To the pages for Europe, Great Britain and France of the Trento Bike Pages
Britain and Brittany by Bike

By Terje Melheim, Wed, 25 Mar 1998 20:50:17 +0100
Please Note that a more recent version, complete with pictures, of this report is available elsewhere as Britain and Brittany by Bike

This cycle tour was made by a Norwegian family in summer 1997. Kjartan (14) accompanied his parents. Mother Turid and Father Terje are of an age which will not be disclosed in this text. The German cyclist Karl Brudowsky has written many texts on cycle tours, and he is just as discrete about how old he and his wife are, so I have better stick to this tradition. For Turid we had bought a new bicycle for Christmas. Thus we had all 21 gears on our bicycles. I have written this report in English. English is not my native language and I use the language to communicate internationally, so the main object is to be understood and not to have my style valued by a native Englishman. I have not used English names but the names of the language spoken in the country I have visited, thus I have written Normandie instead of the English version Normandy etc. The title of this report does not give justice to Normandie in France, for more than half of the days of our cycle tour were spent in that province. I still preferred the title Britain and Brittany By Bike because it sounded so good. And in that title I have even used the English version Brittany

Our cycle tour was made in July-August 1997. After having read many interesting reports on cycle tours on Trento Bike Pages and other pages in Internet, I have decided to write down our tour. Time has passed, and I am writing it in March 1998. I am writing from memories and by means of maps which are stimulating my memories. I did not take down any notes during our tour, and the distances are based upon rough calculations.

To reach a good area for cycle touring in France we would have to go by plane to Paris, but we did not like the idea of cycling through the congested area of the French capital, and we soon realized that it would be better to go by plane to London. If we had gone to Paris, we would have had all that traffic in Paris and we would have had to change planes in Copenhagen. From our town Bergen there are direct flights to London, and besides, there are more companies on this line. The air company SAS has taken up the habit of charging 20 GBP for each cycle each way. We went by an alternative air company and avoided the extra SAS-charge. This other air company lands at Gatwick, to the south of London, which meant we were well clear of London and its traffic when we were cycling to Portsmouth, from where we could cross over to France by ferry.

We landed at the immense airport of Gatwick in the afternoon the 14th of July 1997, and it took us about one hour to collect our luggage and make the cycles ready for cycling. We had believed we could easily find some quiet country lanes near Gatwick and cycle on such roads to Portsmouth. The traffic near Gatwick was rather intense, and we had to stay on the main road towards London for some kilometres before we could branch off towards Charlwood. Before we left home we had got assistance from an English cyclist and member of the Cyclists' Touring Club on how to find our way from Gatwick and he had described our way to the nearest camp site. We just followed his instruction and that is why we went over Charlwood and farther over Rusper to Horsham. Thanks to his description we could avoid going into Horsham town and we were directed right on to the camp site near Southwater.

At the camp site we had hoped we would be able to buy some methylated spirits in order to prepare some tea. We were not allowed to carry such inflammable stuff in our luggage in the plane. The nice landlady at the camp site gave us some methylated spirits for our stove. That was our first day out of 30 of our cycle tour 1998. After our landing at Gatwick we had cycled app. 30 km.

Tuesday the 15th of July, appr. 50 km.
Unfortunately, we started the cycle tour this morning by making a mistake. Near the camp site was a sign indicating a route for cyclists towards Southwater. The sign deviated from the description we had received from the English cyclist. We thought he had made a mistake and written left instead of right, so we decided to follow the cycle signs. We made a false decision and were lead on a detour, we had apparently landed on a circular cycle route for people staying in Southwater. "We should have trusted our friend's discription instead of following those stupid signs", Turid said. We finally managed to get to Southwater, but we could not find any way out of town. We tried to follow signs pointing towards cthe entre, but it turned out just to be some shops, and there were no new signs pointing out our next goal or village. I was completely confused because I had stuck to our friend's route discription and had not bothered so much about the localities on the map. By a local we were helped to reach road number B2224. Shortly after Southwater was a sign post indicating Brooks Green. We followed that road and we were back to our route as described by our cyclist friend. Towards Storrington we followed the B2139. In spite of status as a B-road there was rather much traffic on this road, and Turid complained a lot about that condition.

At Storrington we had lunch, and at a drug store we even managed to buy a bottle of methylated spirits. Turid had a strange experience at a shop, where they refused to accept a bank note. It was a bank note that had been left over from a tour to Britain 6 years ago. Fortunately there was a bank at the shopping centre and we could have the bank note changed. When I heard about this, I went to the bank, showed them all my British bank notes and asked if they were still valid. They were okay.

Our route went along the foot of the South Downs. The traffic on the B2139 was fast and it was not so nice cycling here. As recommended by our route planner, we visited the village of Amberley, a nice spot with old traditional cottages, well kept and nicely decorated with flowers. Near Amberley flows the river Arun through the South Downs. The Arun gap is a favourable place for the railway between the South coast and London to pass the South Downs on the level. We could not cross the South Downs that easily. We had to stick to the road and go over the hills. The traffic had grown heavier. It was not so nice climbing rather steep roads while we had the feeling of being chased by heavy lorries. We arrived at a large roundabout, and we were to take the second exit out of it. Roundabouts with intense and fast traffic are not so nice while you are on a cycle. Now we had learnt not to stick to the edge of the roundabout because that would be dangerous with traffic turning off to the left. When we entered the roundabout we stayed in the middle of the road and bent to the left in front of our exit. After the roundabout we had come on the main road A29. Fortunately we were going downhill, and the traffic did not seem so intimidating.

