Touring Holland

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
Mitten
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Touring Holland

Postby Mitten » 6 Feb 2020, 11:19am

I have a couple of quick question regarding a tour of Holland, and transport of bicycles into Holland.

I live in Brighton on the south coast, and am planning a 4/5 day touring trip (with road bikes) in Holland for early September. The problem is getting my bike to the country in the first place.

As I see it, there are only a few options (and all are tricky from where I am in Sussex);

1. Train to Harwich or Hull, then 7hour ferry = Takes forever
2. Fly with bike from Gatwick = Expensive
3. Eurostar with bike = Expensive
4. Train to Dover, ferry to Dunkirk, cycle to Holland = Time consuming

My questions are;

a. Does anyone have any idea on other options for getting my bike to Holland ?
b. Anyone have a possible route for me to take.....I would like to take in Texel island in the north, other than that i'm pretty easy.
We will be a group of 7-8pax and wish to do 40-50miles each day.

Any advice appreciated.

-Ricky

st599_uk
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Re: Touring Holland

Postby st599_uk » 6 Feb 2020, 11:44am

I'd go for the Harwich ferry option.

It's overnight so reduces your accommodation bill, you can leave after work (London Liverpool Street at 8:00pm ish) and be riding on your holiday at 9am the following morning.
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Jdsk
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Re: Touring Holland

Postby Jdsk » 6 Feb 2020, 11:58am

Mitten wrote:a. Does anyone have any idea on other options for getting my bike to Holland ?

We will be a group of 7-8pax and wish to do 40-50miles each day.

Is that 7 to 8 people going or meeting up there? If you're starting at the same place I suggest considering hiring a van.

Recent discussions of Harwich:
https://forum.cyclinguk.org/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=135156&hilit=harwich
https://forum.cyclinguk.org/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=134831

Mitten wrote:b. Anyone have a possible route for me to take.....I would like to take in Texel island in the north, other than that i'm pretty easy.

We've ridden Amsterdam to Den Helder to Edam, with a day on Texel. Excellent. Returned to Amsterdam by train: easy. (On hired recumbents.)

And EV15 (the Rhine route) from the border to Hoek van Holland. Not great compared to further south.

And in the late '70s Amsterdam to Dokkum and the North Sea. (On city bikes from the station.) Very interesting towns and villages and culture but a long slog up along the IJsselmeer.

Jonathan

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mjr
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Re: Touring Holland

Postby mjr » 6 Feb 2020, 12:01pm

a. The obvious option which seems to be missing to me is Train to Dover, ferry to Dunkirk, cycle 22 miles along EuroVelo 4 to Belgium turning right at the border to junctions 39 and 1 to De Panne station (actually in Adinkerke near junction 1) and take trains to the Netherlands border (Essen near Antwerp, Hamont or Visé near Maastricht). It's still time-consuming, but less than your option 4 - IIRC, Belgian Railways (NMBS/SNCB) sell bike tickets at about €5/bike/day and an up-to-10-person-trip railpass for €83.

The train to Harwich and the 7 hour ferry might take longer, but part of that time can be when you'd be sleeping anyway, so it's a reasonable option from much of southern England.

The Eurostar can be expensive, but booking far enough ahead, being a CUK member, packing your bike (all giving discounts on bike booking) and using discounted connecting tickets might make it not much more expensive than others if you want to get to Amsterdam (bikes are not taken to Rotterdam). Depending on where in Sussex, Thameslink trains have OK bike spaces and would take you straight to St Pancras. BUT: with a group, I think you'd need to expect to stop over in Amsterdam because the bikes may not all travel with you. I'm also unsure how it works for Amsterdam with only the first train of the day taking bikes and I do not know how many. And you can't currently come back on Eurostar direct from Amsterdam.

There is also a tunnel bike bus shuttle service from Felixstowe to Calais but I just can't make it work sensibly for trips not including riding in France.

b. I did this loop from the Hook with friends in 2016 https://cycle.travel/map/group/1206 then Dunkerque to the Hook in 2017 https://cycle.travel/map/group/1207 both of which I would recommend, although beware that 2016 had longer stages which can be challenging with adverse weather, and there are some untested plans in https://cycle.travel/map/group/1236 which might be interesting to you. Later this year, I hope to ride https://cycle.travel/map/group/2638
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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Psamathe
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Re: Touring Holland

Postby Psamathe » 6 Feb 2020, 12:04pm

st599_uk wrote:I'd go for the Harwich ferry option.

