺ

Rocket fuel this Europop !
Rhine Cycle Route: Day 26

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 26

Molenbuurt to Rotterdam. 27th May 2023.

  • Mileage today: 44 miles
  • Total mileage: 907 miles
  • Disasters: None 😁

It was a cold clear night but I slept well cuddled up in Big Agnes. Sunshine again today. We had another brilliant breakfast of stale pitta with cheese and tomatos.

Our campsite.

The campsite had some old military style buildings. When paying we found out it was an old Fort constructed pre ww1. It was one of a chain of waterline fortifications.

The waterline Fort now a campsite.
This shows there were 896 waterline forts.

With a tail wind we made good progress on quiet roads. Most drivers were great, only one van gave us poth a close pass 🀬

Quick roads on the polders linked beautiful villages.

There was one area with 19 windmills.

…if Carlsberg did cycle lanes. Oh and don’t forget all the Swans we saw with little babies.
Some were working.

At Kinderdijk we had to get a ferry to get round various bits of water. We took this ferry into the centre of Rotterdam.

I have to mention the ferry terminal. We all had to walk past this to get in the waiting shelter. If you’re pissed, stupid, not looking or a child you’ll end up in the river. In the UK H&S natzis wouldn’t have this. That’s why I love Europe.

Looking at your phone instead of where you’re going could get you wet 🀣

Our hotel was shite for the price but very central so we had a walk around to see some of the wacky architecture.

Cool building and note the bike park
Rhine Cycle Route: Day 25

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 25

Arnhem to Molenbuurt. 26th May 2023.

  • Mileage today: 44 miles.
  • Total mileage: 863 miles.
  • Disasters: Sarah had a luke warm shower πŸ₯Ά

We had a lovely sleep in the Holiday Inn & we’re reluctant to get going today. On the road by 10:40 – the latest yet.

The route took us out of Arnhem via parks and forest. Super route but slow going with twists and navigation stops.

Stopped at a restaurant by the river for a latish lunch. I ordered what I thought was a cheese and beef sandwich & Sarah got egg on toast with cheese, soup & a cheese croquette.

Her choice was way better than mine – the beef on my sandwich was raw ! I’m sure it was beautifully prepared but I like beef cooked. 😬

After the lunch stop the routevopened out onto cycleways on top of polders. Our speed increased & we even had the wind behind us at one point 😁

We used the lunch stop to look for camp sites for the night. Google maps was showing nothing in the area we wanted but Sarah had the Archies camping app. This showed one site at a reasonable distance. I was doubtful (if it’s not on Google…) but Sarah called and it did exist ! Result πŸ‘and good learning that not everything’s in google.

Our route passed through this windmill. Apparently, it’s the only windmill that you can drive through – wonder why πŸ€”

Wouldn’t be Holland without one of these…

We stopped at a Spar about 2 miles before the campsite to get some dinner. Outside the Spar was what looked like a mobile fish & chip van.

No fish but deep fried cheese, croquettes and chips for tea πŸ˜‹ …with mayo of course !

We arrived at the campsite full so just sat in the sun & chilled. I watched the Giro highlights. G still in pink with two days to go – come on G 🏴󠁧󠁒󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Our camp for the night.
Rhine Cycle Route: Day 24

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 24

Xanten to Arnhem. 25th May 2023.

  • Mileage today: 45 miles
  • Total mileage: 819 miles
  • Disasters: Bike falling apart…

It was a cold night but we woke to bright sun. This dried condensation on the tent quickly while we had breakfast and packed.

Breakfast reached a new culinary low – cold veggie donner meat in day old naan bread washed down with instant cappuccino.

The campsite was lovely & we had the tent field to ourselves.

Bunnies played around our camp 😁

The only downer for the site was that the toilet block was miles from the tent. It was so far we rode our bikes there. It was on one such trip that I noticed a rattle from my front rack.

Investigations showed that one of the bolts holding the rack to the base of the fork was missing. No problem I thought – I’ve packed spares.

Problem was that the bolt wouldn’t tighten into the fork boss thread more than 3 to 4 turns. This left the rack loose – not tight to the fork boss. Don’t know the reason. It wasn’t mismatch threads – tried three different bolts. Maybe the thread was damaged as the old bolt worked lose. Who knows… Anyway to stop it moving on the bolt I used trusty cable ties. 🀞 it lasts the ride else Arnhem could be a bridge too far…

More pretty villages, now with windmills.

Even saw an old nuclear plant that had been turned into a theme park. Check out…

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wunderland_Kalkar

More bread and donner for lunch, this time with crisps. Then on to Arnhem.

For those who don’t know Arnhem was the site of a famous battle during operation Market Garden…

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Market_Garden

Tha battle at Arnhem was made famous by the film a bridge too far…

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Bridge_Too_Far_(film)

Anyway this is the famous bridge – now named John Frost Bridge after the commander of the failed attack…

John Frost bridge…

We cycled over the bridge to our hotel for the night.

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 23

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 23

Dusseldorf to Xantem. 24th May 2023.

  • Mileage today: 53 miles
  • Total mileage: 774 miles
  • Disasters: None…

We were sad to leave the flat. It was warm, clean and full of chocolate!

So we had chocolate for breakfast and hit the road by 9:30am. It took about 20 minutes to get back on route which followed the river quite closely.

Once out the town we made swift progress on cycle paths on the flood defences.

The cycle paths are better quality than UK roads.

We made good time covering over 20 miles before lunch. This brought us to Duisburg. I have no pictures of Duisburg for two reasons…

1. I thought if I got my camera out I’d get mugged.

2. There’s nothing worth photographing in Duisburg!

Duisburg is very industrial but unlike Mannheim (BASF) it looks and feels poor, rundown and dirty. As we passed through the city we saw some very shady characters hanging around on the streets.

This was a side of Germany we’d not seen so far. We got out as quickly as possible…

Out of Duisburg we came back to dedicated cycle tracks in beautiful countryside. Save as above really so no photos. We stopped for a snack at a country pub. Apart from that we just pushed on to Xanten and our campsite for the night. It was a 50+ mile day.

The campsite had a bar. We had beers…

This is where we are now…

Xanten just inside the German North border.
Rhine Cycle Route: Day 22

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 22

Charwiler to Dusseldorf. 23th May 2023.

  • Mileage today: 27 miles
  • Total mileage: 721 miles
  • Disasters: Not finding cheap hotels !

Good night’s sleep snuggled into Big Agnes. Woke to a grey day. Over breakfast chatted to a French guy who’s turned up late and camped next to us.

He’s a retired high voltage electrician who’s on a solo cycling trip. He’s playing a game where you have to find mosaic images hidden throughout Europe. Can’t remember what it was called but it had an app !

The route closely followed the Rhine. Firstly through countryside but this changed to heavy industry as we approached Dusseldorf.

Not much to photograph except the sign below. Not sure if it was a joke ?

Wacky architecture on the approach to Dusseldorf

It was a cold & grey day when we reached Dusseldorf. We sat by the river and decided we’d had enough cold for the day – hotel time. This proved difficult with many hotels stating not having bike storage. Also prices were high.

To cut a long Google and booking.com story short we ended up with a flat. Turned out to be a lovely flat & the best thing about it was the amount of chocolate in bowls around the place πŸ˜‹

One of four loads of chocolates around the flat πŸ˜‹

We showered and went to the nearest veggie restaurant. This was Sattuni, a middle Eastern restaurant. We were the only people eating in. Had lovely food and chat with the Palestinian owner.

We talked about travelling and learned he was off to Palestinian for a 2 day visit to his parents. He was very worried because they were trying to arrange a wife for him !

Back in the flat, we watched Giro highlights 😁 before bed.

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 21

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 21

Bonn to Chorweiler. 22th May 2023.

  • Mileage today: 35 miles
  • Total mileage: 694 miles
  • Disasters: No cheap hotels in Cologne and shower trauma…

We had a good night’s sleep in our funky design hotel room. For Β£50 it was a bargin. We were feeling lazy today so paid for the hotel breakfast, which was good. Considered stopping another night but the rate was Β£150 now.

