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.

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 🤪
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 👍

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 👍

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 😋

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 👍

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 👍 Think I’ll sleep tonight…

We just got back to the tent before the forecasted heavy rain started. …and it’s heavy 💦💦💦 🤞 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 – £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 😉

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 £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 😀

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 😋)

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 😋

Cycling down the Tyne.

On the ferry we had a cheeky pint to celebrate. At £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 !

£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.


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 😋
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 🙂

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…


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

Mallorca day: 5

Mallorca day: 5

  • Todays mileage: 8.1
  • Total mileage: 113.2
  • Disasters: Just the bloody weather again 😭😭😭

Well today did start with wordle. We didn’t need a weather app to tell us it was miserable outside. So we had a lazy morning. The weather improved through the morning so about 11am we set off for a ride to meet Nicola & David in Port de Pollenca.

We didn’t get far before wind and rain made us reconsider our plan. We diverted to Alcudia old town for lunch. We just chose the first cafe that we could 1. Sit inside 2. See the bikes. This turned out to be a specialist ham cafe which didn’t give the best choice for us (well Sarah really) veggies. Anyway there was a nice dish and good coffee.

Quality Ham, cheese, olives and tomato 😋

From here it was a quick (and cold) cycle back to the hotel where Sarah hogged the walming shower for what seemed years… After a short rest we started to pack the bikes – we’d finally given up on cycling in this wet & cold country !

As we were packing the bikes outside we noticed today must be arrival day for chavs – families streamed passed us with kids that probably should have been in school. One family of haggis munchers with a room near ours had particularly loud and badly behaved kids. We ignored them & got on with bike packing. Then in ear shot of Sarah they comment “when one bunch of cycle wankers leave another bunch turn up” about a couple of cyclists arriving. Nice – so we’re officially “cycle wankers” now 😁

Anyway bikes were packed and the last of the cooking white consumed – all with a few rays of sunshine at last 😬

Then a group of Spanish girls started singing along to what must be the Spanish equivalent of Radio 1. They were quite tuneful but it doesn’t bode well for sleep tonight 🤨

Having finished all our food (and wine) we headed out to a local restaurant. We chose S’Amfora for two reasons 1. It was near to us. 2. It had reasonable google reviews. This turned out to be a good choice.

Best piece of pork I’ve had in a long time 👍

We chatted with the owner who was a lovely guy & were given some Mallorcan spirit as a digestive. Served ice cold it was very tasty 😋

…and so to bed before an early start

Mallorca day: 4

Mallorca day: 4

  • Todays mileage: 38.6
  • Total mileage: 105.1
  • Disasters: Just the bloody weather again 😭😭😭

The day started looking at our phones – not Wordle but the weather app and rain radar. We were trying to work out a plan for the day. Heavy rain was forcast so the debate was hire a car or go out a little later & hope to miss the showers.

Then out the blue Sarah shouts “Dave and Nicola are in Port de Polensa” So a phone call was made and a plan for tonight made…

Car hire looked expensive so we opted for a cycle to the east – out towards Arta. It started dry and we made it to Can Picafort. Just after that we came across a Neolithic burial site at Son Real. A Lovely 2km ride through woodlands to the coast.

2km cycle through woodland to the beach…
Son Real – Neolithic site and beautiful beach…

From Son Real we went to Son Serra before heading inland to Santa Margalida for a coke. After this it rained heavily on our route home making the journey a cold one ! By the time we made it back to the hotel the sun made a brief appearance. We managed one beer at the bar before heading in to get warm.

After a warming shower we headed out to meet Dave and Nicola in Porta de Pollenca. We had a fine meal at Tolos.

Lovely meal – Tollos is a great spot.

Summary of our route

Mallorca day: 3

Mallorca day: 3

  • Todays mileage: 18.8
  • Total mileage: 66.5
  • Disasters: just the bloody weather…

Not much to say about today really. Bad weather’s come in and it rained for most of the day. We went for a circular cycle – Pollenca, Port de Pollenca, Alcudia old town & home.

