Victoria Falls Zimbabwe Africa 2017
Victoria Falls Zimbabwe Africa 2017
  • Lakes and forests, forests and lakes
    • 11/10/2022
Disembarking late in the afternoon into the charming town centre of Ystad, I set off east along the coast, dodging a heavy rain shower to be rewarded with rainbows spanning the glowing fields of crops, and startling a badger at the side of the road, the first time I can recall seeing one in the wild
Aimed for and arrived at a "l├Ągerplats" hikers shelter to camp, adjacent to the beach which stretches for miles in a plenty of room for all kind of way. Sweden has "Allemansr├Ątten", the right to roam and camp anywhere (within reason), but also, in common with Denmark, provides designated free campgrounds not accessible to vehicles, usually with a roofed but open sided shelter and a drop toilet. This one was already populated by a German couple from the ferry, a french chick cycling south, and a Chilean/ Argentinian holidaying around via public transport.

Next day followed the coast for a while, via some charming wooden fishing villages, strange rock formations and ancient carvings, before deciding that the tourist traffic was too much and turning to quieter roads inland.
Detoured to a village has which declared itself a republic, but disappointingly it seems just to be a publicity stunt for the local cafe.

It Rains here. heavily, persistently. Sometimes!
Now passing apple orchards, but there is a strong sweet fragrance in the air - fields of cherries.
Soon the forest and farmland becomes forest and lakes, lakes and forests, mixture of managed plantation destruction and tranquil spacious glades full of moss covered rocky outcrops and bilberries

Met a German bloke pulling a little cube shaped trailer, which would extend to be long enough to sleep in, a kind of bicycle caravan. Wouldn't fancy pulling it up hills though!
Also a family from the Pyrenees doing the Baltic route - allegedly the kids idea!

Lots of roadside signs - I should have catalogued the variety of different "slow! Don't run over the cat" (or children) signs. The other common site is "Loppis" (flea market), with households regularly setting out bric a brac tables.

Mainly I'm following small roads through the forest, which are often packed gravel, connecting the frequent homesteads, smallholdings and holiday houses, and sometimes forestry tracks of rougher, loose gravel, or worse, a sandy surface, which my heavy bike slips and slides in. I will take another look at a "bikepacking" setup in the future, might need to get another new bike though...

Occasionally amidst the forest appears a town (hopefully with a supermarket).
Glassworks town. Mining town. Ghost town. Basically, lots of "frontier" industry towns, some of which have died off.

Crane birds and deer, no elk though despite the roadside warning signs

Final camp, moss covered rock in forest, nice ending before succumbing to the outskirts of Stockholm, unavoidable motorway side routes and brutal tower blocks built under the million homes program, and then into the historic centre. I didn't know before this trip, being an ignorant English pleb, that Stockholm is on an archipelago, connected by many bridges and ferries, and not having had any wars for a while, the old centre is well preserved.

So a couple of days to fill before flying home, but first and most important is to secure a large cardboard box to get the bike onto the plane.
As on previous trips, a local cycle shop is happy to oblige, and the arlanda express airport train allows bike on board, which surprisingly is in contrast to most trains in sweden.

Back to sightseeing then: the Vasa flagship, salvaged in the sixties having embarrassingly sunk within the first km of its maiden voyage in the 17th century, the Swedish history museum, modern art gallery, some street art, the subway system where each station has its own art installation, the England vs Sweden women's Euros semi final (4-0), and a Viking themed film at the cinema.
The hostel also worth a mention, first one I've encountered with a) a no shoes policy and b) a sauna, which was greatly appreciated.

So, flying back to the UK, everything has gone like clockwork as far as Reading where i'm writing.
  • Szczecin to Sweden
    • 29/07/2022
After a couple of days stop to visit Marta in Szczecin, an industrial city with a fascinating and turbulent history of changing hands and occupation, fabled to be criss crossed with underground tunnels, headed north again past the dockyards and wind turbine factory and into some nice nature reserves alongside the Oder river with a first sighting of families of wild boar, (but sadly no bison) and on up to the miles upon miles of sandy beach holiday resort coastline.

Back into Germany, and a cultural stop at Peenemunde "vengeance" weapons factory at, where the first rockets were developed (the doodlebug flying bomb and V2 rocket), and the museum attempts to celebrate the technological advancement whilst regretting the motivation and methods of achieving it.
Camped in the woods a couple of times to stay away from the busy coast, where rented e-bikes roam the forest paths between the beaches.
Passed by a recreation of a Viking outpost at Wolin, political hustings in Wolgast, and through the more charming Hanseatic town of Greifswald, though I was soon cursing as the bicycle path followed an ancient cobbled road for the next 10km.
Another little ferry to cross an inlet, another camp in the woods, passing the Nazi beach resort at Prora, and up to Sassnitz, to catch the catamaran ferry to Ystad, the shortest available crossing to Sweden
  • Berlin to Szczecin
    • 29/07/2022
The weekend in Berlin was spent drinking copious amounts of beer and playing a football match, as Wandsworth Borough had flown out to play a summer friendly against a local team (THC Franziskaner) to the amusement of all.
I stayed for a couple of days extra sightseeing and bike repairing, but with sore feet from stomping round the city looking at things, it was nice to get back on the bike, especially as now has a full range of gears to choose from.
However, set off already late in the afternoon, so just a short stint to get out of the city and find somewhere to sleep - a nice little beach next to a lake, which when i subsequently read some signs turns out to be a nudist beach (FKK). No one else around though.
Next day, after an early pause to visit a decaying cold war era airfield complete with mouldering cold war era aircraft, MIGs and suchlike, cruised along enjoying the gears, until the rear gear cable snapped, leaving me with a choice of three, the hardest in conjunction with each front ring. Fortunately the terrain is largely flat, save for requiring a 36m high boat lift, so just a case of trying to outrun a thundery deluge along a riverside levee. This area is actually polders, as in the late 19th century the Germans hired some Dutch engineers to make the vast marshy area usable.
Having reached the town of Schwedt, next morning had a choice of bike shops and was soon fixed up to continue into Poland.
  • Prague to Berlin
    • 10/07/2022
Bidding a fond farewell to Prague, headed north, through some industrial towns of soviet era concrete apartment blocks, and then just as I was hit a nice woodland track, something went badly wrong - the "other" bolt which holds on the front pannier rack sheared off. A clean break, flush on one side, but encouragingly slightly protruding on the other, if only I had some pliers to try and twist it out, but I dont, and its past closing time for most shops.

