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SW300 – Summary…

SW300 – Summary…

The Route

We found the SW300 route from the following website  which is well worth a view.  The guy who came up with this is a super athlete so there are planned routes for 2 to 6 days.  The map below shows the SW300 route as defined on this site. 

A zip file containing the KML or GPX file can be downloaded from the links below:

Where to start…

Well it’s circular so you can start where you want but if you’re travelling from the south then Dumfries is the first (and easiest) place you come to from the motorway.  We were travelling from Cumbria so this worked well for us. 

We parked in the rail station car park  (postcode DG1 1NF).  There is parking each side of the train line, we found it best to park in the area shown on the map below.

Where to park at Dumfries Station…

It has cameras so probably as safe as anywhere.   There is a housing estate where you could park for free on the route out of Dumfries but you’d have to be careful not to upset the locals.  If you’re cheeky you could get away with parking at the entrance to the station as shown below…

Cheeky parking ?


Being circular you’ll probably get a head wind at some point so no real advantage either way.  We chose to go anti-clockwise.   For us, starting from Dumfries for us this was a good way to go as it got what I think is the hardest day out the way with fresh legs.  The loop out to Elvanfoot and back is beautiful but a lot of ascent when carrying a tent !


If you’re an endurance cyclist with an arse of leather and pistons for legs then 24 hours is the target.  For mere mortals like me it takes significantly longer, and I want it to take longer.  For us the point of doing this cycle was to see the Dumfries and Galloway area.   You can’t really do this when you’re arse up, head down going as fast as you can !

So for the point of this blog I’m going to assume the reader is a mere mortal who wants to see the area too.  So do it over a week or longer & you give yourself time to see this beautiful area.

Day 1:  Dumfries to Sanquhar

Dumfries to Sanquhar

The route that loops out from Carronbridge round to Mennock via Elvanfoot is great and importantly has very light traffic.  The same cannot be said for the route from Thornhill to Carronbridge which runs along the A76. 

We changed the route to quieter roads that avoid the busy A76 section. Our detour is shown in blue.

Safer route via Drumlanrig Castle

The advantage of this route is its safer and takes in beautiful Drumlanrig Castle shown below.

Drumlanrig Castle

Day 2: Sanquhar to Girvan

Sanquhar to Girvan

Day two was a pleasant route on mostly quiet roads. The exception to this is a section on the busy A76 from just after Kirkconnel to New Cumnock. There’s no easy way round this but we did come up with a detour that reduced it by half. Its an easy detour & is shown below – the yellow arrow shows the original route and the blue shows our detour…

Detour to reduce time on the A76

Now the only downside of our route was staying in Girvan – its a hole with only four redeeming features:

  1. The views of Ailsa Craig – especially when the sun is shining
  2. Grazianos Chip shop – quality and great portions
  3. Auld Acquaintance Restaurant – the owner and his wife are lovely and the food is great.
  4. The Electric Brae visual illusion

It’s ok for a night, especially when the weathers good but don’t get too excited !

Day 3 Girvan to The Mull of Galloway

Girvan to the Mull of Galloway

Leaving Girvan there’s a busy section to Barhill. From Barhill over to Glenluce Abby is a great road with little traffic – you’ll really enjoy this section. The roads called the Forest Road and goes to Glenwhilly and New Luce. A slight warning the road is over high fell land with not much up there so take supplies. The route towards the Mull of Galloway is ok but busier.

Day 4 – Mull of Galloway towards Wigtown

Mull of Galloway towards Wigtown

You’re on an A road, the A747 down towards the Isle of Whithorn. Don’t worry we found this to be a quiet and beautiful cycle. If you could plan your journey an overnight in Isle of Whithorn would be recommended.

Day 5 – Wigtown to Kirkcudbright

We found a few navigational challenges on this day, namely the Wigtown to Creetown section and out of Gatehouse of Fleet to the quiet roads below the A75. The Wigtown to Creetown was our own fault so we’ll skip that…

Wigtown to Kirkudbright – our route.

