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Updated: 2 hours 21 min ago

Re: Cycling Caen to Nice

18 November 2014 - 10:15pm
I am planning a similar trip in May although perhaps not to Nice. Re coming back by train, www.seat61.com is worth looking at. I am thinking of staying in cheap hotels and checking them out using 'booking.com' and similar sites. I cannot help with much else as I have little experience of touring in France.

Re: Need advice on a bike tour of Scotland

18 November 2014 - 9:41pm
Apologies for delay in replying but there's rather a lot to digest. I'll deal with the route in sections in anticlockwise direction, as you've plotted it.

Edinburgh to Fort William and Great Glen

I'm not familiar with this route to Fort William and so I can't comment in detail. It's a route, in part, taken by a lot of End to Enders (Land's End to John-O-Groats) perhaps someone else may comment. You are obviously keen to cycle the Great Glen but unless you need to visit FW for accommodation or shopping, I would give the town a miss and start at Spean Bridge. I see you are using the Great Glen Way. This is off road and I'm not sure if the surface is suitable for the bikes you have. Once again others may have more experience than me. I cycled the A82 and I didn't have a problem although I did it on a Sunday morning and started early. The B862 from Fort Augustus is excellent as I said before.

Inverness to Durness

Looks fine. There are one or two unnecessary diversions notably at Alness (No need to enter the town) and at Ardgay where your route appears to go via the YH at Culrain, which I believe is now closed, and uses the footbridge over the railway at Invershin to regain the main road.. Stay on the main road, A836 to Lairg. Incidentally your route goes past the Crask Inn. “The Crask” is, I believe, up for sale but you should aim to spend the night there if you can. Especially if you like whisky!

Durness to Ullapool

Looks fine. Incidentally If you are pushed for time there is a daily bus service between Durness and Inverness that stops at Ullapool. If you give them 24hs notice they will hitch up a bike trailer.
It's summer only Service No804

Ullapool to Skye

If you can, use the A832 via Poolewe and Gairloch to Kinlochewe. It's known as the Destitution Road. One of several in Scotland built by victims of the famine. It's a great ride and will be less busy than the alternative. Bealach-Na-Bà is a must if you have the time. There are YH at Ullapool, Gairloch. and Torridon.


The off road route along Glen Sligachan will not be possible on your bikes.

Malaig to Edinburgh

The off road section alongside Loch Shiel just after Glenfinnan I do not think is doable on road bikes. Either use the A862 alongside Loch Eil or A861 via Glen Uig and Salen.The A82 through Glen Coe and across Rannoch Moor is not very cycle friendly also you are planning on using the West Highland Way which is primarily a walking route and parts of which would be quite hard on a bike. The off road section between Lix Tol and Callender along GlenOgle aand Stathyre is OK I think.

You will need to make your own decisions as to what to leave out . You could certainly use the train to get out of Edinburgh. As you say Dalwhinnie or Pitlochrie would save a day or two.. I think if I were you I would be tempted to end my tour at Oban, perhaps going via Mull, and use the train to return to Edinburgh.

Here is Scotrail site. http://www.scotrail.co.uk/

East coast trains are recommended for booking as they allow you to make bike reservations on line. http://www.eastcoast.co.uk/

With regards to the best time. Bear in mind what I said previously. If you have total freedom of choice then I would choose June.

Re: Need advice on a bike tour of Scotland

18 November 2014 - 7:25pm
One thing to consider is whether you definitely want to do your entire journey by bike. That's rewarding in itself, and I'd not discourage it. However, if you are just looking for good cycling on quieter roads, I'd skip some of the long, busy sections (ie everything away from the west coast) and replace them with visits to Orkney, the outer Hebrides (especially Harris and Barra), and maybe Islay for some distillery tours.

Re: Need advice on a bike tour of Scotland

18 November 2014 - 6:54pm
Regarding time of year, May would be my month of choice in Scotland - nothing's guaranteed in terms of weather (except unpredictability) but May gives you good odds.

