Cycling to Scotland

“But why would you want to spend all that time in South America when you haven’t even been to Wales?” asked Neil’s Gran when we made it back from the Andes. And while we thought the answer was rather obvious, she did have a point. We’ve both been to Wales at least three times, but neither of us know England at all well, so we decided to start putting that right with a cycle from Haz’s mum in Oxfordshire to Neil’s parents in Perthshire.

Click below for some photos and narrative on Flickr of the 15 day trip:

Nine things we learnt about our own country from this trip:

  • Cycling in Britain can be hard. Hills in England are outrageously steep; the weather in Scotland is always dreadful.
  • In November no-one’s outside so interaction with locals is minimal. If you do manage to engage someone in conversation they’ll most likely be friendly, cheery, polite and be able to talk at length about the weather.
  • The percentage of the population of rural Britain that come from ethnic minorities is approximately nil.
  • Wild camping in England is tricky. Houses are everywhere and all farmland is fenced off.
  • If you do find a spot to camp, no matter where it is you’ll fall asleep to the sound of airplanes.
  • If you camp by a dead-end road to a village with 5 houses you can expect at least 50 cars to pass you between 16:00 and 20:00. Chto?! Where’s everyone going?!
  • The cycle paths are pretty good. Assuming there is one going roughly the way you’re headed.
  • Lichfield is a lovely place; Linton can lay claim to being the prettiest village in the country.
  • The importance of appreciating grey. An underrated colour of much beauty and numerous subtly different shades.

Some people we saw on the way

Our first night was spent in the picturesque village of Hornton with the Ficklings – cousins Sophie and Carla here feeding the guinea pigs before school.
The second night we called in on Sylvie with whom we cycled in Patagonia last year. Since that time her and partner Ben have married and though he was away on business we did get to meet Gaspard the cute new chubby-cheeked addition to the family.

In Hebden Bridge a friend had put us in contact with Gayle and John who host touring cyclists through Warm Showers. We didn’t think we knew them, until we arrived and realised we’d met at Haider’s in Pakistan in 2008.
Pikes (snr) left England for Perthshire 9 days after us, but fortunately their speedy Skoda whisked them up to Scotland in no time, so we didn’t arrive to an empty house. On the way up the M6 they made a quick detour near Penrith to drop us some cake.

Some signs we thought were kinda funny

Time getting from Moreton to Tulliemet – 15 days
Distance – 959km

Rainy cycle days – 4
Maximum speeds – 73.9kph (H), 65kph (N)
Longest day – 111km, Kippen to Tulliemet
100+km days – 2
Punctures – 1 H, 0 N

Total amount climbed – 12,247m
Maximum altitude reached – 594m
Most climbed in one day – 1,461m
1000m+ climb days – 6
Steepest climb – 25%

Number of cycle tourists we met – 0

Accommodation – 4 beds, 10 wild camps

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