We got drizzel before reaching Pollenca. During our coffee stop the rain started with a vengence. The route to Port de Pollenca was no joy so we just headed along the sea front towards Alcudia old town. The only consolation was the wind was behind us.

At Alcudia old town we had food & Sarah did shopping in one of the many tat shops for tourists. From there it was a short drizzly ride back to the hotel to dry out.

Sarah wouldn’t buy this for our house ☹

The rain stopped so we had a walk around & got some food. On our walk we both got the feeling it was like walking in one of those Zombie apocalypse films. So many hotels were closed and for sale. It really felt spooky. The pandemic has really had an affect on the economy here.

Just one of the many closed Hotels…

A fine chic pea curry & a €2 bottle of red finished the day.

€2 a bottle – you gotta love the Spanish ?

Mallorca Day 2:

Mallorca Day 2:

  • Todays mileage: 37
  • Total mileage: 43.7
  • Disasters: zero ?

Opening the curtains found a gray day – not what we’re used to in Spain but it’s dry so all’s good.

Todays plan was cycle to the lighthouse at Cap Formentor. It’s a beautiful route and a classic for all cyclists who visit Mallorca. I won’t bore you with a description of the route but here are some photos…

The lighthouse at Cap Formentor. The last section of road to the lighthouse was closed for road repairs so we didn’t quite get there.
Just pretty scenery….
It’s a windy day…
6% for 3.5km is what I read… ?
Stopped for a beer at Tolo’s the cycling cafe with Wiggo memorabilia
Wiggo’s Pinarello. Note the chains stopping me putting to to better use. …also the price of a pint is a little steep ?
Summary of our ride…

A meal in the hotel and a few glasses of vino tinto ended the day ? Sadly there’s a low sitting over Mallorca so its not looking promising for tomorrow.

The low over Mallorca ☹

Mallorca 2022. Day 1:

Mallorca 2022. Day 1:

Today started with an early start – 3am alarm for 6am flight. This may be a little early but security is always a lottery & we have bikes to get checked as well.

The drive to the airport was stress free without traffic & checking/security quite quick. This gave time for…

Breakfast & a pint ?

Smooth flight, immigration and transfer made getting from plane to the hotel stress free. I must say I like Jet2, the staff are always helpful. The only bit of stress was having to wait an hour and a half for the room to be ready.

The view from our balcony while we waited for the room !

We then built the bikes up & went shopping for a couple of days food. Shopping packed away and half a bag of Lays demolished we set out for a little explore on the bikes to see they’re working.

Exploring Alcudia…

I cooked chic pea and anchovie risotto for dinner – not my best but we were very hungry so it got eaten. Couple of beers & early to bed.

Oh should have mentioned how cheap the wine is – a 1 litre carton of cooking white was 1.6€ and a decent red was less than €3. I love Spain ?

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:  Exploring Malaga…

Days 11 & 12:  Exploring Malaga…

  • Todays mileage: 0
  • Total mileage:     306
  • Disasters:              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…

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

Made it to the coast at Fuengarola…

The plan (Sarahs) was to pick up the Eurovelo 8 cycle path to Malaga.   I’d got the gpx files from my favorite site http://www.waymarkedtrails.org and loaded them into my mapping apps.  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.  The cause looked like the tub tape had rubbed a cut in the tube !  Never had that before ! Anyway second fix of the holiday before continuing to Malaga. 

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, 22°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:  A day round Jerez…

Day 6:  A day round Jerez…

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

Day 5: Villamartin to Jerez

Day 5: Villamartin to Jerez

….or “I’m going to get a taxi and you can’t stop me.

  • Todays mileage: 40
  • Total mileage: 146
  • Disasters: Zero ?

An early (for us) start today at 9:30am with Jerez as our target. Nothing special or spectacular about the mornings cycling, it was just pleasent rolling countryside.

