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Feedback/thoughts on my first UK/Ireland route?

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Feedback/thoughts on my first UK/Ireland route?

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Old 12-07-12, 09:50 AM
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suburbanbeat
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Feedback/thoughts on my first UK/Ireland route?

Hi all, I have to apologize in advance, I'll probably be posting a lot in the coming weeks and not contributing very much. I'm relatively new to cycling in general and have way more to ask than to offer.

That said, I've started training for what will be my first longer-than-two day tour. It's super ambitious, but I plan on giving myself more than enough time to do the whole route at a realistic pace. It totals 760 miles, and I plan on giving myself at least three weeks, which would allow me to complete the route at an easy peasy 30 miles a day (though I'd like to do much more and have some days off).

So this being my first tour, I'm just looking for general feedback. If anyone has any good route tips between any of these cities, that's awesome. I'd be doing this in late May/early June.

Am I crazy?


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Old 12-07-12, 10:45 AM
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I liked Riding the Irish West coast, you skip that, county Kerry, Dingle Galway,
Donnegal, Antrim Coast..
used the Indy Hostels, along the way occasionally, in stormy weather..

Riding a bicycle around the IOM TT course would be interesting to me..

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Old 12-07-12, 11:25 AM
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not one bit crazy sounds like a nice tour best of luck with it,
when your planning the irish bit check our BOARDS.IE for info on routes around west cork/kerry.
will you be camping all the way. whats your set up.
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Old 12-07-12, 12:34 PM
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suburbanbeat
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Originally Posted by antokelly View Post
not one bit crazy sounds like a nice tour best of luck with it,
when your planning the irish bit check our BOARDS.IE for info on routes around west cork/kerry.
will you be camping all the way. whats your set up.
Thanks much for the kind words! This board looks awesome, great to have that kind of resource.

I will only be camping some nights. I have friends in most cities, but not all of them. I'm currently looking into some light, one or two-person tents.

I'll be riding a 2005 Novara Randonee that I bought used for $75. It's already fitted with two cargo racks, but I'll definitely need bigger panniers for this one.
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Old 12-07-12, 12:38 PM
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Re tent. the extra 'person' of space will be useful, and not weigh much more..
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Old 12-07-12, 03:09 PM
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100% agree with that tent advice ,i have 2 tents the hilleberg akto great one man tent great for moving on each day but i would not like to be stuck in for long periods .get yourself a good 2 man with loads of room one you can rexax and maybe cook in as well well worth the extra weight .
i guess the CTC site would be good for picking up second hand tents and panniers ,just make sure the panniers are waterproof.
just spotted this might intrest you
http://www.adverts.ie/camping-outdoo...zoid-2/2090125

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Old 12-07-12, 04:51 PM
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But , though Bears are not much of an issue on that trip, if you use the tent later , where they are,
they can still smell spilled food on the tent.

just 'bear' that in mind when trying to eat in your tent..
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Old 12-11-12, 02:18 PM
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suburbanbeat
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Really appreciate all of the feedback. I love the idea of having the extra room in the tent, so I'll surely take on the little extra weight for it. Thanks so much!

And Anto - great price on the tent, but I should have mentioned that I'm actually in the US! Shipping one of those things overseas would kill me!
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Old 12-12-12, 05:16 AM
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Cycling in the proximity of London is not good, you have to pick your route with extreme care. Personally, I would take a train out to a small commuter village. Your route to Cambridge is a bot boring. If you hang east a bit, you get to ride through the much more rural and less developed parts of East Anglia. Try and pass throught he village of Lavenham.

There are Youth Hostels along the way (esp in upland areas like the Peak District) and B&B so you can probably do without a tent, carry a lot less load and ride farther and faster.
The Isle of Man is OK but not really worth the detour and loss of a few days of Irish cycling.
Ireland is much more scenic around the coast than in the middle. The SE corner is cycling Nirvana.
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Old 12-12-12, 10:23 AM
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Honestly, I don't even really care about seeing London a whole lot. The only reason I'm going at all is to see some friends. Perhaps I can convince them to just meet me in Kingston. If I do end up in the city proper however, I'll take your advice and hop on transit.

Everything else is duly noted. Any small-town suggestions like Lavenham are much welcome! Those are primarily the kinds of places I'd like to see,so thanks.

Perhaps I'll just make Isle of Man a 1-day thing. I have to get back to England anyhow, so maybe I'll just hang out on the island long enough to say that I was there and relax for a bit.

And yes, a lot of friends are telling me that I'm better off sticking to the coast of Ireland. That said, I might change my routing to go up to Galway as well so I can get a little more of it.
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Old 12-12-12, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by suburbanbeat View Post
Honestly, I don't even really care about seeing London a whole lot. The only reason I'm going at all is to see some friends. Perhaps I can convince them to just meet me in Kingston. If I do end up in the city proper however, I'll take your advice and hop on transit.

Everything else is duly noted. Any small-town suggestions like Lavenham are much welcome! Those are primarily the kinds of places I'd like to see,so thanks.

Perhaps I'll just make Isle of Man a 1-day thing. I have to get back to England anyhow, so maybe I'll just hang out on the island long enough to say that I was there and relax for a bit.

