Wednesday 30 July 2014


I hadn't entirely appreciated how short the Belgian coadtline is, barely one days cycling. I knew I would be entering Belgium at some point in the afternoon and was happily battling through the North Sea wind along the smooth Dutch cycle paths when the concrete path turned to gravel. Even through the middle of fields all the cycle paths in the Netherlands had been paved so I checked the map and found I was in Belgium. The remaining 3 hours cycling didn't really get any better including a 3 km stretch on cobbles, seriously who thinks a cobbled cycle path is a good idea?
Last day today before crossing the channel tomorrow morning.

Sunday 27 July 2014


Well into The Netherlands now, just west of Amsterdam. As expected cycling here is easy as completely flat (though I miss the variations that a few hills give) and of course miles and miles of cycle lanes. It does mean of course that loads of people cycle so you have to maintain lane etiquette or get mown down.  The cycle signs are the best I have seen and could navigate through the countryside just with signs. My nemesis still remains large towns and cities where I still get lost.
I had a glorious day cycling along perfect smooth trails through fields and along canals without a car in sight.
Torrential thunderstorm yesterday had everyone running for shelter, I cut my losses and found a cheap hotel.
Be crossing the channel in about 4 or 5 days.

Monday 21 July 2014


Hopefully will cross into The Netherlands today though the weather has changed overnight from stifling hot to steady rain, reason being I bought another short sleeved t shirt. There is a clear connection developing between garment purchase and weather!
Will miss the German bakeries but not the difficulty with communication though it seems to have improved the last day or so. Trouble is using my few German words means people babble on enthusiastically and then I look blank and say I am English and they look vaguely disappointed. There is a short ferry from Bremerhaven to cross the Weser river and arrived as they put the barrier down followed by another couple on bikes. They commented in German how annoying to be 1 minute late and I repeated what they said in German and then much confusion when I couldn't take the conversation further. Luckily the ferry people took pity on us and let us on so I was able to share our mutual pleasure with the German couple regardless of language.
Now over 2,000km!

Thursday 17 July 2014


Quick update as no wifi for some days and have had to resort to McDs. Have been surprised how much less English is spoken in Germany than Scandinavia.  People are very willing but struggle, my tiny bit of German helps it along but still much more difficult to get information to plan routes and find campsites etc. However the cake shops compensate for it, I will make up all the weight I have lost!
3 more days and will bei Netherlands.

Sunday 13 July 2014


Although I have seen lots of other touring cyclists in passing it is only in Denmark that I have met them on campsites. Previously I was often the only tent on a campsite but certainly no more than a couple of others. The Scandinavians certainly like their campervans. In fact in the Swedish campsite brochure it says only 5% of campsite visits are in a tent. There are also a huge number of static caravans with all the trimmings - awnings, gardens, huge flat screen TVs visible in the awning area etc.
Anyway have had a couple of nice evenings chatting to other cyclists.  There was Manuel and Jan, 2 German guys who had met up a few days earlier and were travelling together for a while. Manuel had a recumbent bike which looked really comfortable and wasn't as low as some I have seen. He also had a device on the bike to charge his phone which looked very useful, will look into that when I get home.

Last evening I met Janine who is the first woman I have met who like me is cycling on her own. Coincidentally she also cycled the East Coast of  America the same year as me but earlier and in the opposite direction. It was great to share experiences and agree what a safe activity it is for women to cycle on their own compared to the popular idea that women are at risk on their own.

Saturday 12 July 2014


My plan from getting into Denmark onwards was to roughly follow the North Sea Cycleway. Theoretically that should be easy as it is well marked. However quite big sections are on off road tracks some of which have good surfaces and some very rough which is hard work with luggage. The parts I have done have been really lovely though you can't always see the sea as the dunes are in the way. I stayed at a campsite next to the beach, though it was so huge it took me 4 minutes to cycle from where I was to the beach end, and as the evening was so hot I was even tempted into the water! It may be the first and last time as it was pretty cold.
Earlier in the day I went to look at a display of sand sculptures based on a Viking theme. They were absolutely brilliant,  my favourite was Brunhilde.

But they were all superb and stay intact right through the holiday season.


Unbelievably I found the perfect latte in a surf shop. I was just passing and saw the sign not really expecting a proper latte. I went in and there was one of the surfing guys doing the barista thing. He said he enjoyed good coffee when he travelled and wanted to offer it to his customers in Denmark.

