First cycle touring trip with family

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
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First cycle touring trip with family

Postby Fi » 26 Jan 2009, 9:11pm

We're Edinburgh based and are thinking about taking our young family on our first cycle tour this summer. We'd probably take the Rosyth to Zeebrugge ferry. The options are to just take the bikes and cycle from the ferry terminal or to take the car and drive to somewhere in northern France. We've three daughters the youngest of which is 7. We've done up to about 30 miles in a day before. We'd be very grateful for any advice on what the best options would be. With so many of us the availability of reasonable, cheap accommodation along the way is an important consideration.

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Postby willem jongman » 27 Jan 2009, 5:41pm

Wonderful, what a lovely plan. We have always done this, from when the kids were about one year old. Obviously the ambitions had to match the age and abilities of the kids. We have always preferred to camp, and still do. See here for some pictures of our earlier exploits: I am afraid the text is in Dutch.
Also in Dutch is the website on cycling with children: However, if you have questions, you can always ask your questions in English in the forum. You will discover that the Dutch really are into camping. Our kids love it too.

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Postby frank9755 » 27 Jan 2009, 6:19pm

Agreed, great plan!
We've done both - cycling from home to the railway station and then ferry, and taking a car - and I have to say if you cycle to the ferry it feels like the holiday starts as soon as you leave home, whereas if you drive, it doesn't start until you reach your first overnight stop. Zebrugge gets you right into some superb cycling country, especially for young children. In fact the picture on my avatar - which has come out way to small - is actually me cycling beside a canal between Zebrugge and Bruges!

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Postby blaugrana » 28 Jan 2009, 4:49pm

I'd cycle from home. It makes the journey feel much more exciting and removes the temptation to take lots of things in the car 'just in case'. I did this last year on my own (Dutch Flyer to Hook of Holland then a week round the North Sea route) and loved it.

I'm planning to go with my 7-year-old to Belgium at Easter and people have given their positive views on cycling with children there in this thread:

This website is a good intro to cycling in Belgium:

There's quite a lot of info available on the web. Unless you are set on France, I'd be very tempted to turn left from Zeebrugge. Cycling in the Netherlands is so good it took me a couple of days to get used to how brilliant it is - ubiquitous cycle paths, children riding everywhere, cars giving way to bikes, utility bikes and normal clothing ...

Good luck and do tell how it went.

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Postby RexH » 29 Jan 2009, 3:54pm

I just posted this elsewhere, but sounds like you could do with it too!

You could do the west coast of the Netherlands in just a few days, the Hook to Den Helder, take in a trip to the island of Texel and then get a train home if you need too.

I did it last year, my first touring experience, and it was amazing!

You can take a ferry from Harwich (Essex) to the Hook and a train runs to the port from Liverpool Street, London. Would be gentle for the family too!

Going to have a crack at Denmark this year - all on the North Sea Cycle Route.

You can get the maps from Amazon or Sustrans.

Give a visit too.

Have a great time!


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Postby Fi » 30 Jan 2009, 7:52pm

Thanks for all your advice everyone. We'll let you know what we end up doing.

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Postby Cyclefrance » 5 Feb 2009, 12:43am

I always seem to come into these discussions late - still, you seem to have some time left for planning, so by all means check out my sites at

We were going to do the Normandy beaches this year, but we've changed plans and are now doing the V2 sites of northern France at Blockhaus and La Coupole - plus a few extra days cycling thrown in for good measure.

You can contact me via the email link from my websites if you have any questions or would like additional information.

Hope this proves to be useful