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Spain...to Ireland or England ?

Old 04-07-24, 02:50 PM
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Spain...to Ireland or England ?

Hi everyone, I'm currently touring through Spain and in a week will take a ferry to Ireland or England to continue bike touring. Where should I go? Here is some context..
- we will only have 2 weeks once we land in Ireland or UK before we have to be in London
- my wife and I ride about 50 km a day with fully loaded bikes - hills ok, mountains not.
- we have camping gear and but would rather not if weather is wet and cold.
- we don't want busy roads even if the scenery is amazing
- we could start in Rosslare Ireland and ride up the coast to Dublin, but is cycling this route recommended?
- or we could take start in Plymouth and ride from there into Wales? Southern England?
We've never been to Ireland or UK so I'm sure it will all be interesting, so safe roads and moderately challenging riding, and dryer conditions (lol) is ideal.
Any recommendations or advice for these 2 weeks before I have to be in London?
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Old 04-07-24, 10:43 PM
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I would suggest you get the ferry to Plymouth and follow national cycle route 2 across the south of England for as far as you want then take another Sustrans route into London. They follow smaller, quieter roads and some great scenery although it can be hilly but certainly not mountainous, there are none in southern England.

https://www.sustrans.org.uk/find-a-r...etwork/route-2
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Old 04-08-24, 12:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Small cog
I would suggest you get the ferry to Plymouth and follow national cycle route 2 across the south of England for as far as you want then take another Sustrans route into London. They follow smaller, quieter roads and some great scenery although it can be hilly but certainly not mountainous, there are none in southern England.

https://www.sustrans.org.uk/find-a-r...etwork/route-2
This is great, thank you small cog. Do you know if camping and affordable accommodation is available along the route? We're on a 4 month long tour so costs are a concern.
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Old 04-08-24, 04:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Rob63
This is great, thank you small cog. Do you know if camping and affordable accommodation is available along the route? We're on a 4 month long tour so costs are a concern.
There should be campsites and bed and breakfast along the way although I am not sure how much the latter cost, if you are on warm showers there will be hosts and it follows a fairly rural route so you can ask to camp in fields or gardens along the way.
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Old 04-08-24, 10:28 AM
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Beer is better in Ireland
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Old 04-08-24, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B.
Beer is better in Ireland
That stuff that looks (and tastes) like tar? 🤢
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Old 04-08-24, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B.
Beer is better in Ireland
That's debatable. I found much more variety in England than in Ireland, where the choice was between Guinness and Harp. Maybe things have improved since I was there.
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Old 04-08-24, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by axolotl
That's debatable. I found much more variety in England than in Ireland, where the choice was between Guinness and Harp. Maybe things have improved since I was there.
O’Neils pub in Dublin had a 2 sided bar, with something like 44 taps on each side, I think it repeated. About 5 taps were hard cider, the rest beer. There was a huge variety in the places I visited, though I settled on Smithwicks as my favorite stout,
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Old 04-09-24, 07:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Rob63
Hi everyone, I'm currently touring through Spain and in a week will take a ferry to Ireland or England to continue bike touring. Where should I go? Here is some context..
- we will only have 2 weeks once we land in Ireland or UK before we have to be in London
- my wife and I ride about 50 km a day with fully loaded bikes - hills ok, mountains not.
- we have camping gear and but would rather not if weather is wet and cold.
- we don't want busy roads even if the scenery is amazing
- we could start in Rosslare Ireland and ride up the coast to Dublin, but is cycling this route recommended?
- or we could take start in Plymouth and ride from there into Wales? Southern England?
We've never been to Ireland or UK so I'm sure it will all be interesting, so safe roads and moderately challenging riding, and dryer conditions (lol) is ideal.
Any recommendations or advice for these 2 weeks before I have to be in London?
my only personal experience is in the north of Scotland, but I can say from having visited Wales in the past with no bike, there are lots and lots of places in the UK where you can run into short, steep, brutish climbs of 15 % 20% or steeper. I'm not kidding and you really will want the lowest low gear you can get.
I bring this up because I can only guess of your climbing abilities and reaction to steep hills from you mentioning wanting to do 50kms per day, and not liking mountains.
Also, how much your bikes weigh, your ages, etc come into play as well.