Quiet roads & considerate drivers ?

We stopped for a late breakfast at a roadside cafe on the ring road round Arcos de la Fontera. It didn’t look much but the guy was lovely and really welcoming. He got us a toasted cheese sandwich but also brought tomato & tomato sauce. Now that’s not the Heinz type but proper pureed tomatoes. A lovely brunch for €6. Great value that would even make a Yorkshireman smile !

Arcos de la Frontera

From Arcos we got lucky with some cycle paths along what could have been busy roads. Then we followed a “service” road parallel to the motorway. This was really quiet and took us to the outskirts of Jerez where we passed the famous racing circuit.

Tonight Matthew I am Valentio Rossi – Sadly there was security on the gates so I couldn’t get in for a look round ☹

After this it started to get busy. I used Windy maps to navigate to our flat for the next two days. Windy’s navigation worked well and took us down cycle paths right into the centre. Well done Windy but really well done Spain for having such great cycle paths. Have to say Sarah doesn’t like busy roads. Her catch phrase of the day was “I’m going to get a taxi and you can’t stop me” (Now Sarah says I need to qualify this – busy = big fast lorries on narrow roads. )

Our apartment for two nights is lovely and very near to the centre of town. Again €70 for two nights is great value.

We wandered out for food & had a lovely meal at this spot.

Then a drink outside a local bar – the tree gives a clue to the climate here…

Day 4: Olvera to Villamartin.

Day 4: Olvera to Villamartin.

  • Todays mileage: 33
  • Total mileage: 106
  • Disasters: Zero ?

The airbnb apartment was lovely – right in the centre of the Old Town. The only problem was it was right near the town clock who’s bell chimed every hour. This made for a broken nights sleep. The decor was a throwback to the 70’s but for €40 we couldn’t complain.

Phil would love the decor here…

We slept in late and had breakfast on our roof terrace.

After a lazy breakfast we walked up to the fort and paid €2 for a look round.

Inside the fort was Wolfgang Berus coffin. Haven’t a clue who he is so I’m going to google him when I’ve a minute…

Wolfgang Berus coffin. Could do with a clean!

We then started todays ride. We’d chosen the Via Verde de la Sierra. It’s a 25 mile long cycle path from Olvera to Puerto Serrano.

If Carlsberg did cycle paths this would be it….

  • No cars ✔
  • Stunning scenery ✔
  • Eagles flying above you ✔
  • Bars on route ✔
  • Blazing sunshine ✔
  • 30 tunnel and 4 viaducts ✔
  • 25 miles long ✔
Tunnels were great – about a 15°C temperature drop inside…

Oh and did I mention it was down hill all way ? Originally designed to be a railway but never finished and turned into a cycle/walking path. If you’re a cyclist & in this area then the Via Verde de la Sierra is a must !

Proper down hill all the way ?

On reaching Puerto Serrano we discovered there wasn’t much accommodation. Provably because its a bit of a hole & no-one would want to stay there. So we pushed on to Villamartin where we got a 1 bed apartment for the night.

We booked it through Booking.com which was easy. They gave us a confirmation, the door code and maps to get there – what could go wrong…

Well the door code didn’t work & the contact we called no hablo englasie.

Anyway he obviously understood we couldn’t get in & came round. All sorted in a ground floor flat. Clean and a querky design – the only thing I don’t like are the plasticised paper sheets on the bed. Never had these before & really not comfy – feels like I’m sleeping in a bastard paper bag ?

Our evening meal was at the Los Cazadores resturant. It was a husband & wife operation – she cooked & he did everything else. The food was lovely but he was the most miserable unwelcomeing bastard possible. Now I was thinking Brits & Brexit but he was miserable to the locals as well. The bill was only €37 including beers & wine so I suppose courtesy was extra.

Day 3: El Chorro to Olvera

Day 3: El Chorro to Olvera

  • Todays mileage: 48
  • Total mileage: 83
  • Disasters: one… ?