I've taken a quick look at your proposed route, and have a few suggestions you might consider.

The B869 to Lochinver is a wonderful road, very scenic. It also has some very steep sections! I've never ridden it, but I will next time I'm up that way.

I see you've included Applecross and the Bealach Na Ba. A great choice!

If you've got the time, and the legs, I'd skip the Skye bridge. Assuming you're coming from the north, I'd instead visit Eilean Donan, then go to Sheil Bridge, turn right on the C1223 to Glenelg, then take the Kylerhea ferry.

For the north of Skye section, I'd be tempted to do a truncated loop of the north-east peninsular, cutting on the across the C1225. I'd then return to Portree and cross to the west coast via the B885 (unless you're particularly keen to see Dunvegan Castle). The subsequent section heading South down the west coast should give great views of the Cuillin ridge.

I don't believe that the section on Skye heading south from Sligahan to Loch Coruisk is practical as a cycle route, unless you're much braver then I am! I'd just head back along the main road. The road from Broadford to Elgol is very nice, but it isn't a through route!

If you're not in a rush for the Mallaig ferry, a detour on the south of Skye via Ord and Tarskavaig is a nice road (and my local training loop).

Back on the mainland, are you aware that your route south from Glenfinnan is along a rough track down the side of the loch, followed by a seriously steep climb over to Strontian. It's rideable on a hybrid, but if you prefer a nice road route the A861 via Glenuig is also good riding.

The ride back via Glencoe is stunning scenery, but a fast road and you might view it as cycle unfriendly. A more pleasant option would be to head west along Ardnamurchan, take the ferry from Kilchoan to Tobermory, spend some time on Mull, get the ferry to Oban, then get the train to wherever you like!

Hope that helps.

Re: Need advice on a bike tour of Scotland

18 November 2014 - 6:49pm
I haven't been to Provence but I expect that the kind of cold and snow you get there in May will be far more pleasant than the sort of weather you're likely to encounter at least for a few days in Scotland even in the best month (June? July?) - it can be great but it can also feel like winter even then in the sense of wet and windy and not so warm (though probably not snow). If I were doing a trip like this I would be happy to go to Provence any time of year but Scotland, if I wanted to maximise my chances of decent weather, it would be in the summer only and optimally June/July/August, but even so I would be prepared for lots of rain and wind. Basically weather in the British Isles and especially Scotland is far more unpredictable than on the continent. As for London, it's good to visit anytime.

Re: Need advice on a bike tour of Scotland

18 November 2014 - 6:27pm
Hi Radomir,
I don't know Scotland very well, but on one trip we used the train to Kyle Of Lochalsh, you can take it from Inverness, or somewhere along the line. Any help?
Cheers, Rob.

Re: North Sea route - Rotterdam to Esbjerg

18 November 2014 - 4:42pm
cheers for those insights - very useful

Re: Need advice on a bike tour of Scotland

18 November 2014 - 4:41pm
To: LollyKat
Thanks for information about castels. It is interesting and I'll study the above.

To: Norman H
Thank you again for your new advice and web-site http://cycle.travel/map. I did not know it before.

Today I have made the new track and you can find it here http://www.gpsies.com/mapOnly.do?fileId ... Leave=true
I understand we can't visit everywhere. But... what I have to exclude and what I have to add?

Total length now ~ 1420 km. It is too much for us and I am looking for a way to cut it till ~ 1000 km. Where? May be to take a train between Edinburgh and Dalwhinnie, for example? Could you please suggest any web-site where I can see timetable and tickets?
Is it better to run this track clockwise or counterclockwise?

