Showing posts with label Devon Coast to Coast. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Devon Coast to Coast. Show all posts

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Cycling around the English Channel with the Tour de Manche

With the spring in the air, you may fancy heading out with the bike on my London-Land’s End Cycle Route. If you find Land’s End in Cornwall "a bridge too far" though, you may want to look into the great new traffic-calmed cycle touring opportunities southbound towards the English Channel. With our Skip the Exmoor Hills Offer it is easy to take in the gentle Devon Coast to Coast Cycle Route to Plymouth, where the London-Land’s End Route connects to a wealth of new route choices.

Let me introduce you to my friends Roy and Jacqui Gisborne of Signpost Cycling. Roy and Jacqui (on left in this picture) are pioneering cycling tourism in Dorset and have developed a similar guidebook product as “London-Land’s End” for the coastal route between Plymouth and Weymouth/Poole. Their Tour de Manche pack provides great mapping through the Sustrans Cycle City Guide series and reliable information in their 16-pages guidebook.

This product takes you in nine stages from Plymouth to Poole, with opportunities to take a ferry to France in Plymouth, Weymouth and Poole. If you have completed the Devon Coast to Coast with my London-Land's End Route in Plymouth, I’d recommend taking bikes on the train to Exeter as the section between Plymouth and Exeter still takes you partly on busy main roads (NCN 279). From Exeter, you can then comfortably join Roy and Jacqui’s pack. The brand-new Exe Valley Trail (see picture) is simply amazing and takes you quickly to the Jurassic Coast from where the Tour de Manche fun truly starts.    

Although very hilly, this route section to Bridport is truly traffic-calmed, providing you with amazing views and fabulous hidden attractions, such as the Donkey Sancuary, Beer Quarry Caves and the Seaton Tramway. Near scenic Dorchester you’ll also cycle via the famous Hardy Monument before having the choice to cycle either to Weymouth or Poole. If heading to Weymouth, you’ll have panoramic views over Chessil Beach and Weymouth, as Roy and Jacqui show in this picture.

So, what about the routes on the French side of the Channel then? As you can see on the map, there are various Tour de Manche route options possible. In the January issue of the Belgian Cyclelive Magazine, Cycling Dutchman Teus Korporaal explains how the routes on the French side are well signposted, but that you may need additional local maps to work out the individual stretches of the route. 

The only product describing the French side in English is the Petit Tour De Manche guide by Mark Porter. Similar to our London-Land’s End guide and the Tour de Manche pack by the Gisbornes, this book covers visitor information and accommodation suggestions for the section between St Malo and Cherbourg. It includes cycling via famous Mont St Michel (see picture, courtesy of Tour de Manche). The route section Roscoff-St Malo is not covered by this guidebook.  Except some broad information on the official website, detailed info about this section seems to be currently unavailable in English

In summary, I’d like to conclude that the international Tour de Manche project has opened up a wealth of new cycle touring itineraries, previously under-explored. On the official Tour de Manche website you'll find general useful information about all individual route sections. Some great products are available to help you cycling individual shorter sections of the route. It is unfortunate though that there is no product available that covers the full 1200 km network and that some route sections are likely to remain sketchy in the years to come. 

In this respect, the latest publication by (again!) another Cycling Dutchman Kees Swart should serve an inspiration. His independently produced Cycling around the Channel-books are a brave attempt to map all the available cycle routes around the English Channel. It is currently only available in Dutch, but I am confident it will be published in English by a fellow cycling tourism pioneer in the future. 

All Tour De Manche products in summary:

Tour de Manche - Cycle Route Guide Pack Plymouth - Poole by Roy and Jacqui Gisborne; guidebook of 16 pages in full colour, two Sustrans Cycle Maps and GPS-tracks pack, £ 19.95, see also

Petit Tour de Manche - Cycle Route Guide St Malo - Cherbourg by Mark Porter, paperback guidebook, 168 pages, also including the English section Weymouth-Poole, £ 11.99, see also

Cycling around the Channel (Fietsen rond het Kanaal - Dutch) by Kees Swart,  two guidebooks of both 172 pages, colour, wiro bound, fits in standard handlebar bag, includes GPS-tracks pack, € 19.50 per book, see

London - Land's End Cycle Route Book by the author of this article, connects Dover to Plymouth via London, Bath and Bristol, includes the Devon Coast-to-Coast route and also makes cycling to Poole possible; the ultimate product to access the Tour de Manche by bike! 164 pages, colour, wiro bound, fits in standard handlebar bag, includes GPS-tracks pack, £ 15.99, see

Other popular Cycling Dutchman blog articles:

Explaining Dutch cycling infrastructure:

Dutch bike rides and Dutch cycling culture:

The 12 best bike rides of The Netherlands

Dutch style bike rides in the United Kingdom:

Sunday, 2 June 2013

London Lands End Cycle Route Book

Yes, the mammoth task is completed! After six years of cycling and surveying, both professionally and just for fun, I can now proudly present the London-Land's End Cycle Route Book, featuring indeed the very best traffic-calmed cycling touring routes of southern England. 