And yes, a lot of friends are telling me that I'm better off sticking to the coast of Ireland. That said, I might change my routing to go up to Galway as well so I can get a little more of it.
just this minute back from london and i'm definitly convinced that ireland is probably one of the best wee countrys on the planet, how anyone can ride a bike safely in that crazy place is a total myster to me.
i don't want to offend anyone honestly i don't but if i never see london again it will be to soon hate the place.
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Old 12-12-12, 07:06 PM
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Is there some reason for the cities you've chosen to visit?

Specifically, do you have to go to Cambridge? While it is a very nice city with some beautiful buildings and college things happening, it does take you away from the west coast, which appears to be your ultimate destination.

If you have no need to go to Cambridge, you might consider going north from Oxford through the Cotwolds. This area is hilly but full of the small villages that you mentioned you want to see. Also, there are some very nice hikes in the area for rest days.

Note that is it a 1 hour train ride from London to Cambridge, so you can take a day trip there from London, if you want. However, I have been to London several times but never on a bike and I would not ride a bike there without having a bike-safe route mapped out. While London is a big place, there are still several reasons for seeing it, if only for a day or two. First off, there is the National Art Gallery (on Trafalgar Square), which is free, and the British Museum (Elgin Marbles, Rosetta Stone, etc), as well as, the Tower of London, should that sort of thing appeals to you. That short list is just scratching the surface. You can easily get a train into London for the day from most any city in Britain.

I've never been to Swansea, but can't imagine it is of much interest. Can you take a ferry to/from Cardiff? If so, consider riding through the Forest of Dean. This page has some photos of the Forest.

You will see much pretty countryside as you ride through England and Ireland. As such, I'm not sure you will see much else between Cambridge and Derby. You can detour north toward Ashbourne (a cute, though larger, village), into the Peak District for more interesting (and challenging) rides.

The area near Liverpool is highly populous with both Liverpool and Manchester (to the north) to navigate. The last time I rode in that area, I took a train from Chester (a very nice place to visit) to Liverpool, looked around, and then another train north, just to get through all the urban sprawl.

My suggestion would be to forget southeastern England and work your way up the western part, as north as you can. You can always get a train to Liverpool for the ferry to/from Ireland.

One idea would be to go north from Cardiff, through the Brecon Beacons. Here is a description of a ride north from Newport, just east of Cardiff. The next day, I rode from Abergavenny, along the Brecon Beacons, a beautiful ride. North of Liverpool are the Yorkshire Dales (Hills) and the Lake District. For what it is worth, I liked Kendal and thought it would be a good base for rides into both the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales.

Good luck. It sounds like a fabulous trip.
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Old 12-16-12, 06:07 AM
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Originally Posted by raybo View Post
Is there some reason for the cities you've chosen to visit?


The area near Liverpool is highly populous with both Liverpool and Manchester (to the north) to navigate. The last time I rode in that area, I took a train from Chester (a very nice place to visit) to Liverpool, looked around, and then another train north, just to get through all the urban sprawl.

My suggestion would be to forget southeastern England and work your way up the western part, as north as you can. You can always get a train to Liverpool for the ferry to/from Ireland.

One idea would be to go north from Cardiff, through the Brecon Beacons. Here is a description of a ride north from Newport, just east of Cardiff. The next day, I rode from Abergavenny, along the Brecon Beacons, a beautiful ride. North of Liverpool are the Yorkshire Dales (Hills) and the Lake District. For what it is worth, I liked Kendal and thought it would be a good base for rides into both the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales.

Good luck. It sounds like a fabulous trip.
Ray made some very good suggestions. Unless you are staying on the cheep in London day passes are the way to go. ( First trip I day passed from Cambridge the second from Canterbury.

I loved the riding in mid-wales between Snowdon and Brecon. South Wales is OK but I would get some local advice on routes. The bike trails though nice will drive you to crazy with all the gates. The roads are steep, twisty and narrow. Swansea has some of the better free museums I've ever been to. Stay in one of the funky guesthouses west of the city center along the A4067.

If the ride through a big city does not look promising take the train. On my last trip I took one from Newport to the other side of Bristol. I met some local riders later in the trip who confirmed it was a good choice while saying "now why didn't we do that ... we're from Cardiff."
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Old 12-21-12, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by raybo View Post
Is there some reason for the cities you've chosen to visit?
I should have mentioned this in my original post - I've mainly chosen the cities I have because of friends that I have in those places. If I end up not camping, then I'll almost certainly have to stick to these cities so that I have affordable (read: free) places to stay.

Originally Posted by raybo View Post
Specifically, do you have to go to Cambridge? While it is a very nice city with some beautiful buildings and college things happening, it does take you away from the west coast, which appears to be your ultimate destination.
I enjoyed Cambridge a lot the last time I visited. That said, I've been thinking about this more recently and now don't see much point in going somewhere I've already been. However, I don't really have an "ultimate destination" in this trip. My goal is simply to see as much as I can over the course of 3 or 4 weeks!

