We are planning a short bike trip for ca 3 weeks in UK this summer. The plan is to fly in to Gatwick and then follow the coast to Cornwall and Lands End and back. However we are not quite sure if this is a 100% good idea. Is the region too crowded in July-August? What about summer traffic? What about cycle routes? Looking at the internet pictures of the area ,it seems beautiful with lots of sightseeing to do...!
Your comments and thoughts about our little plan is much appreciated! :-)
Christian and Helene
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Hi, I did this ride last year and can highly recommend it, although it can be tough going in places.If you can , go via the Isle of Wight, which is beautiful and great for cycling.There are p,entry of Warmshowers hosts, as well as campsites.Make sure you have low gearing,as some of the hills are brutally steep.The roads were busy and very narrow in places, but I had no problems with drivers at all.I rode along the south coast to Lands End, and then back along the north coast, with a great tail wind.Have a great trip.
Look on the Sustrans website - they have a map you can zoom in on showing all the cycle routes and quieter roads. Thru most towns there are plenty of cycle routes now but there are some vicious hills once you get to Dorset, Devon and Cornwall - so look for easier routes. Don't miss The Exe Estuary cycle route and Dartmoor. You're welcome to come and camp at ours - near Dawlish. Its a beautiful, varied landscape all the way....!
It's a lovely route. Don't underestimate the hills though. Nearly everyone who has stayed with us didn't anticipate the number of steep hills in Dorset and Devon.
Get some good OS maps and you'll easily avoid the main roads. OS maps have NCN cycle resources marked on them in green dots.
To be honest, targets are great but why Lands End? It sounds like a great idea but Cornwall is pretty hilly and the roads will be busy during the summer as that's peak season (I come from that area) To go in and out won't be that easy to find a sensible route.
Personally I'd head along the south coast and the Sustrans routes along the south coast can be connected together. At Plymouth I'd head north along the Plym valley route to Barnstable on the north coast which is a lovely ride. From there head back over Exmoor, through the mendips, take in Bath then east to Chippenham and then the Avebury area and broadly follow the Kennet and Avon Canal, finishing back at Gatwick.
Another arguement is Gatwick to Lands End via Southampton and Plymouth is 350 miles and that's on main roads, so a return is 700 miles. With the hills and wanting to see things that'll be tough. This suggestion will give you a varied tour with a better distance
If you do that route, we're close to Bath (well 15 miles away)
I agree with Sarah and Neil - if there isnt a particular need to go to Land's End (which is a huge car park and tourist trap with zero atmosphere!) don't bother. Cornwall is gorgeous but there is a route (on Sustrans) I think called the South West Way, that you could 'dip' down into Cornwall and then mke your way back to Bristol/Bath area. Going from Plymouth up to Barnstaple will take you on the fringes of Dartmoor too. Another idea is to jump from airport to nearer the south west by train, then you have more time to cycle.
Many thanks for your advice and thoughts about our little project. No decions made yet! :-)
Sounds like this is not the best idea taking the season, roads and traffic into account. Since we also do a lot of sea kayaking we are now discussing a couple of weeks in our kayaks in the Swedish or Finnsih archipelago. Lots of tough decisions! :-)
I cycled from Dover to Plymouth along the south coast last July. On the whole route I encountered only one other cycle tourer. I had some amazing WarmShowers hosts though! The landscapes were quite varied. Personal highlights: New Forest National Park, Jurassic Coast and Dartmoor.
As mentioned earlier, some roads are painfully steep and extremely narrow.