One day I will set off on some grand human-powered adventure across this beautiful country; high on my list would be walking the Peninne Way, the Scottish Munros, the south-west coast path, or the coast to coast. Ideally, I’d have no restrictions on my time so I could meander at a leisurely pace, soaking up the scenery, getting to know places I passed through, and sitting out the inevitable filthy-weather days in some cosy B&B or cafe.
Until recently I’ve never really thought much about making a long journey by bike though, my daydreams and map-gazing sessions always seem focussed on footpaths rather than roads.
But this week, I spent a few days in Herefordshire with my mum and dad; they’d brought their teeny-tiny camper van up from the south coast, and I lugged my (significantly roomier) tent down from the north west. We had 4 days of relaxed pottering around the campsite, a bit of sunshine and some ambles in beautiful countryside. On the third evening, a chap on a mountain bike slowly pedalled past our van, and from his surprisingly small panniers emerged a tent, sleeping bag and stove. He seemed a picture of contentment as he pitched the tent across the field from us and promptly stuck the kettle on for what must’ve been a very welcome brew. He disappeared for the evening (presumably to the pub), but I spotted him again later that night outside his tent – like me he seemed to be savouring the quiet, star-speckled night far away from the noise of the city. By the time I crawled out of my tent the next morning at a rather holiday-ish late hour, he had packed up and gone.
I wish I’d had the nerve to go and chat with him, I’d love to know where he’d come from and where he was going – was he just out for a quick blast of weekend fresh-air or perhaps this was one of many stops on a many-weeks-long odyssey?
It’s got me thinking, and I’m getting increasingly keen on the idea of a bike-packing trip later this summer, maybe just a night out in the Peak District? A full time job means that the epic round-Britain-trek may have to wait a bit, but there’s no reason not to make the most of a weekend is there?
Then maybe I’ll have a go at this – I may be an adopted Northerner now, but there will always be a huge soft spot in my heart for the south west 🙂
(That’s my mum and dad, on the Malvern Hills btw….)