Terje Melheim

This cycle tour was made by a Norwegian family in summer 1997. Kjartan (14) accompanied his parents. Mother Turid and Father Terje
 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.
 

 Tuesday the 15th of July, app. 50 km.

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.Through the village of
                          Amberley 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 bicycle. 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 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.Toilet tent at
                          Slindon camp site 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 acquired Hong Kong, so they have come to take the rest."
 
 
 

 Wednesday, the 16 of July. 30 km

This day we reached Portsmouth where, unusually enough i Britain, we were offered  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 sail ship Victory and steamship Warrior. 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.
 

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 sail ship Victory was quite impressive as she lay exhibited in a dock. The glorious age of sail ship 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 Warrior was from the last century. On board 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 sail ship 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 is exhibited, and it is constantly being treated with chemicals in order to be preserved for the future.
 

 Friday the 18th of July, app.. 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.
Our cycle tour in Britain and
                Brittany
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 passengers 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.
 

 Saturday the 19th of July, app. 80 km

We awoke to another nice day, and from Le Ruzel we tried to follow the coast on minor road. On my old Michelin map we could easily find roads on which we could avoid  menacing traffic. 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.
 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 a  new main road close to a picnic area. Kjartan exclaimed, "Here we can eat." That was a place where people normally would eat and he could eat without drawing too much attention from other people.
 In the evening we pitched our tent at a camping place near Blainville sur Mer.
 

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.

Next day we arrived  in Granville and 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 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 harbour 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 50 cm 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.  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.  We cycled into the labyrinth of minor roads of rural France. 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 tried to  to stick another patch to the 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 to buy a new inner tube. 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 of 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 foundations 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.

 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.
 

 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 En
                          route vers Rennesand 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.
 

 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 timber framed 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. In French such houses are called maisons à colombage, in German they are called Fachwerkhäuser.

Maisons à colombage
                  en RennesWe then cycled to the west. We were aiming at a camping place close to Iffendic, at lake Étang de Tremlin.
 

 Friday, the 25th of July, App. 80 km

Today's route led us northwards through the villages of 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 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.
 

 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. From Dinan we cycled down to the river Rance. This place is called Port de Dinan. The boats there were sailing boats and motorboats for leisure. When we came Dinancycling 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 unvoluntarily 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. 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.

This famous tourist town of St. Malo 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. 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 compromise 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, 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 fantastic view of the sea and Mont st. Michel. Unfortunately 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 motor 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 occurred 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.

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.  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 was even 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. 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.

Terje en route to CaenWe 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.
 

 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, the town of the famous carpet. 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; Guilleaume le Conquérant

Our cycle tour in Britain
                  and BrittanyOther 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 Normandie, 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. The crowded conditions of the town, made us continue 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.  We passed through Tourlaville, a suburb of Cherbourg. From a map at a bus stop we planned our route to the camping place.  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. 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.  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 one metre on each side of the A 27 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. 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 thus avoiding  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.  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.
 

 Saturday, the 9th of August, appr. 80 km

Turid and Kjartan wanted to spend this day in London whereas I preferred  to make a cycle tour in this garden-agricultural area of England.
 

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 rather 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.
 

Monday the 11th of August, appr. 20 km

 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 to the airport. I found my way through the round abouts at Gatwick and after the flight we all arrived safely  back home.
 
 



 
 
 
 

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