Don’t be fooled. You may think of England’s hills as ‘green and pleasant’ – and they are – but they are also incredibly, and often quite suddenly, steep. They seem even steeper when you’re toiling up them on a touring bike loaded down with far-too-heavy panniers.
I’ve found my limit is a 17% incline, the point at which I can’t push the pedal around just one more time. My speed drops to around 4kms and then that’s it, I’m off the bike and walking, slumping over the handlebars in defeat as I toil up the hill. In Dorset even the local cows were wondering what the heck we were doing as we trudged up a road towards them.
We were nearing the end of an roughly eight hour day, blood sugar crashing as we wolfed down Clif shot bloks, water and chocolate digestives. I didn’t think I had much left in me until I looked up and saw two faces peeking above a hedgerow as if to say ‘what you guys doin’? I started laughing instead of crying, which is what I’d wanted to do a minute before.
We cycle toured for just over two weeks often using Sustrans routes from roughly the South Downs to Dartmoor with a couple of hops on the train, bypassing busy cities to save time. I’ll write in more detail about our trip later but for now the photos give an idea of some of the gorgeous countryside we passed through.
We landed in England at the beginning of an unusual 30c heatwave and spent the next five days negotiating hills and patches of melting, freshly laid tarmac that stuck to our wheels or was thrown into our faces by passing cars.
In Devon we were met with cooler temperatures…..
and sustenance in the form of clotted cream teas….
What more could you ask for?
4 thoughts on “The Green Fields of England”
This sounds like a fabulous vacation. And the Devon tea had me drooling and remembering when we had one while walking a part of the coast path there way back in 2002!
Thank you Alison! Yes, it was an amazing vacation. Beautiful scenery, and architecture of course. Good pub food, beer and cream teas! You kind of have to do all that when you’re there. Yum!
Cycling in this outstanding scenery seems like a dream come true. What would you recommend for there, riding a bike or hiking?
Hi Agness! It was beautiful scenery to be riding in! In terms of riding or hiking, that’s a tough question! I’ve done both and they’re equally rewarding. If hiking you can get away from the roads obviously and really strike off into some gorgeous countryside and more remote areas. Riding is its own thing and the joy there is in covering long distances under your own steam in a shorter space of time than hiking. I guess it really boils down to which activity you generally prefer. My word of caution with riding fully loaded with panniers in England, as I mentioned, is that the hills are often short but often extremely steep! I’ll be writing more about that aspect of riding in England in future posts. It does get you fit though, riding and mountain biking back here in Canada ironically feels less daunting! Thanks for dropping by, I’ll be reading more of your blog and checking out eTramping as well, both sites look great!