At a bend we took an unsigned lane to the right and into the village of Slindon. We decided not to cycle farther this day and we knew this village had a camp site, a rather primitive one where each family got their own toilet tent. We had to empty the pot before we left the next morning. The elderly couple who were in charge of this camp site were very nice and social people. I think they believed we were Germans, and when a small plane got over the camp site on low altitude, the man said: "Another plane, hopefully one of ours." I replied back: "Or may be it is a Chinese one. Now they have just aquired Hong Kong, so they have come to take the rest." In this area we noticed all walls and houses had been built of flint, which makes the natural local stone material. In the evening another family arrived on their cycles, a couple and three boys, they were Dutch. They told us they were cycling towards London and they wanted to find the next camping place. I suggested the one at Southwater, that was the only one I knew about in the direction towards London.

Wednesday, the 16 of July. 30 km
We awoke to a cloudy day, but fortunately no rain. Today we were going up the South downs once more. Our friend had recommended this route so that we could stay away from roads with more traffic on the plain near Chichester. We landed on the A285 road, but this road had to our relief much less traffic than the main road we took the other day. (This stretch of the road I would be cycling alone 3 weeks later on our return to Gatwick.) On the top of road A285 we branched off to the left and cycled on a level road through East Dean and Singleton. On the left while cycling along we had a nice view of the plain near Chichester. We decided to pass through Chichester on our way back. We passed Goodwood race course and felt very happy that we did not have to pass this spot at congested conditions when a race was on. We went downhill and left the hills of South Downs and we could stay on nice minor roads towards Portsmouth. We followed our friend's description: At East Lavant fork left into A286 for short distance, take left fork to West Stoke to Funtington, on B2146 for short distance, where 2146 turns right keep straight on to join B2147 through Westbourne to roundabout, take 2nd exit into Southleigh Road. Cross B2148, at next T-junction turn left, cross railway at Worblington to T-junction (B2150). Turn right. Stright on along Emsworth road. We faithfully stuck to the description and a short orientation revealed we were in the town of Havant. We could buy food and try out our credit card at a British bank automat. After a nice meal on a bench next to a traditional British post box we continued into Portsmouth. At the head of the peninsula where Portsmouth lies (Portsea Island) we had some troubles in finding our way because of spaghetti junctions of roads and motorways. Our friend had equipped me with a map of Portsmouth and when I realized that we had arrived in the area shown on the map, it was rather easy to find our way to the camp site on the eastern shores of the Portsea Island. In Portsmouth we were even able to cycle on cycle ways. They were not of the good quality known from Denmark and the Netherlands. The surface was rather poor, on crossing roads the motor traffic had all priority. On these spots the cycle ways were even equipped with a sign: Cyclists alight.

Portsmouth has two sights worth visiting, at least Kjartan with his 14 years was of just the right age to be very interested in them: The battle ships sailship Victory and steamship Warior. We had arrived early at the camp site and we intended to visit the ships on the same day. Unfortunately the map I had on Portsmouth was not so good, as only main roads had been shown, and it did not take long until we were completely lost. At last we managed to find our way to the battle ships, but the ships had been closed for the day. Kjartan got very disappointed, so we decided to stay on for another day. Our camp site was located between the shores on one side and a dual carriage way on the other. There was noise from the traffic all throughout the night, but still we managed to sleep very well.

Thursday, the 17 of July. 15 km within Portsmouth.
This day we made an extra day in Portsmouth when we engaged ourselves to naval history. The sailship Victory was quite impressive as she lay exhibited in a dock. The glorious age of sailship turned out not to be so glorious after all. The guide told us that onboard the ship hard methods of punishments towards the crew were needed because the majority of the sailors did not want to be there. They had been recruited from inns and more or less trapped to join as crew. The steamship Warior was from the last century. Onboard it various guns were demonstrated by a man who introduced his demonstrations by saying, "Britain did not win an empire by being nice to people." The third ship from the glorious past of Britain were the remnants of the sailship Mary Rose. The ship was sunk during an engagement with the French fleet near Portsmouth. It was rediscovered and brought ashore in 1979. Parts of the hull was exhibited, and it was constantly being treated with chemicals in order to be preserved for the future.

The rest of the day was used for orienteering in Portsmouth, and we finally got quite good in finding our way. We were already thinking of our return to Portsmouth after our cycle tour in France, and we decided that we would then take another route out of Portsmouth. We could go by ferry to another island east of Portsmouth and continue that way.

Friday the 18th of July, appr. 50 km
The ship from Portsmouth to Cherbourg sailed at 8 in the morning, and it arrived in France at 13.00. In fact the voyage took 4 hours, but we lost one hour because of different time in Britain and on the continent. In Cherbourg we were positively surprised because at the landing place of the ferry we found a cycle way. We followed it towards the town centre, but the cycle way, typically enough, finished soon. Out of town we took the road towards Nouanville. We used Michelin maps in the scale 1:200 000. In fact I had bought those maps way back in the 1960s when I had once planned to make a cycle tour through France. I never made that tour, and therefore I turned up in France 1997 with those antique maps. The area we cycled through next to Cherbourg had been developed and new roads had been laid out, and that was of course very confusing with my old map. As soon as we were outside the development area the road signs showed villages right as they were indicated on the map. We found nice roads, and roads of that type we used throughout our cycle tour in France. On small routes départementales and routes vicinales we made our tour along hedges and through villages where we frightened the hens and the dogs frightened us. To our relief both hens and dogs were usually kept behind fences. Normally even the road numbers were the same as on my archaic map. Only at places where new main roads had been built the map did not coincide with reality.

In the village Manoir, after 25 km from Cherbourg we had lunch. We made ourselves comfortable on a bench just outside the Mairie of the village. Kjartan was very sceptical to this exposed site. But it turned out worse because soon the local bus stopped just in front of us and all the passagers were staring at us, at least Kjartan had this feeling and he got so ashamed that he ran away. He is 14 years and in a difficult period of life. After this episode we always had difficulties in finding an acceptable site to have lunch because Kjartan had got very critical towards the exposure of the sites.
This day we cycled to le Rozel on the western coast of Normandie. The camp site was located just behind the dunes of the beach. In the evening, in front of the descending sun in the west, we could discern the silhouette of a big island. It was, I believe, Shark or was it Jersey or some other part of British empire.