The official route follows the B727 (old military road) out of Gatehouse of Fleet. This is a narrow and busy road so we found a diversion through the Cally Palace Hotel and Golf Course. The picture shows our route in red and the proper route in yellow. You can see where we got a short distance out of Gatehouse before turning round to find a quieter route. Please note that the blue dotted line marks where the route is “off road” on rough track. If its wet & you’re on a fragile bike with skinny road tyres this may not be the route for you. We did it on Dawes tourers with Schwalbe Marathon 34mm tyres & it was fine.

Detour via Cally Palace Golf Course

This detour wasn’t quick but it was a very pleasant and traffic free route. When we hit road again just before Girthon we tracked south to the coast via Knockbrex and Ingleston before joining the proper route at Borgue. This again was a really beautiful and quiet route

Day 6 – Kirkcudbright to Dumfries

Our last day we deviated from the official route significantly. We did this for two reasons. The first reason was that we needed the quickest route to Dumfries before a storm came in later in the day. The second reason was that we’d cycled this part of the route before and found it busy – I don’t like wet and busy…

Kirkudbright to Dumfries – a more direct but equally pleasant route

Our route is shown in red and the official route in yellow. Having done both now we think the red route using the B727 to be the nicest.

If you’re reading this you’re probably planning your own trip. I hope some of this helps but I’m sure you’ll enjoy it 🙂

SW300 – Day 7.

SW300 – Day 7.

Total mileage: 296

Mileage today: 29

Desasters: zero…

Great night’s sleep & a really good breakfast at the Selkirk Arms.  When I say the owner’s into cycling I mean in a BIG way.  Even the breakfast menu had a suggested ride for the day…

The forecast for today was grim with a downpour around 1pm. 

With this in mind we altered our route to a more direct one we’d done before that would be on quieter roads.  The thought of wet roads, spray and big trucks did not appeal.  One advantage of the poor weather was that we’d have a mega tail wind for the second time this holiday.

We set off about 9am and immediately benefited from the tail wind which blew us up the hills out of Kirkcudbright. 

We followed Sustrans route 7 and made great time only stopping in Castle Douglas to see if we could find the gallery that Helen exhibits in. We did but only had time for a photo…

As we left Castle Douglas the drizzle started.  It felt like we were racing the rain but with a great tail wind.

Lady luck was with us and we got back to the car in Dumfries just as the heavy rains started.  Here’s our route…

As we were packing the bikes into the car I noticed that my dynamo hub was leaking grease – anyone have experience of this ?

SW300 – Day 6.

SW300 – Day 6.

Total mileage: 266

Mileage today: 49

Desasters: 0 say no more….

We woke to a cold but dry day. Breakfast was a new culinary low even for us.

It was such a cullinary low that we had to stop in Wigtown for a decent breakfast. Wigtown is the bookshop capital of Scotland.

This is what Wikipedia has to say about Wigtown…

Today Wigtown is known as Scotland’s “book town” and is thus compared to Hay-on-Wye in Wales. However, in contrast to Hay-on-Wye, Wigtown’s status as a book town was planned, in order to regenerate a very depressed town (the main employers, the creamery and distillery, having closed in the 1990s), although the distillery (Bladnoch) has now re-opened and is distilling its own malt whisky. There was a national search in Scotland for a candidate town. The Wigtown Book Festival was first held in 1999 and has grown to be the second largest book festival in Scotland.

From Wigtown we had an easy cycle on quiet roads to Newton Stewart where we had some navigational fun avoiding the A75 death road. We eventually followed the Sustrans 7 cycle route to Creetown.

We refuelled with an egg sandwich and jelly babies at Creetowns only shop before a long section of wilderness to Gatehouse of Fleet.

Despite the hilly start the route to Gatehouse was great with one long section shut to motorised traffic for road works.

At Gatehouse we deviated from the SW300 route in favour of quieter roads mostly following the Sustrans route 7 again.