Yesterday was a game of two halves…

The mornings cycling was as good as you can get. Quiet roads through some stunning scenery. El Chorro is beautiful.

El Chorro gorge…

We had breakfast at Ardales and considered our route – the roads I’d chosen were a little busy. The compromise was a little longer but used some tracks, minor roads and about 19 miles on the main road.

Now the last section on main road was reasonably quiet but all up hill.

So it was a fuck off big hill in the sun – I got heat stroke. Definitly ruined the evening !

Anyway our £40 AirB&B was a lovely house in the old town.

View from the lounge window…
Day 2: Malaga to El Chorro…

Day 2: Malaga to El Chorro…

  • Todays mileage: 35
  • Total mileage:     35
  • Disasters:             zero ?

Both of us didn’t have the best nights sleep for no particular reason so we woke late ~9am Spanish time.   After final packing and pumping tyres it was time to store the bike boxes for the two weeks.

We hit the road about 10:20. Luckly it’s sunday & the streets were relatively quiet.  We’re using Maps.me on my phone with pre-prepared route overlays (kml files).  This made navigating city streets relatively easy. 

We were stopped by a man with a gun for 10 mins while the Malaga half marathon went by. 

Malaga half marathon…

We continued through urban sprawl till Pizarra where we stopped for some lunch.  It was a busy locals cafe with three large horses tethered outside – suppose that beats the drink driving rules.

Now my Spanish is pretty shit but we managed to order two coffees and two cheese toasties.   Coffees were lovely – almost up to Costa Fryers standards !

As we’d a few miles in our legs by now (no breakfast) we ordered the same again – or so we thought.  Two takeaway coffees and two wrapped toasties were delivered – not sure what we said to order that !     Anyway coffees were drunk and toasties saved for later. 

Second round was takeaway – maybe it was a hint !

From Pizarra the traffic thinned and we started climbing into the mountains.  Hot going – Garmin said 24°C.  

Talking of traffic I have to say that the Spanish are very courteous and respectful drivers. Everyone slowed to pass us and gave us plenty of room.

We saw loads of club cyclists so I think the route we’d picked was a popular cycling route with numerous signs on giving cyclists room.  Such a contrast to the UK.

The road to El Chorro…   note the shadows and blue sky ?
Crossing the dam at El Chorro…

El Chorro’s small but quite busy with tourists.  The draw is walking and climbing.  El Caminito del Rey is the famous walk which passes through stunning scenery, at times on elevated walkways along shear rock faces. 

Part of the Caminito del Rey walk… we didn’t have time to do this so the photos ripped off google images ?

It’s a linear walk – you can only do it one way.  some fun facts can be found here: https://www.caminitodelrey.info/en/5243/about-route

We’d booked the hotel La Garganta while having lunch.  It turned out to be lovely – a hotel with character.  The room is over two floors with a spiral staircase up to the bedroom & bathroom.  Trouble is the spiral staircase is TINY.   How you’d get a suitcase up is beyond me…

…and it didn’t help that the top step was lose & wobbled !

Another quirk of the hotel room was the shower. A precarious climb in when wet & the highest water pressure I’ve ever experienced in a domestic supply – great for massaging aching limbs but far too strong for the family jewels ?

10/10 for style but 2/10 for access…

The hotel restaurant was lovely but again my Spanish let me down.  I tried to order a jug of water for the table “jarra de agua” but the waitress couldn’t understand my pronunciation.  Made her laugh anyway before coming back in perfect english. Well it wasn’t perfect but better vocabulary than a few brits I know.

A fine cheese board ?

Anyway a summary of todays route…

Day 1: Blighty to Malaga…

Day 1: Blighty to Malaga…

  • Todays mileage: 0
  • Total mileage:     0
  • Disasters:   Zero…  ?

Todays journey to Malaga started with an unhappy face.   Jess didn’t want us to leave her. Nice to know but I’m sure she’ll be spoiled rotten by Keith & Joanne.