Concerning to month of our trip.... It is the problem now to make the right choice because...
It is not so easy (and not cheap) to get English visas now but I hope about positive result. English Embassy issues multiple visas for Russian people usually for 6 month. We have never been in United Kingdom and we have idea to visit next year your country twice: Scotland by bycicles and London only for sightseeings.
More of that... next year we will visit South France by bycicles (Provence, 3 weeks too) and all recommend to go there in June (open Mont Ventoux, lavanda etc.). So, according to your advices we have May and September only (no July and no August). What month is better? Several offices of tourism in France convinced us to go in June, such as in May can still be cold and even snow in gorges. Cold and snow in Provence (the most warm region in France)!!! But what about Scotland in first part of May? And what is the best (mote or less) time to visit London in accordance with the above?

Cycling Caen to Nice

18 November 2014 - 4:15pm
We are planning to cycle Caen to Nice May 2015. Returning to Caen by train.
Does anyone have any experience of this? Oh I forgot to say we may be riding a tandem. Although we have travelled from Calais to Bolougne by train with our tandem I was wondering if it was just as easy further south, and whether we have to prebook? Any info would be helpful ie: route, accomodation (not camping), trains.
We live near Burton on Trent Staffs. Is anyone close by that maybe we could meet in order to pick your brains?

Re: What is the best dynamo hub for touring?

18 November 2014 - 3:31pm
willem jongman wrote:I like good lights, and there are enough occasions when I need them. Imagine you have got your planning wrong, and you are arriving much later at a campsite, and even more so if you are riding a forest trail to get there. Or riding in bad weather or in a tunnel. Do you never go to the pub in the evening? Sure, if all of this happens only very rarely, a good battery taillight and some little Petzl headlight may be all you need (or better a cheap sidewall generator and a basic generator headlight). I need more, and I think many do.

I think in a decades worth of summer tours i've only once needed lights and not had them - but i was on a lit cycle route anyhow. I've never toured with a dynamo, small led lights have got me through tunnels and if i go to the pub i walk. I always plan to be at my overnight stop by 18.00, again only once has this been missed, and in summer there is usually good light far beyond that.

My commuter bike which i will use for the 2015 trip has a dynamo but i'm not convinced i need it for a 2 week summer tour.

Re: What is the best dynamo hub for touring?

18 November 2014 - 2:23pm
I like good lights, and there are enough occasions when I need them. Imagine you have got your planning wrong, and you are arriving much later at a campsite, and even more so if you are riding a forest trail to get there. Or riding in bad weather or in a tunnel. Do you never go to the pub in the evening? Sure, if all of this happens only very rarely, a good battery taillight and some little Petzl headlight may be all you need (or better a cheap sidewall generator and a basic generator headlight). I need more, and I think many do.

Re: What is the best dynamo hub for touring?

18 November 2014 - 1:59pm
the article here gives a bit of a run down on the current ways of charging from dynamos. I went for the B&M Luxos U light because I liked the idea of everything in one, and the handlebar button. Its worked really well for me so far, charging my garmin 800 from low battery notification to full in about 30 miles of cycling whilst being used. the obvious downside is that you cant use a different light with it, but the luxos U light is very good so thats not a problem (apart from being huge, and not looking as good as some others)

Re: What is the best dynamo hub for touring?

18 November 2014 - 1:51pm
willem jongman wrote:Personally, I would consider dropping the idea of charging gadgets.
What's the point of having a dyno hub on your touring bike if you don't charge gadgets with it? For touring, your lighting needs are small and some small, cheap LED battery lights for use occasionally (pub to campsite) will be much lighter and cheaper. Different matter if it is your commuting bike.

Re: Brittany - the draining of the Lac de Gueledan

18 November 2014 - 1:12pm
MrsHJ wrote:I noticed the climb up Mur de Bretagne coming from the east - it felt steeper than that!!. The 8 year old very stoicly walked it in a very hot day. At least we didn't miss the turn to the campsite like the rest of the family. I bet the campsite isn't very happy about this.

That isn't actually the steep bit! Sorry to disappoint;-)

Re: Favourite country?