This took us down towards the coast and a view of the Islands of Fleet that Edna had recommended. A beautiful area well worth a visit.

Our route followed the green dots.

The next stop was Borgue for Jelly Babies and then Kirkcudbright where we’re treating ourselves to a night in the Selkirk Arms.

The Selkirk Arms is great. We were met by a guy who said the staff are all cycling mad. They were really helpful, gave us route info and even carried our bags to the room – I must have looked fucked !

Here’s us dressed for dinner in the clothes we slept in last night…

Great room but not sure about the wall paper!

I think we’ll be back here for a weekend cycling sometime soon 👍

Today’s route…

SW300 – Day 5.

SW300 – Day 5.

Total mileage: 217

Today’s mileage: 49

Desasters: 1 – forgot the bloody booze again !

Awoke from our first night under canvas to a beautiful sunrise…

What the picture didn’t show was that it was a really cold morning and blowing a gale. Coffee and an army veg breakfast got us going & we were on the road by 9am.

Today’s story is about the tail wind we had for most of the day. Never in all my years cycling have I had such wind assistance ~25mph tail wind all the way to Isle of Whithorn. We flew… One of the many Strava segments shows us averaging over 17mph fully laden with tents etc… and that was without trying !

We must be getting slightly fitted because we overtook two other cycle tourists who were B&Bing ie. had minimal luggage. 😊

The route today had us on quiet roads with some stunning scenery. The sun even came out for a while…

After the Isle of Whithorn the wind wasn’t with us anymore but it wasn’t against us either which was what we’d feared – we thought there had to be a penance for 30 miles of tailwind !

We called through Garlieston to get our evening meal and saw this…

Wikipedia has some interesting reading on Mulberry harbours if you’re interested.

From Garlieston it was a short ride to the Dunroaming caravan and camp site near Kirkinner.

The woman who ran the site was lovely – she gave us hot homemade soup and bread shortly after we arrived. We must have looked cold and knackered !

We set up camp, showered and set about cooking tonight feast ! Tonight I cooked Sarah Thai…

Soon after we were in bed because it’s too cold to be out !

SW300 – Day 4.

SW300 – Day 4.

Total mileage: 168

Mileage today: 42

Desasters: 1 …one big one – we forgot to buy some booze for the evening meal 😭

The day started well because we couldn’t hear rain on the windows 🙂 After showering in our plastic shower cubicle we went down to see what breakfast had been left out for us.

We found an old Tupperware box with four slices of bread, a half eaten block of cheese, some plastic ham and a tomato. Say no more…

By the time we’d packed and were ready to go the landlady surfaced to say goodbye. It seemed we were the only guests in what we christened Faulty Towers.

We left town on the busy A77 but the route soon turned off onto the slightly quieter A714. We followed the A714 to Barhill where we stopped for some food in a small convenience store / cafe. The owner was ex-services from Essex. We chatted with him about our route and about the lack of shops where we were going. There wasn’t much in his shop but we brought food for the evening.

The route from Barhill was much quieter over high fell land (so a fair bit of ascent). A really pretty route but was slightly spoiled by rain.

The route gently decended to Glenluce Abby where we had some lunch in light drizzle. From the Abby it was a quick run to the coast.

We then followed the coast road round to Ardwell where we were going to pitch the tent and then ride to the tip of Mull of Galloway without luggage.

This plan went to rat shit. We pitched the tent, had a brew and then we were both too tired to continue riding. Just CBA…

The campsite is right on the beach. It was windy so we used a boat for shelter.

Showers then food. Now when i said the shop didn’t have much in we ended up with Sarah having Uncle Bens rice and a tin of mackerel and I had a Pot Noodle and a cold steak pie. But after 40 hilly miles it tasted great.

Pudding was an army “boil in the bag” chocolate pudding. They look like shit (literally) but taste great.

The only thing we forgot was some booze. A nice bottle of red would have washed that lot down nicely…

SW300 – Day 3.

SW300 – Day 3.

