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!! Bicycle riding in the UK / Ireland

 
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First I thought this wouldn't be a subject for Permies forum. But why not?

I love making bicycle tours. I live in the Netherlands, the perfect country for bicycle riding ( nice smooth bicycle paths, almost all flat country). Maybe once I will cross the North Sea (by ferry) to see the beautiful landscapes of England and Wales ... And then going over the Irish Sea (by ferry too) and cycle along.
But what I heard about riding a bicycle in England is making me scared. It seems the nice narrow winding roads are full of angry car drivers who don't want to see bicycles on 'their' road.
Maybe some of you here are bicycle riders too? What do you think of riding a bicycle in the UK and Ireland?
 
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Try riding a bicycle round London in the 1970s when there weren't any cycle paths. On large roundabouts I had to keep looking round. I didn't really care where I was going because there was so much road width, and anything happening was coming at me from behind. The trick in London (this applies to cars too) is to be definite. If you look as though you know where you are going nobody will give you any trouble.
As for the windy roads, they are the least of your worry. The problem I have is with drivers who aren't used to such roads and have difficulty getting up to 20mph (~30kph) except on the straightest parts. I think most of those roads are safe at 30mph (~50kph). Of course in a car you have to change down for the corners. On a bicycle I tend to pull out and ride nearly on the right on a left bend; I can see much farther like that. On a right bend I ride as close to the left as possible for the same reason.
 
pollinator
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I ride my bike around my village and to the nearby villages.  Though I ride in the street while in town, to get to the next village I will ride on the footpath;  I wouldn't want to go on our rural roads because you're right:  they are narrow and winding, and the speed limit is generally 60 mph (and a lot of drivers think this is a speed target rather than a limit, even on roads where it is clearly dangerous to go so fast).  That's not to say people don't cycle on them, because I often see such people--and think they're crazy.

I think cycling around the centre of London would be a good way to see all the sights, as there seem to be cycle lanes, bike hires, and lots of people on bicycles.  Not so much in the rest of London though.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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You have three ferries from Holland to England: Hoek van Holland→Harwich, Europoort→Hull, and Ijmuiden→North Shields (not Amsterdam→Newcastle as they say).
The Harwich route used to be the least expensive but its prices have increased in the last few years. There are two sailings daily leaving HvH about 14:00 and 21:45; if you arrive at Harwich at 20:00 it is possible to get a train (station adjacent to the port) to London, Norwich, Peterborough or Cambridge readily. It is a bit late for trains to anywhere farther away. It is possible to pay a little extra and have some railway tickets included in the price, but we had problems trying that with a bicycle last time. Harwich is a small town and it is possible to get out into gently hilly countryside quickly. If you get the 20:00 arrival I suggest you don't try riding further than Ipswich or Colchester the same day. If you get the night sailing, well, I have ridden from Harwich to Peterborough in the day once. You can get trains to anywhere, maybe via London or Peterborough. It is worth touring round the area 30miles (~50km) from Harwich. None of it is flat, but none of the hills is anything like as steep as the Kennemeerland.
The other two ferry routes only have one sailing daily, About 17:00 from Ijmuiden and about 21:00 from Europoort. If you go to North Shields, it is nearly 10miles (15km) to the nearest large railway station (=Newcastle Central Station) or you can use the pedestrian tunnel to Jarrow or the ferry to South Shields. Whenever we try the recommended bicycle routes, they are all right north of the Tyne but seem to add miles to the journey south of the Tyne. There are old railway lines from Ryhope (near Sunderland) towards Durham City, Bishop Auckland, and Stockton on Tees. If you go north and west, you get into bleak and hilly countryside. You need to be west of Morpeth. The main roads are not bad, and not too hilly. Newcastle is a very hilly city (at least near the river) and the surrounding towns are also hilly.
The ferry to Hull comes into the city, but it is 4miles (~6km) to the city centre and station. There is a cycle/footpath to Liverpool, but after 2miles we get ed up of the low speed and prefer to fight it out with the heavy traffic on the A1033 (Hedon Rd., pronounced with a short e). The I forget I have to go left to turn right into Ferensway. Last time we went there (October last year) we took the “Dutch Dash” out on Sunday after a trip to the pubs and fort at Paull. Back on Monday: same ship, so you leave your luggage behind. We managed lunch at Brielle whe the market was on. But the nice bakery next to the bridge is no longer; it is now clothes repairs. Then visits to Rockanje where the grocer's het Kracht van de Ambacht had closed. Then tea at Oostvoorne where my compass pointed south. Then round the Oostvoornse Meer and back to Beneluxhaven. The “Dutch Dash” can be very good value for money. Thy charged us £66. But the day before we travelled we had an ominous phone call from the ferry company. Would we like dinner and breakfast on the ferry? The food was quite good and I thought breakfast was a bit expensive but dinner good value for money. If you have ridden a bicycle 30miles you will be hungry enough to eat all the dinner and go back for more repeatedly!
Hull itself, and the countryside west towards Selby, or north towards Beverley, is as flat as Holland. If you go north‑west beyond Cottingham you get onto the Wolds. Very open country with hills making the Kennemeerland look tame. Chalky soil: the few streams you see (e.g. at North Newbald) are crystal‑clear.
Bed and breakfast should be available anywhere you go between £70 and £100/night for two people, but you can pay much more. It would usually be possible to find accommodation very easily without booking in advance, but just at the moment so many people are staying in UK that most places are already full. London would be more expensive. If you want to go to London, consider staying somewhere 30miles away whence you can get a train to London.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Thank you for your answers.
I knew about the ferry from Hoek van Holland to Harwich. I thought of taking that one when I want to cycle the Southern part of England. But when I want to see more Northern parts I better go to Hull.
I don't want to visit London. Small old towns, villages and countryside is what I like. I always take all my camping gear with me. If you know about camping in England, please tell me. And in Wales, because that's an interesting country too.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:Thank you