The journey to East Midlands airport went smoothly with the only hiccup –  being charged £5 for rapid drop off.  Rip-off Britain – Grrrrr

The airport itself was quiet & baggage check-in was smooth with no queuing.  Surprising given we had two bikes. 

At the outsized baggage desk I went first.  Lucky I did because the computer selected my box for a random inspection.  Mines a bike box Allan so was easily opened.  Sarah’s bikes taped up in a cardboard box which would have been a nightmare to open & re-tape after.

After the bikes & bags had gone down the conveyor for a good kicking we went outside and ate our lunch on a concrete anti terrorist block. Not the best location but away from the great unwashed in the terminal.

We went through security (randomly picked for a scan) and through to duty free shops.   Here Rip-off Britain went into overdrive with a bag of M&M’s retailing at £6.

The flight was only 2/3 full and pretty uneventful. Malaga airport was efficient except for the Spanish immigration officer who threw our passports back at us. A consequence of Brexit I would imagine. But pretty disappointing as I’d said hello and thank you in my best Spanish ?

The plan was to get a bus from the airport to our hotel in Malaga. The internet said it was “Linea A”. In the end this worked well but not till after a little asking around.

The hotel is basic but clean with friendly staff. A randon drunk guy helped with the biked up the stairs to the hotel reception. Friendly and articulate (in English) unlike your average uk pisshead. I tipped him €5 which he was well happy with.

Bike rebuilding…

We built the bikes up and then went for a quick meal.

The holiday starts here…

Then back to bed for an early night…

Day 12: Crask to Tain and the end of our trip ?

Day 12: Crask to Tain and the end of our trip ?

  • Today’s mileage: 41.9 miles
  • Total mileage:    430.6 miles
  • Desasters:  none really…

The day started with a hearty breakfast and a chat with our new Kiwi friends that we met in the bar last night.  

After sayimg our goodbyse and telling the manager about the beadside lamp that was arking we set off about 9:30. 

We were looking forward to today because it was essentially a downhill ride – see the strava profile below…

Lovely route through beautiful countryside with the return of trees – I love trees.

We met up with Richard & Helen at Bonar Bridge for lunch.

Lunch at Bonar Bridge…

After Bonar Bridge the route took us on the main A roads towards Inverness. We made it as far as Tain, called it a day and got the train the last 20 miles. It was busy traffic and loads of big wagons.

Phil, a friend who lives in inverness came and picked us up ftom Inverness and we had a very pleasant night at his house in Gorthleck – thanks Phil ?

Anyway a summary of today’s route…

And that’s the end of our trip. So far this blog is rambling words written while half asleep after a days cycling. Hopefully I’ll put together some useful info on Orkneys and Shetland soon.

Day 11: Melvick to Crask

Day 11: Melvick to Crask

  • Today’s mileage:  50.4 miles
  • Total mileage:    387.3 miles
  • Desasters:  none ?

Yesterday’s short day threw our plan out the window. We had a rethink over breakfast…

What a difference the weather makes.  Dry & little wind today so the new plan was to get some miles done. The options were Altnaharra, Crask or (at a push) Lairg. Several phone calls later and were booked into the Crask Inn. We started off about 9am.

Not much to tell really – pleasent and uneventful days cycling through beautiful countryside.  As with all phone photos they don’t do the scenery justice.

Around Betty Hill…
On the road side at Betty Hill
Lunch at Tongue  ?
Typical cycling…
The road just short of Crask…
Bothy – could have saved money and stayed there but Sarah said it smelt of shit…
Arrival at the Crask Inn and an NC1 sign…

Anyway a summary of todays route…

The Crask inn is lovely. Ill write more on that when less tired…

Day 10: Dunnet Head to Melvich…

Day 10: Dunnet Head to Melvich…

  • Today’s mileage:  29.3 miles
  • Total mileage:    336.9 miles
  • Desasters:  only the weather…

It was a windy and wet night and neither of us slept well. We were up by 8am, showered and got the tent down before the rain started.

