Vic's Travel Blog

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Rye to Eastbourne electric bike ride


Saturday 10th Oct 2020

I ventured off by train to Rye and cycled back to Eastbourne where I caught the train back to Lewes. It was interesting but it wasn't as enjoyable as I thought it would be as I had a very chilly headwind of about 15 miles an hour and by the time I got to Hastings it had clouded over. The whole journey, with stops for coffee and hot soup took over 5 1/2 hours. I covered 37 miles and my battery ran down to about 18%. I'm sure it wouldn't have run down so much had I not have had the headwind.

<< Rye Castle

Photos on route (click on photo for place): 

Winchelsea Town gate

Friday, 31 July 2020

Bike ride from Lyme Regis - short circuit of 16 miles

This is my first bike ride from Lyme Regis and my first ride on my new electric bike! Could do without the electric bike - some steep ascents! 1,725 ft (525m) of ascent in only 16 miles (25Km)! In Sussex a ride of almost double this only give an ascent of 1200 to 1400 feet!

Ride of 30th July 2020

Here is a short video of the beautiful countryside I cycled through:

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Keep fit cycling near Lewes - April 13 and 15

Cycling solo during the Covid 19 crisis......... 

Would prefer to be with friends but the weather was great! 

Wed 15th April 2020:
Electric Bike circuit via Golden Cross - 23.6 miles 1000 ft of ascent: light winds and a fine afternoon 

Monday 13th April 2020: 
Electric bike circuit via Berwick & Seaford - 31 miles ascent of 1440 ft - cold northeasterly winds

Sunday, 2 September 2018

2018 Cycle Ride to Brittany - Routes

2018 Cycle Ride to Brittany: 

St Malo - Rochefort-en-Terre – Carnac – Dinan - St Malo

This was our second cycle ride directly to Brittany. It was modelled on our 2017 trip. We sailed overnight to St Malo from Portsmouth to start the tour. 

We wanted to explore further into Brittany and this time we had a target of visiting Carnac the site of the Mesolithic stones in southern Brittany. Like our previous trips, we had largely good weather for the whole trip with only one afternoon where it rained (though pretty heavily!). This was a 7-day cycle trip and there were 4 of us.  To begin our trip we took the train from St Malo to Rennes. This allowed us extra time for the rest of the route as cycling to Rennes alone would have taken a day on its own. As it was the rail journey was about an hour so we arrived in Rennes to commence our journey before midday. I hope to publish a description of the tour but for now here are the routes and distances: 

Saturday, 30 June 2018

This 90 minute film, currently available via BBC iPlayer, (also available to buy) tells the amazing and dramatic story of Gertrude Bell who worked tirelessly to get the British Empire to do the right thing in the Middle East during and following World War I. The two features are the incredible story of her life and the vivid historical photographs. I highly recommend it. The narrator takes you on a journey through Gertrude's life where she expounds on the critically and globally important issues of the day Whilst painting beautiful word pictures of the magic of the orient and life as it was during the decline of the Ottoman Empire and later in sharp contrast the stark reality of World War I. The film goes on describe the creation of new countries and rulers in the post-war period set against the hard commercialism of the British and American scramble for possession of oil rights.

Gertrude was a contemporary of T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) but far more influential. Sadly she has been almost completely written out of history. In large part, this film tells her story by the narrator reading from Gertrude’s letters set against a backcloth of original photographic and film footage from the period. Just seeing these Edwardian and wartime images and films is an historic feast in itself. If you want to see what Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo and the amazing ruins at places like Babylon & Palmyra were like just watch this film. The real Orient Express is also depicted with scenes at Istanbul and Baghdad. Despite the black-and-white imagery the desert scenes are stunning! There is also amazing footage from scenes in London and Paris. It's an historians delight!

Camino de Santago by bicycle!

Research begins!

Also See: 

Recommended cycle route:

it seems the recommendations are to start at: Pamplona. There is a railway station there.

Summary from a cyclist:

Camino de Santiago (Way of Saint James) is a pilgrimage for all people at any stage in life. In 11 days, we cycled the 764km (475 miles) of the Camino Francés (French Way) route. This is the most popular of the paths that lead to Santiago de Compostela. Our journey began in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France at the foot of the Pyrenees. The first day consists of climbing these mountains into Spain. Pilgrims come from all over the world and vary in their motivations for this journey. Along the way you're bound to encounter unforgettable churches, masses, monuments, landscapes, and new friends. Buen Camino!  

from Vic: more like 31 miles per day = 15 days. I think one would wan to take a minimum of 3 weeks: 2 days before you start + 15 + 3 days at the end = 20. 