The pannier-pocket guide features 1200 kms (940 miles) of routes, 140 maps (for both urban and rural areas), 500 listed facilities (like bike repair shops, camp sites, hostels and Bed & Breakfasts), detailed directions with local knowledge all the way  and a fully continuous enjoyable route (overcoming gaps in Sustrans' National Cycle Network). GPS-tracks, route updates and social media for users are available via the designated website. 

I hope this book will inspire people to take up cycle touring for many years to come, whether you are a passionate individual cyclist or would like to head out by bike with for your loved ones. The guidebook easily allows you to cycle shorter route sections and naturally caters for that one big cycling adventure! Parents will find many route sections extremely suitable for their younger children and can indeed take their teenagers on that special family holiday which will spark everyone's imagination, generating fond memories which will last for ever!

As you see on the map, the book not only caters for UK-cyclists, it also invites touring cyclists from the continent to go for a cycling holiday in England. Routes from both Dover and Harwich head for London to join the main route there. In Devon you can head for the ferry to France from Plymouth, allowing you to cycle around the English Channel! You can also use the guidebook to connect to the Cycle West Routes in France.

So, what is this book like then from the inside? Well, the book features 24 route sections and every individual section starts with an overview of the characteristics of the route section. You'll see how much distance you'll cycle traffic-free (35%; bike symbol) and how much distance you'll cycle on very quiet roads (58%; bird symbol). It also shows you how much distance you actually have to deal with any traffic (6%; symbol of one car = road with some traffic flow, 1%; symbol with two cars = main road on which an adjacent footpath is always available). The overview also shows all stations on the way (60 in total), so you can plan where to hop off and on trains. An elevation chart gives you a good idea about the terrain "to be conquered". Local visitor information, combined with attractive pictures and beautifully drawn line-drawings by artist Tom Pick from Sweden give you a further feel about the route ahead. An example of such a page is shown above.

Another important feature of the guidebook are the full directions for the whole journey. Note this is only provided for the east-west cycling direction. The "telegram"-style with symbols and abbreviations (full overview included in the guide) is written in such a way that you actually don't need to be able to read the maps. You can always see at a glance how far it is to the next village, town or rural pub/cafe. For reasons of clarity, all distances in the guidebook are in kilometers. All way points of the directions are also marked on the maps. The book features various map scales to be able to deal with both rural and urban areas. Above a sample of a rural page, below a sample of an urban page.

On the maps, you might notice the round boxes with letters. These match with the letters on the facility pages in the back of the guidebook. This allows you to find accommodations and bike repair shops very quickly, where-ever you are. Accommodations for all levels of luxury are provided, so not just campsites, hostels and Bed & Breakfasts, but also some charismatic expensive hotels. The listings provide full contact information of every venue, so name, address, postcode, phone number and website. Rural pubs/cafes are mentioned in the route directions with their names only.

So, where do the routes in the guidebook take you? Well, in brief; when starting from the recommended starting point (London Bridge Station) you'll cycle across the heart of London via quiet back streets and traffic-free routes in great open spaces, for example Hyde Park and Richmond Park. You'll leave the capital completely traffic-free via the towpaths alongside the Thames. Via Windsor Castle, you'll make your way to the Avon & Kennet Canal. This canal route takes you into Wiltshire with ancient Avebury and Stonehenge. Flat happy cycling with amazing views is provided by the Bristol & Bath Railway path and the Strawberry Line, taking you via Bath, Bristol, Avon Gorge and Cheddar

From Taunton in Somerset, the route continues into England's rugged West Country, crossing Exmoor National Park into Devon with its splendid Tarka Trail. You can then choose to cycle Devon Coast to Coast to Plymouth or to continue west into Cornwall. Highlights of the Cornwall route are Tintagel Castle, the beautiful Camel Trail, the famous surf beaches of Newquay and beautiful Penzance with its striking St Michels Mount. A circular ride via Land's End and Cape Cornwall will be a worthy finish to your ride!

You can read an extensive route summary on the designated website, which also features a picture library with over 200 pictures. The retail price of the book is £15.99. If you order the book through the official London-Land's End Cycle Route Book website you'll have to pay an additional fee for postage, but you'll also receive GPS-tracks of the routes for free. GPS-tracks are worth £10 and can be ordered separately. I hope you'll be out on your bike soon; feedback on guidebook and routes are very welcome via the Official Guestbook or Twitter on @LondonLandsEnd.

