American looking for touring partner/s in UK or just advice

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Re: American looking for touring partner/s in UK or just adv

Postby Vorpal » 16 Jun 2014, 4:09pm

MattC2789 wrote:2. I'm thinking I will make Cardiff Wales my destination before I turn around and take a different route back. I would like to stop at Bath and Stonehenge on my way there but am seriously considering dropping Stonehenge because the general consensus seems to be it is overrated.

I like Stonehenge, and not only will I suggest that you go see it, if that's the part of the UK you decide to tour, but stop at some other prehistoric sites in the area: Avebury stone circle, West Kennet Long Barrow, and associated sites. Avebury is a village in the middle of a stone circle. While the circle is not in itself as impressive as Stonehenge, it is somewhat older, and you can walk amongst the stones and get some lunch in Avebury. :) Google the Long Barrow and see if it interests you. There's plenty of information about the sites on the internet.

MattC2789 wrote:4. The Sustrans site seems like a great resource and I will spend some time heavily researching the best route and places to stay/camp along the way. My only concern is that even with a printed map I may very easily get lost on the back country roads. Might have to bring a GPS or just a good old fashioned compass and road map.

I think that you deserve a warning about Sustrans routes. They aren't all nice rail-to-trail conversions that go straight across the country. Sustrans prioritse by off-road and quiet roads. But off roads routes tend to be of poorer quality in the UK, and furthermore, they are guarded by anti-motorcyle barriers that can be difficult to navigate with a loaded touring bike. In some places, they are very nice routes indeed, but in others, they are circuitous, poorly maintained, poorly sign-posted, and hard to navigate. They are *not* how I would choose to travel if I were planning on 80 miles per day on a tour.

Try instead.

And the Highway Code is worth a look. The General rules, and rules for cyclists will be the most relevant.

Last, but not least, stores (usually referred to as shops or supermarkets) are not typically open for the long hours that they are in the USA. Large supermarkets may open early and stay open late on weekedays, but many shops close early on Saturday and only open short hours on Sunday, if at all. You may find that nothing is open at your destination after 5:00 pm, or that nothing is open at all on Sunday, so be prepared to carry a couple of meals worth of food, or at least emergency supplies, and buy before stopping, especially if you plan to stay in a small village.
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― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

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Re: American looking for touring partner/s in UK or just adv

Postby horizon » 16 Jun 2014, 4:48pm


I know it's hard to recommend a tour (lots of pluses and minuses wherever you suggest) but I'm surprised the Cotswolds haven't come up (as far as I can see - sorry if they have!). I noticed this on a couple of other threads too.

For an American starting in London with a week to spare, the Cotswolds are the number one choice - all the coach tours go there. On a bike though, it's completely different from the jams and queues. You've obviously got Oxford and Stratford, you've maybe got Windsor on the way out (and you could dip south for Stonehenge) and you've got all the places like Chipping Camden, Stow and Broadway to breeze dreamily through during the long afternoons. A summer evening will give you the glow of golden limestone, sleepy hills and plenty of Olde English pubs. Even in a week you wouldn't run out of miles. And you'd go home steeped in medieval history, sash windows and the sound of all the birds of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

For an American it's a week in heaven. I wouldn't mind it myself.
Last edited by horizon on 16 Jun 2014, 5:09pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: American looking for touring partner/s in UK or just adv

Postby drossall » 16 Jun 2014, 5:08pm

Bicycler wrote:But not for all of a 450 mile circular route. You'd need a trailer :wink:

Or use the OS maps for detailed planning in what is going to be unfamiliar country, but carry a GPS or strip maps or a 1:100000 map on the actual ride.

Of course you get OS maps on various online sites including Streetmaps now, provided that you are at the correct scale.

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Re: American looking for touring partner/s in UK or just adv

Postby Neil Wheadon » 16 Jun 2014, 9:10pm

To me a route seems to be evolving from here
Train to Cardiff
Taff trail etc east to the old Severn crossing (Iconic crossing - big suspension bridge - cycle track)
South to Bristol
Pick up the Sustrans route to Bath
Route 42 through the 2 tunnels (a mile long tunnel and a smaller one) to Radstock
Route 42 along railway path to Frome
Onwards to Warminster area
Pick up the Wylye valet (lovely flat ride) - minor road south of A36
Cut across either at Chitterne or further south and up the Woodford Valley to Stonehenge
South to Salisbury - train back

Stonehenge has just had a revamp, big visitors centre that bus you to the stones. Previously had main road 2 sides out of 3 that ran close, one now shut, so big improvement. It has the wow factor and there are days when you can walk on the stones

Good Luck
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Re: American looking for touring partner/s in UK or just adv

Postby Weimarunner » 16 Jun 2014, 9:44pm

I can't add anything to the thread but just wanted to say what a brilliant film -
You'll struggle to top that trip!
I'll keep watching this thread, be good to join you for a day if poss. Good luck with the planning

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Re: American looking for touring partner/s in UK or just adv

Postby MattC2789 » 6 Aug 2014, 6:48pm

Thanks to all of you who have chimed in on advice for my upcoming bike tour in the UK. I've attached a map that roughly highlights my route. Sustrans has been a huge help in planning this and I ordered a few of their paper maps of the areas I'll be traveling. Basically the plan is to bike West from Heatrow Airport once I land. The places I want to visit are Stonehenge, Bath, possibly Chepstow?, and Cardiff. I'll then take a train back to London where I will visit for 2 days before flying home again.

If anyone has a advice for me about this route please share (good places to camp, cheap hostels, unique sights, etc..). Also if anyone is around and wants to join me for part of this ride send me a message. I'll be staring from Heathrow on Saturday August 30th and will be training it back from Cardiff on Friday Sept. 7th. Then plan to hang out in London that weekend!

Thanks again! Matt
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Re: American looking for touring partner/s in UK or just adv

Postby mattsccm » 11 Aug 2014, 7:40pm

Re Chepstow. Nice castle to look at. If the time is right ride up into the Forest of Dean. Its the high land between the rivers Wye and Severn. Good youth hostel at the castle there.
Thought about food? Cafes etc can be either everywhere you look or no where.
I hate to say it but have a look out for Wetherspoons. Its a chain. Food is acceptable rather than great but it has the advantage that you know what you are getting countrywide, its cheap and the local ales are good. Most do a breakfast from 7am which is likely to be at least an hour earlier than anything else and they serve until at least 9pm and in some case 11pm.