Ending last blog at a low point, the days after were even worse. Writing the blogs make me focus on the bad things. So to improve my mindset, this will be a positive blog. A blog about us not being alone in this world, not being alone as a cyclist and not being alone in doing good.
Whitby Bay to De Panne
Day 65 – 52 km to Durham – After Lola’s accident, I left late this morning to wait for the check-up at the vet and to finish the last blog. The road took me along a very familiar place: the ferry to IJmuiden. But this time I crossed the Tyne river. I followed the sea and had lunch at a nice cliff. One of the only few non-built-up areas this day.
Day 66 – 82 km to Lealholm – This day was probably the worst day on my entire journey, but it ended nice. After cycling on an old railway, I spent two hours cycling through terribly signposted cities. Cities are not my favourite thing. Misdirections are even worse. But above all, it is terrible when most of these two hours are cycling paths lined with piles of trash and covered in glass. It is a miracle my tires didn’t get punctured. This was the point where I made the decision that, if the landscape and litter did not improve in the next two days, I would take the ferry in Hull. But luckily the late afternoon gave me beautiful skies over the gorgeous landscape of the North York Moors. Unfortunately by the time it was dark enough for northern lights, clouds had covered the sky.
Day 67 – 80 km to Filey – The morning was spent cycling out of the North York Moors and heading to the sea once more. I followed an old railway track along the sea to Scarborough and had company of another cyclist for a little bit. Due to the headwind I didn’t get as far as I wished.
Day 68 – 75 km to Beverley – The landscape was very boring today. A little hilly, but mainly a lot of agriculture. After I left Filey, the route turned away from the sea. In the beautiful city centre of Beverley, I met some French cyclists. The first campsite was a no-go due to an absence of toilets (quite weird…). The second campsite was amazing! After cuddling some goats, we (me and the French cyclists) had dinner together.
Day 69 – 75 km to Market Rasen – Another day with head/cross wind. And again another day with boring agricultural landscapes. The surroundings turned more flat too. “Highlights” of today are crossing the river Humber and the hills of the Wolds.
Day 70 – 80 km to Boston – Awesome! From Lincoln onwards I followed the Water Rail Way, with tailwind! The landscape becomes very similar to the Netherlands. A polder landscape. I even come through a place called Holland Fen. And some parts of this area are called South Holland
Day 71 – 108 km to Sandringham – More very boring landscapes today. Polders as if I were in the Netherlands. And the same amount of annoying crosswind. Only the last part from King’s Lynn to the campsite was somewhat exciting, going into the hills a little with forests.
Day 72 – 86 km to Reepham – Another day without much sea view. And although some hills and a ford, more boring agriculture. At the campsite there was a beautiful rainbow ad sunset.
Day 73 – 104 km to Bruisyard – Starting the day of with an old railway track to Norwich. And after Norwich more agriculture. But the streams make a nice change. I chose to cycle quite far to a campsite close to the route. Apparently it already closed that day, but I got to stay anyway. Perfect campsite for a biologist, with only a few pitches mown in a field with otherwise long grass, with a decomposition toilet and with birds all around. A pheasant decided to roost above my tent, and in the night I kept being woken up by owls. Love it!
Day 74 – 84 km to Cholchester – More of the same. With the exception of having lunch in a park in Ipswich and having a helicopter land behind me. This area is rather campsite poor, so I ended in a hotel. A hotel so old, that it’s amazing the floors didn’t creek. And it’s a miracle that the building didn’t fall apart, seeing the angles of the beams.
Day 75 – 101 km to Gravesend – An early start on a very peaceful morning. But basically more of the same. Officially the North Sea Cycle Route goes from Colchester to Harwich, but I’ll cycle to Dover, to cycle more of the route in France, Belgium an the Netherlands. The closer I get to London, the more the trash along the road seems to pile up. But as route number 1 goes to London from Chelmsford, I go south to Tilbury to take a ferry across the Thames to Gravesend.
Day 76 – 85 km to Canterbury – An even earlier start than yesterday, but I somehow managed to arrive quite late. Probably due to the many routes trough cities. That slows you down a lot. And today was maybe the worst trash-by-the-road-day. But the last hour to Canterbury was beautiful!
Day 77 – 31 + 41 km to De Panne – And yet another early start. This time to be able to catch the 12 o’clock ferry in Dover. In contrast to previous days, cycling to Dover is much nicer. Kent seems to have a little more diversity in the landscape. A little more forest and more hlls. Great for the view, not so great if you want to catch a ferry… But I managed it! I’m actally quite elated that I got to Dover. I really hadn’t expected to get this far. And now I’m in Belgium. A little bit home.
So, overall I raced through a pretty boring landscape and am really happy to be back in Belgium. I’ll be “home” in about a week!
The longing for ‘home’ the last week has lessened somewhat. I figured that one of the reasons why it increased, is bbecause there are less people on the road to have contact with. The holidays are over. And this area of England is pretty boring and less cycled. But still, you are never the only cyclist. Most cyclists you meet on the road are commuters or “wielrenners” (cyclists going for speed). Almost everyone smiles, waves or says hi. And then there are a couple with whom you have a small chat.
There are only a few people you meet for a longer time. Some you share an hour or more cycling together. Most you meet on campsites and spend the evening together. And on rare occasions (which happened twice for me) you meet people multiple times and even (aim to) cycle together after camping. But what I really like and what makes you feel less alone, is that you can stay in touch with other cyclists. Sharing experiences eventhough you’re not together, and knowing that you’re not the only one whose day sucked because of rain and wind.
Sharing the world with nature
The doom and gloom scenario that might await us if we don’t manage to stp climate change brings some people into a state of not caring anymore. Some people believe that the human civilization is going to end and that the human population will go extinct. They then argue that it therefore doesn’t matter how they live. It’s doomed anyway. I strongly disagree with that. We are not the only ones on this earth. For me, even if this complete doom were true, the fact that we are not alone on this earth is the number one reason to never give up on making this world a better place and saving nature.
In some of my previous blogs I discussed or mentioned the cutting down of forests and addressed the benefits of planting more trees. But I do have to correct something after reding a bit more and talking to people on the road. The cutting down of forests in the north of Scotland is not a very bad thing. They actually try to restore the moors, with the acompanying biodiversity. In the meantime, millions of trees have been planted in the Caingorms, to restore the forests there.
It’s the small things
To keep more positive, there are so many small things on the road that make me happy. I have seen people – with children, great example! – pick up litter in their own community or on the beach. Also, most of the people I met on the road have a similar mindset when it comes to nature conservation or sustainability. Those conversations are a source of positive energy. Even smaller things making me happy are signs of Extinction Rebellion drawn on roads for instance. There are others out there actively fighting for a better world!