Saturday the 19th of July, appr. 80 km
We awoke to another nice day, and from Le Ruzel we tried to follow the coast on minor road. Alas for a short distance we had to use route national 804. On my old Michelin map we could easily find roads on which we could avoid the menacing traffic on the main road. In Carteret we branched off towards Cap de Carteret. We had some steep ascents, where Turid soon gave up and started pushing her bike. Kjartan and I would not like to give up. I know that sooner or later Kjartan will be able to make that hard climbing better than his father. Still I am the better. From cap Carteret none of the Channel islands could be seen, the air was a bit misty. In the constant breeze from the ocean an Italian was practicing para gliding. He never really took off.

Two kilometres from Cap de Carteret is Barneville-Carteret. Saturday is probably market day in that place. The main street had been closed to traffic, but we found our way through on our cycles. We could admire all the products being sold from the tables along the village street. But we did not buy anything because we did not want to add extra weight to our bicycles. In the next village, Portbail we wanted to have lunch. To find a bench which was discrete enough for Kjartan was not easy, so we cycled on. Now we got some difficulties in finding our way. When we asked some locals for the way to Denneville, they were curious and asked why we wanted to go there. We could just give the answer that we wanted to find the road to that village so that we could continue to the next village and to the next village again. What had confused us on reading the map, was a new main road that had been built in this area. When the two locals had explained the direction to us we found our way all right. We crossed the new main road close to a picnic area. Kjartan exclaimed, "Here we can eat." That was a place where he could eat without drawing too much attention from other people.

We did not bother to stop in the town Lessay. The Romanesque church was observed from our bicycles. The road signs directed us towards Coutainville, but we landed on a new road which took its way through open landscape, away from the villages. At the first branch to the village of Créance we could reach that village and then we were again on our habitual infrastructure of minor roads. In the evening we pithed our tent at a camping place near Blainville sur Mer. Our dinner we had at a restaurant. We got a bit disappointed at the dinner, but that was our fault. For hors d'eouvre we ordered huitres. In my stupidity I thought that was trouts, and we got rather long faces when we discovered that huitres were oysters. Of course oysters are very luxorious, but we were hungry after our cycling and we wanted as much food as possible, and oysters did not quite cope with our expectations. Besides we are not used to eating oysters.

Sunday the 20th of July, appr. 50 km
This was the second day at a French camping place, and we had learnt one thing; French camping places are not usually equipped with toilet paper. The toilet paper we had used at the last camping place probably belonged to some other guests. Near the camping place we found a large super market, but on a Sunday they did not open till 11. Before we made a rather late start we bought our supplies of food and of course toilet paper.

At Tourville we branched off from the main road towards Coutance. We stayed on the D 72 towards the south. A fresh breeze from behind gave us a good speed as we were heading towards the town of Granville. At Bréhal we landed on the main road N117. We tried to avoid this trunk road, which was not so nice to cycle on. We branched off to the right, but when we again kept to the left in order to stay on parallel roads, we soon got back on the main road again. In this local area the Michelin map was not so good, or the fault was mine. We just clenched our teeth together and cycled on on the main road.

On arriving in Granville we saw at syndicate d'initiativ a nice park with a bench. That was a good invitation for lunch. Turid and I gave Kjartan an ultimatum, "If you refuse to sit here because the place is too exposed, we are not going to mind you. We are going to have our lunch here." Kjartan had to accept our decision. I am sure he did not repent it.

The original site of the town Granville is situated on a steep peninsula. From the town we had a nice view of the sea and the harbour. Very interesting it was to observe the docks where the ships lay. Because of large tidal differences the habour was locked off from the sea so that the water would be kept there at low tides. For us that was an interesting observation because we come from an area with only one meter of tidal difference.

It was time to continue our cycle tour towards the south. Out from Granville on road N 811 we encountered heavy traffic. Probably people going home after a week end at the sea. We were in a very disgusting situation. In St.Pair sur Mer I asked at the syndicat d'initiativ if there would be an alternative road with less traffic. There was, and along this road there would also be a camping place. We were very relieved and happy. The mademoiselle at the tourist office could easily hear from our French that we were foreigners, and she asked us from what coundtry we come. Was it because she was curious or was it because she would like to have a rare species in her statistics? Because there are only 4 million Norwegians we are seldom seen way down on the continent.

The camping place we found was a private one with a nice warden and that made it all more personal. To have dinner we cycled 3 km down to the road along the coast. At this auberge we made no mistakes on ordering our dinner, and we had an enjoyable meal. For drink we ordered cider. I liked it so much that from that day I had a bottle of cider every day. It is a delicious drink in hot weather. The alcoholic contents is just 3-4 %, not more than normal beer.

Monday the 21st of July, appr. 35 km
Today would be a hot day. We did however not manage to have things ready until 11 o'clock. When we started it was about to get very hot. We cycled into the labyrinth of minor roads. The town Avranche is situated on a height, and the climb up into the town was quite hard in this weather. Right on the edge of the steep hills is a beautiful botanic garden. From the garden we had our first glimpse of the famous monastery Mont St. Michel. If we turned our backs to the sea and the monastery we were facing an impressing gothic cathedral. It was time for lunch. In Avranche I tried to buy a new tyre for my bike. When I pumped the tube of my bicycle after the flight to Gatwick, I must have pumped it too hard. and the cords of my tyre had given in. I had put a piece of old tyre underneath it, but it would be wise to buy a new tyre. On Mondays many shops are closed in France, and so were the bicycle shops in Avranche.