It's overnight so reduces your accommodation bill, you can leave after work (London Liverpool Street at 8:00pm ish) and be riding on your holiday at 9am the following morning.

I've only take that ferry Hoek to Harwich (not Harwich to Hoek) and overnight crossings NL->GB you are forced to pay for a cabin overnight which adds to the advertised cost (fairly significantly).

Ian
Last edited by Psamathe on 6 Feb 2020, 12:08pm, edited 1 time in total.

Psamathe
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Re: Touring Holland

Postby Psamathe » 6 Feb 2020, 12:08pm

mjr wrote:a. The obvious option which seems to be missing to me is Train to Dover, ferry to Dunkirk, cycle 22 miles along EuroVelo 4 to Belgium turning right at the border to junctions 39 and 1 to De Panne station (actually in Adinkerke near junction 1) and take trains to the Netherlands border (Essen near Antwerp, Hamont or Visé near Maastricht). It's still time-consuming, but less than your option 4 - IIRC, Belgian Railways (NMBS/SNCB) sell bike tickets at about €5/bike/day and an up-to-10-person-trip railpass for €83.
.....

Or just treat the cycle tour as starting at Dunkirk then head up through west Belgium, ferry (cheap and quick) Breskens to Vlissingen and continue ...

Ian

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mjr
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Re: Touring Holland

Postby mjr » 6 Feb 2020, 12:16pm

Psamathe wrote:
mjr wrote:a. The obvious option which seems to be missing to me is Train to Dover, ferry to Dunkirk, cycle 22 miles along EuroVelo 4 to Belgium turning right at the border to junctions 39 and 1 to De Panne station (actually in Adinkerke near junction 1) and take trains to the Netherlands border (Essen near Antwerp, Hamont or Visé near Maastricht). It's still time-consuming, but less than your option 4 - IIRC, Belgian Railways (NMBS/SNCB) sell bike tickets at about €5/bike/day and an up-to-10-person-trip railpass for €83.
.....

Or just treat the cycle tour as starting at Dunkirk then head up through west Belgium, ferry (cheap and quick) Breskens to Vlissingen and continue ...

Yes, that was our 2017 route, with a detour to stop in Bruges, but the sparsely-populated Zeeland is not Holland and I expect the questioner has his reasons.

Why wouldn't you use the ferry Harwich to Hook? 8 people could mean two 4-person cabins which are often about £60 each IIRC, so £17.50pp which is significant but cheaper than the hotel room they replace and similar price to many hostels which aren't en-suite.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
All the above is CC-By-SA and no other implied copyright license to Cycle magazine.

Psamathe
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Re: Touring Holland

Postby Psamathe » 6 Feb 2020, 12:24pm

mjr wrote:
Psamathe wrote:
mjr wrote:a. The obvious option which seems to be missing to me is Train to Dover, ferry to Dunkirk, cycle 22 miles along EuroVelo 4 to Belgium turning right at the border to junctions 39 and 1 to De Panne station (actually in Adinkerke near junction 1) and take trains to the Netherlands border (Essen near Antwerp, Hamont or Visé near Maastricht). It's still time-consuming, but less than your option 4 - IIRC, Belgian Railways (NMBS/SNCB) sell bike tickets at about €5/bike/day and an up-to-10-person-trip railpass for €83.
.....

Or just treat the cycle tour as starting at Dunkirk then head up through west Belgium, ferry (cheap and quick) Breskens to Vlissingen and continue ...

Yes, that was our 2017 route, with a detour to stop in Bruges, but the sparsely-populated Zeeland is not Holland and I expect the questioner has his reasons.

Why wouldn't you use the ferry Harwich to Hook? 8 people could mean two 4-person cabins which are often about £60 each IIRC, so £17.50pp which is significant but cheaper than the hotel room they replace and similar price to many hostels which aren't en-suite.

