England Part I : 16.8.2018 (Day 90: Dover-London):
Our wheels lead us from Dover through narrow roads and hilly landscapes. We enjoyed the rural region a lot. In Canterbury, a university town with a typical English old town we took a break. The huge Cathedral impressed us the most. Soon, we reached the first suburbs of London. The main roads increased and were filled with many trucks and the rural areas decreased more and more. Before we reached London, we cycled a few kilometres along a bicycle path, which was built next to the four or five-lane wide highway. The immense noise of hundreds of vehicles motivated us to reach our destination even faster. After more than 130km in the saddle and accompanied with typical British weather, we reached London tired, but happy and could recover from the exertions of the last two days.
17.8.2018- 19.8.2018 (Day 91-93: Break Days: London):
After the Free Walking Tour in the oldest part of London, we treated ourselves with some typical Pub food in a traditional English Pub. The capital of the United Kingdom has a population of 8.8 million and is therefore the biggest city in the European Union. In the evening, we visited the Piccadilly Circus and ended the night in another Pub. During the second day, we visited some highlights of the metropolis, like the Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the Buckingham Palace. Subsequently, we enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere in the huge Hyde Park. On our last day in the largest city on our trip, we walked to the Pilmrose Hill and admired the view over the skyline of London. In Brixton, a district that surprised us with its international and modern flair, we ate dinner.
20.8.2018 (Day 94: London-Oxford)
The first 30km we cycled along a much-frequented main road until we left the city. After Heathrow airport, we reached the Windsor Castle, which is the largest consistently inhabited castle in the world. In Marlow, we crossed one of the oldest suspension bridges in Europe and made our lunch break. Directly after the city, there was a steep ascent waiting for us and we were sweating once more. On a campground in Oxford, we met Adrian’s parents, Rita and André again. After our arrival, we were treated with an appetizer and a delicious meal cooked with the VW-bus kitchen.
21.8.2018 (Day 95: Oxford-Ross-on-Wye):
In the morning, we visited a few of the oldest Colleges of the University of Oxford. This British university exists since the 12th century and is the oldest English speaking university of the World. We cycled through many beautiful villages along the extremely hilly and agriculturally influenced landscapes. Until the lunch break, we already managed to cycle around 80km and climbed 1000m of altitude and were therefore exhausted. Thanks to Rita and André, we could start the second half of the day’s stage refuelled. In the afternoon, André pedaled with us to our daily goal, a beautiful campground in Ross-on-Wye.
22.8.2018 (Day 96: Ross-on-Wye-Llanddeusant):
Already tired from the last few days, we started into a new adventure in the hilly regions of the United Kingdom. After a steep ascent with a beautiful view to the surrounding agricultural cultivation areas, we crossed the invisible border to Wales. Very soon, we recognized the unpronounceable town names and the bilingualism of the very nature oriented part of Great Britain. After a few more ascents, we enjoyed lunch next to a cemetery. After lunch, we struggled with our fully packed bicycles through the narrow ascending and descending roads of the Becon-Beacons-National Park. The vegetation throughout the park changed constantly and impressed us, even tough, the increasing drizzle helped to get our clothes completely wet. At the end of the last incline, we reached more than 300 m of altitude and a dry roof and a refreshing beer waited for us.
23.8.2018 (Day 97: Llanddeusant-Rosslare Harbour):
The last day in Wales started with a long and steep downhill. On the first 40km until Carmarthen, the roads were rather flat and we made good progress. After lunch, we had to climb a number of steep hills. To cycle them down again we had to use the brakes until they almost melted. In addition, the rain got stronger and again we were tested to the limit. As we reached the highest point, we were rewarded with a stunning view over the seaside far below us. From there, the road led downhill to Fishguard. In a pub, we filled our empty batteries and waited until we could board the ferry to Ireland before midnight. After the arrival in Rosslare Harbour at four in the morning, we pedaled the last 6km to the campground and went to sleep.
–> Forward to Wales
<– Back to Belgium
England Part II: 25.9.2018 (Day 130: Fenwick-Elsdon):
We started the day with a visit of the Holy Island, not far from our camp spot. Holy Island or Lindisfarne is a tidal island including a bird protection area and a castle from the 16th century. Which means the island is only accessible at certain times and the road is regularly under water. In Alnwick, there was already the second castle of the day. The Alnwick castle is the second largest inhabited castle in England and served as a scenery for movies like Harry Potter, Robin Hood and Transformers. Because of a puncture on Fabians bicycle by a thorn, strong headwind and more than 1000 uphill, we ended the day already after a bit more than 80km. We could pitch our tents next to a huge sheep enclosure on a farmer’s land.
26.9.2018 (Day 131: Elsdon-Cotehill):
During the night, the wind got stronger and our tents were partly flattened. After a restless night, we started our day with extreme head winds. Afterwards, we cycled along the military road, which follows more or less the Hadrianswall. The defensive Roman fortification was built in the second century AD during the time of Emperor Hadrian close to the current border between Scotland and England. The original wall was 117.5km long, approximately 5m high and it back then took the workers around ten years to finish. Many hikers take almost a week to complete the trail, which follows the ancient border. The actually beautiful landscapes, decorated with thousands of sheep, were blurred by dense fog.