18 November 2014 - 11:57am
Sweep wrote:What are the prospects of free camping in Switzerland CJ?
Never tried it. I generally prefer a proper bed and a roof. Try warmshowers.

Re: Need advice on a bike tour of Scotland

18 November 2014 - 11:28am
Castles: there are lots of ruined castles - you can hardly avoid them. Caerlaverock, near Dumfries, is one of my favourites but is probably off your route. Castle Urquart by Loch Ness is IME worth a visit. So is Dunnottar in the north-east.

For inhabited or 'in use' castles, Eilan Donan in the north-west is probably the most well known, cropping up on calendars and shortbread tins. In the east are the tower houses like Crathes Castle, Castle Fraser and Craigievar. My favourite big castle is Stirling, which has a lot to offer the visitor and I think is a lot more interesting and better value than Edinburgh.

Really, you are spoiled for choice! Have a look at tourist info sites, Historic Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland to find more.

Re: What is the best dynamo hub for touring?

18 November 2014 - 10:38am
SP8 will fit your requirements, i'm using the disc version atm and at first glance you wouldn't think it was anything but a disc hub! Pop on an Axa Pico30 for lighting and Bobs your uncle.

Must admit that the charger thing is something i'm not fully convinced of, this looks like the neatest of the options http://www.rosebikes.co.uk/article/supe ... aid:713880 but its a chunk of dosh. Up to now i've managed using 'free' power at campsites and hotels to keep everything powered so i need some convincing!

Diabetic Feet on Tour

18 November 2014 - 10:37am
I'm a couple of days into my first solo tour along the South Coast.

It was a bit of a challenging start because I was on the Isle of WIght for a couple of days last w/e and the rain has been vile! The national route has been flooded to about 6-8 inched just north of Sandown - twice. Plan B over Brading Down is quite risky in really bad weather in the dark - an experience. Almost all vehicles were very considerate, though.

I'd like to ask a couple of questions about feet, as my cycling shoes are damp-sodden.

As I have Type I Diabetes I expect my feet to take at least twice as long to heal from blisters etc as normal feet, so taking care is important. I have the plasters etc and the normal backup antibiotics and so on.

In the circa I think I will pick up a pair of water proof socks, because I won't dry out my shoes short of a bb with a drying room.

This post is to ask for experiences.

Are there any Type Is on the forum? What are your practises?



Re: Favourite country?

18 November 2014 - 7:34am
Yes, the cost of Switzerland has put me off ever since my student inter-railing days.

Only really been back since when someone else was paying.

What are the prospects of free camping in Switzerland CJ?

Re: Need advice on a bike tour of Scotland

17 November 2014 - 11:06pm
The best time to visit Scotland in my view is May/June. Fewer midges, less busy and plenty of daylight. July and August are best avoided as this coincides with the busy school holidays and the midges are at their worst. September can be delightful but the weather is less predictable and there are fewer hours of daylight. The west coast does get more rain than the east side of the country but in my view the wind can me more of a problem. The outer islands in particular, can be very windy at any time. The good news is that the midges don't like the wind either.

For route planning, try this site. http://cycle.travel/map
It's run by a member of this forum and produces very cycle friendly routes.

If you are starting your tour in Edinburgh, and you particularly wish to visit Inverness and loch Ness, you could head to Inverness direct from Edinburgh and cycle the Great Glen in the opposite direction to the route that the Spanish tandemists took. The A82 between Inverness and Fort William is regarded by some as not suitable for cyclists. I've ridden it and It was fine but timing is everything. It can be very busy at times. The road from Inverness to Fort Augustus on the south side of Loch Ness is delightful.

From Fort William either head for Oban and from there take the ferry to Mull as per my original sugestion. Or head to Malaig and the ferry to Skye either directly on the A830 or cross over Loch Linneh on the Casmunagaul ferry and take the scenic route to Malaig via Strontian and Salen.

There is no shortage of castles in Scotland.


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