Wednesday 9 July 2014


The reasons I love Denmark:

1) Lots of cycle paths, all in good condition
2) Good road signs and cycle path signs
3) Picnic areas with tables and bins and often toilets and signs telling you when they are coming up. Very annoying to stop and stand at the side of the road eating lunch and find a picnic area round the next bend.
4) Excellent road surfaces
5) Gentle hills!
6) Extreme courtesy shown to cyclists, though sometimes have stopped on a cycle path halfway round a roundabout and looking at the map and look up to see several cars from both directions waiting for me to cross, then feel obliged to cross even if I didn't want to go that way!
7) Much cheaper campsites £5 to £12 a night compared to £20 to £30+ elsewhere in Scandinavia.
8) The weather is brilliant but I think that is more chance as was very wet when I was here last year.
9) The people are friendly but also throughout Scandinavia.
10) Good choice of food in convenience stores.

Monday 7 July 2014


I left the campsite in Norway at 5.30 am having packed in the rain to get the ferry to Denmark. The weather seemed gloomy all the way but arrival in Denmark was greeted by a warm dry day. Having been here last year I was reminded of how cycling focussed they are here. Just did about 35 km as was midday when I got there and found a lovely friendly campsite.
Shortly after my arrival another cyclist turned up with the same panniers etc as me. We chatted a bit about routes and route finding and he told me that the year before on a trip from Copenhagen to southern France he had become dehydrated and passed out while cycling and broke his collarbone. I then drank lots of water!
There was a terrific thunderstorm this morning and I was very pleased to have a decent tent as the rain and thunder crashed down around me I stayed nice and dry
The other cyclist was not so lucky and I found him in the camp kitchen this morning drying out his sleeping bag etc.

Onwards through Denmark now.


Having got the ferry across the Oslo fjord I set off for a 3 to 4 day ride to Kristiansand and then the ferry to Denmark. On the second day I was going through Larvik which looked like a small fishing port on the map and turned out to be a huge industrial port. I then remembered a long conversation I had with a guy in a cycle shop who said this area if coastline and the roads were very busy and be sure to wear my high vis vest as he had recently driven that way and had only missed hitting 2 cyclists because of their high vis vests. After enjoying the country lanes across Sweden I decided to cut it short and have a couple of days on a quiet part of the coast and get the ferry from Larvik. As it happened my day in Stavern coincided with a festival which included a battle reenactment,  like Sealed Knot but with ships.
So sorry Norway, I didn't really do you justice,  maybe another time.

Sunday 6 July 2014


Towards my last day in Sweden I was heading to a town about halfway for lunch and realised it was a couple of km off the route so turned back to a roadside cafe I had passed. While I was waiting for the the food a guy called Niclas asked me about my trip and then asked if I would mind being interviewed by a friend who was a journalist on the local paper. After a short wait she arrived and interviewed me and took some pictures. The resulting report can be seen on this link, in Swedish of course:

Niclas is a newly qualified English teacher and I am going to try and help him make contact with a school in England to create a link hetween the students.

Saturday 5 July 2014


Following my horrible day the weather took a change for the better and has been dryish since then. On my last day in Sweden I crossed through Norway. If you look at the map the 2 countries sort of overlap to the east of the Oslo fjord. The scenary there was stunning and suddenly much hillier. The smell of pine from the forests was lovely and the roads well surfaced but quiet.
I must have started high because I had a downhill for 2 or 3 km without a previous climb but then of course a climb out of the valley for 2 km but then another downhill. 2 for the orice of one can't be bad!
The sun shone all day and never saw another person in this valley. It felt like a secret place. Truly sublime!

Tuesday 1 July 2014


Had planned a hostel stay in Karlstad, it was about 80 km and made good progress in the morning. Stopped at a town halfway with lots of cafes but all closed as Sunday. Lost track of my original route and had problems finding the right way out of town, passed an elderly man on his way to the shops and passed him again nearly an hour later on his way back. He literally stopped and stared at me thinking what is that mad woman doing. Eventually escaped on the right road and a while later stopped at a cafe at a service station. At this point the route went on to the motorway, this is legal for bikes on some sections but not desirable. I asked one of the guys in the cafe if there was an alternative and he said, oh yes there is the cycleway,  just follow that. Great I thought, good surface at first then, gravel,then mud, then dead end in a field. Meanwhile had passed another man in his garden a little distance back who gave me my second 'where does that mad woman think she is going' look of the day. So in this field right next to motorway with 5 metre fence between.  Saw a large gate, not locked,  so open this huge gate, then have to cross motorway and need a gap from both directions,  which comes eventually not without a few more 'where does that mad woman etc' looks. Anyway after a scary but short motorway section and the rest on country toads I arrive in Karlstad. A bit more going round in circles looking for the hostel and I finally see it on a hill the other side of the motorway. Not possible to cross it and under is steps, tricky going down but impossible going up, so had to unload  and make 3 trips. Finally got to the hostel but was 10 minutes after check in closed so no bed. I could have screamed.
Ended up in an overpriced hotel but at least the breakfast was good.