27.9.2018 (Day 132: Cotehill-Bowness on Windermere):
We took the old main road southwards in the direction of Penrith. Since the detour to Scotland, we only cycled south and until our destination in Cape Town, we will continue to do that. In Penrith, we did a short break in the charming city center and pumped our tires for the first time in a while. Shortly after, we reached Lake Distric national park and enjoyed our lunch break in the sun at the Ullswater, a lake with a stunning view on the surrounding mountains. Prior to the extremely steep uphill Kirkstone-pass, we visited two waterfalls on foot. The pass was tuff and had an inclination on average of 15% and partly even 20%. We relished the long downhill and searched for a campground outside of the touristy town of Windermere.
28.9.2018 (Day 133: Break Day- Bowness on Windermere):
efore we said goodbye to Nicole, who left to Manchester, we drove to Rydal and walked to a small cave. The view of the surrounding peaks of the Lake District was amazing and the omnipresent fern glowed golden brown in the sun. In the afternoon, we enjoyed the perfect autumn weather at the Windermere Lake, which is the largest lake in England and is completely in the national park. Back at the campground, we cleaned our bicycles from the dirt of the last days.
29.9.2018 (Day 134: Bowness on Windermere-Clapham)
Already at the beginning of the day, we collected many climbs and the screen of our GPS watch showed 20km and already 500m of climbing. From Sedbergh, which lays on the border of the Yorkshire Dales national park, the road went steadily up until we reached Hawes. When we entered the small town, we were shocked, since there were so many motorcyclists, which did their lunch break here as well.
After Hawes, the road went further up and we cycled through open hill country and along dry-stone walls in which countless sheep were grazing. A highlight during the ride in the direction of Ingleton was the Ribblehead Viaduct. The railway bridge dates back to the 19th century, is 402 metres long and made up of 24 arches. Shortly before Clapham, we knocked on the door of a house and asked if we could camp somewhere nearby. The owner told us after a while, that we could pitch the tent in his backyard. The spot included a stunning view on the surrounding region. In addition, we heard that there was a mountain race on the next day called Three Peak Race, which passes by our camping location.
30.9.2018 (Day 135: Clapham-Manchester):
Already in the early morning, many cars stopped directly in front of our camp spot to get an ideal view on the Cyclo-Cross race. Hundreds of two-wheel enthusiasts crossed us after we left and waved at us.
Since we were not motivated and did not have the energy to cycle more than 1400m of ascent again, we decided to stick more or less to main roads until Manchester. Shortly after 5pm, we reached Manchester and were warmly welcomed by our Warmshowers-host Hannah.
3.10.2018 (Day 136; Break Day: Manchester):
After an extensive and sweet breakfast, we visited the Museum of Science and Industry, which is devoted to the development of science, technology and industry in Manchester. In the textile industry, Manchester played a key role in England and counted as the most important industrial center in the World during the 19thcentury. The first commercial railway in the World was between Manchester and Liverpool and in Manchester; there was the first warehouse next to a train station.
Afterwards, we walked through the canal system and discovered many brick buildings in the rather calm city center. We had to search for quite some time to find an open hairdresser to treat us with a new hair- and beard cut.
In the evening, we welcomed Fabian’s sisters Nadine and Katja, who will accompany us in the following two weeks with a rental car.
2.10.2018 (Day 137: Manchester-Hinckley):
After saying goodbye to Hannah, we pedaled along the canal and slowly out of the conurbation of Manchester. Because of relatively flat terrain in comparison to the last few days and an ideal wind direction, we covered almost 90km before the lunch break. Until we reached our overnight destination, we cycled close to 150km and therefore beat our previous Cape2Cape record.
3.10.2018 (Day 138: Hinckley-Newport Pagnell):
Today’s destination was a town close to Milton Keynes. Our friend Inês lives there with her boyfriend and offered us a place to sleep when we pass by.
The weather today was warm and sunny and we could cycle with T-shirts and shorts for the first time in a while. When we arrived in Newport Pagnell, we were happy to reach the 8’000km limit and were spoiled with good food cooked by Inês. After dinner, we met in one of the many local pubs for a beer with Nadine and Katja.
4.10.2018 (Day: 139: Newport Pagnell-Swallowfield):
When we left Milto Keynes, we passed minimum ten roundabouts and we almost got dizzy. Later, we closed our loop through Ireland and the UK shortly before Reading, were we passed the exact same spot approximately 45 days ago. Back then, we were cycling from London to Oxford. Thanks to the flexibility of a farmer, we were allowed to pitch our tent directly next to two huge piles of hay bales.
5.10.2019 (Day:140: Swallowfield-Hayling Island:
Shortly before we started cycling, we wanted to rinse our dishes and fill our water bottles. Therefore, we rang on the door of the famer, who provided a spot for our tent. We had a conversation with Andy the farmer and his brother Rod and discussed about our journey and a potential development of the Brexit.
After the lovely conversation, we pedaled towards Portsmouth, supported by perfect autumn weather and warm temperatures. During an exceptional short lunch break, we strengthen ourselves with diverse snacks and an energy drink, called Collossus, which was produced with an infinite amount of chemicals and gave our bodies a humungous energy boost. The last few kilometers, we cycled through rural regions and the South Downs national park, which impressed us due to the beautiful forest covered with all autumn colors. In Hayling Island, not far from the ferry port in Portsmouth, we found a nicely located campground close to the coast. In the evening, we met Nadine and Katja and enjoyed our last meal in an English Pub.
6.10.2018: Day:141: Break Day: Hayling Island:
We woke up to quite bad weather and therefore we ate breakfast in one tent altogether and exchanged news from home. In the afternoon, we cycled the last few kilometer until the ferry port, waited in the terminal and cooked our dinner. In the huge ferry, we had our last English beer and slept with our air mattresses in the aisle.