Cornwall to Kent 2019 plan
Jun 3, 2019 - 12 min read
What and why?
Another year, another challenge. After cycling 300 miles for University or Liverpool Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund in 2017 and walking over 50 miles for 11-year-old Szymon in 2018 I continue my journey by cycling 600 miles from Cornwall to Kent (and back to London).
While doing it I'll be fundraising for my local hospital children care units. The whole trip will be documented on Instagram and here. This article may also be updated a few times before the trip starts.
My bike will be tuned for a ride and is fully insured and registered in BikeRegister. I will have to take proper locks of course and rain cover. I need still to decide if I'd take paneer, but I may be fine with my large backpack. I will also take my small and handy Yellowstone Alpine 2 tent.
Essentials like spare inner tubes, breaks blocks, first aid kit are obvious.
For the equipment, I'd have my two GoPro Session 4 cameras with extended 2000mAh batteries which should triple their use time. I'd use them more to document the trip than as dashcam.
Food and water are essential, but I learned that it's best to have just around 1 litre of water (one in a holder and one in the backpack) and some muesli or chocolate bars. For the rest having some Tesco Extra and McDonalds on the route works best and value for money and convenience. Bars, pubs and restaurants are too expensive - so I'd use them only for a kind meal, but except dinner on such a trip, you can't eat too much at once.
While planning the route I decided to go full pessimist. I took my average time of commute in high traffic and stopping on lights every half a mile (London reality) which is 12mph. That should even out some climbing and speeding down. And there will be loads to climb, whooping 36K feet up and same down! That means there will be places where I will do 8-10 mph, but loads where I'll do 20 and over.
Breaks are calculated seperately, to allow refuel, use the toilet and lay down, but not to allow to stiffen. Better often a bit than once in a while and too long.
Training and diet
With such effort as cycling over 100 miles five days in the row, I need to put my form to a maximum of my capacities. That means all jokes aside. My daily commute (8 miles both ways) has to be extended and my diet has to change for a dramatic transformation. That means 30 miles in the morning 2h sprint via Richmond Park and two 100 miles trips in July. When it comes to nutrition, I'm already used to intermittent fasting and I need to reduce weight to carry less on my bike. I tried to join my colleagues during Ramadan and basically limited myself to OMAD (one meal a day) with 20 hours fast in between. I will keep intermittent fasting (16 or 20 hours) and employ extra 5:2. I will be eating all food groups and won't be fussy at least with that. I also spent the last two weeks without coffee and I'll return it in moderation.
Following documents will be updating as I'll progress to the date of the event.
I will leave the office earlier on 31st July to get to London Paddington station and from there take a train to Penzance. I investigated two ways how to commute to Cornwall from London. One was a flight on FlyBe which wasn't too expensive (£45 ticket plus £25 for a bike). Problem was that you can't be certain bike will fly with you or on the next flight and also FlyBe seems to be in a quite unstable situation at the moment. In the end, I chose the Great Western Railway which operates two direct evening trains in this direction. The sleeper train has very little space for the bikes (2 per wagon). The only sensible option was the 6 pm train from Paddington. I'd arrive there around 23:00 and stay at Ponsandane camping site.
I'll leave in the morning north, I'll be able to see some bronze age monuments like Marry Maidens stone cycle, Laylon Quoit and Men-an-Tol sites. Then I'll cycle down to the Lands End where I can have some nice Cornish Pastry together with taking some pics. From there trip to Kent really starts. On my way, On either way in the town, I'd be able to do some small shopping or snack as there is both Tesco Express and McDonald's. When leaving Penzance I'll be passing famous St. Michaels Mount.
I can stop a while after climbing Carn Marth hill and take a look at the views and amphitheatre and magical lake on the hill. It would be good to get supplies before to avoid the need to turn to any bigger town as most of the route here will go via charing, but silent countryside.
Going downhill I'll arrive at river Fal ferry landing where I should be crossing its nice delta. Crossing is just in front of National Trust Trelissick Garden, which is a charming site on its own. There is only a small tourist shop there, so it's worth to have some spare snack and water so far.
St. Austell would be a good place to restock and take a rest. There are plenty of amenities in this picturesque town. It would be a good moment for some wrap with salad and a coffee. I won't be anyhow moving towards famous Eden Project site there, as instead of artificial setups I'd prefer to enjoy another natural setting.
Another river on my way I'll cross with Fower Bodnick Ferry. I'd be cycling over rolling hills and valleys of small, but rapid rivers to turn for a while towards fantastic Talland Bay Beach and back towards Looe.
Ten miles later I'll be crossing on the bridge in Looe. Except for the fairytale landscape, this beautiful town provides quite a lot of amenities so will be a good place to make small shopping and maybe a bigger meal.
My day will end in the Maker Camp. It's situated on grounds of old military barracks and full of listed buildings, with amazing views on the Channel and the harbours.
In the early morning, I'll use a Cremyll Ferry 3m leave Cornwall and enter Plymouth, Devon. To reach it I'd be passing Mount Edgcumbe House with artificial (made in XVIII century) ruin on top of the hill nearby. Plymouth is a massive town so I can buy water and snacks, but I wouldn't stay there too long as big cities are always risky for bicycles even with the best locks.