Before leaving I had a fiddle with Sarah’s front break. I think I’ve improved it so it should work till the end of the trip now. If it fails catastrophically & Sarah ends up in the Rhine I may be under investigation 😬

Todays route was mostly industrial with some nice parks thrown in.

Not sure what this was – not nuclear though.
This is my sort of museum πŸ˜‹
Shows the scale of heavy industry here.

No wonder the German economy is faring better than ours – they do stuff and make stuff.

Cologne cathedral

We stopped in Cologne for lunch. The cathedral is stunning and big ! Would have stopped the night but couldn’t find a reasonably priced hotel with bike storage. The cheapest we found that would look after our bikes was €250 for the night ☹️ …so at that price we peddled on.

Ended up at a small campsite near Chorweiler. Lovely pitch but the showers are lacking for two reasons…

1. Control is a nightmare – the difference between freezing and striping your skin with steam could be measured on an atomic scale.

2. There were no shower doors or curtains. You’re just standing there freshening your bits while blokes are wandering by with their washing up ! Good job they’d eaten else I could have put them off their wurst !

Needless to say I didn’t use both shower tokens !

Beer was needed to recover from shower trauma
We are here…
Rhine Cycle Route: Day 20

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 20

Koblenz to Bonn. 21st May 2023.

  • Mileage today: 41
  • Total mileage: 659
  • Disasters: Bird shit…

Despite ear plugs, it was a noisy night with broken sleep. Trains and boats run all through the night. Their noise was added to by a large French cyclist in the next tent down who was snoring loudly. πŸ™‰

To add insult to injury, some birds craped on the tent badly enough to require a cleaning operation before it could be packed away.

We were on the road by 10am and fighting our way through the many weekend cyclists.

Not long after starting we had to stop to adjust Sazz’s front break. The miles are starting to take their toll on both bikes now. While stopped we were passed by a Canadian couple we’d seen the day before.

We caught and passed then a short time later. This started a bit of a race which I’m glad to say we won but it took about 6 miles to drop them.

The cycle paths were quite rough on todays section. This, along with sunday cyclists, made for what felt like slow progress. We actually managed 20 miles before lunch !

We stopped for lunch at a village fete where I tried curry wurst mit frites.

A German classic πŸ‘Œ

Back on the road (at a slower pace), todays target was Bonn. The views on route wèe again wonderful.

I love how low they sit in the water

We used booking.com to find the cheapest hotel which actually turned out to be good ! The colours and design are a little wacky.

Try walking down that after a few pints !
Rhine Cycle Route: Day 19

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 19

Oberwesew to Koblenz. 20th May 2023.

  • Mileage today: 30 miles
  • Total mileage: 618 miles
  • Disasters: Breakfast !

Beautiful campsite with a chilled vibe.  Sun shining.  Hot coffee while watching giant barges float by.  The only thing that spoiled it was that some bafoon cannot read German and got two pots of herby cheese spread instead of healthy bercher for breakfast !

First World problems & we had a laugh about it. It was funnier at the time than it sounds now.

More pretty towns and villages.

It’s a German long bank holiday so we were a little concerned about campsite availability in koblenz.  …so we hit the road at speed. After being held up by a group of ebikers who wouldn’t let us overtake, we covered the first 20 miles in under 2 hours ! πŸ’ͺπŸ’ͺπŸ’ͺ

Lorilei rock. The narrowest part of the navigable Rhine.

Some interesting info…

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorelei

After a quick lunch of – yes, you guessed it, bread, cheese and crisps we made it to Koblenz.  One of the first landmarks we saw was a statue of the kaiser…

Kaiser Wilhelm I statue. 

Now I don’t know much about the Kaiser (I or II) so looked them up on Wikipedia…

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_I,_German_Emperorhttps://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_I,_German_Emperor

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelm_II,_German_Emperorhttps://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelm_II,_German_Emperor

The only campsite in koblenz is big and busy but they had room for tents 😁 we pitched quickly and headed off for a look round Koblenz. We got from the campsite to koblenz via a small ferry over the Moselle river.

Ferry across the Moselle

“Moselle, don’t you mean Rhine ?” I hear you cry… The Moselle and Rhine join at Koblenz. The Moselle separates the campsite from koblenz.

A few wines before early bed. Ear plugs needed tonight. Trains, boats and kids noise 😬

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 18

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 18

Mainz to Oberwesel. 19th May 2023.

  • Mileage today: 35 miles
  • Total mileage: 588 miles
  • Disasters: zero 😁

Nice breakfast & a bucket of coffee for Sarah before testing her shoulder out on the bike. The verdict was its very sore but OK to ride on.

When we got out of town the countryside was stunning and we kept hitting beautiful villages.

The village of Eltville.
As usual dedicated cycle paths away from traffic.

The picture doesn’t show it but the cycleways were really busy. Progress was slow weaving through the traffic.

Oh and the sun was shining 😁

We crossed to the west side of the Rhine at Rudesheim on a small ferry. After being shouted at the previous day we’d learned to walk onto the ferry ! …though it seems cycling off is acceptable πŸ€”

Rudesheim ferry

After 35 miles we found a campsite with a fine view of the Rhine.

Camp with a view…

…and there was a Lidl just round the corner where we got pasta for tea… This had veg in and was more nutritious than the chips, cake and beer that had got us through the day πŸ˜‹

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 17

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 17

Worms to Mainz. 18th May 2023.

  • Mileage today: 36 miles
  • Total mileage: 553 miles
  • Disasters: Sarah had a fall πŸ€•

Lazy start in the Worms Hotel. Nice continental breakfast & lots of coffee for Sarah.

The first part of the day’s riding was out of Worms – nothing of interest to report. Won’t be being back to Worms. (bit like Workington)

Things got better when we left the suburbs. Dedicated cycle tracks along the flood defences with interesting landscape and the odd deer.

There were a lot of other cyclists on route all of different speeds. No photos because we ended up overtaking traffic and racing ebikes.

We made good progress until this…

Happy Father’s day celebration.

It’s Father’s day in germany and it’s taken seriously. Its a Bank Holiday where men get passed and ride bikes. See the interesting link below if you don’t believe me…

https://germanculture.com.ua/german-holidays/vatertag-fathers-day-in-germany/

So we had a beer and stayed a while enjoying the sun, atmosphere and music.

When we got going again it was even more chaotic on the cycle track. In the cyclist chaos Sarah clipped a post with her pannier and came off. She’s OK but battered and bruised.

After this we changed plans and got a hotel for the night in Mainz.

Showers and a few paracetamol later we were out for some food. We found a wonderful family run veggie asian restaurant. A fine feast was had before an early bed.

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 16

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 16

Lingonfeld to Worms. 17th May 2023.

  • Mileage today: 41 miles
  • Total mileage: 517 miles
  • Disasters: Food…

Got sidetracked by some nice wine last night so this is gonna be a short one.

Lazy start on a lovely camp site.

Breakfast in the sun.
Technology museum at Mannheim.

Mannheim is home to BASF factories. They are massive & employ over 30,000 people. The picture below shows company bikes for employees to use around site. This is just one of many !

Europeans take bikes seriously!
Nice lunch
Sarah found a Wooworths and bought some pants and a dress !

We had high hopes for Worms – it’s one of the oldest cities in Europe. Hopes were dashed – its a dump !

We did find a nice restaurant and ordered tarte flambΓ©. We thought this would be like French tarts & there was a choice of savoury fillings. So we ordered one a piece and a bucket of chips cos we’re hungry.

Oh what a mistake that was. Tarte flambΓ© in germany is a pizza and they were huge – see picture below…

Over ordered on the pizza

We only ate half and asked for a doggy bag for the rest !

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 15

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 15

Seltz to Lingenfeld. 16th May 2023.

  • Mileage today: 42 miles
  • Total mileage: 476 miles
  • Disasters: Just the bastard wind πŸ’¨πŸ’¨πŸ’¨

Despite a nice hotel room we both didn’t sleep brilliantly – don’t know why. Breakfast was some leftover bread thing with custard and icing + a yoghurt. I think the yoghurt was on the turn but it didn’t taste too bad.