Originally Posted by raybo View Post
If you have no need to go to Cambridge, you might consider going north from Oxford through the Cotwolds. This area is hilly but full of the small villages that you mentioned you want to see. Also, there are some very nice hikes in the area for rest days.
WOW. I've never heard of this range, but the pictures look beautiful. These kinds of villages are EXACTLY where I'd like to spend the most time in while I'm over there. Thanks so much for the lead, I'm going to give this serious consideration.

Originally Posted by raybo View Post
Note that is it a 1 hour train ride from London to Cambridge, so you can take a day trip there from London, if you want. However, I have been to London several times but never on a bike and I would not ride a bike there without having a bike-safe route mapped out. While London is a big place, there are still several reasons for seeing it, if only for a day or two. First off, there is the National Art Gallery (on Trafalgar Square), which is free, and the British Museum (Elgin Marbles, Rosetta Stone, etc), as well as, the Tower of London, should that sort of thing appeals to you. That short list is just scratching the surface. You can easily get a train into London for the day from most any city in Britain.
I appreciate the heads up. I like the idea of museum-ing in London. Basically, if I can get to the city without it being a headache or taking forever, I'll do it. Otherwise, I'm just going to stick to rural areas if possible.

Originally Posted by raybo View Post
I've never been to Swansea, but can't imagine it is of much interest. Can you take a ferry to/from Cardiff? If so, consider riding through the Forest of Dean. This page has some photos of the Forest.
Swansea would be purely for seeing friends, and surfing if I can borrow someone's wetsuit and board. However, this is another beautiful area that I've never heard of, so thank you again! Looking into this more right now.

Originally Posted by raybo View Post
You will see much pretty countryside as you ride through England and Ireland. As such, I'm not sure you will see much else between Cambridge and Derby. You can detour north toward Ashbourne (a cute, though larger, village), into the Peak District for more interesting (and challenging) rides.
Thanks so much for these village names. These places are barely showing up on maps, so the only way I'm finding out about them is from people telling me about them. Awesome. And as far as ride difficulty goes - as soon as it warms up here (in NE United States) I'm going to start taking on more hilly terrain and seeing where my limit is. I suspect I should be ok though.

Originally Posted by raybo View Post
The area near Liverpool is highly populous with both Liverpool and Manchester (to the north) to navigate. The last time I rode in that area, I took a train from Chester (a very nice place to visit) to Liverpool, looked around, and then another train north, just to get through all the urban sprawl.
Yeah, I've been considering re-routing this part for a little while. I don't know many people in this area and don't have much interest in seeing either city. I don't like The Beatles or soccer, so I don't know how much I'd get from those pl

Originally Posted by raybo View Post
My suggestion would be to forget southeastern England and work your way up the western part, as north as you can. You can always get a train to Liverpool for the ferry to/from Ireland.

One idea would be to go north from Cardiff, through the Brecon Beacons. Here is a description of a ride north from Newport, just east of Cardiff. The next day, I rode from Abergavenny, along the Brecon Beacons, a beautiful ride. North of Liverpool are the Yorkshire Dales (Hills) and the Lake District. For what it is worth, I liked Kendal and thought it would be a good base for rides into both the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales.
All great ideas. Going to sit down with a map over the next few days and see if I can incorporate any of these ideas into my route. You've been a huge help!
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Old 12-24-12, 05:12 PM
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Ireland west coast is beautiful cycling, as are the Wicklow mtns south of Dublin. As is Wales (i personally like the Brecons and Snowdonia. If you like books check out Hay-on-Wye).
London to Cambridge would be a bit boring. If going to meet friends i'd just take the train. Otherwise probs skip it as Oxford has a similar atmosphere (and I love Cambridge!). if you don't like hills then Cambridge and the fens are v flat and Norfolk broads too.
Not sure about your bike, but you can pretty much go from London to bristol off-road (via Ridgeway, Kennet and Avon canal path and Bath to Bristol cycle path on old train line.) if you want. Bath is a lovely historical town in itself.
Alternatively check out Sustrans for cycle routes throughout the country.
You'd also get lots of suggestions on CTC forum.
Just a few ideas....
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Old 01-27-13, 10:20 AM
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More small village suggestions please! Looking to hang out in old, "real deal" towns.
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Old 01-27-13, 02:05 PM
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Like they said West Coast..
i started in Co Kerry and went north.
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Old 01-27-13, 11:40 PM
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Your plan leaves out the best parts of Ireland (can't speak for UK)! Co. Wicklow is beautiful and if you skip Co. Kerry MacGillicuddy reaks, Gap of Dunloe, Moll's Gap, Black Valley, Gouganne Barra, Killarney, Cliffs of Moher and Gallway you are missing the charm of Ireland. Honestly, it is that great --and quite a lot of the interior of the island unremarkable enouth -- that I would recommend you reconsider. Try going to Cork and cycling up the West Coast. From Galway you can get the train back to Dublin and out of Dun Laoughaire harbor back to UK. Seriously - it will be worth it!
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Old 01-27-13, 11:47 PM
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As others have pointed out I would make the west coast of Ireland your focus. You can't go wrong with counties Clare, Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Donegal. By far my favorite is Donegal followed by Galway....
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