Plan your trip:
Planning should be a pleasure, so make it a key feature of your trip. Remember, you are in control so you decide where, when and why:
This may involve visiting different places in a region you’ve always wanted to see, where you combine a mixture of activities in one trip. The Sulovsky Skaly trip was sandwiched by coffeehouse tours of Vienna and Budapest and developed from the opportunity to walk in Slovakia, plus my lifelong fascination with the Belle Epoque era in the Hapsburg Empire.
- Browse and organise at leisure, perhaps with a relaxing glass of wine
- Jot down places that interest you from books, TV, internet and keep a record of what you’d like to see
- Invest/borrow some good maps and guidebooks
- Be comfortable and familiar with the mapping system you choose
- Look at the info on long distance footpaths and Sustrans routes DIRECTORY: Long Distance Footpath and Cycle Route Information because even if you don’t intend to walk/cycle a long distance route, these sites and their links cover large areas of the country and have invaluable details of the localities
- Log details of bike repairers and outdoor gear shops en route before your trip
Get There and Back:
Make the journeys to and from your destination highlights of your trip; yet another reason to forget flying. BLOG: Carbon Comparison and Why flying is incompatible with sustainable travel
- Ensure your holiday begins as soon as you close your front door – that’s why it’s so satisfying to begin and end your journey on boot/bike, even if it is just to travel to the station
- Unless you can boot/bike to your starting point and complete a circular route (leaving cars at each end of a linear route is inadvisable on cost, security and environmental grounds) you will need to use public transport
- It does exist in the UK, however badly it compares with most of western and central Europe in terms of cost, availability and service, however, with a little research and patience you can travel to the extremities of our isles by various types of public transport
Rail: use http://www.nationalrail.co.uk for details of operating companies and network maps to find the best way to the station nearest to your destination. BLOG: How can you travel affordably by train and take your bike?
For everything you need to travel abroad by train – including routes, fares, booking tickets, cycle carrying trains – go to www.seat61.com It’s simply brilliant!
Bus: there’s surprisingly good coverage in the UK, particularly with post buses, dial-a-bus etc in isolated areas. But the service is often infrequent, so thorough pre-planning is vital. Use http://www.traveline.co.uk and http://www.traveldirect.info for route options and times. For details of bus operators, cycle carrying services and walkers’ buses: DIRECTORY: Public Transport for Booters and Bikers
Ferry: most ferries will happily transport bikes for a fraction of the cost of a car. http://www.aferry.co.uk lists companies, destinations and timetables. http://www.calmac.co.uk is the major operator for Scotland’s west coast, although on very short crossings, like Islay to Jura, private operators use smaller boats. They, plus most cruise ships on Scottish lochs, will almost always transport bikes.
Flights: FORGET! BLOG: carbon Comparison and Why flying is incompatible with sustainable travel
Accommodation is always a key element of any trip. With BOOT and BIKE you can also plan your tour around some great places to relax, re-fuel and recover!
Accommodation: the nature of your accommodation will dictate how much you have to carry; not just if you camp, but also in terms of towels and toiletries.
- It is vital to establish in advance if you can eat at, or very near to, your accommodation in the evening, otherwise you may find yourself having to walk/cycle again after you thought your exertions were over for the day
- Most places do welcome booters and bikers and their equipment, some city boutique hotels, eg http://www.hoxtonhotels.com even provide secure bike racks and always ask in advance about drying facilities.
- A list of some sites with comprehensive lists of accommodation is listed in Our Directory/Accommodation Information
- A number of eco-sensitive places, particularly in national parks, offer discounts for guest who arrive by public transport or under their own steam DIRECTORY: Accommodation Providers offering Discounts to Guests arriving by Boot/Bike/Public Transport
- Solo travellers are still treated unfairly with high supplements, few single rooms and lack of facilities (eg, en suites) in those that are available, so please add your experiences and recommendations BLOG: Where should I stay if travelling solo?
Re-fuel: tearooms, cake stops, coffeehouses
Whatever else, you must include this traditional element of walking/cycling tours – indeed, for many it’s the whole point!
Each of the trips featured in 4 describes the places we’ve enjoyed en route and http://www.ctc.org.uk the national cyclists’ organisation, has a list of refreshment stops throughout the country.
Here are some more favourites, again the list is far from comprehensive so please add your own recommendations. BLOG: The tea-room: as essential to boaters/bikers as a pair of boots and a helmet?