The sluggish start meant we hit the road by 9:30am. It was a cold and windy day. The first problem was to navigate around a section of the cycle path that was supposedly flooded. We managed not to get lost and found a route around.

It was cold and windy. Jackets, hats snd gloves were needed. We brewed up on a bench to warm up.

The route up till now was cycle path along the flood defences. The route today wasn’t inspiring- don’t get me wrong it was lovely but just not up to the previous days.Also we were tired and cold so not feeling the love today.

We stopped at a cafe for Scooby snack – chips, cake, and a coffee. Whilst there we chatted with an interesting German and a Spaniard.

Big barge pushing its way again the formidable current.
Water dropped enough to let us past.

When we finally got to our camp site there was no-one in reception. We were reading the signs on the reception when a German turned up on his ebike. He told us he’d spoken with the site earlier today and they’d said you pitch up and pay tomorrow.

So we head into the tent field – which is empty. Thing is the German also follows us and attempts to pitch right by us.

We weighted till he’d pitched then moved ours 20 yards away – wierdo !

Then I had a look at Sarah’s gears while she cooked tea. Her chain gad fallen off several times. Tea was pasta, tomatos, tuna, kidney beans and olives. This was OK but not going to win any awards.

Then it was showered and bed xx

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 14

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 14

Strasbourg to Seltz. 15th May 2023

The featured image tonight is for Edna.

Edna. Just heard from Sarah you’ve been in the wars recently. Best wishes for a speedy recovery πŸ’ͺπŸ’ͺπŸ’ͺ

  • Mileage today: 44 miles.
  • Total mileage: 434 miles.
  • Disasters: Finding campsites that are open ☹️

It was hard to get up today. We were in a lovely hotel with a super king size bed.

So a later start than normal. The first 40 minutes riding was to get out of Strasbourg. The cycle lanes took us past beautiful bits of the city. We’ll definitely be coming back for a city break here.

Then back to situation normal – dedicated cycle track through stunning countryside.

Geese blocking the path.

I have to say the sinage on this leg was poorer than normal and we did lose the path a few times. Also there were a few route closed signs. Luckily both times locals said we could ignore them πŸ‘

We stopped for lunch at a cafe by a marina. It was definitely a locals place & no English translation on the menu. With poor mobile signal we were struggling to work the menu and thought about going else where. We didn’t mainly because Sarah had chomped through all the free pretzels on the table already. Glad we didn’t because the food was great though a tad expensive.

Not sure which is heavier the barge or my bike 😬

Then the rain came – well rain with thunder and lightning. We sheltered under a willow tree in someone’s garden until it passed.

I wore a helmet cover which Sarah found hilarious. She called me Mr Condom head – don’t know why.

Mr Condom Head…

We’ve done well with just rocking up at campsites and getting in. Today our luck ran out. The three we tried were shut or not taking tents.

This left two options… 1. Continue another 12 to 15 miles to the next town with camping. 2. Get a hotel nearby.

Being hard core cycle tourists we were up for the extra mileage but then the rain started again. …so we’re tucked up in another hotel tonight 😁

Here’s a little map showing where in the world we are..

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 13

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 13

Neuf Brisach to Strasbourg. 14th May 2023

  • Mileage today: 44 miles
  • Total mileage: 390 miles
  • Disasters: One and one near miss…

Woke to the patter of rain on the tent. It was very light but we decided to get the tent down before it got soaked.

As we packed the rain stopped but disaster struck when Sarah discovered she’d lost a pair of pants somewhere on our travels. Also an ant infestation meant that everything needed brushing down before packing.

Living like a king with coffee, Danish pastries and profiteroles for breakfast.

We said goodbye to the nice but wierd campers we chatted with last night and hit the road about 9am.

The cycling was perfect down canal towpaths.

Perfect cycling…
With the odd obstruction!
Maginot Line fortifications.

Interesting reading on the Maginot Line here.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maginot_Line

Our lunch spot on the Maginot Line.
Inside the fortification.
Again more perfect cycleway towards Strasbourg.

Suddenly a 70 year old bloke joined the cycle path from the left. He wasn’t looking and nearly hit me – only inches off my rear pannier. If I hadn’t shouted and swerved I’m sure he would have.

Avoiding me put him off ballance and he swerved towards the canal. He stopped inches short. Sarah spoke to him first while I turned round. He was OK but visibly shaking. That was a close one 🫣

…and more perfect cycle path.

We arrived in Strasbourg about 3pm. Its a beautiful city with a great vibe.

Old fortifications around the city.
Beautiful cathedral.

beer & food before an early bed.

Strasbourg is a lovely city ❀️

…now let’s hope our washing dries before tomorrow 🀞🏼

Oh and another thing – it’s not often this happens.

DVCC weekly leader board.
Rhine Cycle Route: Day 12

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 12

Kembs to Neuf Brisach. 13th May 2023.

  • Mileage today: 33 miles
  • Total mileage: 346 miles
  • Disasters: None really 😁

I woke early, about 6am. It wasn’t a woodpecker but my bladder to blame this time. It was a dry but overcast morning with little rain forecast 😁

Breakfast for me was Danish pastries & a pot of profiteroles washed down with instant Cappuccino.

On the map the route looked easy and straight alongside the canal de Rhone. The route ran along side the campsite but after a couple of miles there was a diversion for maintenance work. The diversion was poorly signed so we made our own route up using the many cycle tracks in the area.

This is a cycle path.
Listen to the bird song.

Back on route there were intetesting WW2 memorials on route.

Me with a big gun…
A Sherman tank…

Lunch was the usual…

This time the cheese was a fine Camenbert

Fuelled with fine French cheese it was an easy ride to Neuf Brisach. This is a wallet town from 1700’s. The town is a UNESCO world heritage site because of the fortifications. Wikipedia’s got some good info…

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuf-Brisach

You can ride your bike round the fortifications and see this…

Free and no restrictions about riding here
And tunnels to play in…

We had a quick beer in town at a very French bar. Shopping & back to the campsite to make tea…

Another masterclass in one pot cooking…

While our washing was drying we chatted with other campers on the site. There were Rome interesting characters. A Swedish couple in their 70s who had big shopper bikes and a road atlas. A German lad doing a PhD in AI and an Aussie girl who just seemed a bit weird.

The evening got cold so we came to bed…

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 11

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 11

Waldshut to Kembs. 12th May 2023

  • Mileage today: 58 miles
  • Total mileage: 313 miles
  • Disasters: One – Sarah got stung by a bee.

We both woke early after a good night’s sleep – probably due yo the carafe of wine for dinner 😊 The forecast was OK so we got going early.

Our guide promised a mainly flat route so we were hoping to get some miles in. We chatted to our German friend before setting off about 8:30am.

Nothing new to report, same as the day before, really – just lovely towns and villages linked by great cycling infrastructure. Here are some pictures…

Cycling signpost!
Dedicated cycle track by the Rhine.
Wooden bridge that takes cars as well.
824km to go 😁

Despite being quite flat it was a long hard day. On arriving at the campsite we got the tent up then ate. Food tonight was a quiche and a salad from Aldi. I also had this…

Phil do you remember this stuff ?

Then it was off for a quick shower and to the bar for a beer. It was a quick shower because they were just warm. But for €15 you can’t complain.

We sat outside the bar. There was a bee on the table. I tried to blow it away but only managed to blow it into Sarah’s flip-flop where is stung fer foot. Not my best move !

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 10

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 10

Flaach to Waldshut. 11th May 2023

  • Mileage today: 29 miles
  • Total mileage: 255 miles
  • Disasters: Nearly an explosion.

OK it’s 9:55pm & I’m knackered so this will be a short one.

Woke early because a bloody woodpecker started hammering at 5am. Bastard… Don’t get me wrong I love nature but 5am puts me in a grump.

I think the woodpecker was in the tree to the right of the tent.

We got up at 7am and started packing – rain was forecast & we wanted to get the tent away dry. It doubles in weight if put away wet.

We breakfasted with our Dutch friends in a covered area near where the tents were. We seem to meet a lot of Dutch cycle tourists and they’re all going to Rome !

