We were excited to get straight to a week of holidaying with the family we ended up riding for eleven days straight without a break, arriving at Sennen Cove TWO days earlier than expected. Awesome! However since we didn’t have wifi or a phone we had no way of letting our family know this. Small detail. Our plan was to set up at our campsite, have a well-earned shower, ride onto their holiday cottage and see if they were home. If not we would hang out on their doorstep until they turned up. We were going to surprise them good.
Riding in the south of England is tricky as you can either live dangerously on busy A roads or spend hours detouring to avoid them. Traversing North/South is easy as you can follow quiet B roads but as soon as you try to cut vertically across the country the roads turn into a mess of dirt tracks, farm driveways and dead ends. Our destination was Land’s End, England’s southwestward point, situated at the very end of Cornwall and used as a traditional cycling end point.
London engulfed us as we stepped off the platform at St Pancras, commuters pouring out the train doors and through exits, swirling around us as if we were stones in a fast flowing river. We waited on the side until the ebb slowed, making our way single file, following wheelchair access signs to lifts that would take us above ground.
We had signed up to TrustedHousesitters, a house sitting website in the hopes of meeting new people and experiences while being able to slow down with some home comforts. After a few applications, a flurry of emails and a Skype call later we had secured our very first housesit in the east of England in the small town of Beccles. Meet our adorable housesitting charges, two very cute furry faces: Emmie and Oscar!
The prestigious university town of Cambridge oozes in solomn and historic academic achievement yet it’s River Cam, that runs through the heart of Cambridge and along the backs of the colleges, juxtoposes this with crowded punts, cheerful yells, clumsy feet and sunny hilarity. We spent two nights here, and loved every minute of it.
Without even looking for them we would regularly come upon cycling route signs while bike touring in England. From converted rail tracks, to quiet back roads to river paths we would favour these routes instead road cycling and competing with trucks and buses. The UK’s National Cycle Network stretches over 14,000 miles across the length and breath of the UK and is based on the theory that if a cycle route is well-built, it becomes well used. We can definitely vouch that most of the tracks we came across were spectacular!
After eight nights of continuous travelling, camping and Warmshowers, mostly in the rain, we were only one day’s ride from a long break with friends in Aughton. We set off in good weather taking some detours to sightsee. The sky looks deceiving sunny in this picture. It was sunny for about half an hour with rain settling in for the rest of the day and continuing for the next week.
Heading to the west coast of England our next pit stop was Malmesbury.
We swung into Oxford where our next Warmshowers host, Stanley, was waiting on the steps of his place. Stan had so kindly offered his sitting room for us to bunk down. The house was a student rental with four levels, one level just of bathrooms, and kitchen cupboards stacked with a mish-mash of jilted pots, plates and mugs left behind from bygone students.
Our EasyJet from Rome flew in at 1am to Luton Airport, and despite the early hour we were psyched to begin our next leg on the trip, our loop around England. We had organised a Warmshowers stay with Sam and Anna, but we weren’t meeting up with them until 10am. This gave us a good amount of time to build the bikes, grab breakfast and check out the centre of Luton before arriving at their place.