Heading inland

Posted by on 23, Jun 2023 in 2023 - Cathedrals, Europe, Tilly the Tandem, UK

Heading inland
First night in our new home.
Hastings net sheds
Serenaded by the Salvation Army
Paragliders getting a view
Brighton Pier..
Our 28th Wedding Anniversary ❤️
Victorian Brighton
Shoreham beach
Chichester cathedral
Our passport stamp
Portchester Roman Castle
Winchester Cathedral
Tilly still hanging in there….

One of the best bits of cycle touring is meeting other tourers and people along the way. We’ve not seen many tourers so far but met a Dutch couple heading to Ireland on their tandem which was towing a trailer. They must have had nearly twice the load we carry as the trailer had two more big panniers plus a large top bag. They weren’t youngster either and we kept bumping into them as we frequently exchanged the lead due to all our respective stops. They were however super fit, managing to pedal that huge load up the 14% hills we happily got off to push and still struggled!! Impressive.

A mixture of quiet picturesque country lanes and seafront cycling made up most of the ride to Hastings and Bexhill seafronts on a lovely sunny day. We stopped just shy of Eastbourne at our first campsite which was absolutely heaving. The site squeezed us into a pitch away from the main site which was perfect for us and we set up our new tent – which hasn’t yet been named – to replace last year’s see through disaster tent.

We are much happier with this one, a spacious 3 man tent with a porch area to retreat to when the mossies surface that can accommodate our chairs inside.. and for a total weight of under 3kg. Not bad.

We woke at dawn, which for us is unheard of, but the combined assault of the Collard Doves operatic society and bright sunshine had us up and away before 8.30!

We had a choice of 2 routes from here – to go past Beachy Head or miss the big hill and follow the Cuckoo trail inland around the hills. I’m sure you can guess which way we went!

This proved to be a wise choice as we eventually joined up with the Beachy Head road and it was mayhem. We had about 1km to do on it shortly after passing the White Horse on the hillside and we were extremely fortunate to immediately get a lorry behind us who patiently sat behind us until we turned off.

Once we hit the coast there were another few steep hills and we had more pushing to do as we left Newhaven. I’m not sure why, but we expected Newhaven to be a cute little seaside town, but were pretty disappointed apart from the great Cheese toastie at a cafe there.

The seafront from then onwards has a wonderful promenade cycle path all the way to the Brighton Car Park…Oops, Sorry Brighton Sea Front.

The weather was gorgeous and everyone had come to Brighton to sit in their car on the sea front moving a few feet every hour whilst watching us cyclists sail past. What joy that looked. Those that had got there earlier had nicked all the parking and thronged the beach and promenade. The council had sensibly segregated cyclists from Pedestrians but it was far too heaving and beating music for us and as we progressed down the coast we came to the peace of Shoreham – and our fabulous Airbnb for the night which was heaven after a exhausting day.

We’ve had some odd weather so far.. We seemed to be in the winter a few days ago having to ask for the heating to be turned on in hotels, then overnight it’s the hottest days of the year. I’m not good with those sudden changes, preferring a nice gradual change. But just to add some more weirdness to the weather we left Shoreham in gorgeous sunshine, then as we headed toward Chichester – our next Cathedral – the clouds out to sea grew more and more menacing. The beaches were still busy, the sun still out, but you really had a sense of foreboding.

At Bognor, only 9km from Chichester we gave it some Welly (increased speed from dead slow to slow) and tried to make Chichester before the rain. We failed. But in fact this wasnt too bad as we were quite damp from the cycling anyway.

Accomodation was scare so it was a Premier Inn for the night where we parked Tilly in reception for all to admire and then went to our room where the temperature was sauna like. For some reason now you can’t open the windows more than a crack at Premier Inns so you just can’t cool the room down. The room had air con, which was hopeless and reception lent us a fan which clattered against its safety mesh making an awful racket, so I asked to move rooms. After a bit of a curfuffle we got moved to a lovely cool room with working Air con… Always pays to ask!

Hayling Island was our Bolthole for our day off, in fact the tiny house we hired was called The Bolthole and we did little, cleaned Tilly turned her upside down to check for cracks, checked the torque on all the bolts and other nerdy stuff like that!

We were up and away early the next day to catch the Hayling Island ferry over to Portsmouth where some of the passengers said they’d previously seen us in Chichester! This is a great little ferry and our 2nd or 3rd trip on it. Very easy to wheel Tilly on and off. Brilliant.

We cycled on to Portsmouth Cathedral and got a very informative guided tour about it changing from a Parish church to a Cathedral. It’s got so many bits added to it over the centuries and has taken 900 years to finish. It’s the cathedral of the navy and appropriatly some of it lies below sea level.

A quick stop for tea cakes at the Parade Ground tea rooms and then a cycle around the Spinnaker before we caught the rip off Gosport ferry. Very pricey, but well run.

We did this to take a longer route on to Porchester at the top of the Portsmouth harbour, as most of the route is on an old Railway line and is a far nicer cycle than going through Portsmouths weird cycle network where you seem to spend ages crossing roads again and again.

Porchester is an amazing site to role up on a bike at. It’s the best preserved Roman fort north of the Alps with nearly all its walls and numerous towers almost entirely in tact. It’s gorgeous and we sat under an English Oak having our picnic in awe at the Romans, whislt listening a guy in white van in car park see just how many f words he could squeeze into a sentence and still make some kind of sense…Alot is the answer…

We had a walk with Tilly around the exterior in gorgeous sunshine and then through the centre courtyard. It’s quite incredible how it’s preserved and well worth a visit.

We then did a u turn and headed back to another lovely Airbnb for the night to hear stories of just how awfully behaved the kids are around Gosport from our host, a supply teacher. She said some schools she now refuses to go to as it’s pointless.. the kids won’t take any notice of the teachers and climb on tables, play on their phones, make castles with the chairs and throw shoes at her. She wasn’t a mousey lady either.

Then it was on to Winchester where the whole place was infested with Public school kids wandering between playing fields, buildings for lessons and the multiple sports fields. Thousands of them… I bet they don’t throw shoes, I mean, you don’t want to risk losing a Jimmy Choo…

Winchester is gorgeous and we loved the cathedral – number 6 on our tour – and the town centre was heaving with a market and stalls.

As you will I am sure remember, we don’t like hills. Our way out of Winchester was a 110m climb in 3km which is not what we needed, and even our Speedo gave up recording and froze solid. Some bits were just too steep for us, especially with a near constant supply of Chelsea Tractors zooming past to collect Little lord Fontelroy up from school. They take no prisoners those cars in the town and hurtle around the place.

But to be fair, our route into Winchester had been the least cycle friendly ride so far on a near ‘A’ road… most of the big cars were considerate and patient. It was one of those teeny weeny cars that say they can seat 4 but really only mean they can if they’re sardines, that got irate and hooted us as our flag was out to protect us from the close passes. Everyone else was very good. Ooo.. how I’d loved to have been be able to catch that car up and ask why they hooted.

One Comment

  1. Another great read!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.