Total mileage: 126

Mileage today: 22

Disasters: whole day really…. well apart from the evening meal that was very pleasant…

Lazy start today. Like the Tour de France we’re having a rest day. The forecast is miserable so we thought a day off was called for.

Though in true Sarah style a rest day actually means a 20ish mile cycle to electric brae which is an optical illusion on the A719 not far from Trumps golf course. Funnily she didn’t fancy my suggestion of an all day session 🤔🍺🍺🍺

Breakfast was ok but the landlady couldn’t half talk… (again got her life story – starting to see a pattern here…) By the time we’d finished breakfast and kitted up in waterproofs it was about 11am. We set off in drizzle towards the A77, our road to the electric brae.

We quickly found the A77 miserable with heavy fast traffic. After one near miss with a van and trailer we got off and walked up the grass verge to the first road off the A77. Hearing locked wheels skidding behind you and then seeing a trailer snaking as it passes you is no fun !

We then used a back road to get to Turnbury and cycled passed Trumps golf course. I was going to get Sazz to video me standing at the sign pointing at “Trump” and making a “wanker” gesture with my other hand. I didn’t because there was a large man in a kilt guarding the entrance. If he was one of Trumps boys I might be mistaken for a black man & shot in the back. What devision and hatred that man has created. Grrr rant over

After Trump we stopped for lunch at Maidens and looked at our route. The only way to electric brae was down another A road – even Sarah didn’t fancy it ! We devised a quieter route home on quiet country lanes. A more pleasent journey home… We tried for a selfie but the rain had other ideas…

Having not made it to electric brae I’ve copied a little bit of info from Wikipedia…

Electic Brae: Though the road appears to be running uphill, a suitably free-running vehicle will slowly move off from a standstill. It was widely believed that vehicles were being propelled uphill by a mysterious magnetic force, but the road’s apparently uphill slope is an optical illusion. This runs the quarter mile from the bend overlooking Croy railway viaduct in the west to the wooded Craigencroy Glen to the east. Whilst there is this slope of 1 in 86 upwards from the bend to the Glen, the configuration of the land on either side of the road provides an optical illusion making it look as if the slope is going the other way. Therefore, a stationary car on the road with the brakes off will appear to move slowly uphill.

There are hundreds of gravity hills around the world. The explanation often given for the phenomenon is that of a visual illusion, similar to the well-known Ames room, in which balls can appear to roll against gravity

We were greeted by out talkative landlady the moment we returned. She offered to dry our wet gear. Very nice of her but, as we discovered later this was because there was no heating on in the hotel !

We asked about an earlier breakfast as we wanted to be on the road early tomorrow. I thought she’d say “oh what time do you want breakfast – no problem” instead she said she’d leave something out as she doesn’t get up till 8:30… As compensation she did knock a whole tenna off the bill !

Now if you don’t know Girvan its no exaggeration to say it’s a little run down. This didn’t fill us with hope for fine dining but TripAdvisor did list a couple of options that weren’t chippies or takeaways.

We fancied the Auld Aquaintance Fusion Bistro & a booking was made. It was a small place run by a husband and wife couple. They made us very welcome but I did have to go down the road to the CostCutter to get some booze. They were eager to please and the curries we ordered were freshly made to our liking. Now I like to think of myself as a bit of an onion bhaji connoisseur and these hit the spot. So worth a visit if you ever find yourself in Girvan.

Today’s route…

We’re now in bed hoping that the rain and howling wind stops before tomorrow else we may be getting the train home…

SW300 – Day 2.

SW300 – Day 2.

Total Mileage: 104 miles

Mileage: 45

Disasters: 0 (actually there was one but Sarah says no one will want to read about it 🤢🌲💩)

After a hard ride it can be a lottery on getting a good night’s sleep. Last night wasn’t great. Exercise, food and a couple of beers – you’d think it was a recipe for a brilliant night’s sleep but it doesn’t always work that way – anyone understand why ???