Further info

Maps to buy: 

Books to buy:


Sunday, 21 August 2016

Cycle tour Cherbourg to St Malo - Aug 2016

This year I have again returned to the Cherbourg peninsula for a cycling trip taking advantage of the vast expanse of France’s countryside and quiet country lanes. I was joined by two of my cycling friends and we had a great time. The winds were light and we had wall-to-wall sunshine. This is my third trip to the Cherbourg peninsula and the surrounding area and each time I find more cycle routes and places to explore. (Click here to see my 2014 trip blog)

It was a 6 day trip with the first and last day being taken up with travel to and from France. A little bit longer than I would wish but it did leave us with 4 full days of cycling. We covered about 175 miles in 4 days. Our trip started in Lewes and we travelled down to Portsmouth where we caught the ferry to Cherbourg and after staying the night we set off on a four-day cycling trip which ended in St Malo. We took the daytime ferry back to Portsmouth and returned to Lewes by train. Here are some notes of our trip:

After lunch at Gunwharf Quay we cycled round to the ferry terminal and boarded our catamaran ferry which sped us quickly in three hours to Cherbourg where we arrived on time at about 7:15 pm.

It was a short cycle ride to our hotel in the old part of Cherbourg. The evening passed very pleasantly with first of all a beer to celebrate our arrival in France and then a meal at a typically French restaurant.

Here is a photo of the three of us. To avoid confusion between my two friends, who are both called Peter, we adopted pseudonyms so I will refer to them as Ringo, George and myself as JP (Jean-Paul).

Cycling Day 1

After a pleasant and typically French breakfast, we set off at about 9 am to cycle out of Cherbourg and begin our first day. We started promptly as our next night stop would be Saint-Lô, some 65 miles to the south-east. We cycled east through Cherbourg to avoid steep hills which almost surround the city or the busy main road south. Actually, travelling east brings you quite neatly to the beginning of a well signposted national cycle route from Cherbourg to Mont St Michel and eventually to the south of France. I’ve cycled part of this route before but this time we were travelling to Saint-Lô so we had to leave the route just outside Cherbourg at Chateau de Ravat.

Our route took us through quiet country lanes and minor roads to Valonges where we had coffee by the large open square in the centre of town. We purchased sanwiches for lunch to carry with us for the next part of our journey. It had been a bit tough coming out of Cherbourg as there were quite a lot hills and we lost time in going off route via tracks through some woods. So, the coffee was very welcome and we all decided to accompany it with a calvados which went down very well! We were soon off again heading south on quiet country lanes. We took a lunchtime stop at Gourbesville. We sat under the village cross opposite a World War II memorial, in the shade enjoying our baguettes.  Here are two of us standing next to the Memorial:
WWII Memorial at Gourbesville

In this area there are a number of memorials commemorating those who lost their lives in the U.S. Army following the D-Day landings. Not far from here is Sainte-Mère-Église which was made famous by the film ‘The Longest Day’ in which they repeat a real-life incident from WWII of an American paratrooper, whose parachute caught on the spire of the town church, and could only observe the fighting going on below. He hung there limply for two hours, pretending to be dead, before the Germans took him prisoner. He later escaped from the Germans and rejoined his division. Sainte-Mère-Église was 8 km to the east so we decided to keep a visit to that town for another day. We continued our journey passing through other villages. Here is one depicting an American aircraft:

Our journey was much easier after leaving Valonges with the land levelling out as we began crossing the river basin of the Douve, La Sèves and la Taute rivers and their many drainage channels. These  channels and the crossing of the rivers reminded me a little of the river Ouse below Lewes but the drainage basin which we were crossing was much wider, – probably about 40 km of our route was crossing this low-lying area. This whole area is part of the Parc naturel regional des Marais du Cotentin. The rivers all drain into the river Vire estuary, north west of the large town of Carentan which is not far from the Normandy D-Day beaches. We kept inland of Carentan continuing to follow the pleasant country lanes across the marshes. Just west of Carentan we crossed the long-distance cycleway which runs along the former railway track from the western part of the Cherbourg peninsula into Carentan.