I smelt a strong smell of gas while we were both using our stoves which was worrying. So myself & the Dutch guy had a good sniff around. We concluded it wasn’t our gear leaking & it must have come from upwind on the campsite. Phew…

We started cycling about 9:30am. Again lovely cycling on cycle track or quiet roads.

Just nice cycling..

For lunch, yep you guessed it bread, crisps, cheese and tomatos. Food of the God’s πŸ˜‹

We were in Switzerland for most of the day. Everything is so perfect here – even the graffiti is nice…

How nice πŸ™‚

The idea was to do about 40 miles today but weather & campsite availability conspired against us. We we ended up only doing 29 before finding nice site for the night.

The site had a covered ebike shelter with electric sockets we were allowed to use. We parked the bikes and made a brew. While relaxing with my brew I could smell gas again. That’s two much of a coincidence!

The stove was checked and checked again – no leaks. Then I remembered Sazz had a spare canister in her bag. I opened her pannier & got a huge blast of gas. The canister valve had broken and was leaking. This was in the pannier that was about 18″ from the stove I’d used to make a brew πŸ’£πŸ’₯

To celebrate being alive we ate at the site restaurant before a walk to the shops for bedtime chocolate. Night all x

…oh and I spotted one of Switzerlands four nuclear power stations.

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 9

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 9

Constance to Flaach. 10th May 2023

  • Mileage today: 48 miles
  • Total mileage: 226 miles
  • Disasters: One and it nearly was a biggy !

The curtains in our apartment were see-through so we woke early when it became light. That’s OK because we wanted to get on the road & bag a few miles today.

Breakfast today was porrage with Nutella spread. After that we moved our bikes down the narrow starecase from our flat. This really was a struggle but luckly managed it without breaking anything.

While we were loading the bikes outside the owner turned up. She was late 40’s but looked quite rough. She was nice so we didn’t slag her apartment off. Given the amount of booze bottles laying around I think she was a functioning alcoholic. Anyway here’s a shit video of the apartment.

This doesn’t really show how grubby it was.

On the road the scenery is getting boring – beautiful countryside and picture postcard villages. We’ve travelled over 200 miles now and not seen a rough area ! Think we’re the nearest thing to chavs in this area of Europe! Anyway here’s some nice pictures…

You get the idea… Don’t think we’ll be affording a house out here anytime – ever !

For a change we had bread, cheese and tomatos for lunch. The cheese I’d chosen is gorgeous – if you ever see this get some.

The Rhine falls are the biggest falls in Europe by volume.  We pulled up at the Falls visitor area which was at the top of a steep climb. It had stalls and an ice cream vendor. We stopped to catch our breath & have a look around. We weren’t there long before we were told no bikes in this area by a very rude employee/ owner. We moved on & I gave the guy a very disapproving glare…

So we didn’t get to see the falls so no photos. This is what Wikipedia has to say… https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhine_Falls

So we head off for Flaach where we’ve booked another expensive Swiss campsite. We fet a few miles down the road and Sarah realises she’s left her bar bag at the Falls! That’s her bar bag with passport, wallet etc .

We race back to the falls hoping that everyone in Switzerland us too rich to nick our stuff…

I arrive first and go to where we’d been sitting. No bar bag ! Panic sets in…

Close by was the ice cream seller. I asked him had he seen a bar bag. Well as I can’t speak German there was a lot of pointing at my bar bag.

He nodded his head and called out to his friend – the grumpy bloke who’d told us to piss off. This time he was all smiles as he handed the bag over – probably thinking he was going to get a handsome tip. I thanked him in my best German and walked off …so the top was – don’t be such a rude grumpy bustard 😁

We set off again for Flaach, this time successfully. The campsite was large – mostly motorhomes and caravans. There were only three tents. So with Swiss efficiency they lined us up next to each other! Here’s our pitch…

Tea tonight was gnocchi with mixed veg and tuna in a passage sauce. I used some passage to make a type of Bloody Mary with Schnapps . And then it was time for sleep…

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 8

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 8

Friedrichshafen to Constance 9th May 2023

  • Mileage today: 20 miles
  • Total mileage: 198 miles
  • Disasters: None yet.

Great night’s sleep in a dry bed. We woke early and got going to Constance. The Cycle paths through Friedrichshafen are brilliant but it’s slow going because of the junctions, crossroads & number of people !

Quality cycle infrastructure…

The entire area is beautiful though but I think there is a lot of money round here.

Vineyards…
Picture postcard towns…
On the ferry at Meersburg…
A fish sandwich

After the ferry we had lunch which reached a new culinary low – a fish sandwich 🀒 Luckily there were lush local strawberries for pudding.

Beautifully sweet to take away the taste of fish !

We ate this feast by the lake and watched this pair of swans careing for eggs and building the nest up.

Beautiful animals Happy to be so close to humans.
In the UK they’d have been eaten by now !

Full of fish & strawberries we continued to our apartment for the night. We’d booked a one bed apartment through booking.com. It was the cheapest one in the area by a long way but the description sounded OK.

In a word its shite – a top floor flat that’s badly in need of renovation & it’s dirty. It is in a handy location so it’ll do for tonight.

The strange thing is that here are booze bottles and cans all around the outside area. Most are empty but some are full ! The strangest thing is the length of the WiFi password

Who do they thinks gonna hack them – the Pentagon ?

We dumped our gear and carried the bikes up some unlit stairs before heading into Constance for a look round.

Constance is a lovely city where the architecture hasn’t been spoiled with plastic shop fronts.

As old and characterful as it is the planners have included so much biking infrastructure. The result is loads of bikes and not many cars. Interestingly 75% of bikes are ebikes

Bikes everywhere 😁 the city has a good vibe..

After a good walk round we returned to our Palace for some food and a little tipple…

I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow πŸ€ͺ
Rhine Cycle Route – Day 7

Rhine Cycle Route – Day 7

Bregenz to Friedrickshafen

  • Todays mileage: 24 miles
  • Total mileage: 178 miles
  • Disasters: Only the weather and Sarah’s lack of pants !

We woke to the sound of heavy rain – joy… So the first order of the day was to check numerous forecasts and rain radars. As in the UK, no two forecasts are the same but a plan was formed…

If it keeps pissing down all day (ECMWF forcast) we’ll get a hotel in Bregenz. If it clears by 11am (Icon-EU forecast) we’ll push on and see where we can get to.

We killed some time by heating & eating our emergency breakfast ready meals. The last instant cappuccino was also drunk.

The rain eased about 10:00 so we started to de-camp. The tent generally held up well to the nights downpour but everything we own is now damp.

All bags were packed in the tent then moved to shelter under the toilet block canopy. Cycle touring is so glamorous!

We showered and started to ride by about 11am. In contrast to yesterday’s straight and fast route todays was twisty and slow through towns and villages. The towns and villages were beautiful though…

At Fubach we had a decision to make – German or Swiss side of Constance. We chose the German side. It’s supposed to be nicer and a lot cheaper!

Lake Constance

In one village we passed a book shop which had a Heidi book on display. Sarah’s search for Heidi is now over…

Sarah’s happy now 😁
Pretty view & the lakes not bad either…
Nice bridge πŸ‘

At one of the many harbours we passed had man made platform’s for nesting birds. This was tethered to the pier suppport. Note the plastic used for nesting.

A floating platform for nesting birds…

At Friedrichsrafen we rested, checked the weather and made our plan – get a room in Friedrichshafen, dry out & do washing.

The hotel we chose, The Capitol had a weird self checking that I’ve never seen before. It all seemed to work OK though & the room was nice but small.

Needs must…

After chores we went out for food and found a lovely Italian

Beer was good too…

Then off to a comfy dry bed πŸ‘

Rhein Cycle Route – Day 6

Rhein Cycle Route – Day 6

Bad Ragaz to Begenz. 7th May 2023.

  • Todays mileage: 52 miles
  • Total mileage: 154 miles
  • Disasters: One – red bungee failure lost us the race !

Woke to a dry morning but the forecast isn’t good so we were up by 7am. We met our Dutch friends at the communal table while we were having stale bread & cheese again for breakfast.

