Winter Cycling in Morocco

You don’t need to know this but this is my second attempt to write this post. The first one ended tragically. Staying in the laid-back seaside town of Essouria at the end of a wonderful Moroccan cycling trip I decided to walk across the little stream at the end of resorts huge and very beautiful beach. I’d already done this a couple of days before only to discover halfway across that a stream that barely features when the tide is out is a different proposition when it’s not. Carefully protecting my camera as the water rose above my waist I completely forgot that my phone, containing the first version of this blog, was in my back pocket.  The phone, of course, was a dead as a dodo and although for days afterwards I was convinced that it would somehow forgive me for my memory lapse and return to life, it never did.

The death of my phone and turned out to be the only serious hitch in what was otherwise a brilliant trip. This is our fifth midwinter cycling getaway, second with Skedaddle, but the first which hasn’t involved travelling to the other side of the world.  We were keen to visit Morocco not least because we wanted to find out whether this was a place where we could enjoy winter sun on a more regular basis.

A Jersey Circular

The island of Jersey, just off the coast of France but very British, is not everyone's idea of a walking destination .... but trust me it works. It's especially good if you stay in your own hilltop tower.

If I'm honest it was the tower rather than the island that triggered the trip. We've been looking at Landmark Trust properties for years but have never taken the plunge. The Trust's mission is to preserve threatened historic properties by turning them into holiday accommodation. They have been at it for more than 50 years, and now have a portfolio of really quirky places to stay, one of which is Nicole Tower.
Nicole Tower

Cuckmere Haven to Lewis.

If you've spent the best part of 45 minutes on a bus from Brighton to Cuckmere Haven (the 13X is the fastest one) then most likely you'll want to follow the crowds and head south to the Seven Sisters. Stunning though that walking is, heading north presents a completely different and in many walks more interesting alternative. The walk described below is Sussex walking at its very best.  Head up the Cuckmere Valley, go through Alfriston and turn west going either high or low to Charleston, walk through the Firle Park and onto to Glynde before climbing over Mount Caburn to Lewis to finish with a well-deserved beer in the pub - a great day out.
Heading north up the Cuckmere Valley

The Ultimate Fann Mountains Trek

In September 2017 we went with KE Adventure Travel on a trek to Tajikistan's Fann Mountains, a trip which included a visit to Samarkand in Uzbekistan. It was a good trip: beautiful scenery and remote mountain walking shared with a nice group of people; but it did have some serious problems.

Tajikistan is in the middle of central Asia, remote and landlocked. It sits north of Afghanistan, east of Uzbekistan, south of Kyrgyzstan and west of China. The Fann Mountains, part of the huge Pamirs range, are north of the capital Dushambe.
On a pass in the Fann Mountains

A Dutchman on the GR1

It seems a long time ago since I walked the GR1 so it's lovely to have my memories refreshed by someone who has made the trip recently.  Ed from Holland, with his partner, walked it earlier this year and had a great time.  He forms part of a growing band of intrepid walkers who have both completed the whole of the GR1 in one go and walked from east to west.  My guide goes from west to east but Ed still seems to have found it useful.

My Bike - a Reilly Gradient

If you follow my blog you might have noticed that the beautiful black Genesis Croix de Fers have gone. Christine and I have both splashed out big time, upgraded and are now in possession of a pair of Reilly Gradient titanium bikes.

The Croix de Fers were beautiful but for some reason, they weren't that comfortable. No matter what we did, the bikes always felt a bit long. This was a big issue for Christine in particular as her bike gave her back pains. Fitted with Schwalbe Marathon plus tyres, which we use when we're touring, they were also heavy, a problem for us because we have to cart the bikes up and down several flights of stairs to our flat.

Despite these shortcomings we were fond of our bikes. The Croix de Fers have taken us across France twice and it felt disloyal even to think about getting something else. Still the longer we put it off the less use we were going to make of any replacements (we are getting pretty ancient). I then met Mark Reilly, a Brighton based bike designer with 25 years experience and within minutes had placed an order for his latest bike, the Gradient.

Out with the old

Eurovelo 1 Portugal

I think I've mentioned it before but I find maps showing long routes crossing continents particularly attractive.  I've got a map showing all the Eurovelo routes and its constantly triggering ideas for the next cycling adventure.  You do have to be careful though - not only are these routes massive - they often don't exist.

If you go to the Eurovelo website you'll find all the Eurovelo routes are graded according to progress towards full certification. Green routes have made it, yellow routes are nearly there and are supposed to have signs, and there are three levels of red, from planning through to developed. After cycling Eurovelo 1, which is graded yellow, from Porto all the way down the Atlantic coast and through the Algarve to the Spanish border, I've learnt that the designation has to be treated with a pinch of salt.
The team