I'll enter Dartmoor National Park in Yelverton 14m. Then plan a small break in Princetown 20m on the first peak this day. I'd pass through Postbridge 23m with stone clapper bridge and turn south towards monumental Haytor 33m to come back towards Moretonhampstead 43m. There small Co-Op should do for water and snack.
On 56th mile I'll be in Exeter. It would be good to take some break back there after two massive and one middle climb this day. Especially there found medium ones ahead. Exeter is quite a large town so there will be no problems with amenities. There is a range of restaurant chains and sizable shopping centre just on my route.
In Honiton 75m I'll prepare for another climb. I'll just briefly enter the Blackdown Hills AONB to come back south towards Axminster 86m. This will be a good place for short rest and resupply before the last big climb that day.
I'll reach market town of Bridport at 101th mile. Having big Morrisons and just a few miles left that would be bet time to pick some dinner and maybe a single use barbeque.
I will only briefly pass Abbotsbury Castle 110m and finally in Wyke Regis 119m I'll stay at Martleaves Farm Campsite
I'll wake up with the view on Fleet, long sandy beach slit from the land with a shallow canal on one side and Isle of Portland on the other. I'll ride around to see forts and lighthouse 8m and would be roll to Weymouth 3m for breakfast and water.
From there I'll roll over the hills with a view on Studland to Portland Special Area of Conservation coast to reach picturesque ruins of Corfe Castle 39m.
One climb later I'll be able to enter Bournemouth 47m via ferry at Shell Bay Terminal. That will be totally different, new surrounding. Instead of raw nature, I'll roll along with the popular resort crowded beaches.
I'll briefly pass Christchurch and enter my beloved New Forest National Park. . Place with unspoiled nature and wild horses. Will make a short break in Lyndhurst 71m.
Behind that green Eden, next will be a concrete jungle of Southampton 81m. Good place and time to stop by and greet with friends who hosted me two years ago on the previous challenge.
After killer hills of Portsmouth, I'l make a small stop in Farnham 93m and later only in Chichester 110m for final, diner supply and head towards next camping.
This night I'd spend on the most pricy place so far, but very flexible. I found a few cheaper in the area, but all of them were closing very early and I wanted to be sure they'll let me in. Red House Farm 116m.
From Chichester, I'll move towards the popular resort of Bognor Regis 10m. That should be last stop for some snack and water as next over 30 miles will be flat roll alongside the beach.
On 38th mile I'll reach Brighton which is nice, but I don't want to stay there longer. It will be crowded and busy. I prefer long route under the cliff via Rottingdean 42m where I found a nice cafe last year, all way to Seaford 51m where I'll stop before climbing Seven Sisters. Actually, the best place to stop there would be McDonald's just behind Newheaven 47m as Seaford doens't have too many amenities and the road from there is flat and smootch.
Before reaching Eastbourne 61m I'll pass Birling Gap which is popular photo and rest spot and Belle Tout Lighthouse hotel.
As Eastbourne is nice and properly supplied town it would make far more sense to make next stop in Hastings 78m as it will welcome us with yet another (not the last) climb this day.
Nice place for a brief stop would be Rye 92m which is super popular among Instagramers.
I'll pass sleepy areas of Lydd 99m to reach Folkestone 120m. Again this will mean buying some dinner and rolling towards the campsite.
Last sleep on that route will be at Little Satmar 125m. A lovely little place with views of next day approach to Dover Cliffs.
I'll roll over 400 feet down to Dover 6m just to climb again 400 and roll same down again. From there it will be flat all they way.
Passing Deal, Sandwich, Ramsgate I'll arrive at Broadstairs 30m which will be official finish of the Cornwall to Kent distance. From there will be just come back home.
I may stop a few miles later in Margate resort for some refreshment and head towards Cantenbury 54m where I'd make a longer break.
Next nice place on my route would be Leeds castle 76m, but I'll stop a bit further in Maidstone 83m for coffee and sandwich.
Next chance for a breath will be at the House of Charsles Darwin 107m.
I'll make a short break at Elmers End 114m where in the worst scenario I can take a tram to Wimbledon. But if I'd manage to finish I'll be in my village back on 123th mile.
Last two years has shown me that the worst comes after the trip. Usually, when you cool down on your sofa and restock your stomach your legs start to swell massively. Therefore it's important to keep that recovery day a bit more active, take a walk, do some cleaning. Also to drink a lot and eat clean rather than order KFC and Pizza.
Back to the office
Next day I'd be back to the office, hopefully on my bike. To keep my legs engaged I can use my standing desk at least for part of the day. There will be much to tell.
|Transport||£38||GWR Ticket London Paddington to Penzance|
|Transport||£1||Fal River Ferry|
|Accommodation||£24||Red House Farm|
Additional items to consider:
- New, wider tyres
- Paneer and a bag
- Extra water bottle and holder
- Spare inner tubes
- Sleeping bag
- Microfibre towel
- Rain cover
- Few extra layers for cold weather
- Hat if not helment worn
- Light set of bike outfit and underwear for 5 days
- Spare socks as they easily go wet
- SIS gels
- Energy bars
- Nuts and dried fruits
- Quick porridge sachets
- Bananas (and keep bying more on the road)
Medicine and cosmetics
- Essientials like soap and tooth brush
- Wet wipes
- First aid kit
- Bug bite solutiojn
- Sterilising wipes
- Anti cold solution