I don’t know how it happened but we seemed to end up in a race to see who could pack tents the quickest.

We took an early lead but then my toilet habits allowed the Dutch to draw level. (Sarah says I’m like a Hobbit – first breakfast, second breakfast… you get the idea)

We’d both got tents down and bikes nearly packed when Sarah “lost” a bungee ! With this the race was lost and the Dutch said their goodbyes. Close but no cigar…

On the road the cycling was perfect. Dedicated cycle track through stunning scenery. …and it was flat 😁

Perfect cycle track down the Rhine

We made swift progress towards Lake Constance which was our goal for the day. We wanted to get there before the rains if possible.

Brilliant signage!

We did get caught in showers strong enough for rain gear but not for long. It rained for our duration in Liechtenstein – country number 2.

By Sennwald we were in sunshine. We nipped over a bridge into Austria (country number 3) for a gourmet lunch of crisp and tomato sandwiches.

Into the Republic of Ostrich…
White bread, paprika crisps and baby tomatoes – soon to be a classic !

Fully fuelled we set off again for Lake Constance, stopping once for an ice cream at an open air craft fair πŸ˜‹

We arrived at our chosen campsite to be politly told it was closed until the 12 May. This was a bit of a comedy moment because we looked at the site where there must have been over 100 caravans & motorhomes with families playing round them. They obviously didn’t want Brits after Brexit ☹️

Anyway we moved on to the next site who welcomed us. We got a lovely pitch with grass this time & set up our camp (after a cheeky beer in the site bar)

We’ve even got electric πŸ‘

Having run out of crisps, cheese and tomatos we opted for food in the campsite bar. Now in Austria we wouldn’t have to sell a kidney to afford a meal.

The food was just snacks really & we ordered a cheese salad and a Margareta pizza. Nice food & beers arrived. Well they tasted nice to me but after 50 miles I’d have eaten a scabby dog !

After food the waitress brought us complementary spirits as a digestive. I can’t remember what it was called but the chef made it !

Now I know a little about distilling & this was a strong, clean spirit @ ~60% abv !

Then a second one appeared when we paid the bill πŸ‘ Think I’ll sleep tonight…

We just got back to the tent before the forecasted heavy rain started. …and it’s heavy πŸ’¦πŸ’¦πŸ’¦ 🀞 we’ll stay dry tonight…

..as a footnote some of the caravans in our site deserve a mention…

Buy a shitty caravan & just build round it…
Thought you’d need planning permission for this one !
Rhine Cycle Route – Day 5.

Rhine Cycle Route – Day 5.

Carrera to Bad Ragaz. 6th May 2023.

  • Todays mileage: 34 miles.
  • Total mileage: 102 miles.
  • Disasters: One – where the fuck is Heidi ???

After a night of rain, we woke to thick mist. This quickly burned off to show the beauty of the area our campsite was in.

View from the campsite.

We had a fine breakfast of stale bread and cheese washed down by a banana and instant cappuccino. Although a great weight saving idea instant cappuccino is rank !

We hit the road by 10am and were straight into an ascent to a pass. The climb was hard but the views stunning and the roads relatively quiet.

The weight of gear on my bike is really obvious on the climbs and hairpin descents – it may be time to ditch the cappuccinos.

We both had to stop numerous times to let our brakes cool – Sarah burned her hand testing how hot her disks were !

The shortest of many tunnels.

The gradients eased, we came round a corner to see this descent – 4% for about 2 miles 😁

If Carlsberg did descents!

This bought us to Tamins which is the confluence of the Hinterrhein and the Vorderrhein. From here it’s simply known as the Rhine.

The Rhine…

At Tamins we saw cows…

It would really piss me off having that bell round my neck !

From here it was a short ride to Chur which is the oldest city in Switzerland. Sarah was expecting great things from Chur but we were quite underwhelmed by the architecture. It all seemed fairly new & no cobbled streets !

What we did find was that Chur had a mountain bike race weekend on. Part of the town was the race circuit. Today was the junior races, but the city was busy with competitors and spectators.

We had some more stale bread and cheese for lunch while watching the action.

The start/finish line

Shortly after Chur there are two route options. One route is flat and follows the river. The other diverts into the hills to see the Heidi villages.

Now for those who don’t know Heidi is a classic children’s novel by Swiss writer Johanna Spyri, published in two volumes in 1880–81. The title character is a young orphan who is sent to the Swiss mountains to live with her grandfather.

It’s the six-part 1959 BBC TV series starring Sara O’Connor in the title role, with Mark Dignam as her grandfather and Lesley Judd as Klara that Sarah & I remember.

So the hunt for Heidi’s house was on ! It was a hilly search. We knew we were in the right area but we sadly failed. Sarah is now sad…

Feeling deflated we booked a nearby campsite in Bad Ragaz. This is the most expensive camp site I’ve ever been to – Β£46 for the night ! For 46 quid you’d thought you’d get some grass on your pitch – no !

We were pitched near a nice Dutch couple who gave us a weather update – no rain tonight – Yay !

We made veggie burgers with cheese & tomato for tea & just got cleared up before the rain and thunder started !

Then it was a quick shower & bed…

Rhine Cycle Route – Day 4.

Rhine Cycle Route – Day 4.

Andermatt to Carerra. 5th May 2023.

  • Today’s mileage: 37
  • Total mileage: 67
  • Desasters: None 😁

Today is the first real day of cycling. EV15 starts from the top of Oberalppass which is where the Rhine starts. We got our last train, a funicular from Andermatt to Oberalppass about 9:30am and started cycling about 10am.

Top of the pass

The route starts with a monster downhill with hairpin bends. This would have been great without luggage but on a quite flexible Dawes with ~22kg of gear it was scary. The bike wobbled like a jelly and the brakes got too hot to work. (Note to self – new touring bike with disk brakes needed). Sarah also wants a note added about needing a new touring bike as well.

Luckly the break smoke didn’t obscure the beautiful scenery.
Stunning scenery – and the mountains are pretty πŸ˜‰

Once the gradient reduced, we could enjoy the scenery.

An old bridge over a deep gorge.

The route was mainly down hill on the A19. The traffic was light and mostly respectful of cyclists. We passed through many picture postcard beautiful villages. The musical backdrop was Swiss cow and sheep bells echoing off the steep valley walls.

There were some off-road sections which ran parallel to the A19 route. As its a narrow valley you could clearly see the off-road route – it looked hard going on heavy tourers. We kept to the A9 but some of the sections from Muttiens to Ilanz looked to have a good surface and may have been a better option than the main road.

At Ilanz we did some shopping at Spar and tried to call a campsite to book. The call went to answerphone. We left a message and pushed on to the campsite which was 4 miles up hill !

It was a slog to the campsite with gradients of 12% at one point. The steep unrelenting gradient even made me question the decision to buy beer !

We arrived at the campsite about 3:30pm. Reception was locked. We tried phoning again to no avail. With the help of Google translate and some friendly Germans we worked out the self registration forms, the fees and local taxes. These were placed in an envelope and posted through the reception door so they couldn’t accuse us of being bad.

It’s a lovely camp site. Firstly there are very few people here & none are British. The showers clean & hot and as the photo shows there’s a covered seating area.

Tuna & chic pea pasta with pesto…
…and then the rain came ☹️

So, instead of writing this sitting under the stars, I’m wrapped up in our tent, hoping for no leaks 🀞

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 3

Rhine Cycle Route: Day 3

Zurich to Andermatt. 4th May 2023

  • Todays mileage: Zero ☹️
  • Total mileage: 30 miles
  • Disasters: Not getting a couchette for the Amsterdam to Zurich leg. 🀦

Well that was a night of broken sleep so we’re both knackered. After being kept awake by the Italians (who we’re actually Spanish) I was woken early (6am) by a large gent shouting into his phone.

Zurich station was clean & functional, as you’d expect from the Swiss. Only problem is there’s no seats in the station except for the cafe. So we had a coffee & pastry for breakfast and waited for our 10am train to Andermatt.