Waking early allowed time for planning. All forecasts say heavy rain tomorrow so we decided to hotel in Grivan for the next two nights. This would allow us to spend the rainy day in Girvan. We booked the Westcliffe Hotel over the phone.

We went for breakfast at 7:30am, and what a breakfast it was ! Porridge followed by a full Scottish – eggs, beans, mushrooms, fried bread, haggis, 4 rashes of bacon and 4 sausages ! Lovely breakfast but she could talk – we didn’t get out of breakfast till 9am having heard her entire family history and quite a bit about sheep !

The route from Sanquhar was lovely quiet roads until the section on the A76 which was no fun. We put a detour in as soon as we could just to get off it. Our detour took us the rest of the way to New Crummock where we stopped at a shop for water.

From New Cumnock we followed a quiet but hilly route towards the coast and were blessed with sunshine again. We stopped at a pub in Straiton for a refreshing pint in the Black Bull beer garden.

From Straiton it was only 14 miles to Grivan where we easily found our hotel. We showered and went for a walk around the harbour and seafront in the sunshine.

Fish and chips from Grazianos were massive.

While eating we watched the sun set behind the island of Ailsa Craig.

A little bit of info on Ailsa Craig….

Aisle Craig is an island 10 miles west of Grivan. It is 4 km (2.5 mi) in circumference and rises to a height of 340 m (1,120 ft).

The now uninhabited island is formed from a magmatic pluton which “blue hone” microgranite has long been quarried to make curling stones

Likened by many to a giant currant bun on account of its near-vertical sides and rounded peak, Ailsa Craig (meaning “Fairy Rock” in Gaelic) is a place of history, folklore and legend. It’s also known as Paddy’s Milestone because it lies almost halfway between Belfast and Glasgow, occupying a lonely spot 10 miles to the west of the town of Girvan in the Firth of Clyde that once made it a haven for smugglers who stashed silk, spirits, tobacco and other contraband in the deep caves on its western fringes.

SW300 – Day 1.

SW300 – Day 1.

Milage: 59.1

Disasters: 0 (though for a few minutes Sarah thought she’d only packed one shoe 🤣🤣🤣)

Saturday started early with a drive to Dumfries. We parked at the train station where the sign showed much rates for non-rail users and told us to pay in the ticket office. 

On requesrting a weeks parking the really friendly guy in the ticket office asked if we were rail users.   Dilemma time – do I lie or be honest ?   The difference is 50p a day for rail users or £5 for non-rail users – a considerable difference that can be measured in multiple pints of beer and a curry !  

I was honest for two reasons – 1. I’m crap at lying and 2. I was dressed head to toe in my best mamil lycra – a bit of a give away really ! 

The guy looked at me and said “I’ll put you through as a rail user”  😲 RESULT £3.50 rather than £35.  What a lovely man and went (I felt) a little way to redress the shit service I’ve had on railways (in the UK) since the demise of British Rail.  

The route out of Dumfries was easy and lead onto quiet undulating roads – pleasent cycling though it was taking a while to get used to the handling of a flexible steel Dawes that weighed as much as the sun !

The only thing of note before Thornhill was the number of Red Kites we saw.  Beautiful birds…

We dropped into Thornhill for lunch at the Drumlanrig Restaurant.  Pleasent staff but a standard “Scottish toastie” with no salad, a few chips and served with thin & flexible metal cutlery.  Not great but fuelled us for the next leg of the journey…

While waiting for our toastie we looked at the route and decided it could be improved by missing the A76 section in favour of a visit to Drumlanrig castle.   This we did…

Drumlanrig Castle

Next dilemma was…. 1. Head streight to Sanquhar   or   2. Follow the route which does a big loop out to  Elvanfoot over some big fuck off hills…   we followed the route!

The route out to Elvanfoot rose gently with some lovely scenery to the Dalveen Pass and then levelled slightly to Elvanfoot where we stopped for a Marmite sandwich.