Eventually we rose up a little out of the marshes and then came down into Pont-Hébert where we joined the cycle/footpath alongside the la Vire which takes us all way into Saint-Lô; the end of our journey for day one. The route along the river is a beautiful one and a perfect way to end our journey:

Actually, we have discovered that there is a cycle route all the way from Carentan via Saint-Lô and the town of Vire to Mont Saint-Michel and then to St Malo. The first part of this route follows the river Vire and the second part follows another old railway track and then picks up with a cycle track round the bay of Mont Saint-Michel. Perhaps this is a route for a future cycle ride. For us we have just completed a successful first day and earned a well-deserved pint in Saint-Lô. Our 1970s style hotel is right next to the cycle track and conveniently placed opposite the walled city. The ancient walls are still very much a feature of the town today but on closer inspection we can see there has been extensive rebuilding of the town itself following the fierce battle which was fought between the American Allied forces and the German army after the D-Day landings.
The route planned by Ringo ensured that we had no major ascents apart from coming out of Cherbourg and that wasn’t very much. George added a change to the route which meant to say we could come into Saint-Lô along the river and not over the hills.

We had a pleasant evening, starting with a welcome beer!, enjoying an excellent three course meal at the Brasserie Les Capucines at the foot of the ancient walls of the town. Prices have gone up in France but this €27 menu for three courses was well worth it!

Details of our route & stats:
Actual moving speed was 15.6 kph

Cycling Day 2

We decided not to rush things the next day as we had a much shorter distance to cover and we didn’t leave Saint-Lô until about 11 am. In any event it was a bit misty. We walked up into the old town and saw one ruin to remind us of the battle for Saint-Lô. It was clear that most of the buildings we could see had all been built since 1945. 

Our route out of Saint-Lô took us alongside the river for a few miles but soon we had to turn west in order to reach our next destination of Granville. We hadn’t planned this route in any detail and so we were surprised with the amount of ascent throughout much of the first part of the trip. Most of the route was on minor roads although there were one or two busy sections. Lunchtime baguettes was eaten at Cerisy-la-Salle which stands on a ridge overlooking a wide shallow valley stretching away to the south. I’m glad we bought our baguettes before we left Saint-Lô as the likelihood of finding cafes, boulangeries or patisseries in
villages now is becoming something of a rarity. As in England the supermarket is mostly where everybody shops. However, I was proved wrong in this case as a lunchtime stop did have one!  It may not be there next year! After our long ascent we were soon on a series of downhill slopes. We decided to follow the D73 as it gave us a straight route towards the minor roads near the coast. Finally, keeping to the coast we closed on Granville with only a small ascent to get into the older and central part of our destination. 

View looking NW from the road into Granville

Hotel des Bains

Our hotel, Hotel Des Bains was right in the centre. I had intended to go for a swim but even though we had only covered 38 miles I was ready for a beer and so were Ringo and George! We thought we’d take a look around and book dinner for the evening. We found some restaurants down the hill on the edge of the marina. On enquiring we we told that eight o’clock was going to be very busy so we decided eat straight away at the Le Vieux Greement. Towards the end of our meal we were joined on the next table by a couple from Germany, Claudia &
Ralph. We had an interesting debate on the subject of the UK leaving Europe and on the migration issue. Claudia took a very positive line on the migration issue to Germany but her husband was a little less convinced. In our party, Ringo had concerns about migration and was in favour of Brexit whereas George and I were pro-European and had concerns about the future effect of exiting Europe. The restaurant provided of good meal and we had a great discussion. We parted with a glass of Calvados to toast each other well on respective travels.

Details of our route & stats:

Actual moving speed was 15.4 kph

Cycling Day 3

After an excellent breakfast at the Hotel des Bains we cycled off south in parallel to the coast. We had a few steep hills to climb and some busy but pleasant seaside towns to go through but finally we were on the road overlooking the sea. We could see in the distant bay Mont St Michel silhouetted against the wide white, sandy flats and the blue sea; a beautiful sight. We dropped down into a very pleasant seaside village – Saint-Jean-le-Thomas where we had a very pleasant café au lait at a beachside café looking out to Mont St Michel.  Having come into this village we had moved off the busy road. We now stayed on the side roads close to the sea and eventually joined an off-road cycle/footpath which took as all way along the edge of the marshy and sandy estuary right to the outskirts of Avranches. We didn’t go into the big town but continued to weave our way along the cycle route next to the sea leaving the estuary of la Sée and then skirting the estuary of la Sélune until we got to Pontaubault. 