Coffee & cake in Zurich…

We’ve decided that for long distance train travel to be fun you need a sleeping compartment. So far our travel time is…

  • Aspatria to Newcastle 2 hours
  • Ferry to Amsterdam 12 hours
  • Amsterdam to Zurich 12 hours
  • Zurich to Andermatt 2 hours

Total travelling time 2 1/2 days so far & we’ve 1 train to go. Just flying is now seeming a good option 🀨

The journey to Andermatt was beautiful and we got an early glimpse of the Rhine.

First glimpse of the Rhine.

In Amdermatt we sat out in the sun & had some lunch of bread, cheese & tomatoes. The mountains are beautiful but there is a lot of new build going on.

Loads of new build.

In the hotel we crashed for a few hours before showering & going out for food.

Mummy beer 😊

We had burger & chips in a nearby pub. It was lovely but Switzerland is expensive – it was Β£80 for that & 2 beers each !

Anyway early to bed…

Rhine Cycle Route – Day 2.

Rhine Cycle Route – Day 2.

Ferry terminal to Amsterdam.

  • Todays mileage: 21 miles
  • Total mileage: 30 miles
  • Disasters: 2 (minor) Both of us had low speed falls today – no injury or breakage.

We woke early after a good night’s sleep. The boat didn’t dock till 9:35 so we had a leisurely start for once.

Once off the ferry we followed a maze of beautiful cycle paths into the centre of Amsterdam.

Quality cycle paths – far better maintained than UK roads !

The cycle paths are busy with many ebikes so you have to watch your back !

The big surprise was that these little cars were allowed on the cycle paths. They’re much quicker than the bike traffic and usually driven by old people – scary 😳

Tiny cars on the cycle paths !
It wouldn’t be Holland without one of these 🀣

Being pensioners now & generally tight on cash we declined the €18 breakfast on the boat thinking there’d be a cafe on route. We didn’t find one till near Amsterdam by which time we were both getting hangry !

Pannini & chips later we felt fine again & continued to the centre of Amsterdam in sunshine.

Central Amsterdam

After scoping out where the station was we went about killing a few hours. Now the city is busy and has a lovely vibe but it’s not easy to wheel heavily laden bikes through the crowds. It was while doing this we both had our falls !

Sarah found a huge underground bike park. It would have been perfect but the luggage wasn’t secure. The attendant seeing our disappointment then offered to look after our bikes and luggage for a couple of hours.

Huge 24/7 underground bike park accessed by conveyors.

After picking our bikes up we sat in the sun outside Central Station & had tuna pasta salad for dinner while watching barges going up the river.

Boarding our train was stress free, especially after one of the locals showed us (with perfect english) the screen that detailed exactly where our carriage would stop. It’s at this point we met other cycle tourists πŸ˜€

Now being pensioners of limited means – have I mentioned we’re pensioners now ? Anyway we opted for the cheap seats rater than a sleeping compartment. Well about 11pm we really started to regret this as we were sitting near a group of very excitable Italians who loved to shout at each other.

Funking loud Italians – Grrrr…

Anyway time to try & get some sleep 😴

Rhine Cycle Route – Day 1.

Rhine Cycle Route – Day 1.

Cockers to Newcastle & the ferry to Amsterdam.

  • Todays mileage:   9 miles
  • Total mileage:     9 miles
  • Disasters:       None 😁

The day started the way all cycle trips seem to start – early & in a rush.  The plan was to get the train to Newcastle & then cycle to North Shields for the ferry.  To get the train at Aspatria I used the van to get bikes, luggage and Sarah to the station.  I then drove the van home & Hazel gave us a lift back to Aspatria (via Greggs πŸ˜‹)

Aspatria station – nice of them to put bunting out for our departure.

Travelling with bikes in the UK is always stressful and today was no exception.  You can’t book bikes on Northern rail trains so you never really know if you’re going to get on !   

Luck of the God’s was with us today and we were able to cram our bikes in the shitty little space allocated for two bikes.    Don’t get me started on providing an integrated transport system – grrrrrrr….

Northern Rail Bike space. Tossers !

Once on the Newcastle train we started to relax a little knowing we stood a good chance of making the ferry now.

From Newcastle it was only a short, flat cycle  down the Tyne to the ferry terminal at North Shields on NC72. We stopped at The Cycle Hub, our favorite cycle cafe for a coffee & cake. https://www.thecyclehub.org/  Great cakes πŸ˜‹

Cycling down the Tyne.

On the ferry we had a cheeky pint to celebrate. At Β£5.00 a pint for Heineken it was only one !

The food on the ferry was also rip-off prices.  How can you charge over 7 quid for a bag Maltesers !

Β£7.13 for Maltesers for fucks sake…

I’d love to have been in on the meeting where a bunch of greedy accountants decided putting a “duty free” sticker on the Maltesers made it look ok.

Luckly we’d made sandwiches else a full meal may have required a call to the Cumberland to remortgage the house. We ate these and some rather dry falafel on deck while sailing down the Tyne to the sea.

We retired to our cabin for the evening

Small but clean cabin

Soon it became apparent we had a cabin next to a Dutch teenage girls choir who kept singing the same song over and over again – quite amusing really.

…and time for bed 😴

Bay Cycle Way – Day 3.

Bay Cycle Way – Day 3.

Grange to Lancaster : 38 miles

I started off from the Commadore Inn on a gray overcast day. Todays route to Lancaster is mostly flat with less than 2000ft of ascent. It starts by heading north east to cross the river Kent at Levens before heading south to Milnthorpe on quiet roads.

From Milnthorpe the route follows the banks of the river to Arnside where I stopped for a drink.

Arnside

From Arnside the route swings inland around Arnside Knott before rejoining the coast just before Silverdale. The cloud lifted and the temperature warmed as the route headed south just inland of the coast.

The route rejoined the coast just before Morecambe

Morecambe sea front

From Morecambe the route follows a cycle path by the canal all the way into to Lancaster – a really pleasant route… In Lancaster I had time for a quick pint at the station before getting the train back to Maryport. In summary the Bay Cycleway is a great route that I’ll be doing again sometime…

Bay Cycle Way – Day 2.

Bay Cycle Way – Day 2.

Barrow to Grange : 40 miles

I awoke early to gray skies. It didn’t look the best day for cycling but I was looking forward to it. The Spoons breakfast was good and served by friendly staff. I was on the road before 8:30am

I started from Walney bridge where the route leads through the streets of Barrow & past the BAE buildings before heading over a bridge past the Devonshire Dock. I have to say they’ve really tried to make this route safe – see the coned cycle lane below past the BAE works.

Wide segregated cycle lane – good but not quite up to French or Dutch standards yet
The BAE buildings…
Then over Devonshire Dock bridge

Now it was shortly after this I got stopped by two Police who wanted to know who I was, what I was doing and why I was taking photos. Apparently this is where one of our nuclear subs are housed so they were checking me out.

Thankfully I’d not been arrested I then headed out past Buccleuch and Cavendish docks on traffic free tracks. The route then heads south past the Morcombe gas terminal towards Roa Island. I have to say its a great little route out of Barrow – again they’ve tried to make it nice.

Cycleway out past Cavendish Dock. Still a gray day.
Wreck on the way to Roa Island

The route then headed north towards Ulverston where it started to drizzle. I stopped for the usual tourist photo.

Laurel & Hardy… Stan Laurel was born in Ulverston in 1890

Strangly enough there are quite a few famous people from Ulverston. The Ulverston Wikipedia page lists 14 famous people. I didn’t realise that Christine McVie from Fleetwood Mac was born there !

From Ulverston the route left on quiet undulating roads over to Greenodd where I crossed the estuary.

From Greenodd quiet roads again towards Cartmel.

Before Cartmel there’s a climb up to Bigland Hall. We need to talk about this climb because it’s a big one that goes on for about a mile. I got up OK but at 10% gradient if I’d got kids it would have been a different story.