Re: Holland: These days so many people seem to use "Holland" when they mean "Netherlands" (even on this forum) I've taken to assuming many people saying I'm ... Holland" often mean "I'm ... Netherlands". And when I pick people up on the distinction I often feel I'm being a bit finicky.

Re: Cabin costs: I travel alone so my experience of costs generally means high costs (so I tend to overlook people sharing reducing costs). Plus I tend to book the day of or day befor eI travel so options become more limited.

Ian

Jdsk
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Re: Touring Holland

Postby Jdsk » 6 Feb 2020, 12:45pm

Psamathe wrote:Re: Holland: These days so many people seem to use "Holland" when they mean "Netherlands" (even on this forum) I've taken to assuming many people saying I'm ... Holland" often mean "I'm ... Netherlands". And when I pick people up on the distinction I often feel I'm being a bit finicky.

They're going to try and do something about it, Guardian coverage: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/04/holland-the-netherlands-dutch-government-rebrand.

Jonathan

Psamathe
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Re: Touring Holland

Postby Psamathe » 6 Feb 2020, 12:51pm

Jdsk wrote:
Psamathe wrote:Re: Holland: These days so many people seem to use "Holland" when they mean "Netherlands" (even on this forum) I've taken to assuming many people saying I'm ... Holland" often mean "I'm ... Netherlands". And when I pick people up on the distinction I often feel I'm being a bit finicky.

They're going to try and do something about it, Guardian coverage: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/04/holland-the-netherlands-dutch-government-rebrand.

Jonathan

What really confused me was last summer through France and German sections of my tour I met a fair number of Dutch cyclists who said they were from "Holland" and when I asked "where" they gave somewhere in Netherlands NOT in "Holland". And when I asked them why they said "Holland" they said that it's easier and non-Dutch understand it better ...

Ian

hamster
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Re: Touring Holland

Postby hamster » 6 Feb 2020, 1:55pm

Note that Eurostar is now about to offer a direct service to Amsterdam, both ways. It can be as cheap as £25 each way if you book early.

The OP seems to want quick and cheap. It's usually quick OR cheap.

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mjr
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Re: Touring Holland

Postby mjr » 6 Feb 2020, 2:04pm

hamster wrote:Note that Eurostar is now about to offer a direct service to Amsterdam, both ways. It can be as cheap as £25 each way if you book early.

Plus £25+ each way for the bike and only on the first service of the day?

The OP seems to want quick and cheap. It's usually quick OR cheap.

Amen. The cheapest would probably be ride to Dover, get a special offer on the ferry to Dk, ride to Holland.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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hamster
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Re: Touring Holland

Postby hamster » 6 Feb 2020, 2:57pm

If you Rinko your bike you can avoid paying the bike transport charges...provided your frame is smallish.

willem jongman
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Re: Touring Holland

Postby willem jongman » 6 Feb 2020, 3:58pm

The Harwich Hook ferry can be quite a bit cheaper if you book suficiently in advance. It is my preferred way to do it.

Mitten
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Re: Touring Holland

Postby Mitten » 10 Feb 2020, 11:49am

Decided that, due to time constraints, it would probably be better to train to London, then take Eurostar with bikes, especially as they will soon be doing direct returns from Amsterdam.

Unfortunately, I've been onto Eurostar via email AND phone, and they both give me different answers to my question;

How many bikes can we take on Eurostar to Amsterdam ?
Phone Answer; 2 fully assembled and 6 in boxes.
Email answer; we can only transport 2 bikes (either fully assembled or in a box) on this route.

How can I guarantee our bikes go on our train and not a later one ?

Phone answer; Bikes can only go from London on direct trains = 7am & 11am.
Email answer; Bikes are only able to travel on the 08.31 service.

Clear as mud !!

2016 and 2018 I did the London to Paris route and each time took Eurostar back and had no problem putting 8 bikes on Eurostar.
2019 I toured Belgium and had no problem putting 8 bikes on Eurostar from Brussels to London.

If you can take eight bikes on Paris and Brussels route but only two bikes on Amsterdam route, it seems very odd....