A Summer Cycle Tour

I’ve been super busy recently, I got home on Friday and since then have spent all my time preparing for the cycling holiday over the summer. I’m away 25th May onwards and so this is my last update for awhile. Look to the right of the homepage at the Instagram photos to get an idea of where I am at a given time.

I’ve broken down the holiday into two phases:

Phase 1: Ireland

Phase 1 – roughly 1000 miles to cycle, but the actual route will hug the coastline

This Google route map is only a rough guide, the actual route will be a lot less direct and hug the Irish coast. We’re cycling from home to Exeter, then catching a train to Carmarthen. We will meander in Wales for a day, then catch a ferry from Fishguard to Rosslare, Ireland. From there we head directly to Killarney national park and link up with the Wild Atlantic Way, a cycle route that follows Ireland’s west coast. Around the 18th June we start worrying about my brother’s wedding and cut straight along to Belfast to catch the ferry, arriving just in time for the wedding in Liverpool!

Phase 2: Europe 

Phase 2 is fluid at the moment, we’re definitely catching a ferry from Hull to The Hague, but from there it depends on what the weather was like in Ireland. If it was mostly dry we will cycle towards Norway, if wet maybe head south a bit. 

We are mostly wild camping so regular updates are impossible, but I will attempt to keep you updated, either here or on my Instagram profile.

 

Hartland Moor Cycle

A beautiful ride indeed. I cycled along Bournemouth seafront and then across on the chain ferry to Studland. First stop on the ride was to try and find Old Harry Rocks, I tried in first year but kept seeing them on a different cliff to the one I was on (it got very frustrating). This time I was determined to find them, even though it meant walking/riding along a coastal path for 20 minutes with my bike. The question in my mind was: how far can you force a road bike along gravel tracks before getting a puncture? Fortunately for me, very far!

Once I finally found Old Harry, they were looking amazing in the sunshine, I stopped for a quick break and took some photos.

The views along the Purbeck Hills to Corfe Castle are stunning, and also a good place to go ridiculously fast down hill.

Stopped for a break by Corfe Castle and recieved the official phone call that I was now an uncle. Climbing the hill for signal gave me a good view of the castle too.
I made some friends, and discovered Arne beach.

I do confess to getting a bit lost in Poole, the roads there are why I hardly ever go out that way. New Forest is much easier to navigate without looking at a map constantly.

New Forest Exploration

I’ve finished university! To celebrate handing in my dissertation I decided to explore more of the New Forest and fill in a few blank spots that I haven’t covered before.

I found a woodland full of Beech trees in their spring growth. It looks perfect for some camping or hammocking, provided it stays dry.

My lack of exercise over the past few months caught up to me about half way around, I spotted a comfty looking tree and had a quick nap! Rhinefield Ornamental Drive is beautiful area to walk around, the Giant Redwoods and Douglas Fir trees are in contrast to the oak and beech covering the rest of the forest.

The original route was down the A338 towards Ringwood for a few miles but when I got there the traffic was too busy. So I went straight across and explored down a small lane, hoping it would curl back south  – it didn’t. The trouble with Dorset is that its littered with mansions and vast gardens that appear to link up roads on the map, but in reality there’s a massive gate in the way. On the plus side, I found a nice church.

Ellingham – St Mary All Saints

I made surprisingly good speed overall on the ride, my last ride in the New Forest will be a sad business indeed. If the weather holds up I plan to go across to Old Harry Rocks tomorrow, and then maybe Kimmeridge at the weekend.

 

Dorset Bluebells Cycle

London Road amidst the bluebells

I’ve always liked bluebell woods and recently noticed they had once again started appearing. I researched bluebell woods in Dorset and found the nearest is in Pamphill. It’s only 10 miles away so I extended the ride a little bit.

It was probably the most exploratory cycling ride I’ve done this year. I glimpsed some water through some shrubbery and bashed my way through stinging nettles to find a  secluded swamp.

And then later on I took a wrong turn and found a steep hill, I slogged up it and discovered the road ended and a bridleway started. Not wanting to waste the effort spent climbing the hill I carried on and hoped I wouldn’t get a puncture. As I cycled along I thought that the bridleway looked like a runway. Turns out it is, and was home to the RAF Glider Squadron Regiment from 1943 to 1980.

The final notable bit of the ride was discovering another bluebell wood that was even more impressive than the first.

And lastly the Relive video of the ride:

 

Tour of the Schlösser

Schloss Linnep

The walk begung at Schloss Linnep, a striking water castle that has existed since 1090, though been rebuilt many times since then. It was the home to the knights and lords of Linnep until the mid 1400’s and then various lordly families. It was my favourite castle we visited today.

Schloss Hugenpoet

After Linnep we walked on towards Landsberg Schloss. I noticed another building surrounded by water and so we managed to discover a third Schloss.

The name can be interpreted as ‘toad’s nest’ and may be an indication of the swampy floodplains surrounding it. Nowadays it is a 5* hotel.

Landsberg

The final Schloss on our walk is a privately owned and so we couldn’t get close however we did see the new residential tower built in 1992. It’s supposedly built in a similar style to the main castle complex though I think the main castle probably looks way better.

Tomorrow we will hopefully visit more schloss!

And in case you are wondering…
Schloss – a château, palace, or manor house.
Schlösser – multiple schloss.

