Quite hilly, Somerset! Climbing over the Black downs is vaguely reminiscent of the Yorkshire Wolds: not one high hill, but the ups and downs in between are enough to get the heart pumping. And what better to pump than last night’s still unmetabolised wine and whisky?
Next day, leaving Britain – the ferry trip sandwiched between two nights on campsites, easing the anxieties of making transport connections. We leave Weymouth in thick mist, but call at Guernsey and Jersey in glorious sunshine. Yes, we might just stay ahead of Autumn. St Malo’s municipal campsite’s conveniently right in the heart of the historic city centre.
Filled with optimism we head south. About 3 kms but a couple of hours later we are still trapped in the city, stuck on a fast outer ring road, along with a couple of French cyclists, perhaps in their late fifties, displaying similar combinations of irritation and terror. I’m sort of glad it isn’t just us struggling with urban cycle-route signage, and that this ill isn’t solely the UK’s shame amongst the wealthier European nations.
Anyhow, finally we escape, and that evening begin a week of wild camping in beautiful woodland. Red squirrels chase in helical routes round mature pines, and morning sunbeams perforate tree-lined aisles.
Then east, roughly up the Loire…
… plus (sometimes accidental) diversions to other crazily magnificent towns (this time it’s dodgy rural velo-route signage).
It’s been a week in France, and despite some very successful camp meals (duck cous-cous, plentiful horns (wild mushrooms) of chicken risotto, and pork galatine tomato stew) cooked in our beloved copper pot…
… we and/including our bodies are ready for a rest, a shower, a campsite and a touch of more touristy tourism. York’s Roman walls partly survive in the medieval defences but Bourges’ are incorporated into an extraordinary hodge-podge of buildings, the city having just grown straight through the old empire’s fortifications.
Next, east to Lake Geneva and the Alps – still a fair way off: quite wide, France!