From Elvanfoot the route went to Leadhills and Wanlockshead which is the highest village in Scotland at 1531 feet. We did notice a number to people gold panning in the small rivers !

At Wanlockshead the weather changed to a headwind + rain – joy… The gradient also changed to a negative one for a long run down to Mennock. This descent would have been great on an unladen road bike in the dry but the wind and rain made it tricky. Just before Mennock tgrte was a large wild camp site with about 20ish tents & vans.

From Mennock it was an easy run to our digs for the night at Newark Farm B&B. We were greated by an elderly lady who pointed an infraread thermometer at our heads. Now this was worrying as we’d just cycled there and were sweaty hot ! Luckly we got the “green light” and were allowed in only to be warned about the big fuck off angry Great Dane that really would just attack if it got out !

The room is nice but dated. The old woman booked us a table at the Nithsdale restaurant and drove us there ! Pleasent food, a couple of pints and we were ready for bed – night all…

La Velodyssee – Summary, Learning & Conclusions…

La Velodyssee – Summary, Learning & Conclusions…

La Vélodyssée:
Stretching across the entirety of France’s Atlantic coast, La Vélodyssée is France’s longest cycle route. The route covers more than 1,200 kilometres from Brittany down the Atlantic coast to the border with Spain. La Vélodyssée forms part of the longer EuroVelo 1, named the Atlantic Coast Route. EuroVelo 1 is 8,186 km long and runs from North Cape in Norway to Sagres in Portugal.

Info available on the web:
Below are some web links to sites with info on the route:

La Velodyssee:

Brittany Ferries:

When to go:
Jobs & kids limited when we could go – our window was September, starting on the 10th for 3 weeks. This is pretty late in the Velodyssee season & we found that some of the more northern camp sites were closed. The up side to this was that it was pretty quiet – we virtually had the route to our selves.

On the whole the weather was kind to us with only a few days rain. The temperatures were not hot but still T shirt & shorts cycling for most of the time. Night time temperatures dropped low & meant my thin Aldi sleeping bag was not really up to the job. I think if we were doing it again we’d only go about a month or so earlier. The temperatures would be warmer and we would still avoided school holidays. For us one of the joys of this route was it was not crowded ! The other advantage of going later in the season is that accommodation is slightly cheaper 🙂

Route finding & Maps
The route itself is pretty well documented on the Velodyssee site and is signposted between Roscoff and Hendaye with the logo on panels throughout the route. Depending on the region crossed, you may find different types of panel bearing “La Vélodyssée” logo.

So you have two real options for navigation…

1,   Map of the route + the waymarked signs.
2,  GPS mapping + the waymarked signs.

We opted for a mixture of the two. I took Michelin maps, or scans of with the route marked on it and I had the route on a phone app.

So how did it go ? Well the printed maps are far bigger than a phone screen and were useful for both of us looking at where we were & general planning. The maps didn’t work well for actual navigation because they had insufficient or no details – this is where the phone app came into its own.

The app, which could be zoomed in to street level showed a “you are here” and the route. I had the phone mounted on my handlebars with a rubber mount . This made it very easy to follow without constantly having to stop to refer to maps. I think the ability to know exactly where you are without having to concentrate on paper maps allowed us both to enjoy the sights more and not have to stop so often.

In summary I’m a convert to electronic mapping though there is a down side which is battery life. Constantly having the screen & GPS on uses the phone battery quickly – too quickly. Luckily I’d worked this out before going & had taken a USB battery charger & the bike had a dynamo hub. More on those later…

My phone is an android phone and the app I used was Maps.Me.  Onto this app I had loaded the .GPX route file which is available from the Velodyssee site. In addition to this I loaded waypoints for all the camp sites in France (details later). The only caveat to electronic mapping is rain. My phone is waterproof but the screen failed to respond when it was raining. I think it was my phones was saying it was time for a coffee stop !

So what about the signs & fingerposts ? Well in some areas they were brilliant but in other & especially round towns a bit scant or missing.