We left town in southern direction. At the bottom of the hill from the town, I suddenly felt my front tyre was flat. To mend a flat tyre is normally an easy operation, but not here. The hole was at a place where there was already another patch. I realized I would not be able to clean the tube so well that I could patch it once more. Some locals passed by and I asked them about where to buy a new tyre. In Avranche the bicycle shops were closed, but a large magazin with the name Le Clerc sold bicycle equipment. When I heard this name, my mind was immediately on the British TV-series 'allo, 'allo, where one of the characters had the standard line, "It is I, Le Clerc." I used Turid's bike to cycle back to Avranche, but at Le Clerc they did not have inner tubes of the right size. I bought a thinner one and hoped it would do. It turned out useless, so I tried once more to stick another patch to my old tube. It seemed to keep the air. I pumped the wheel carefully and did not put so much air pressure in the tube as I used to do. We could continue to the place Pontaubault where there is a camping place. Our strategy was that I should cycle back to Avrance on Turid's bike next morning. The warden at the camping place told us there is a bicycle shop in Pontaubault. If I was lucky, I could get a new inner tube there.

Tuesday the 22nd of July appr. 30 km
The bicycle shop was very small, and I was very sceptical if I would find what I needed. I had luck. I got it. It was a quick job to put on the new inner tube and the new tyre. We could set off for another day with beautiful weather. We took back roads towards Mont St. Michel. We enjoyed the ride on quiet roads with not much traffic. The roads we were cycling on, were probably roads that have developed from tracks between the villages and they probably date back to medieval ages. When we got closer to Mont St, Michel, the traffic grew, for everybody was heading for the great tourist attraction Mont St. Michel. The monastery and the settlement are built on a small cliff island out in the sea. A causeway leads out to the monastery. We had some bad feelings when we locked the bicycles and left them with all our luggage on. What if they were stolen? There were more dangers about: A sign was warning against tide and the place where our bicycles stood would be under water at 22h. We knew we would be back well before that time. The settlement at the foot of the cliff was cramped with tourists. In the monastery and in the church on top of the cliff we had more room. Outside the church we made some interesting observations. From old fundaments we could conclude that the church had been bigger before. We were just about to leave when a group of tourists came towards us. The guide was speaking Swedish, which is a very familiar language to us. We joined the group pretending we were just some tourists who happened to be there. The group was from a tour organized for people especially interested in history. We got a meaningful guiding through the church and the monastery. It was right as we had observed, the church on top of Mont St. Michel had once been bigger, but it had fallen in because of bad construction work. After the Swedish sightseeing we went back to our bicycles. Everything was all right, and the sea was still at reasonable distance from our bicycles.

The nearest camping place was at Pontorson. We had to cycle in massive trafic, which at this time of the day was going in the same direction as we - away from St. Michel. At Beauvoir we branched off from the main road and took a parallel road towards Pontorson. At that time we did not know that we would be cycling exactly the same road again for one kilometer 6 days later.

Wednesday the 23rd of July, app. 80 km
Another hot day. Today we had decided to reach Rennes. We had an early start from Pontorson, and we remained faithful to the medieval structure and stayed away from main roads. Turid expressed her feelings for France and the road traffic by saying, "It is so much nicer to cycle here in France than in Britain, the car drivers are so polite and pass us at good distance. In Britain they drive fast and at a close distance." I tried to keep objective and said we are now in the French province far away from the French capital and the traffic is moderate. We have been cycling in Southern England with dense traffic, and that area has a large population and is close to London."

On route départementale no. 97 we approached the city of Rennes. We met many racing cyclists along this road and they greeted us. Just after leaving Pontorson we had crossed from Normandie into Bretagne. Rennes was the old capital of Bretagne until the French revolution swept away all privileges, including autonomy of certain provinces. To our relief we found cycle lanes along some main roads in Rennes. The cycle lanes had been marked green to indicate bicycling as a green movement and in order to discern the pistes cyclables from the motor traffic. This was a very hot day. I had gradually begun to understand that we would not be able to go through with our cycle tour as planned. We orginally intended to go down south to Loir river (not Loire), but as we were already much behind schedule, we should soon be turning off northwards again.

Thursday the 24th of July, app. 60 km
This day was not so hot as the previous one and we felt relieved. The first part of the day we spent looking at the town. The old houses looked very nice. The construction of the houses were shown as the beams were not covered. The openings between the beams had been filled with lime or bricks. Such "Fachwerkhäuser" are much more common in Germany. In the streets of Rennes I even discovered old tram lines. I could not measure it, but it seemed to be meter gauge.

We then cycled to the west. We had to take a main road out of town but we soon found one of our familiar medieval roads again. On this day we even had some rain. We were aiming at a camping place close to Iffendic. At Iffendic we made our shopping but the camping place turned out to be 3 km from the village, and we had to do some climbing before we could reach the camping place at lake Étang de Tremlin. It soon started to rain more, and in the night we were being disturbed by some persons in a neigbouring tent who kept chatting for hours. Now our decision was final, the next day we would be heading northwards. Thus we could include attractive towns like Dinan and St. Malo in our itinerary.

Friday, the 25th of July, App. 80 km
Now we were definitely heading northwards. It was raining, in spite of rain temperatures were quite agreeable. We Scandinavians are used to much colder rain than what we encountered in France. We were cycling in short trousers and we felt quite comfortable in the rain. From Iffendic we were cycling and singing in the rain. We stuck to our labyrinth of small roads. The route led us through La Chapelle de Lou, La Soudraie, Landujan, Plouasne, Tréfumel and St. Juvat. St. Juvat is a nice village, everywhere there are flowers. I have never seen all buildings so heavily decorated with flowers. The village had won prices for the best decorated village in France. I hope they have succeded in 1997 too.

Upon arriving in Dinan we discovered a camping place where we stayed for the night. The advantage to stay in tents, is that almost everywhere we can find somewhere to sleep. We are far more independent than I was at my young age when I was cycling in Europe staying at youth hostels. For our cycle tour 1997 we brought two tents. Turid and I had one, and Kjartan had a small one just for himself. We had enough room in the tents, we did not feel cramped, and because the weather was so good, we stayed in tents for almost the whole tour. When we arrived in Dinan, it had stopped raining.

