Disaster strikes! Please help save our holiday!!

TwoInTow

Active Member
I was on here some months ago asking questions about the Donaueschingen - Passau route, and got lots of help which encouraged me. So I booked the train tickets (Eurostar and lots of others, including a Munich-Paris sleeper) etc etc, and we are due to leave on Thursday afternoon for London, then catch Eurostar 7am on Friday. BUT...

Disaster struck: very long story, but we needed to renew our visas, couldn't apply for it ahead of time (it has a fixed window) and now it looks like our passports will not be returned from the Home Office in time. It's Tuesday and we've heard nothing, so it looks like the whole thing will collapse. So I had a little meltdown about it at first, but have accepted it now, and am trying to make the best of it. There's a tiny chance that they might arrive Wed or Thurs am, and we might still make it but it's unlikely. So...

We don't have enough money to buy more tickets (wasted a thousand on train tickets already! - family of 4 - tickets cheap and can't be changed), so if we are to do anything these summer holidays it has to be in Britain. Also, I don't really have the heart to plan out (again) complicated train travel, so I'm thinking we are better off if we just try to load up and cycle from our doorway. So here are my questions:

1. We live in Winchester. Can anyone suggest a good route from our door? For us, 'good' = easy terrain. The children are basically luggage (8-year-old on tandem with my husband and lots of panniers, 10-year-old not carrying any luggage on his MTB) and I was going to be on an 8-speed hub-gear 'city bike' (with panniers and rack pack). All of which was OK, I think, on the planned route which was flat/slightly downhill the whole way. But makes things more complicated if we stay in Britain! (If we are cycling from our door, I might leave the city bike at home and take a Bob trailer behind my nice bike which has granny gears and everything. But I was reluctant to take Bob on millions of trains...)


2. On the planned route there were loads of campsites at the right intervals. We can't afford to do B&Bs etc, so we will need to camp. But there don't seem to be so many campsites along the NCN routes etc as far as I can tell. How do people solve this? Lots of wild-camping? Or are there more sites than I think?

3. I suppose now I think about it a British tour doesn't have to be a circular route. We could catch the train there/back, although the simplicity of cycling from the door does appeal, after my complex plans have fallen through. We had been planning on about 10-12 days of riding with a few rest days. But I'm desperate and open to anything now!

Any knights on white horses who could help me salvage something of our long-planned adventure will have my undying gratitude! I'm really inexperienced and putting this together at short notice is probably beyond me...
 

mark barker

New Member
Location
Swindon, Wilts
Not much help on the British tour front, but couldn't you collect your passports from the embassy rather than wait for them to be posted? (I've never used a postal service for visas, I've always queued at the embassies for hours!)
 

Canrider

Guru
Hi, TwoinTow.
I'm afraid I can't offer any direct help, BUT

Repost your request for help in some of the other forum sections, particularly Cyclechat Cafe (where the largest proportion of users congregate). This will at least ensure that the maximum people see your plea!

Best of wishes and luck!
Canrider
 

andym

Über Member
I'm sorry to hear that.

The good news is that you've got plenty of choices almost on your doorstep - the New Forest, the Purbecks (south Dorset) or further north there's the Marlborough Downs, and the countryside around Avebury and the vale of [ - I forget somebody help me out here]. Check out the national cycle network routes for ready-made routes - although if you stay off A roads you should be fine. The train is a viable option if you wanted to connect together a couple of smaller loops - or simply head out along the south coast and then come back by train. Check out Family Railcards. You could do smaller loops going for a few nights starting and finishing from home.
 

Brains

Legendary Member
Location
Greenwich
I think you best bet (after pushing the embassy, offering to turn up in person etc) is to head for Norfolk.

Use the method you were going to use to meet up with the Eurostar to get to London, then out the other side to somwhere on the coast. I'd suggest start south (Suffolk somewhere) and head north towards Cromer

Norfolk is flat, it has beaches, it has a nice cycle route, you can camp all the way.