We crossed the bridge and cycled into the village. We were hoping to find somewhere to eat. There were three large restaurants but strangely, in the middle of August, they were all closed! Fortunately, we had some oranges, bananas and other snacks with us so we sat down beside the river la Sélune and eight our healthy lunch! Actually it was quite enjoyable. We were soon off again and continued to follow the off-road cycle and footpath. We were soon slightly inland from the edge of the estuary and heading for Mont St Michel. We had joined a minor road and made good progress across the flat landscape. The roads became busier as we got nearer to our destination and when we turned northward we found we were in a small city of hotels, restaurants and cafes. We decided to have a celebratory drink at the nearest bar with outside seating with a view to the Mont. What a mistake! Each large beer cost €10!  We were shocked but I guess if we had  stopped a bit further down the road the price would have been nearer to half that. Having downed our point (50 cL) we cycled up the road to the special causeway taking us across to the Mont. It’s worthwhile coming to see the iconic sight of this monastery rising up out of the flat sandy watery bay even if you don’t go inside which we didn’t. Ringo looked after our bikes while George and I went inside the gates. 

It’s different to St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall as its French counterpart has a small town clinging to the side of the Mont crammed with shops, restaurants and one or two hotels. The buildings have been restored but they look mediaeval which adds to the atmosphere of the place. We left without seeing inside the monastery but were lucky enough to see this beautiful Mont on a very sunny day with blue skies and blue sea. A cycle path of about 10 km took us all the way down to our night-time stop at Pontorson. This town is the main tourist town for those visiting Mont St Michel. Although I booked in June most places were already booked up and to get a reasonable price we chose the most average of hotels at Au Jardin St Michel. However, although the rooms were basic we all had a comfortable night’s sleep. The breakfast wasn’t much to write home about but it was typically French with bread and croissant with coffee and juice. Our evening meal at Le Relais Montois in Pontorson was very good. We had had a good day with some very great off-road cycling.

Details of our route & stats:

Actual moving speed was 15.7 kph

Cycling Day 4

After leaving a the hotel we followed the cycle path back towards Mont St Michel but soon turned off to the west along another superb cycle/footpath through the countryside. For almost all the way until we got to the coast we were shaded by lines of trees either side of the path. It was a hot day so we were very grateful. 

Eventually we came to the coast and followed the cycle path and the wide grassy and sandy estuary to one side (the sea being almost half a mile away) and the farmland to the other. After buying a large bunch of garlic from a farm stall on the side of the road we stopped for a coffee at L'abri Des Greves sitting in the sunshine outside the cafe/restaurant. We journeyed on in the beautiful sunshine. At Le Vivier sur Mer we decided to have a proper lunch stop. We chose the Hôtel Restaurant Le Bretagne


Apart from being a member of Logis de France it had a restaurant on the first floor overlooking the sea. We had an excellent meal, it was a reminder of why one should come to France and enjoy their cuisine. For €23 each we had a three course meal which ranks pretty high in any of the meals I’ve ever had.

We rejoined the cycle route along the coast and found that we could use the cycle track on the edge of the beach. It was bordered by a wide expanse of grass before reaching the sandy beach and then eventually the sea, which was still miles away. I guess when the tide comes in it does reach the grassy beach side verge. The sandy beaches in this area are very flat and hard and ideal for sand yachting which we saw in a number of places along this coast. Eventually we curved round the bay towards Cancale so we knew must head west towards St Malo across a small peninsular, away from the sea. By now we’ve lost the well marked signposts and so we just headed west. Like the previous day we hadn’t planned this route in detail nor did I have detailed map of the way into St Malo. 


We tried to follow some mountain bike track signs that finally had to rejoin the main road. We decided to head straight for St Malo coming in north of the old town and eventually arrived alongside a wide seaside sandy beach. There were lots of people on the beach enjoying this wonderful weather. We passed on looking for the old town which eventually we see up ahead. Soon we are within the ancient walls and passing along the busy narrow streets towards our hotel which we find is in a quieter road. This hotel, the Anne De Bretagne is right in the heart of the old town. We were soon off walking the ramparts which border the sea on two sides. In centuries past St Malo would have been a formidable place to try and attack. Today its city walls are still intact although some of the buildings within the city are of post-war construction. Eventually we found a cafe in one of the narrow streets where we sat and enjoy a bit of sunshine and a very welcome beer! In true British style we finished the evening with an Indian meal. Actually it was very tasty and with the warm atmosphere outside in a narrow street within the city walls was very pleasant.

Details of our route & stats:

Actual moving speed was 14.3 kph

The next day we packed up and cycled off to join the ferry back to the UK. We have been very lucky with the sunshine and on the way back the sun is still shone although as we neared Portsmouth we saw that the forecasted change in the weather was on its way. We have been lucky with the weather and had a great cycling trip and enjoyed each other’s company along the route and during the evenings. Thanks to my friends Ringo and George (the two Peters)!