Saturday the 26th of July, app. 15 km
Dinan is a nice town. We spent the first part of the day looking at the town with all its narrow streets and historic buildings. Dinan has also got a little railway museum. The most impressive thing to remember from that museum was a video film of the narrow gauge railway system in Bretagne. Old amateur films had been compiled into a video film. The world of narrow gauge railways was very wide in France, today almost all of the narrow gauge scene has vanished.

From Dinan we cycled down to the river Rance. This place is called Port de Dinan. The boats there were sailboats and motorboats for leisure. When we came cycling along the river, a motor boat with flag from the British Channel islands passed by. Along the river was a flat gravel road, used in previous days, before ships had a motor, for hauling ships along the river. This nice road without motor traffic lasted only for some kilometres until the river Rance became an inlet from the sea. Up from the river (or inlet) we had to do some climbing in order to reach the camping place at Plouer sur Rance. After two weeks it was about time to do some laundring, which could be done at the camp site.

Sunday the 27th of July, app. 80 km.
I am the one who did the map reading. On my front luggage carrier I had my sleeping bag and on top of the sleeping bag I had my Michelin map. When I had to study the map in detail I had to stop. Mostly I could manage the map reading well. Not so today. We intended to go northwards on minor roads from Plouer sur Rance, but somewhere I made a wrong turn and finally we ended up at the derelict railway line Dinan-Dinard. The closed station building at Pleslin still had a sign that it was also the station for Plouer sur Rance. Thus we realized we had almost made a complete circle. The derelict railway was of good cycling quality in spite of gravel surface. After 1-2 km we had to leave the railway line and we cycled to the main road towards Dinard. I wanted to do it quickly and we had wasted too much time on the circular tour unvoluntarely made at Plouer. With a favourable tailwind we stayed on the main road until we reached the power station at the inlet Rance. Because of great tidal differences on the Channel coast the tidal current out of and into the inlet Rance can be used for generating electric power. A dam had been built just south of St Malo and Dinard. The dam was also used as a causeway between the two banks of the inlet. Just outside the dam was a sailing boat waiting to be let through. The boat did not have to go through the turbines. The road was closed while the boat was let into a lock where the water level was adjusted to the level inside the dam.

Turid disliked the heavy traffic very much, and as the road made a turn towards the south before reaching St. Malo, we calculated it should be possible to reach St. Malo by pushing the bikes along the coast right into St. Malo. While we were pushing a group of mountain bike riders with no luggage on the bikes passed us. We felt relieved because we then realized that our track would lead us to our goal. So it did, we reached the road network of the residential areas of St. Malo.

This famous tourist town was of course cramped with tourists, but we had one problem less than the average tourist; we did not have to find a parking place before we could enter the city behind its medieval walls. In the nice winding and narrow streets of St. Malo we met another cyclist, he was from the USA and had flown to Paris. We felt hungry and in St. Malo we wanted to have our lunch. The problem was to find a place which Kjartan could accept. As the town was full of people everywhere a place where he would not feel starred at, was impossible to find. A compromize was made; he could accept it if we did not boil tea. He could accept it if we had soft drinks from tins. During the time we had spent with lunch along French roads Kjartan had started to like it, because of the very tasty French bread. Even in small villages we usually found a boulangerie with fresh baguettes, thus we could always have fresh bread for lunch and breakfast.

From St. Malo we cycled to the east, through the suburb St. Ideuc, and we ended up cycling on a minor road that was leading us in the right directon but there were no road signs along it, and we feared it might soon come to an end at a farm. Fortunately we ended up on a bigger road which we took to St.Méloir and to the coast at St. Benoit. It was not so nice cycling along the coast because of much traffic, and at Hirel we branched off. Again we landed on roads with no sign posts. From the position of the sun we knew the direction was right, and we came to Mont Dol. Houses and the cathedral of this small town have been built on a rock stack, just like Mont St. Michel, the difference is that at Mont St. Michel the rock stands in the sea and that makes it more exciting, At Mont Dol the cliffs stand up among flat land.

We did not go to the town of Dol. We branched off before we reached that city. From the distance we could see the structure of the big cathedral. We took minor roads without road signs through a flat polder area. The marsh land had been drained at the beginning of this century. Suddenly Kjartan had a puncture. We mended it once, but the tyre soon got flat again. There was another hole and a new patch was needed. At st. Broladre we were back on a main road with road signs. We were then relieved because we knew exactly where we were, and it was time to locate a camp site. In order to reach the camping at St. Marcan, we had to leave the coastal plain and climb some 200 metres. In the heat we were quite exhausted when we arrived at the camp site which was perfectly located with a phantastic view of the sea and Mont st. Michel. Ufortunately we were turned down at this exclusive camp site. "Le camping est complet". It did not help that we had just small tents and we had no vehicle. Especially Turid was very tired and she was very disappointed. We had to cycle back, it was quick to cycle down hill again, but we had done all the climbing in vain. We just cycled along the main road towards Pontorson, where we had been before and knew for sure there was another camping place. We did not have to cycle that far, after just 3 km we found a private camping place which was not marked in our guide. The camping had a nice restaurant, and satisfied and tired we could go to sleep in our tents.

Monday the 28th of July, appr. 55 km
The aim for this day was the camping site at the town of St. Hilaire du Harcuet. We started by cycling through the flat polder area near the coast where we crossed into the province of Nomandie. We got to the little village of Beauvoir on the road between Mont St. Michel and Pontorson, and for one kilometer we cycled on a road we had cycled on 6 days earlier. We cycled on along road D 80. Just before coming to the village Vergoncey, I heard a shot with a dumb sound, as if it had been fired through a silencer. I knew immediately what had happened; a spoke at my rear wheel had broken. The spokes are probably not well done, and broken spokes have occured many times before. I had the appropriate equipment, so that I could remove the free wheel and replace the broken spoke with a new one. Along road D 108 towards St. Aubin I was a bit unlucky about a comment I made on Turid's cycle speed. She got very grumpy. What would happen to our cycle tour if it goes on like this? I was thinking of the report the German cyclist Martin Wittram has made about a cycle tour in France. It seems to be certain sociological laws of splitting up when a cycle group consists of three persons. He and two friends were cycling along the Loire river. One evening they came to discussing politics. They got so bad tempered that the next day two of them were cycling on the southern banks of Loire and one on the northern side of the river. Would the same happen to my cycling family? Fortunately not. Soon we found an excellent place for having picnic on the grass underneath a tree giving shadow. We had an excellent meal and the bad temper was gone.