Another great book with the same format is Cycling in  Amsterdam and The Netherlands - The very best routes in the cyclist's paradise. It makes you travel beyond Dutch cliches like clogs, windmills and the Amsterdam red light district, allowing you to truly explore the lowlands. The book features 1064 kms of routes and has special chapters explaining the unique Dutch cycling-minded traffic rules and its cycle route signage systems; 164 pages, colour, wiro bound, fits in standard handlebar bag, see also

Other popular blog articles by

Explaining Dutch cycling infrastructure:

Dutch bike rides and Dutch cycling culture:

The 12 best bike rides of The Netherlands

Dutch style bike rides in the United Kingdom:

Saturday, 7 April 2012

A bike ride with Swiss and German journalists

The lovely warm spring of 2012 brought an interesting international party of cyclists onto the Devon Coast to Coast Cycle Route. Various travel writers from Germany and Switserland were invited by Visit Cornwall and Visit Devon to explore Britain’s southwest. At the end of their 5 day tour via major tourist attractions like the Eden Project, Tintagel Castle and Newquay, it was the turn for North Devon Plus to show some highlights of their area. My EOS Cycling Holidays was asked to provide a day activity for the journalists and this is how it happened that a Dutchman showed around the German-Swiss delegation on British territory!
Yvonne Beck of the Swiss glossy magazine Prestige was not terribly keen on the pedalling adventure, but very quickly the charm of the tranquil Tarka Trail convinced her she was up for a special day. The former railway tunnel halfway between Bideford and Torrington took the party deep into Devon’s glorious countryside. It was only a matter of time before I was chatting away on the bike with people like Stefanie Schudlich of German PR agency BZ.COMM and Sabine Gudath of the Berliner Kurier. Christian Altmeier of the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung told me how the German town of Heidelberg is buzzing with cyclists despite its rugged nature and how the Devon Coast to Coast Route would definitely be to the interest of German cyclists.
Lunch was kindly provided by David and Charley Job of Yarde Orchard. Their cafe and grounds are the funkiest place to eat and stay on the whole Devon Coast to Coast route. The Yarde Orchard buffet with great hand-made pizzas, locally produced apple juice and much more was thoroughly enjoyed by the party who previously had high-profile meals in establishments like Plymouth’s Barbican Kitchen and Newquay’s Headland Hotel.
After lunch, David Job showed everyone around on his premises. Especially Geraldine Friedrich of the Basler Zeitung proved to have a keen interest in his eco-bunkhouse and cool Mongolian yurts. The unique purpose built eco-drainage system, which uses natural gravity for water flows and reedbeds for filtering, was an important topic of conversation. David also revealed how he has started to work on a treehouse project, which will be available for overnight accommodation in the future. On most EOS Cycling Holidays Devon Coast to Coast Tours a stay at Yarde Orchard is included, with the Tarka Adventure minibreak package being the ultimate family-friendly option to introduce younger children to the Great Outdoors! 
The last stop of the German/Swiss delegation on their Devon Coast to Coast Cycle Tour was the Meldon Viaduct. This former railway bridge provides stunning views over Dartmoor National Park and is a historic piece of architecture in its own right. I explained how the Devon Coast to Coast Cycle Route has 9 stunning bridges of this kind on its route and also how near Tavistock a new purpose built cycle bridge is nearing its completion to replace the original bridge which was blasted away only about 20 years ago; how things can change!
With the image of the spectacular Meldon Viaduct on their minds the German/Swiss delegation and I parted in Okehampton. Hopefully they will write inspiring pieces for their audiences about England’s Southwest and the Devon Coast to Coast Cycle Route in particularly. Our EOS Cycling Holidays is now fully available in German, just as it is in English and Dutch. Routebooks on all EOS Cycling Tours are now provided in all these three languages. With new presence on Facebook and Twitter for every language as well, there is no reason to miss out on our latest cycling gossip and special deals!  

What about going for a traffic-calmed cycling holiday with one of my "Cycling Dutchman" guidebooks?

Cycling in  Amsterdam and The Netherlands - The very best routes in the cyclist's paradise makes you travel beyond Dutch cliches like clogs, windmills and the Amsterdam red light district, allowing you to truly explore the lowlands. The book features 1064 kms of routes and has special chapters explaining the unique Dutch cycling-minded traffic rules and its cycle route signage systems; 164 pages, colour, wiro bound, fits in standard handlebar bag, see also

The London - Land's End Cycle Route Book is designed for those who LOVE cycling, but don't like traffic. The book takes you onto the most beautiful cycle routes of southern England, including the Camel Trail, Devon Coast to Coast Route, Bristol and Bath Railway path, Thames Valley route and many more! What makes the book unique is that the route is completely continuous, including detailed directions and local knowledge all the way. Get inspired; choose your favourite route sections or go for a full summer holiday adventure; 164 pages, colour, wiro bound, fits in standard handlebar bag, see

Other popular Cycling Dutchman blog articles:

Explaining Dutch cycling infrastructure:

Dutch bike rides and Dutch cycling culture:

The 12 best bike rides of The Netherlands

Dutch style bike rides in the United Kingdom:
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