Get the SUSTRANS map of the county, there is a cycle route that goes all the way up the coast
 

HelenD123

Guru
Location
York
I think you best bet (after pushing the embassy, offering to turn up in person etc) is to head for Norfolk.

Use the method you were going to use to meet up with the Eurostar to get to London, then out the other side to somwhere on the coast. I'd suggest start south (Suffolk somewhere) and head north towards Cromer

Norfolk is flat, it has beaches, it has a nice cycle route, you can camp all the way.

Get the SUSTRANS map of the county, there is a cycle route that goes all the way up the coast
Norfolk is definitely not flat. It's full of rolling hills.

I did NCN route 1 (part of the North Sea Cycle Route) from Beverley, East Yorkshire to Norfolk last summer and you should be able to find campsites at suitable intervals, apart from in
Beverley but that has a Youth Hostel. The campsite at Woodhall Spa is great for kids. The route is almost entirely flat and very quiet roads. You could extend it by following Route 66 from Beverley to York which is also mostly, though not entirely, flat. York has great train connections. Starting or finishing in Kings Lynn would cut out any hills in Norfolk.
 

Ste T.

Veteran
Mate, I'll have all my fingers and toes crossed for you. The missus and I are a couple of last minute chancers with all the organisational skills of two headless chickens. We've been caught out ourselves with passports. Luckily we live 10 miles from the nearest pp office. but still sat there sweating and got them issued with a couple of hours to spare. Miracles can happen.
 

summerdays

Cycling in the sun
Location
Bristol
For campsites if you want to increase the number of possibilities it would be worth joining the camping and caravan club... can't remember the exact price - under £40? That then gets you into the some of their larger campsites slightly cheaper than non-members and also opens up all the little, very basic campsites:

2jadi5i.jpg


And is available to use all the rest of the year as well.
 
OP
T

TwoInTow

Active Member
Thanks for tne encouragement about passports. Sadly, it's not a renewal. It's a complicated visa application which I've had prepared since January, but you can't submit until 6 weeks before they expire (beginning of June for us) and then my husband needed to go to Ireland for work so we couldn't, in the end, send it in until we had about 20 days to go. And complicated visa applications - proving our assets and employment and children's status and what colour our navel fluff is etc - can't be hurried along. Well, you can have an express appointment if you pay an extra 250 pounds (which I would!), but you have to make the appointment 3-4 months ahead of time. And at that point, I didn't think we'd have a problem. It's not exactly a customer-service mentality when you're not a British citizen, unfortunately.

Anyway, we will know if the passports don't arrive on Thursday morning (due to leave Thursday afternoon!), but I'm betting it won't happen.

So... so far, I have NCN1, starting/finishing at Kings Lynn (which does sound great!) or a series of loops from home. So far, my experience of Hampshire is that it is very rolling - which is no problem on my unladen bike with granny gears, but is more of a worry with children,camping kit etc. Does anyone have any other very flat suggestions?
 

mark barker

New Member
Location
Swindon, Wilts
Could you plan a route that takes in a lot of canal tow paths? They tend to be flat by design, with a few inclines that wouldn't be too bad to walk up as you'd have the excuse of admiring the lock systems!
 

summerdays

Cycling in the sun
Location
Bristol
The problem with very flat (not that there is much of it around here!!!) is that you have to constantly cycle - whereas if you have some undulations you get a bit of a rest going downhill and it can cut the wind so I gather (not noticed it around here - but perhaps I'm too near the top of the hill!)

What about trying to sell on your tickets ... or are they all in your name? to try and recover some of your money.
 

GrumpyGregry

Here for rides.
OP
T

TwoInTow

Active Member
Mark, you're right - canal paths are a good start. Unfortunately, Greg, the routes in your link are all one-day routes, and 20 miles or less. I've built the kids up for a cycle tour, and they are so excited (and now disappointed). So I really need to put something together that has at least 150 miles or something.

I'll see what I can find with NCN1.
 
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