The couple who ran the camp site took pity on us and gave us breakfast – eggs and toast. Really nice people as we’d only got two jelly babies to keep us going till Thurso !

They’d got two beautiful dogs who took an interest in our breakfast. The Husky’s eyes looked mean but she was soft as grease really ?

We started cycling in windy but dry conditions. The sections on the main road were grim because of traffic. The back roads were hilly but scenic.

Dunnet Head in the distance.

Then the rain started, the wind increased and it became colder. Cycling became a real sense of humour test ?

We stopped at a small shop (porta-cabin) for takeaway hot chocolate and macaroni cheese & beans pie. While we were refuelling in the lee of the cabin (by the bins) we decided we weren’t going to make Tongue today. Several Google searches and phone calls later & we were booked in at the Melvich Hotel – at about half our original target distance.

It was now about 1pm and that only left us about 12 miles for the day ? As if to vindicate our decision the rain eased.

We met two interesting cyclists on route. A girl called Hanna who does LEJOG every year on her own and a guy from Suffolk who was touring Scotland for a month. The guy from Suffolk was camping and wasn’t too happy as it had rained for nearly all his trip !

Anyway a summary of todays route…

Day 9: Kirkwall, Orkneys  to Dunnet Head on the Mainland…

Day 9: Kirkwall, Orkneys  to Dunnet Head on the Mainland…

  • Today’s mileage:  37.7 miles
  • Total mileage:    307.6 miles
  • Desasters:  only the weather…

Baldricks plan for the day was cycle down the east coast of Orkney, across the Churchill barriers and down to Burwick to get the foot ferry to JoG.  From JoG a short cycle to Dunnet Head camp site.

It turned into a game of two halves.  The ride to the ferry was great with some interesting stuff on route.  Tje the weather crapped out and it was a real sense of humour test to the the camp site.

Easy cycling out of Kirkwall to the first Churchill barrier

Churchill barrier

There are four Churchill barriers with info boards at each.

On the first island making up the barriers is the Italian Chapel.  This is a small church constructed by Italian PoW’s during WW2.

A block ship – the Reginald…

Block ships were sunk to prevent German U boat attacks until the barries were built.  Interestingly this one featured in Eurithmics music video “Here Comes The Rain Again”

Info on the block ships…

Then onto the ferry.  Nice views of Duncansby Head but the weather’s crapping out…

Duncansby Head.
Obligatory photograph at JoG

Then the weather really crapped out for our cycle to Dunnet Head. The head wind was horrendous and we ended up getting there about 8pm.

We just got the tent up before the rain really came down. We were shattered and ate ready meals in the tent before a broken nights sleep because of the wind.

The cottage pie was quite tasty…

Anyway a summary of todays route…

Day 8: Back to Lerwick…

Day 8: Back to Lerwick…

  • Today’s mileage:  34 miles
  • Total mileage:     269.9 miles
  • Desasters:  only a minor one

Todays plan – breakfast, find some Twatt, cycle to Lerwick. Look round Lerwick and catch ferry to Kirkwall. Albert Hotel for the night. Simples…

We started out of Brae with the sun and wind on our backs. We averaged over 13 mph from Brae to Voe. This isn’t bad when carrying 20kg of luggage. All down to the tail wind – not my legs !

First stop was another honesty cafe for a rather nice slice of pear and cinnamon cake.

This stop also had goats. We made a friend…

So far a pleasent days cycling but I was getting excited because it happened again…

After Twatt it was only about 12 miles to Lerwick. There were some long hills but stunning scenery…

We had a lovely meal in C’est la Vie french cafe. It wasn’t cheap but “proper” food. I had Tartiflette & Sazz had king prawns. Would recommend if you’re ever in the neighbourhood.

Then onto the ferry for a few hours of boredom only broken by a “fly by” of Fair lsle. Crap photo but they don’t clean the windows like the used too…

Fair Isle and the Skroo Northern Lighthouse..