Last summer when I biked in Scotland, I had my bike set up in two modes, first with four panniers and a handlebar bag, camping stuff, but I was more lightly loaded than in past trips (lighter tent, really reduced stuff overall)
Secondly I did a bikepacking setup, so total bike weight even lighter. (I forget how much the bike weighed with each setup)

bottom line--I still was very happy with my bikes usual gearing setup, a very low gear of about 17 gear inches and a high of about 104 (triple with a 22t inner ring and 34t cassette with 26in wheels)
I used the low gear many a time and even with the bike set up lighter in bikepacking mode, I walked up bits of long climbs on road and stupidly steep off road double track climbs. I even recall on the road reaching to shift to a non existent lower gear, and when you're talking of a 17 g.i low, that says something.

I realize all this talk is totally subjective, but just be aware of the short, steep hills that you will run into in the UK.

re busy roads, I would be remiss not to mention the narrow roads, often so narrow that oncoming cars have to squeeze wheels onto the often little bit of grassy shoulder to avoid oncoming cars. Drivers drive fast and you really want to research a route because you could easily end up unwittingly on a very unpleasant experience, not to mention dangerous.
Scottish drivers were rather polite, but in England, anti bike feelings are more prevalent, so I second reading up on the safest routes to take.
I've ridden on lots of busy roads in different countries, but the narrow roads, really no shoulder or even escape room (think, vertical earth berms or shrubs that physically stop you or limit you to going off to the side) in some places are pretty damn sketchy.
There were two laners in northern scotland that have the vast majority of the traffic, lots of rushing cars and trucks going 60+ mph, that just werent worth riding on, and I ride in a large city all the time.

don't want to scare you off, but to give a realistic idea of what its like so you can plan safely.
oh, I personally found it pretty easy to adapt to riding on the other side of the road and looking in my mirror more than usual for fast incoming cars.

Last edited by djb; 04-09-24 at 07:41 AM.
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Old 04-09-24, 08:33 AM
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April is awfully early for both Ireland & UK. If you stick to southern England, statistically the weather should be a bit less wet than Ireland and slightly warmer. I had lots of rain myself in Ireland, but have been very lucky with the weather throughout the UK. While I can confirm what djb wrote about short and steep climbs in the UK, they were just that, short. I never felt in any danger from traffic in either the UK or Ireland.

Frankly, if I were in Spain in early April and wanted to continue biking somewhere northward, I'd recommend the Dordogne valley in SW France.
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Old 04-09-24, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by axolotl
April is awfully early for both Ireland & UK. If you stick to southern England, statistically the weather should be a bit less wet than Ireland and slightly warmer. I had lots of rain myself in Ireland, but have been very lucky with the weather throughout the UK. While I can confirm what djb wrote about short and steep climbs in the UK, they were just that, short. I never felt in any danger from traffic in either the UK or Ireland.

Frankly, if I were in Spain in early April and wanted to continue biking somewhere northward, I'd recommend the Dordogne valley in SW France.
As a Canadian I'm limited to 90 days in European Schengen countries so this is one reason I'm heading to UK or Ireland ( both non schengen nations), so to enjoy May and June in mainland EU, after being in Spain for a month. But yes, I've heard many great things about riding in France...perhaps later.
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Old 04-09-24, 05:13 PM
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I agree about April perhaps being early and a shock after Spain, but if you go, have fun and read up on the routes and roads to avoid.
Cheers

Last edited by djb; 04-10-24 at 05:26 AM. Reason: if
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Old 04-09-24, 08:26 PM
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I've accidentally overstayed Schengen at least once if not twice. Nothing happened, which provides no guarantee but may suggest that you'll board the Calais - Dover ferry without problem (assuming you'll fly back to Canada from the UK).

If you prefer to adhere to the letter of the law, I'd suggest cycling England (simpler logistics) and checking warmshowers to keep costs under control. In my experience, Brits are enthusiastic hosts are you're likely to find a place to spend the night, every night.
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