Posted by Alan on May 10, 2011
For the Easter bank holiday weekend I upped sticks with the masses and headed west, to Cornwall. I knew the train would be busy on Friday but I wasn’t quite expecting how busy!
Inside the 10.06 to Penzance
Having bagged the last unreserved bike space on the train (5 of 6 were pre-reserved – by the time I got off there were far more than 6 bikes in the compartment…) there was no way I was getting off until Bodmin. So standing it was for the 275 or so miles to Bodmin Parkway. I actually didn’t mind standing too much – with my earphones on, some fizzy drink, fresh air from the opening windows and something to read it was bearable. Changing to a steam train here meant I could grab a cup of tea and a break for a few minutes rather than going straight into tackling the Cornish hills. From Bodmin town I could pickup the Camel Trail, one of the major Sustrans routes stretching the 20 miles down the Camel valley to Wadebridge and Padstow – a former railway, so well engineered with nice easy gradients. For the final section of journey from Wadebridge to Polzeath on the north coast I took to the road. This was harder than I imagined, with 4 fairly major climbs (for a city dweller anyway) as well as a very steep decent into Polzeath itself with the road covered in sand from the beach. (Shortly after I learned the art of configuring v-brakes). Here I spotted an unusual use of an underground roundel.
On Saturday there was more cycling, as with my extended family who I was visiting we took to the Camel Trail – this time a section I hadn’t used the day before from Wadebridge to Padstow, from where I saw the crazy idea that is paddle surfing…
Paddle surfer! - there were loads of them!
At the end of the trail is Rick Stein’s fish & chip shop, which was pretty fabulous.
Haddock & Chips at Rick Stein's
Following a walk round the harbour and amble around the lovely surroundings of Padstow (well worth a look), it was time to hit the trail and head home. Later that night I wandered round the coast – Cornwall is so lovely, I am very gutted I couldn’t fit my D-SLR in the panniers! The Kodak tried it’s best to capture it’s loveliness…
A lovely day for speed boating! - Daymler bay
Padstow / Daymler bay is the Camel estuary and used by many speedboats. Too soon, Sunday came and it was time to head home. With a train reserved at half 2 from Bodmin (no way I was standing all the way home too!) I set of reasonably early so as not to rush too much. Instead of taking the mental road route back to Wadebridge, I opted for the gentle road down to Rock (home of Sharp’s brewery and many many posh people) to take the ferry to Padstow.
It's a lovely day for bike-boating
This is great facility available for cyclists to use as the Camel Trail starts just on the other side of Padstow. Just £3 for a single trip across the river. It’s a tidal estuary, but on a lovely day it isn’t at all choppy.
A lovely day for boating (yes enough boating already)
With plenty of other traffic to avoid, the ferry nips across the water as quickly as possible. All too soon, I was back on dry land on the quay at Padstow and almost ready to pick up the trail again. This meant easy cycling for the 12 or so miles back to Bodmin town which was really appreciated. Particularly with full panniers weighing me down somewhat… From Bodmin town to the Parkway station was more challenging. A proper new Sustrans route, this meant sudden turns, hairpin bends and a general feeling of “am I going the right way?” The early (ish) start meant I had missed the trail traffic and landed myself in the Parkway café for a pasty and brew. The UK must be the only country in the world to use a teacup/saucer to indicate a buffet!
Sadly I did not get a cream tea before I left Cornwall. Woe is me. An excellent adventure for me and particularly one where I felt I had to use the bike – I was visiting relatives who were also on holiday. North Cornwall isn’t famous for it’s public transport and whilst I did see a few dinky buses plying the slopes of the coastal towns and villages, I can’t imagine they would be much quicker or convenient. After all, my bike is powered by pasties…
Posted in Cycling, Photography | Tagged: bike, boating, Bodmin, C913, Chips, Cornwall, Cycling, Falcon, Ferry, fish, lovely, paddle surfing, Padstow, pasty, Polzeath, Railway, rick stein, Rock, Sustrans, tea, Wadebridge | 1 Comment »
Posted by Alan on May 3, 2011
Having tackled the climb and descent into the Calder Valley, in the nicer weather of Thursday I went over another hill into the Irwell Valley. I started by using part of Sustrans (regional) route 92, though Kingsway Business Park, complete with anti-cycling gates.
Anti-cycling gate at Kingsway Business Park
Not long and I was onto Route 66 again, this time following the Rochdale Canal to skirt around the edges of town before picking up the A680 main road towards Blackburn and tackling the climb to Owd Betts/Ashworth Moor. It’s a longer and shallower climb so I managed it without pushing (unlike Blackstone Edge) though I did have to stop a couple of times, not least because my chain has developed an annoying habit of jumping off when I gear down…
The Windmills of Ashworth Moor
From up here it was down into the Irwell Valley into Rawtenstall where I stopped for a cup of tea before climbing the valley to Bacup and dropping back towards Rochdale. Just north of Whitworth I picked up route 92 again, but only stuck with it for about 1 mile before returning to the road. Too circuitous and far too many obstructions – I think there were 6 kissing gates in 1 mile! For me this is a footpath, not a cycle path – I certainly didn’t get on wheels to stop every few minutes to lift my bike over an obstacle!