Then it was a dash from the ferry to the Albert hotel for the first disaster of the holiday…

We arrived at the Albert at about 11:30. When we were finally shown our room it was a massive luxury room – price tag for the night £180. Seems I’ve messed up when booking Doh…

Now that would have been ok if we were there long enough to enjoy it. Sadly were arriving late & leaving early for the ferry to JoG… Anyway the bed was huge & comfy…

Anyway a summary of todays route…

Day 7: Day ride from Brae…

Day 7: Day ride from Brae…

  • Today’s mileage:  28.25 miles
  • Total mileage:     235.9 miles
  • Desasters:  0

The idea was that today was a bit of a rest day for exploring the area round Brae. Weathers ok with light winds and no rain ?

After a lazy start we set off west up th A970 with the idea of lunch at Hillswick. 

Normally we’d avoid cycling on A roads but this is a Shetland A road – single track and very little traffic.

The first interesting site was this road sign…

Sadly none in site

The next point of interest was Mavis Grind.  This is a place where the Atlantic and North seas come within 100 yards of each other.

This was an important crossing point as the info board below explains…

We had lunch at the bay in Hillswick and what a beautiful bay it is…

On route we’d met a local and his kids who’d told us about a circulsr route home.  This took us past the local woods !   Yes contrary to popular belief there are trees on Shetland – just very few & hidden from the wind in a small valley…

Some small trees hidden in a small depression…
A summary of today’s route…
Day 6: Top of Shetland and back down to Brae…

Day 6: Top of Shetland and back down to Brae…

  • Today’s mileage: 57 miles
  • Total mileage:     207.65 miles
  • Desasters:  0

The day started by being kept awake by a group of chav scum Glaswegians partying in the adjacent youth hostel till the early hours…   Grrrr ?

Baldrick has a cunning plan – a new plan…

After the rowdy night we hatched a new plan which involved not staying another night next to the Glaswegians.  The new plan was to cycle without baggage to the top of Shetland to finish the NC1. Then cycle back (via campsite) and onto Brae with our baggage. This will be approximately 50 miles – another big day when carrying 20kg of kit.

Instead of booking camping we went for the 4* Brae hotel. With a weather front coming in it would give us a little luxury and an opportunity to wash some clothes.

On the road north…

We passed an honisty bus stop shop. After the chav scum weegies this again restored my faith in human nature ?

Just nice…
Yes we did buy some cakes…

Then we came across a mockup of a viking long house & ship. No time to look round as were were on a big day again.

Saxavord space centre surprised me. Can’t see how they’ll launch from Shetland – its just too windy. Have they never tried to launch fire work rockets in a strong wind – doh… Anyway they do have a web site www.saxavord.com/ if you’re interested.

After many hills we finally reached it – the end of the NC1…

We’ve done it ! The road really did stop – we could go no further north.
The beach here was stunning but no time for sunbathing…

The road really did stop – we could go no further north. So we turned round and set off for Brae via the camp site.

Our route took us past Sullom Voe oil terminal. This almost looked deserted apart from one flare stack burning.

Sullum Voe oil terminal…
An information board by the teminal…

A long descent bought us into Brae to our 4* hotel – The Brae Hotel. We were greeted by a girl who had lived in Cockers until her partner got a job here. The hotel appeared clean but basic. She said the hotel was “quite busy” at the moment.

The first thing we noticed was our room key 226 also opened room 224 – a little worrying !

Then we noticed this…

Haven’t seen one of these since the 80’s…

We went down for dinner and were served by the receptionist who appears to do everything! In fact apart from the chef she was the only staff on in this ” busy” hotel.

Anyway we’re both knackered so time for bed… ?

Day 5: Lerwick to Unst…

Day 5: Lerwick to Unst…

  • Today’s mileage: 53 miles
  • Total mileage:     149.75 miles
  • Desasters:  0

The ferry to Shetland.