Examples of different signs used throughout La Velodyssee…

So the conclusion is that electronic maps are the way to go as long as you can keep your phone charged. So my advice would be – follow the signs but use electronic maps as well.

Which Direction ???
This got us thinking for a while….
Ideally we thought it would be best to start in the north & move south so as it got cooler through the month we would be moving towards the warmer south. There were two issues with this plan:

  1. The prevailing winds are south to north.
  2. The ferry home from Santander only runs once a week so if we missed the ferry by one day we had to wait a week to get home. Ferries from Roscoff were daily.

The ferry issue settled it & we decided to cycle south to north… If we were doing it again we may go the other way as we felt the southern half of the route was more pleasurable.

Travelling from the UK:
With the direction set I then looked at the logistics of getting to the start at Hendaye. In principal it seemed simple. Train from Penrith to Plymouth – ferry to Santander – Train from Santander to Hendaye. The return being ferry from Roscoff to Plymouth – train from Plymouth to Penrith & home for tea & medals…

Sadly nothing is that simple. The trains to Plymouth were very expensive and trains seem to hate bikes. So for this bit of the journey it was cheaper (and easier) to take the car & park it up for three weeks (yes it is madness). The storage company we used for the three weeks was SECURE OPEN STORAGE Ok so that bit sorted…

Ferries – they are great. All easy there. The fun started when trying to sort train travel from Santander to Hendaye. The top line – there is no through train. You have to use different trains from different companies with different web sites. Joy… Anyway this is what I found.

The journey was

Train 1:    Santander – Bilbao change trains AND stations then…
Train 2:   Bilbao – Donostia, San Sebastian change trains AND stations then…
Train 3:   San Sebastian – Hendaye

Train 1 – time tables were found at:

Train 2 – time tables were found at:

Train 2 – time tables were found at:

We had originally planned to take two days to get to Hendaye and have a stop in Bilbao.  As it worked out we managed to get to Hendaye in the day but arrived late ~11:pm.  There were no hotels open in Hendaye so it ended up being another couple of hours before we got the tent up somewhere – and all in the rain.

We decided it would be fun to camp with the odd night in a hotel.  I got waypoints for all the French campsites on my phone app. I used Maps.Me and the waypoints from This was a big help along with Google maps come the end of each day for finding campsites. I can’t remember the exact method for putting the GPX files and waypoints into Maps.Me but if you need a hand email & I’ll work it out & let you know.

Bikes and equipment:

We took Dawes Galaxy tourers with rear pannier racks & Schwalbe Marathon Plus Road tyres (32c). This setup was great for the vast majority of the route with only a couple of muddy sections where off road tyres would have helped. With regard to gearing – both Dawes have triples. The granny ring was only used once in the north where there are a few hills. Apart from that the route is pan flat !

Spares & tools:
We decided France wasn’t a third world country 😉 so we didn’t need to take loads of spares. Just basics were taken.

Pack light for speed or pack for comfort – decisions decisions…
We decided that as we were away for three weeks we’d pack for comfort. So we took

  • Ortlieb rear panniers
  • Aldi Dry bag
  • Ortlieb bar bag
  • Topeak top tube bag
  • Topeak saddlebag for tools.

The dry bag was filled with tent, stove & sleeping gear. This was strapped with bungees between the two rear panniers. This seemed to work well with bungees providing flexibility to secure shopping as well.

None of our tents were suitable so we had to purchase new. Neither of us are spring chickens any more so we wanted some space & comfort in a tent. Also I didn’t want too much weight. Days of research later we settled on the Vango Xenon Ultralight 2

This tent did work well. Its good points are:
• Light 2.1kg
• Easy to put up – important when its pissing down…
• Big enough for two normal people to sleep without being on top of each other
• Gear storage in the front porch
• Oversized stuff sack – this made packing up considerably easier.

In conclusion this tent worked well for us & I would recommend.