The Whitworth cycle track - route 92 at Shore
After another cup of tea and some advice, I went back to route 92. Thankfully on the other side of Whitworth the trail does improve following more closely the ex-railway line over the stunning Healey Dell viaduct and the much less stunning, glass lined, Syke Tunnel. The signs then disappeared for a while whilst I weaved my way through the one-way streets of Hamer back towards the business park.
Access Denied - route 92 is closed
Here I found my earlier route had been a connecting route, with the main route 92 actually blocked through the business park. Shame as from either end it looked like a reasonable (if a little windy) off road route.
Notching up a little over 30 miles in one day, including a reasonable hill I’m getting much closer to being confident enough to cycle the c2c in 4 days. Next challenges are to push the distance out to 40 miles in a day and to start to cycle every day. This will be hard!
Posted in Cycling | Tagged: Ashworth Moor, Bacup, Canal, crap, Cycling, Edenfield, Greater Manchester, Hamer, Healey Dell, Kingsway Business park, Lancashire, Railway, Rawtenstall, Rochdale, Route 66, Route 92, Sustrans, Syke, tea, Whitworth, Windmill | 4 Comments »
Posted by Alan on September 27, 2010
Day 3 started a bit saddle sore, so we decided to have a much easier ride. After the full breakfast, we took to the coastal road (A149) to Weybourne around 3 miles from Sheringham. Here we found a beach to relax on.
But that didn’t last long – I am not really a beachy person and I wasn’t really in the mood to just stop. So I left Ruth on the picnic blanket reading and cycled on up the coastal path a short way, where I came across these houses, very much epitome of Norfolk isolation.
I bet you could easily loose yourself in the peaceful surroundings, though I can’t imagine it will be much longer before the sea claims these. Further to the left there was a windmill that had been converted to a house – good call, definitely somewhere to be envious of! We had tea in the garden of sort of house/shop/cafe on the road back into the Village before grabbing a quick half pint in the Ship. We’d been convinced by the cafe owner to try cycling back along the coastal path – much less busy – though I’m not sure Ruth’s bike was too suited to the job!
Ruth bearing the strain of off road cycling
It was nice to cycle alfresco as well. I’m not going to take sides in the ‘great helmet debate’ but travelling along the coastal path slightly faster than walking speed (probably around 6 or 7 mph) it was nice to really feel the wind in your hair. The coastal path clings to the cliffs above the beaches and eventually we gave way to the temptation and went down to the pebbles. I know beaches and bikes are probably best kept apart, but I couldn’t help belting along the sand until we reached the busier beach at Sheringham!
Trek a la pebbles
Ruth, sensibly kept her bike off the sand. Well, I figure mine probably needs replacing with something more useful next time the cycle to work scheme comes around. Ruth pitched up on Sheringham beach with our bikes and I strolled up to the High St to find a garlic chip butty that Ruth had been hankering for since we had booked to visit Sheringham. And then unusually for me I went for a paddle in the sea. All elements of a seaside holiday were now successfully ticked off.
This whole coast is very famous for seafood – and here’s one before it becomes someone’s dinner…
Sheringham (not Cromer) crab!
After the beach we headed back to the B&B taking a picnic home rather than eat out again – nice to slob about a bit and watch some TV with some tasty treats!
Total cycling distance – c. 6 miles (c. 9.5km)
Posted in 2010 North Norfolk Holiday, Cycling | Tagged: Beach, coast, coastal erosion, coastal path, coastal road, crab, Cycling, EOS 500D, feet, garlic, helmet, isolation, Norfolk, pebble, photos, Sea, sheringham, ship inn, tea, weybourne | 2 Comments »
Posted by Alan on September 8, 2010
Ace Cafe, London
I’ve been intrigued by the Ace Cafe since I saw it on some London documentary TV show. Probably ‘Suggs survivors’ or something like that. It’s plonked on the north bank of the North Circular (A406 to true petrolheads) in Stonebridge and sandwiched between two industrial estates. Every time we head back to Manchester we pass on the train and have many a time planned to get down there.
Last Sunday we had Ruth’s family round and her dad, Ian, is into trial bikes so we figured it would be a good trip. Even in my current state of ‘man-flu’d up pathetic uselessness. So we set off around the North Circular towards the West. I forgot how awful London traffic can be – very glad that I was not driving!
Tea! - Solves all known problems...
It is after all, a cafe. Standard fayre of tea/coffee/breakfasts etc were seen. Tea was enjoyed outside watching a series of bikers come and go.
Inside the Ace Cafe
As we left they were gearing up for a car meet. Looked like a gathering of chav-mobiles to me (sorry – I don’t know any better!) so we cleared off out of the way. Wouldn’t mind going back sometime to grab some food and to see a (classic) meet in context.