The ferry to Shetland is really stress free. Turn up, friendly staff give you the crack & get on simples… The cabin we had was clean and well equipped with a shower & loo. All in good nick & not worn out.

The only problem with this ferry is there’s not enough time to sleep. You have to exit the ship at 7:30am.

Sarah had read in a cycling blog that the ferry breakfast was the best in Lerwick ! We headed to the restaurant with high hopes only to see that it was combinations of sausage, bacon or egg in a bun. Bit sad for Lerwick if that’s the best in town!

Our route today…

Lerwick to Unst – our route for the day. Shetland is windy and hilly. Both make a big difference when you’re touring. Today we were lucky and the wind was with us and the sun on our backs.

World record ?

As we got ready for todays cycle I realised that it was day 5 for this pair of cycling shorts – questipn for my cycling friends – is that a world record ? Not sure it’s one I want but we’ve had zero opportunities for washing and more importantly drying clothes. My merino tee shirt is also day 5 and showing sweat stains but no smell ?


Disappointments = 1 today. We got some snacks from a small garage on route. One part of my sugar intake was a Yorkie bar. I haven’t had one for a while and was really surprised how small they are now. The length seems the same but the chunks are so small now ☹

Little wins…

When we got off the ferry at Ulsta we got a Macaroni cheese and bean pie. Sounds grim but it was lush. If you ever see one try it.

Lush Scottish cuisine…

Shetland ponies…

Met these guts on route friendly & so small ?

Uyeasound Hostel and Camp site…

This is a beautiful location on the shore of Uyea Sound.

Uyea Sound

No warden just rock up and pitch your tent.

Cooking in the evening sun. Not that warm though !

Le petit Cafe – faith in human nature restored…

On the seafront just fifty yards from out tent was this honisty cafe. Le petit Cafe – an honesty cafe.

It was stuffed with everything from crisps to cans of duck casserole. It had a kettle for teas & coffees and loads of french biscuits. We brought some biscuits and the honesty draw was full of cash. Restores your faith in human nature ?

Day 4: A day in Kirkwall before the night ferry to Shetland…

Day 4: A day in Kirkwall before the night ferry to Shetland…

  • Today’s mileage: 1.8 miles
  • Total mileage:     96.75 miles
  • Desasters:   none – because we got a shower in the end ?

The rain from 4pm to about 9:30 was biblical. Then it stopped allowing us to get some food and a good nights sleep. Luckly the tent stayed dry.

We woke with the plan of a long shower and a lazy start. Then we had all day to look round Kirkwall before the night ferry to Shetland.

As with all our plans things didn’t go quite to plan… We were told that the drains were blocked and the shower block could not be used ! We could however use the toilets in the nearby leisure centre with the promise of a shower later (drains permitting). So feeling lighter but still smelling we set off to explore Kirkwall for the day…

Our first stop was the “Beiting and Brew” street food van for breakfast. This was a great recommendation from Pat. The locations not great – an industrial estate near the vets but well worth a visit if you’re in the area.

Bean burritos and paprika chips with garlic mayo ?

Well fuelled we set off for Kirkwall. Our first mission was to find the local bike shop to buy me some cycling gloves – I’d left mine on the washing line back in Cockers.

After the bike shop we walked round the rest of Kirkwall. This didn’t take long because its really not that big !

We just wandered round the shops in lovely sunshine. But you know when you start looking for something…

Nice Tee shirts.

…but when you zoom in on the top shirt ?

So that gave purpose to our wander round Kirkwall – we were now on a Twatt hunt ! We now searched all the souvenir (tat) shops for Twatt.

We did find Judith Glue’s shop sold all sorts of Twatt gifts…

That’s Christmas sorted ?

Now sorted for Twatt we headed back to the campsite for showers an a chill before food at the Kirkwall Hotel.

Nice food at the Kirkwall though a little pricey. Then off to the ferry terminal…