Low Wood to Bigland Hall – avoid this section if you don’t like climbing…
Cartmel race course…

I stopped in Cartmel for a break. I was hoping for a cool drink & a large portion of the famous Cartmel Sticky Toffee pudding. Sadly nowhere had it on the menu ☹️

The Cartmel entry in Wikipedia says…

More recently Cartmel has emerged as a foodie destination. Cartmel sticky toffee pudding was first sold at the village shop in 1984[11] and grew in popularity: it is now sold in supermarkets around the UK. The Cartmel Sticky Toffee Company, who make it, moved to a larger factory in nearby Flookburgh in the 2000s but still operate[clarification needed] and sell from the village shop in Cartmel.[12] In 2002, chef Simon Rogan opened L’Enclume restaurant in the village. The restaurant quickly became one of the UK’s most popular, and held top spot as the UK’s best restaurant in The Good Food Guide from 2014-2017, returning to the top in 2020.[13] In 2022 it became the first restaurant in the UK outside London and the South-East to gain 3 Michelin stars.

From Cartmel the route goes via Flookburgh on quiet roads to Grange over Sands.

I stayed the night at the Commodore Inn…

Chocolate after a long day cycling πŸ˜‹
Bay Cycleway – Day 1.

Bay Cycleway – Day 1.

Barrow and Walney Island : 15 miles.

I woke on saturday morning to sunshine. Pity my head didn’t feel as clear as the skies. I’d started the bike club friday social ride with good intensions – I’d set a three pint limit for the evening. Sadly my halo slipped slightly but only by two !

The first part of my trip is a short cycle from Cockers to Maryport station. There’s no photos or video for this section because my hazy head made me late setting off for the train. It was a sprint to Maryport station – sadly the train won & I had to wait an hour for the next one. The worst of it was that I thought I’d made it only to realise my thinking was an hour out – doh…

That gave me time to buy some water – first thing I’ve forgotten. I cycled to the local garage for the water where I realised I’ve no lock – second thing I’ve forgotten.

Maryport station isnt too bad – they’ve tried to tart it up with a state of the art touch screen ticket machine and quite a few information boards on the Romans who had a settlement in Scaryport. Pity there are no toilets…

One of many information boards at Maryport station

Now my dislike of UK trains is well known but i have to say this journey was stress free with lovely views

From Barrow station I headed out to Walney island for a ride to the southern nature reserve and soon found this.

Start of the Bay Cycle Way…

I had a quick trip down to the south of the island – flat easy riding, especially with the wind behind you !

Ride down Walney to the nature reserve
View from Walney Island.

Sadly, there are “no cycling” signs on the entrance to the nature reserve so I turned round at that point. Walney’s nice though so I think we’ll come back in the van for a night at the Queens Arms and a walk through the nature reserve.

I’d booked into the Weatherspoon’s for the night. Normally I avoid Spoons because of the owners politics and attitude to staff but Sarah had recommended it. I have to stay the staff were friendly, the room spotless. Best of all there was no objection to me taking my bike to the room πŸ™‚

Another recommendation was the Dhaba Indian restaurant which is just round the corner from Spoons. It was a good recommendation…

Dhaba Indian Restaurant – well worth a visit

After a good feed and a couple of beers I headed to bed for an early night…

Bay Cycle Way

Bay Cycle Way

The Bay Cycle Way looks a great short tour that’s right on our doorstep. Sarah did it with a friend in June 2022 and thought it was great. I’m now planning to do it.

Bay Cycle Way – link to Sustrans web site…

Sarah did it with the Sustrans map – I prefer digital mapping. I downloaded the map from www.Waymarked Trails.org as a KML file.

This is a test of embedding a Google map of the route into this blog. I created a new map in Google Maps and imported the KML file. I copied the link into WordPress below…

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=1WCG2N02V290gZrhtoJbbTjojIxu8mrI&usp=sharing

Then I tried to insert an image with a link and got this…

Day 13: Last day in Malaga before the flight home ☹

Day 13: Last day in Malaga before the flight home ☹

  • Todays mileage: 10
  • Total mileage: 316
  • Disasters: zero…

Today we change from our nice but small Hobbit hut in the old town to a shit hotel near the airport bus.

It’s the worst day of weather we’ve had in two weeks – a little overcast and windy, very windy. Windy app said up to 50mph gusts.

We decided to risk a ride so after leaving the hobbit hut we headed east along the coast. We were cycling directly into the wind which made it hard going.

Windy.com was right – the sea was wild with surges up the beach and waves spraying the roads. Don’t think this cafe will be opening today…

Flooded beach cafe…
This will take some cleaning up…

After a pleasent lunch at one of the beach restaurant that wasn’t flooded we headed back to the shit hotel – Hostal la Hispanidad. When I say it’s shit I mean the rooms aren’t great. The staff are lovely though and sorted us with an “out the way” area to pack the bikes away.

With bikes packed we went to the bus station to check out bus times to the airport. It’s “Line A” bus to the airport all for the princely sum of €4

Simply scan a QR code at the bus stop & the timetable appears ?

We then went for some food in the restaurant next to our hotel. It was devoid of customers which is normally a bad thing. The manager/waiter/chef (same guy) was lovely. Just as we were leaving we heard marching band music – there was a religious parade with the baby Jesus carried by a group of men.

Jesus being carried past the shopping centre…

Feeling full of god it was time for bed – big day of travel tomorrow. I think praying for a first class upgrade on a Jet2 flight may be more than god can deliver…

Days 11 & 12:Β  Exploring Malaga…

Days 11 & 12:Β  Exploring Malaga…

  • Todays mileage: 0
  • Total mileage:Β Β Β Β Β 306
  • Disasters:Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β zero – apart from a sherry hangover…

If you’d mentioned Malaga to me a few weeks ago I’d have thought chav holiday resort – rows of tat hotels, irish sports bars offering fried breakfasts and lobster red brits behaving badly.

How different to that Malaga town is – it’s lovely.    Beautiful architecture, cafe culture, lovely locals and very few brits.

Not going to bang on about how nice it is but I’ll just add a few photos showing the “flavour” of Malaga.

Roman theatre in the centre of town…
Tapas in the sun…
Gay pride event…
The streets…
Street art on buildings in Soho…
Pompidou centre…
The beach in November – still shorts weather.
Fresh seafood cooked on wood…
Chorros – had to try them. Bit like long donuts without sugar or filling – disappointing really ☹
…and too much sherry ?

In summary would we come back to Malaga – Yes…

Day 11: Alhaurin to Malaga…

Day 11: Alhaurin to Malaga…

  • Todays mileage:  33
  • Total mileage:      306
  • Disasters:   One – another rear puncture !

The day started with the best breakfast we’ve had so far.  A buffet of everything – we ate and drank well for our €7 ?

The climb out of Alhaurin was a brutal wakeup with our full bellies.  The road then undulated through countryside the 11km till Mijas.

First sighting of the sea…
Mijas…

We stopped in Mijas for a drink before descending steep roads to Fuengarola where traffic got busy.Β 

Made it to the coast at Fuengarola…

The plan (Sarahs) was to pick up the Eurovelo 8 cycle path to Malaga.Β Β  I’d got the gpx files from my favorite site http://www.waymarkedtrails.org and loaded them into my mapping apps.Β  So should make navigation as simple as following the line !

In the past all the Eurovelo routes have been great.  Well thought out and as traffic free as possible.  This part of the EV8 is an exception.   Busy roads, one way streets (wrong way) and off road sections didn’t make for fun riding ☹

We stopped at a beach bar for a coke & on leaving I found I’d got another rear puncture.Β  The cause looked like the tub tape had rubbed a cut in the tube !Β  Never had that before ! Anyway second fix of the holiday before continuing to Malaga.Β 

We were now running late and started getting calls from the apartment owner wondering when we’d turn up. We were only 6km away but it took for ever to find our way through the outskirts of Malaga.

The owner needed to return to his office so came to meet us on his motorbike with the keys about one km from the property. WhatsApp live location is great ?

We got into our apartment about 5:30pm tired and hungry. All we had was some sweaty cheese that was surplus from last nights meal. (Sarah’s starter was just one huge plate of cheese).