We encountered some short but very steep hills near the river Salune. There we met some touring cyclist, two young ladies. They asked us about the way, and as we had just come the way they were wanting information on, I could reply back. In spite of my efforts to explain it in French, they understood we were foreigners, so they quickly converted to English. One of the girls had welded two horizontal metal sticks to the supports of her rear luggage carrier. From the two additional metal sticks she had hung her cycle bags. She felt the luggage was better balanced this way, as the bags could hang lower, just as low as the front bags.

Along byroads we reached the city of St. Hilaire through the villages: Les Biards and Virey.

Tuesday, the 29th of July, appr. 35 km
Before we started from St. Hilaire we had to go to the tourist office to get information of the location of camping places farther away from the coast. We did not know that on that day we would just do a very short distance. First we were heading for the town of Mortain. We took byways north of the main road, and again I made a mistake, so that we were almost cycling in a circle. Kjartan got a flat tyre. One of the patches I had put on two days earlier had started to leak. I made a good repair and the tyre kept the air inside it.

The area around Mortain is hilly. In order to reach the town we had to climb a steep hill up from the river. In the heat it was very hard. On the top of the hill was a camping place situated right on the edge of a gorge. The site was very tempting, and Turid decided it: " I am not cycling any farther." We found Mortain very interesting. In the lime stone area the river had eroded a wild and beautiful gorge, nice for tourists to walk through and nice for climbers to practice their techniques on steep cliff walls and stacks. During the war the Germans took advantage of this wild terrain, and at Mortain they tried to make a break through the allied lines after the D-day of July 1944.

Wednesday the 30th of July, appr. 75 km
This day was not as hot as the day before. In the morning it waseven misty, and the weather made cycling a pleasure. I tried to keep our cycle route on a level, and I avoided, if I could, taking roads which crossed rivers because that would mean going downhill into a valley and then going uphill again. We crossed into the département Orne. We passed the town of Tinchebray. Farther to the east we took road N 811. In spite of route nationale there was not much traffic on this road. On this road we could easily put the kilometres behind us, as it was going slowly downhill. We branched off to the left, and at La Londe we crossed into département Calvados. The landscape became more hilly, and in order to attract tourists the area is called La Suisse Normande. We were heading towards a camping site at Clecy on the river Orne. In this hilly scenery we rolled without pedalling for at least 3 kilometres down into the valley where the river Orne flows. Just on arriving at the camping site, Kjartan got a flat tyre. It was the same tyre which had been bothering us for the last couple of days. It was time to buy a new tyre. At Clecy there was no cycle shop, and at the camping I made some efforts to repair the tyre. Each time it was flat after half an hour.The next town with cycle shop would be in Thury-Harcourt, some 20 km downstream along the river Orne. I hoped we would reach the town in spite of some pumping of Kjartan's front wheel.

Thursday the 31st of July, appr. 60 km
The first thing I did this morning was to check the air of Kjartans front wheel. It was nearly empty. I pumped it again just before we started for Thury-Harcourt. We tried to keep to the banks of the river Orne. Just north of Saint Remy we crossed the river to the left bank in order to avoid N 162 where there was much traffic. I constantly kept asking Kjartan how things were going with his front wheel. Each time he replied everything was all right and the air stayed inside the tube.

In Thury-Harcourt we had some trouble in finding a correct inner tube because Kjartan's bike is equipped with larger valves than what is standard in France. We realized we would have to do with a narrower valve. It would have been impossible with it the other way around, if the new valve had been larger than the opening in the rim. Because the air seemed to stay well inside Kjartan's old tube, we would have to cycle on and keep the new tube for reserve. Kjartan's old tube remained good for the rest of the tour, and we did not have to replace it with the new one. The fact that we did not have the really hot weather any more might be one explanation. Hot, humid weather have a tendency of dissolving old glue.

We could continue towards Caen. Unfortunately there was no road in the river valley and along the river Orne. Just after leaving Thury-Harcourt we deviated from N162 to the left and took minor roads without signposts. From our road we had a view over the landscape, and the river valley was clearly visible. In the river valley lay a disused railway line (Caen-Flers). What an attraction touristique it would have been if the railway bed had been converted to a cycle way along the river Orne, through a quiet valley.

At Pont du Coudray we crossed the river and the railway, and we cycled not so far away from the river into Caen. We found the camping site close to the river and just on the edge of built- up area of Caen.

Friday the 1st of August, appr. 10 km within Caen
In Caen we stayed for two nights. We spent some hours at a laundry and we looked at the sights of the city. The town had been badly bombed during the war, and the centre had a rather modern structure with wide streets and fast traffic. We visited the castle where once William the Conqueror had lived and we visited the two churches St. Nicholas and St. Pierre. They represented the two styles of Romanesque and Gothic.