Sleeping bags & Mats:
Sarah took her trusty down bag & I purchased a new synthetic lightweight 2season bag from Aldi. The Aldi bag packed small & light but it ended up not providing enough warmth for the cold October nights. In addition it was a little small (tight) on my 6’1” 105kg frame. Since the trip I’ve purchased a Decathlon bag – it’s a little bigger and heavier but works better for me.

Both of us had old Thermorests. These were both heavy and bulky so we looked for alternatives. Not an easy choice as our old bones needed comfort but without the bulk & weight. Again after endless internet hours we ended up buying Alpkit Cloudbase sleeping mats.

The cloudbase is an inflatable airbed who’s material has no insulation properties. It inflates to a thickness of 5cm. The material it’s made from looks thin, it packs up really small ( ⌀ 8 x 28 cm) and weighs 415 g.

Initially I was dubious but went for it thinking if it did fail under my bulk (105kg) then we’ll never be far from an Decathlon in France ! It did work well, I shall be using again and can recommend.

Other Kit:
We both took seats with us. Madness I hear you all saying ! Well the thinking was that we’d be spending time in camp sites & it would be comfier/less painful/ dryer not to be sitting on the ground when cooking / relaxing.   Sarah took a Heliox seat & I took a stool. They were just bungeed onto the rack with the dry bag – simples…
They did work well & I would take again for longer trips – you can’t beat a bit of comfort !

Stoves & Pans:
We purchased a Primus Omnifuel stove for the trip. Sadly some clown forgot to pack the gas hose so I cannot report if it was good or not. We ended up carrying it for the whole trip + another cheap stove from Decathlon.
For pans we took a two pan & cup set , a couple of titanium spoons and a swiss army knife. This worked well & I don’t think we wanted for more cooking stuff. The knife did for wine corks & cutting baguettes & cheese.

I thought keeping phones, lights, USB power banks, Garmins all charged would be an issue if we didn’t get mains every night. So after more internet hours I ended up buying a new front wheel with dynamo hub. The thought being that the variable voltage & current from this could be regulated and used to charge a USB power bank. Simples….

Great in theory but ended up being a fail. The wheel build from Spa Cycles had the wrong dyno hub put in – one that was not up to charging stuff. I didn’t realise this until we were on the trip so the system I’d setup just didn’t charge. After the trip Spa Cycles were great & rebuilt the wheel with the correct hub – it now works great.  If you’re thinking of getting a Dynamo wheel made up I would recommend Spa Cycles. Errors can happen – we are all human. What is telling is how people & companies react – Spa were brilliant & the staff are very knowledgeable.

…but for the trip we relied on the USB power banks. We charged these whenever we could & were ok for the trip. Its good to have a USB mains charger with 4 outlets this allows several things to be charged simultaneously if there is only one socket. Sometimes we had to leave the power banks charging over night in the camp site toilet blocks. Lucky they were not nicked…


We loved cycling the Velodyssee…   The route, the country & people were brilliant. Yes there are a few small issues with route markers on the odd occasion but that’s trivial and part of the adventure.  I would say it’s a great introduction to cycle touring – a sort of cycle touring lite ! Why do I say that – well because it’s so setup for looking after cyclists.
If you’re strapped for time & can’t do it all I’d say do the southern part from Nantes (or La Rochelle or Royan) down – that was our favorite part.  Would we do it again – yes, but I think it will have to wait till retirement…
If you’re reading this then you’re probably looking at doing the Velodyssee. Great – just do it, you won’t regret it. If you are new to touring and have questions please email us & we’ll try to help.

If you’ve found any of this interesting and you want to read more the link below takes you to the start of the blog…

Velodyssee September 2019: Nick & Sarah’s mini Adventure….

Day 19 Roscoff   28/9/17

Day 19 Roscoff   28/9/17

We made it!    Cycled 774 miles. Hendaye to Roscoff.


Having been cycle tourists for the last three weeks we’re reverting to type and becoming pissed Brit tourists 😆

Decided we just want to carry on cycle touring Europe. I’m just wondering how long it would be before work noticed I wasn’t there and stopped paying me ?