Fate had not deserted me though, as while I stood in the wood pondering, Veronica and Michael walked past, and having worked abroad and being fluent English speakers, immediately saved my bacon by revealing that the landlord of the nearby pub they were heading to had a garage full of tools and would be happy to help.
And so i [...read the rest]
  • End of part one
    • 23/06/2022
Stage one was getting to Prague in time for a five a side football tournament this coming weekend.

Rewinding a little, Regensburg has a nice historic city centre, which apparently we deigned to not destroy int wars, although now it is under a smouldering pile of tour groups, fresh off their river cruise ships just like the ones you see on those TV ads.
Also, while the campsite was indeed for canoeists and cyclists only, they were having a birthday party for one of the members that went on until about 4am....
So I eschewed the worlds oldest hot dog takeaway and escaped as fast as possible on a disused and fortunately shady railway line, wiggling vaguely towards the Czech border.
Much relief to camp at a small site in the woods and get a quiet night - though the morning was anything bu [...read the rest]
  • All roads lead to somewhere
    • 18/06/2022
Turns out that today I'm on or following the route of the via Claudia Augusta, a Roman road stretching from northern Germany to Verona.

Setting off with thunder approaching, first rain drops falling, a single cuckoo calls out from nearby, mocking.
Donner and blitzen, very exciting, but soon passes and all dried out within no time, back to the baking sun.

Next village has a trail of grass clippings from church to Christ on a cross, brass band ready to go. Is it a wedding tradition or is there a Jun 16th something else? Oh. Its a south Germany public holiday, Corpus Christi. All shops are closed, and the entire population seems to be riding towards me on their electric mountain bikes... Annnd a dodgeball tournament?

Saw a bloke walking down the street with a surfboard the other da [...read the rest]
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Trips!
Eurocycle 2022
Part 3 cycling in Europe, Dunkirk to Stockholm via Switzerland
Getting away for the summer, playing some football, seeing some new parts of Europe
Iceland 2020
North to South traverse hike of Iceland
A return to trekking after the last couple of trips by bike. 400 miles across volcanic desert should be gruelling enough to shed some lockdown pounds...
Eurocycle 2
Taking the summer off to explore former Austro-Hungary, Western Balkans region
I've never been to any of these countries before, except for a brief school history trip, so this should be an interesting trip, expecting a mixture of western europe and communist influences, a mixture of mountains, rivers, plains, historic cities and rural villages.Maybe some interesting wildlife? I've mapped out a load of points of interest to visit, but have tried to avoid looking at photos so that everything can be a surprise!
Africa Overland 2017
Safari tour in a big yellow dustbin lorry
Travelling from Nairobi to Victoria Falls, through game reserves and whatnot, with Oasis Overland
North Sea Cycle
cultural bike ride around northern europe
Over a couple of months, i'll be testing my legs by riding from Zeebrugge in Belgium to Bergen in Norway. Approx 3000 miles, sounds like a lot but not very much each day on average...
Caribbean 2016
3 weeks of sun, sand, and craziness
A much needed relaxing break in the Cayman Islands... was what i expected, but instead almost none stop action, sports, sightseeing and partying. And then 10 days in Cuba, a beautiful, welcoming, and bewildering place like no other. And then back to Cayman for more awesome...
Tour du Mont Blanc 2015
A 10 day hike around Europe's biggest peak
The alps in the summertime are majestic. This walk, between 1500 and 3500m took in breathtaking views, high altitude camping, wildlife, and charming locals. After completing the walk i spent a few days relaxing on the shores of, and in, Lake Geneva.
Wales Walk 2014
A three week struggle across Wales on the Cambrian Way
Having skipped Wales on last year's LEJOG, i wanted to finished the job. The Cambrian Way provides 18,000 metres of ascent, the same as Everest - and twice that of the Pennine Way or Cape Wrath Trail. So it was hard work!
LEJOG 2013
1800 mile trek from one end of Britain to the other
After being a nomadic traveller for two years, I wasn't ready to go back to real life and get a job, but i wanted to do something constructive. Whilst in other far flung parts of the world i was often embarrassed by my limited knowledge of my home country. So i bought a train ticket to Penzance. And i walked.
South Pacific 2012
Beaches and reefs, palm trees and cava
A month relaxing in the Cook Islands, another month relaxing in Fiji and Samoa, with lots of diving, snorkeling, book reading, cava drinking, sunbathing and such. Then hitting the tourist trail on New Zealand's North Island, from Cape Reinga to Wellington. Off to Australia for a couple of weeks of modern world, then flying to Singapore, numerous public transport adventures through Malaysia and Thailand to the gap yearers mecca of Bangkok before flying home.
North America 2011
Backpacking around the US and Canada
Summer camps in New Hampshire, backpacking around the East Coast, protesting at the White House, traveling across Canada to track down my namesake, couchsurfing and hitchhiking through California, bears, snowboarding, crazy cyclists, Christmas in San Diego