Posted in Culture, Food and Drink, Transport Rant | Tagged: Ace Cafe, Cafe Culture, cars, London, motorbike, NW10, roads, tea | 2 Comments »
Posted by Alan on July 20, 2009
Probably last update for a little while, as the search for a new flat gets going – sorry… this is going to be a long one!
Our main summer holiday saw us abandon the UK mainland for the Scilly Isles. 30 miles off the end of Cornwall this delightful archipelago was a great choice. Good food, good atmosphere and always a lovely day for boating.
St Michael's Mount (Near Penzance, Cornwall)
1st class rail travel put us in Penzance, where we stayed in a lovely B&B. If you ever feel the need to go west check them out! Our first proper holiday day, took us to St Ives and Lands End.
Mmm....... Cream Tea
There’s nothing quite like a good cup of tea. Unless it comes with cakes and clotted cream of course!
299 Miles to Wallington
Lands End is a bit of a non-event for those who haven’t been. The land stops and the sea starts. Just before the transition there are a few tacky shops and a bar. Still, I guess it’s good to have been. You can also pay a few quid and have your home town put into the sign – I spotted Wallington on the sign whilst having a cheeky half.
So… Scilly. Well, it’s a bloody lovely place. Very relaxed and generally friendly. Our first day we checked out St Mary’s and found Prince Charles.
The second day we headed out on a trip to see the puffins and seals on a glass bottomed boat. It was good fun though for the glass bottom to be any use you’d need clearer waters than the Scilly Isles. You can see tiny fish in the shallows but not a whole lot else bar seaweeds. However, the skipper (?) did take us up close and personal with the customs vessels moored off St Mary’s
La Douane Française
The French one was a whole lot more impressive and really not bothered we came so close.
Our first smaller island to take in was Bryher. With a population of somewhere between 80 and 100 there isn’t much there…
…except of course the post office, local shop and the FRAGGLE ROCK BAR! Where we enjoyed a well deserved pint. In fact all of the islands still have a post office!
On Friday evening we took a trip out to St Agnes for tea at the Turks Head, the most Southwesterly pub in the British Isles. A couple of gig race boats left for the race that evening – can’t help but feel they were somewhat at a disadvantage having to row across to St Mary’s first…
Traditional Gig Race Boat
Saturday took us to St Martin’s, famous (locally of course!) for it’s bakery and vineyard. Sadly the vineyard was closed but we did enjoy some good baked food, before relaxing on the beach for a while.
St Martins' Beach
Sunday brought us to the last inhabited island- Tresco, proper famous for it’s gardens. But I don’t know much about plants and Ruth’s hay-fever was playing up a bit. So we just wandered the island. You’ll be pleased to learn there is no Tesco on Tresco.
The Tresco Channel
Lastly… Monday brought us back to Penzance via chopper where we could board the sleeper for London – after a cream tea and a really good dinner of course. You really don’t get much space on the sleeper!
That’s all for now – another update soon with info on the really tame Scilly Wildlife.
Posted in Buildings and Places, Culture, Geek Streak, General Meh, Travelling around, Uncategorized | Tagged: 2009, Beach, Cream Tea, Customs, holiday, Penzance, Powershot S3 IS, Puffin, Scilly isles, Sea, Seal, Sennan Cove, St Ives, St Mary's, tea, Tresco | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Alan on February 25, 2009
A Liver Bird
Museum of Liverpool
The Albert Dock, Liverpool
Scouse graffiti about climate change
The Liverpool ONE shopping centre
On Sunday I went to Liverpool. It’s been a very long time since I last went to Liverpool and did more than caught a bus. And even then, we pretty much just went round the Beatles museum and went home.
It probably wasn’t the cleverest of excursions. I had absolute craploads of stuff with me, having been back to my parents in Friday (collecting some hardware en-route), then to Nikki’s party where I collected some left-over booze to bring home. I guess that probably counts as tourist fail.
Still, I did manage to see some of the sights and culture. I saw the Mersey and the Liver birds. Had a cup of tea by the albert dock (with a scone, but not cream – lame). Walked round the Tate. Obeyed when the second man asked me to put my bags in the Tate cloakroom (naturally, first time I was suspicious, until I figured out it looked like I was on the rob). Wandered round Liverpool ONE and bought some leftovers from Zavvi. And then it was pretty much home time. Not until I’ve found a home bargains/quality save and stocked up on cheap tat. Just can’t get it in London.
All in all, Liverpool probably doesn’t deserve it’s repuation. Only once did I really feel afraid to get my camera out. And I did anyway… Maybe in the summer I’ll go back and find the rest of the city.
You can find the rest of the photos at http://is.gd/kJFE
Posted in Buildings and Places, Culture, Travelling around | Tagged: architecture, art, bargains, Food, Liverpool, mersey, n95, Powershot S3 IS, scouse, tate, tea, zavvi | 1 Comment »