Saturday the 2nd of August, appr. 40 km
By minor roads we cycled on to Bayeux. When we entered the town, we asked where the centre of the town was and we asked where the famous carpet of Bayeux was exhibited. I came into an embarrassing situation because I did not know what a carpet is called in French. Fortunately the person I was asking understood the English word. The carpet is like a comic series. In a series of pictures the whole story of William the Conqueror is described. To each picture there is a short text in Latin. As we all know, William had a successful invasion of England in the year 1066. I should be consequent: His name is in French; Guilleaum le Conquérant

Other attractions of this town is a running water mill and the gothic cathedral, which was not devastated during the last invasion (not that one just mentioned from 1066). Bayeux even had a large museum of the second World War. The invasion of 1944 took place along the coast of Nomandie, and Bayeux had its share of the military activity. The museum has a large collection of weapons, uniforms, vehicles and other equipment from World War II. War films were shown, but we did not appreciate those films so much, because they tended to be too nice. The film scenes had normally been shot when the war shooting was over, and the film gave the impression that the invasion was a parade where the German soldiers were surrendering. A German soldier was crying. Was it because his country was about to lose the war, we did not believe that; more likely he was crying with relief that he had survived.

Sunday, the 3rd of August, appr. 50 km
After a night at a crowded camping place at Bayeux we cycled towards the coast. At Vierville there was a large American cemetery. For each missing American soldier whose body had not been found, a cross had been erected. There were crosses over a large area, and it made a deep impression on us as we were walking along the crosses of so many who gave their lives.

Our cycle tour took us farther along the coast. At Pointe du Hoc. Memories from the war were physically present in German bunkers. This location does not have a flat beach. From the German position there was a steep precipice into the sea. At the invasion of 1944 American soldiers had climbed that cliff wall, because it was vital that the guns were made inactive. The Americans were slaughtered at this place. When they finally managed to conquer the gun position, it turned out that the guns had been withdrawn. When we read about the role of Pointe du Hoc during World War II we were deeply shocked. War means suffering and death.

Monday the 4th of August, appr. 70 km
The last night we had stayed at the camping site at Isigny. Towards Carentan we partly used the highway N13, but that was all right because a new motorway had been built, hence the traffic on the main road was tolerable. At Carentan there was market day where everything from clothes to living ducks were sold. Because of the market activity there were many people in the town and much traffic about. We spent some time looking at the gothic cathedral. Because of the crowded conditions in the town, we contiued without buying food for lunch. We did not find any shops along the road, as we had hoped. We had to increase our speed in order to reach the next larger village where there might be a shop, and we had to reach it before the shops were closed for lunch break. In St. Marie du Mont we could buy our supplies. We had a nice meal at a picnic place along road D329.

After lunch and after two more kilometres we were at Utah beach. A museum with an exhibition had been erected (I believe at the anniversary in 1994). The exhibition was less abundant than the exhibition in Bayeux, but at Utah beach we were right in situ of the very invasion. A farther distance along the beach we came to the place where the first French general had made his landing in 1944. While we were cycling on along the coast I allowed to make a joke with Kjartan, "The Germans should have guessed that the Americans would land and go ashore at Utah beach because that name would be so familiar to the Americans." Kjartan did not reply back because he thought what his dad said was so stupid.

Our camping place that evening was at Quettehou, along the coast north of Utah beach. At the entrance of the camp site there was placed a sign: "Interdit aux nomades". Turid made the remark that after 3-4 weeks of cycling around and sleeping in tents, we were real nomads. Well, we did not have any trouble in being accepted at the camp site.

Tuesday the 5th of August, appr. 40 km
Today our cycles would take us back to Cherbourg from where we had started our cycle tour in France, 3 weeks ago. First we cycled to the north along the coast through St. Vaast, Réville and Crasvillerie, from there we headed westwards along the river Saire. That was a nice scenery with moderate ascents of the road, just ideal for cycling. The weather was cloudy this day with a bit of rain, not much and the temperature was so that we felt comfortable.

What comes up must come down. The camping place at Cherbourg is situated at the coast to the east of the town, so after the gentle climbing along the river Saire we had to go very steeply downhill to reach the camping place. We passed through Tourlaville, a suburb of Cherbourg. From a map at a bus stop we planned our route to the camping place, we even tried to remember the names of the streets we were to take. One of our streets turned out to be a one way street against our direction. That is typical of the situation in French towns. One way streets have been introduced in order to help motor traffic. Whether it is useful for cyclists, they don't mind. If the French are just as fanatic about their one way streets as our Norwegian road authorities are, we could have got a rather high fine in Tourlaville as we were violating the one way street. Frankly speaking, I don't see the point in excluding cyclists from using a one way street in both directions as long as there is enough room for a car and a cyclist to pass each other.

Wednesday the 6th of August, appr. 15 km
This was our last day in France. We intended to spend the day in Cherbourg and sail back to England in the afternoon. In the morning the weather was not so good, and we did not enjoy our short cycle ride eastwards along the coast from the camping place. There was some rain and because of mist we did not have any good view of the sea. Therefore we turned back to Cherbourg.

At the landing place for the ferry we met an Englishman who had been cycling since May, and he was now on his way back home. He had been in Marocco, and he had cycled all the way. It had been a great advantage to start as early as May when temperatures were not so high. He could be away for so long time because he was unemployed, and he avoided staying at camp sites in order to keep his travelling expenses low. His money came from searching beaches with a metal detector. He got enough revenues this way, he said.

The ship sailed at 18.00, and the crossing to Portsmouth took 4 hours. At ten we would be in Portsmouth, and it would be dark. In Britain it would not be ten, but nine o'clock, but the sun's position does not change if the official time is changed, so in spite of 9 o'clock in Portsmouth it would already be dark. What would it be like to cycle through Portsmouth with no light on our bicycles?

In Portsmouth we knew our way to the camp site, and we reached it with no problems although we were violating the laws by cycling with no light.

Thursday the 7th of August, appr. 40 km
Our way out of Portsmouth was to cycle from the camp site to the south, to a point from where we could take a cycle and pedestrian ferry over to Hayling island. In this way we avoided an area with much traffic north of Portsmouth. Until the 1960s Hayling island had a railway connection, and the railway track had now become a cycle way. In spite of a bit rough surface on it, it was good to cycle on. At the bridge from the island and to the mainland we had to use the road bridge. It was striking how much traffic there was on this road. The railway track continued at the end of the bridge, and by using the derelict railway we ended up on the main road A27 at Havant. This was the most rainy day we encountered on our whole tour, but the rain was not so hard as we know from our home on the Western coast of Norway

The traffic on A27 was tolerable because a parallel motorway took much of the traffic and on the A27 one meter on each side the surface had been marked as an area for cyclists. We did not actually enjoy cycling on the A27 and we were happy when we saw a blue sign pointing to the right: "South coast cycle route". For this area we did not have any good map, and we did not exactly know where the signs with South coast cycle route were taking us, but we knew the signs would eventually lead us to where we were heading, Chichester.