We showered and went out for a lovely meal with real veg. The streets and cafes were busy with a nice vibe. After an ice cream & a short walk home it was time for bed. Weve christened our apartment the Hobbit hut…

Out Hobbit hut for a couple of days…

Cycling summary:

  • 8 days of cycling.
  • 306 miles.
  • 21,457 ft of ascent.
  • 2 punctures – both rear.
  • Zero mechanicals.
  • Zero falls.
Day 10: Rhonda to Alhaurin.

Day 10: Rhonda to Alhaurin.

  • Todays mileage: 44
  • Total mileage: 273
  • Disasters: zero (unless you count mile long hills at 8% a disaster. If so then there were loads)

The day started badly with my pigeon spanish letting me down again. My breakfast order came back as plain toast (no butter) with a pot of tomato puree. Not exactly what I’d ordered – toast, butter and jam ! At least I got coffee right.

Plain toast no butter or jam ☹

In reality a plain breakfast was required as I’ve had a bad stomach for days now. So following breakfast we had a trip to the chemist for some Bisto tablets.

Getting out of Rhonda was easy & we soon hit the open country on quiet roads.

Perfect cycling ?

The road climbed and then descended all the way to Yunquera. Long uphill & long descents never greater than 10%.

Now Sarah was loving the route I’d chosen. Apparently…

I’ve not fucked up yet – but have potential !”

Flushed with success I routed us on a quiet back road from Alozaina. This quiet road took us nearly to Coin before we had to join the main road.

Navigating through coin was a sense of humour test. It’s a rats nest of very hilly streets and was quiet busy as well. Also Windy Maps routing let us down – well my version did anyway.

After we cleared Coin it was a slog to Alhaurin el Grande where I had my emergency gel. To this point we’d only had breakfast, a can of coke and a bag of crisps all day.

There’s not much accommodation round Coin but the Alhaurin Golf hotel were offering rooms for €50 on Booking.com

The hotels lovely but in the middle of nowhere ! Chilling out before food Sarah worked out we’d climbed 20,004 ft in total. Not bad ?

After chilling we decided to eat at a local resturant. The thought being that the hotel would be a ripoff.

So off we walked the 250 yards to a group of 4 resturants, picked one & went for food.

Big mistake. Poor quality “chips with everything” food & pricy. Oh and frozen mixed veg. Grrrr. Such a contrast to what the spanish eat. Suppose its to be expected in an area where the Brits come. Anyway we needed carbs before bed.

Day 9: A day in Rhonda…

Day 9: A day in Rhonda…

  • Todays mileage:    zero.
  • Total mileage:        229
  • Disasters:                zero…

Lazy start and a breakfast at a local cafe.   Todays breakfast broke tradition –  eggs on toast.   Not because my spanish took a leap forward but because it’s on the menu in English.

Then a lazy walk round town to see the sights.

Really quite pretty !

Then we found a lovely terrace bar for drinks and Tapas.  A little more expensive than the tourist tat in town but worth it ?

An attempt at an arty photograph to show our terrace and the scenery beyond – bit of a failure really ☹

A bit more walking and then more beer and Tapas.

Then back to the room for a siesta…  Now I thought I’d been smart and set the air con to “dry” but it seemed not to work. Looks like im cycling in wet kecks tomorrow ☹

Out for evening food – after 8pm as resturants dont open till then.

Tonight I thought my Spanish had reached rock bottom – it seemed I couldn’t even get a waiter to understand me when I’m using Google Translate FFS…

But I didn’t fail & my large glass of local spirit turned up…

Anis dulce – a nice night cap…

Day 8: El Bosque to Rhonda.

Day 8: El Bosque to Rhonda.

…or a fuck tonne of climbing !

  • Todays mileage: 37
  • Total mileage: 229
  • Disasters: none…

Today was always going to be a hilly day. Spain is hilly and Rhonda is at the top of a big one.

Our hotel is a little run down but the staff were lovely. We came down to breakfast & no one was there so we went and brought cake for the journey. When we returned @9am the staff were there. Cheese on toast again + jam this time.

After breakfast we paid & were given a large jar of local honey. A lovely thought but really the last thing I wanted to carry up the hills. I bet Froomy doesn’t have this problem…

Hot roads, 22Β°C but beautiful scenery.
Half a cake needed…

We stopped at a roadside petrol station in Montecorto. Strange place with plastic tables in the forecourt by the pumps. Most tables were filled with pissed old blokes who’d obviously driven there ! We thought they’d be very local to the petrol station but we had a close pass by one of them with his horn blaring. Nearly made Sarah shit herself !

After a loads of climbing (and some shit navigation by me) we finally made it to Rhonda.

Rhonda – nearly there…

Our hotel tonight is shit but cheap. The Hotel Virgin (actually the Hotel Virgen de los Reyes). The showers ok so were happy. So quick shower & out for a wander.

After a few beers we had pizza at a restaurant next to our hotel. It was a little chaotic but had a lovely atmosphere. Sarahs salmon starter was huge.

Big enough for two – and it was ?

The food was cheep as well. I can’t remember the price but it made us wonder what the average wage is in Spain. Google told us it was ~$35k compared to the UK’s ~$50k. Not checked that but could explain why food is cheaper.

Day 7: Jerez to El Bosque

Day 7: Jerez to El Bosque

  • Todays mileage:  46
  • Total mileage:     192
  • Disasters:  depends on who you ask ?

We expected today to be long and hilly so we started early for us – 08:20.   It was not fully light & there was a heavy mist.

As Jerez was our far point we retraced our route as far as Arcos on quiet roads.  We made good progress through the mist and were both covered in condensation.

At Jedula and stopped for breakfast – the standard cheese on toast as the waitress didn’t understand how I asked for eggs ! 

Getting on my bike after breakfast I noticed a rear puncture.   So it was bags off to investigate.   A large glass shard was the cause – grrrr…

Puncture repaired & on the road again to Arcos where the traffic was heavy.  Out of Arcos we found one of our roads just didn’t exist !  Rerouting required…

From Arcos our new route was hilly and on a main road.  It was reasonably quiet but Sazz decided quieter roads were needed.  So we detoured onto “C” roads.

The “C” roads then turned into a miserable bumpy dirt track. Sazz said this was great fun and part of the adventure.  I just felt it was like riding a fully laden touring bike over a ploughed field.  Hence no photos.

Anyway we made it to El Bosque about 3:30ish.  We sat on a bench and used  booking.com to find a room.  For €42 the hotel El Tabanco seemed a bargin. It turned out to be a little tired but with friendly staff.

Nice views from one of the smoother sections of dirt road

Day 6:Β  A day round Jerez…

Day 6:Β  A day round Jerez…

  • Todays mileage:Β Β Β  Zero
  • Total mileage:Β Β Β Β Β Β  146
  • Disasters:Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β  Zero

Lazy start and breakfast at a street cafe… So far during our travels my Spanish has not been received well by the locals. Despite my best efforts nobody’s understood a word I’ve said and then had to ask (in English) what I want. 

…until today.  I ordered cheese on toast and two coffees for breakfast.    Not only did the guy understand me but he complimented me on my Spanish !  

…and again at lunch.   We had drinks and tapas in a back street bar and again the guy understood me. 

The Sherry education started here…

Following a long lunch discussing our route to Rhonda we decided on a tour of the Tio Pepe winery for the afternoon.  

Tio Pepe ?  Looks remarkably like Stewart Holdsworth to me !

Really interesting tour… did you know there are only two grape varieties used to make sherry. Also Sherry is a protected name like champagne. Anyway they’ve got quite a bit of Sherry here…

Rows of sherry casks – oldest at the bottom & youngest at the top. There’s a decanting process. Sherry is taken from the bottom casks. Then younger Sherry is decanted into the older Sherry barrels to refill them. 500 litres per barrel – now that’s a session ?

Thought she preferred (snatching) milk…

We then went for a tasting… ?

Good measures ?

I’ll not bore you with the tasting notes but interestingly Croft is the only one that the Spanish don’t drink. It’s produced and exported solely for the UK !

Then it got a little silly. Brits abroad…

My farorite was the Croft – I’m such a philistine
We then went for a cultural tour of the sites before more beer and tapas…