Exploring Ahrweiler

The weekend was spent in Ahrweiler, a town famous for its spas and 2000 years of red wine production. Visiting in April meant that the vines weren’t in leaf but we got splendid views of the bare vineyards.

The vineyards are built in rugged cliffs, at times there are only two rows of grapevine before another wall raises it the ground higher.  A small track winds inbetween the vines up the hill.

Nestled into the hill above the vineyard is Weingut Försterhof, an unusual building that proudly claims to have no pointy corners.  It’s a popular place for wine tasting and visiting the vineyards.

The woodland was covered in Wood Anemones, a small white flower that carpets the ground.

Many of the houses in Ahrweiler are built in the fachwerkhäuser style, similar to Tudor buildings in England.  Down the street is one of the old fortification gates into the city.


The church in Arhweiler is a beautiful blend of yellow and white.

Discovering Düsseldorf

See Day 1 here: Welcome to Germany

The second morning in Germany was boring. I spent it secluded in the house writing my dissertation, I wanted to get a lot of writing done by 1pm so we could look around Düsseldorf in the afternoon.

We started off the afternoon by catching the tram across the city to Nordpark, a large public garden near the Rhine.


There were a lot of Daffodils, including this variety that I haven’t come across before.

We then walked up the Rhine and towards the bridge, we needed to get towards the skyscraper in the middle.
From the skyscraper we then struck into the city, passing by Fatty and Skinny having a staring contest. Pretty grotesque sculptures.
We then headed towards the famous königsallee, Germany’s busiest high-end shopping street. The clothes were expensive and not very practical looking!
We finished the day walking between Düssledorf’s famous breweries. The first of which was Uerige, a building that can be traced back to the 1600’s. It is one of the few remaining independant breweries, yet outputs an amazing 3.5 million pints a year.

The beer was bitter, but had no body. After taking a sip the taste would vanish off the tongue. It’s like the German equivilent to an English ale but is different in many ways.

Tomorrow we go to Ahrweiler!

Welcome to Germany

Iˈve finally made it to Germany! Iˈm currently staying with my sister and her husband near Düsseldorf. They live in a modern looking house outside the city, the inside is super spacious and there is an abundance of balconies to relax on in the sun. It was 22c today, despite only being late March.

Erkrath buildings Germany

We spent the afternoon walking up into a valley near the town where I spotted a fallen Beech tree covered in Bracket Fungi over a small stream.

Later on we passed a log completely covered in Wood Sorrel, a wild woodplant with tiny beautiful white flowers. The leaves are edible and taste bitter/sour, a little bit like lemon.

Tomorrow we head into Dusseldorf to walk along the Rhine and do some sightseeing.

Nipping into the New Forest

The weather has been gorgeous in Bournemouth the last few days, the sun is shining and usually cold wind is very nearly warm. I decided to go out for a ride yesterday, for the first time in a while. Things have been busy with writing my dissertation and the odd bit of job hunting.

It would have been a longer ride but I spent the first couple hours of the afternoon doing maintenance, my bike had ten layers of oil and grit covering the chain and gears. That’s just the price you pay cycling along Bournemouth seafront.

One thing I love about cycling in Dorset is that the county is packed with cyclists, especially the New Forest. Whenever I stop for a break or photograph I inevitably get other cyclists yell out ‘you OK?’ as they whiz past, there’s a definite sense of camaraderie between Dorset road cyclists. It feels somewhat reassuring that if I do meet an accident one day, people are likely to stop and help out.

There were plenty of Celendines in the hedgerows, though the Daffodils are pretty much over.

And just as I was leaving the New Forest I stopped for a quick drink on this blotched bench.

The best bit of the ride was the speed! 25km/h is fastest I’ve ever gone on a ride this length.

Across to the Isle of Wight

I went over to the Isle of Wight for the first time today, which is surprising considering I’ve lived in Bournemouth almost four years. There was little time for sightseeing, though I also saw Portsmouth for the first time, and we had a good view of Spinnaker Tower.

spinaker-tower-day

Lunch was spent at the Pilot Boat Inn, Bembridge. I highly recommend trying their fantastic ‘classic burger’. The photo below  was stolen from their website and is the Italian version.

burger

After lunch we went for a stroll along the beach by Bembridge Harbour, as we walked along the sand I spotted driftwood polished by the sea. It shone in the sunlight, much like when you spot a slow worm in the garden from the corner of your eye (no photo yet unfortunately).

I imagine most people would have passed it by as being too large, and too dirty  but then most people wouldn’t really think the following a valid line of thought. I asked my father:

” Is the saw in the car?”

“Yes, it’s in the boot.”

So we turned around, fetched it and started sawing up the wood. It’s probably worth mentioning that we were both wearing suits. A woman walking her dog came past, as she came parallel I happened to exclaim “I’m getting sand in my eyes!” She probably thought it a most peculiar scene, two men in suits with a saw, on a windy beach, wrestling with a piece of wood. She carried on smiling as she walked up the beach. When I’m next home I’ll tidy it up and turn it into an ornament.

Isle of Wight driftwood

 

Fortune came my way when we missed the 5pm ferry. Not many people are happy to miss a ferry, but the delay meant that we were sailing as the sun finished setting:

sunset

And arriving at Portsmouth in the dark, the city looks so much better at night.

portsmouth-night