Chichester is a nice town with an impressive cathedral. The camp site is situated some kilometres outside the city centre. We were really shocked at the prices at this camp site. We payed GBP 16, over double standard price from France. In the evening a little colony of cyclists existed. During our cycle tour we never met so many cyclists at one camp site.

Friday the 8th of August, appr. 80 km
Today was the day of splitting up of our family and time for individual travelling. Turid refused to cycle back to Gatwick, or actually to Horley where we had made a reservation at a guest house. She did not like the traffic in Southern England. We knew from before going to England that trains in Southern England convey bicycles with no restrictions and even free. Before we left for London I had met an English cyclist in Bergen, Norway. The cyclist came from Portsmouth and he gave me this tip about trains in Southern England. This cyclist had just made a short landing in Bergen and would go by ship to the Faroe islands. Next day there was even an interview with him in a newspaper in Bergen. Thus I learnt that his name is Chris Hack. I am very interested in hearing what his cycle tour was like on the Faroe isles. If Chris Hack, or some one who knows him, should be reading this, please contact me. Well, let us return to our cycle tour in Southern England. Because of the traffic Turid and Kjartan decided to go by train to Horley, but I still wanted to cycle. At first Turid did not like the idea that I was not coming along with them because she was so afraid of the traffic and the huge round abouts at Gatwick, but she accepted the idea of my cycling when she understood that they could go by train all the way to Horley and avoid the traffic machines at Gatwick.

On this day there was no rain, the sun was shining, and I enjoyed pedalling alone at a speed I decided for myself along road A285 towards Petworth. From a sign post I read there were only 9 km to Petworth, but after after some new signs the amounts of kilometres were being reduced very slowly. I realized the numbers were in miles, so I had to do some 1.6 calculations. How could I make such a mistake? Was I doing more mistakes, was I still cycling on the right (that is left) side of the road? Uphill on the southern slopes of the South Downs I came on the same road as we had cycled on our tour towards Portsmouth three weeks ago.

At Petworth I could put the bad map of scale 1:253440 into my cycle bag. For the area farther to the east I had a much better map: Bartholomew Half-Inch contoured Great Britain sheet number 6. From Petworth I used country lanes, and I enjoyed cycling along those quiet roads, through the nice landscape, under the warming sun. From Petworth to Kidford and Loxwood, to Bucks Green. At the cross road at Ellen's Green I found a bench under a shading tree. It was time for lunch. On my way to Horley I had to cross a busy dual carriageway. Cyclists were warned that they should alight when crossing it. Again an example that road authorities can only think motor traffic. A cyclist will be kept for a longer time in the danger zone of the 2x2 traffic lines if he crosses the road on foot instead of cycling.

In Horley I cycled to the railway station to look for wife and son. When I got there they had just arrived. That does not mean that it is just as quick to cycle in Southern England as it is to go by train. Turid and Kjartan had spent some additional time in Chichester before they boarded a train to Gatwick and besides they had to change trains at Gatwick. Before our flight back home we had two more days. Turid and Kjartan wanted to go to London. Originally we had only calculated with one day in London, but as this day turned out to be a Sunday, Turid protested and Saturday with open shops was included in her London programme.

Saturday, the 9th of August, appr. 80 km
I did not want to go to London, I wanted to make a cycle tour in this garden-agricultural area of England. I wanted to visit Cyclists' Touring Club at Godalming. I knew I would be taking a chance, for probably the offices would be closed for the week-end. Anyhow I would have a nice cycle tour in the good weather. To the north-west of Horley I came to a hilly area, at Leith Hill. I had to do some very hard climbing on narrow roads in this wooden area.

At Godalming the CTC Headquarter was closed for the week-end, but the garden looked nice and I had lunch there. I prepared a meal on a table that had been donated to the Cyclists' Touring Club by the cycle veterans. From Godalming I cycled back to Horley without crossing the Leith Hills.

Sunday the 10th of August, appr. 50 km
For Turid and Kjartan this was another day in London. I cycled from Horley to the south, to Bluebell railway. I disliked the heavy traffic on the roads, but things got better when I got on the by-roads south of East Grinstead. Bluebell Railway is a museum railway on a railway line abandoned by the BR. When I arrived at Horstead Keynes station, I observed old British traffic signs, like the ones I knew from my first cycle tour in Britain 1963. The nostalgic feeling got even stronger within the railway station where steam trains arrived and left. I felt a bit disappointed that my request for storing my bike and luggage in a room at the station while I was travelling on the railway, was turned down. They said they had no room available. That I doubt very much. I had to lock my bicycle outside the station and took a return journey to Sheffield park.

Monday the 11th of August, appr. 20 km
Most of the kilometres cycled this day were made in Norway on the way from the airport. In the morning when we left the guest house in Horley, Turid and Kjartan wanted to avoid the heavy traffic at Gatwick and went by train. Both we, our luggage and our cycles arrived safely in Bergen, but my bicycle was a bit damaged during the handling at the airport. The red rear reflector had been broken. My speedometer had recorded a distance of 1440 km for our tour. I know this number is not correct because my speedometer stops counting if I am making a longer stop, and it is easy to forget to start it again. Besides, in strong sunshine the figures on the speedometer are made unreadable, and I often did not know whether the speedometer was counting the kilometres or not. You should not try to calculate the distances I have written for each day, those distances are just guesswork based on maps.

Terje Melheim