That's a pleasure

. . . Hoek van Holland to Harwich. . . . .

As I said, you can find enough to look at for a week within 30 miles of Harwich and avoid large towns. As I said, we had problems trying to combine the supplementary railway ticket with a bicycle.

If you know about camping in England, . . .

Don't know enough to help you, sorry.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Campbell Ritchie wrote:... As I said, we had problems trying to combine the supplementary railway ticket with a bicycle...


I only use my bicycle. I start riding from home, it will take some days to reach the ferry, and right from the ferry I will go on riding my bicycle. No trains involved.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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No, you will have to walk a short way because they don't allow cycling on the ferry at HvH/H They insist you walk onto the ferry with your bicycle. At least I think they do.
 
pollinator
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The Pennines - border area between England and Scotland - are beautiful, and easy to reach from Newcastle (North Shields), so that's an area I can definitely recommend. It's fairly empty, not many cars, and I've always found drivers in the UK very courteous.
You'll find many single track roads in the countryside. Cars will have to stay behind you if they haven't got a good view ahead of them to safely overtake you. In my experience drivers have always been very patient. You'll have to accept being on the same road as cars, as separate bicycle lanes are nearly non-existent. But then there are so few cars, the situation can't be compared to that in The Netherlands.
What I would recommend for Britain is getting a rear view mirror. Not many cyclists in flat Netherlands use one, but especially going downhill at high speed, when you want to keep your eyes on the road in front of you, you'll still want to be aware of traffic coming from behind. And of course your brakes need to be good in the hills!

Cycling with full camping gear is really tough in the hills. Whenever I saw fully packed cyclists in Scotland, having an arduous time, I tried to make out their brand of bicycle. It was usually a Dutch brand, so I knew; 'silly Dutch people'. The scenic roads you'll want to be cycling are never flat, the bigger roads will be, but they're busy roads, and not the reason you came over.
So I would try to organise your stay in a way that would allow for day trips with your bike, unpacked, instead of planning it so that you would be fully packed most of the time, because that would be really tough.    
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Yes, I am one of those crazy Dutch people riding an old Dutch bicycle. With heavy canvas Dutch panniers. On this photo even my doggie:

 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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J. Grouwstra, maybe that's a good idea, to do day-trips without all the heavy stuff sometimes. But I don't like staying in the same spot all the time, so once every few days I'll pack everything back up the bicycle and have a hard day of cycling ...
 
Campbell Ritchie
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I have seen Americans carrying that amount of luggage. But you will be all right; you can get the dog to pull you
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Campbell Ritchie wrote:I have seen Americans carrying that amount of luggage. But you will be all right; you can get the dog to pull you



No, my dog is old and blind. She likes being carried on the bicycle. But I won't take her with me to foreign countries.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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Thank you for the apple whoever it was.
 
pollinator
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Compared to the Netherlands it's not good and the new cycle paths they have tried to put in are mostly inadequate. However its not all bad you can cycle on bridleways (basic roads where cars are not allowed) and you can still find quiet roads in the countryside. Just avoid rush hour times if you can, outside the commuters rushing around in thier expensive cars most people drive fairly sensibly.

For camping try searching on Couchsurfing website (we have had people here for that -so your welcome to come here in Broadway too!) also some youth hostels like the yha where I worked had a camping option (you just needed to call them because it wasnt always 'officially advertised').
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