After getting slightly worried studying the weather forecasts for the last couple of weeks, Brittany was kind enough to give us a pretty much perfect day. A little chilly in the shade, but at times hot enough to be taxing and slow the pace.
The overnight crossing from Plymouth to Roscoff was good, only a very moderate swell which made urinating and showering (no – not at the same time) tricky enough to keep your wits about you, but so as not to make eating or sleeping difficult. Jones and I made sure the limited amount of time for sleep was quality by polishing off the 5 litres of Cotleigh Seahawk that he’d been kind enough to bring along. We only got about 5 hours sleep as it’s a short crossing, being woken by the ships wake up alarm, which confused me as it didn’t sound like my alarm clock. And was loud enough to wake the dead. Fortunately it was pleasing tune.
Apologies for the disjointed route maps, but the technology failed mid-afternoon, and I had to start it as another trip. If you click the link for the full map, you’ll be able to see the pictures as well as the route.
The day started with me having to tighten up the seat screw which had mysteriously come loose. Odd given that I’d purposely done it tight a couple of weeks ago, and it was not loose whilst boarding. The crew having a laugh perhaps? We then went to the harbour in Roscoff for a coffee and for Jones to have breakfast, as he’d not been as quick out of the bed as I, who had time for a full English.
A lovely ride along the coast towards Morlaix, looking out over the bay. I’d not considered what this part of France looked like, and the coastline in particular here is just lovely. We then had a bi of an expedition in Morlaix to find the start of the Vois Vertes, or green routes, which would take us across Brittany. This section was based on a disused railway line, and the starting point was in the middle of a housing estate. Trying to read the roads and relate them to the GPS maps was no easy. Can someone tell me why satnav providers on iOS never put a scale on the map – there is no way to tell if you’ve got to cycle 100 yards or 1 mile!
Anyway, after about 30 minutes of pissing about, we finally got under way, along a lovely smooth gravel track line with trees. Which was a shame, as the sun was out an the warmth appreciated. This went on for 20 miles, along a constant uphill gradient that with the luggage was slightly less than exhilarating. I’d forgotten the trains sometimes go up and down hills, and there are lots of hills in this area. Still, the track was preferable to the road alternative!
We didn’t really see much of the countryside, and the track was well away from civilisation, so whilst green and peaceful not much to see apart from the old station buildings every 2-3 miles, preserved as if in aspic. Eventually, just before Carhaix, we found a small town and looked for a lunch stop. We found a cafe, not very exciting, and a hotel/restaurant which were happy to do Plat du Jour at almost closing time. And what a festival it was! For €11, we got 5 courses, and best part of a bottle of wine (although I think we should have been charged, it appeared to be included). Charcuterie, Warm Salad with Chicken Livers, Roast Chicken with Saffron Rice, Cheese Board, Fruit Salad and Coffee. Tres Bon!
The second part of the day was then along a canal path, so in theory flat, but again not, with lock after lock. We must have passed 20-30 of them over the next 25 miles. But again a very pretty route, just the canal, green trees and those locks to keep us company. There were very few other cyclists or pedestrians at any point during the day, so it was like having France to yourself for the day. At the start of the canals I spotted the source of Jones brake rub – his rear wheel was out of line, an on closer inspection several of the spokes were loose. As we left Roscoff this morning, we started to take a very rough cycle track and thought better of it, and possibly this with the extra touring weight was enough to kink the wheel. Anyway, Jones set to the spokes whilst I refuelled and enjoyed a quick 10 minute sunbathe, and all was sorted and on our way again. Remind me to remind Mr Jones next time that he needs to do some bike maintenance before the next trip, and wash out his water bottles a little more frequently than from one tour to the next.
We then steered off the route to try and find accommodation for the night, and onto the roads. The hills then made their presence known, although not unreasonably so, but the first two towns had little to offer. We then opted to dash 5 miles to the next, larger, town in hope of more choice. This was fine apart from following the road signs for the town took us onto an N-class road (A-road in the UK), which was unpleasant to say the least after the rest of the day. Only cut up once though, and then by another Brit. But I was thoughtful enough to give him the one finger salute for the sake of patriotism.
Finally we arrived, found a simple but effective hotel for on €38 for a twin room, got cleaned up and headed into town. Getting late by this point, around 8:30 and so some eateries starting to close, and wound up in a Moules/Crepes place. Moules Frites Paysanne (bacon & mushrooms), followed by Cafe Leigois, coffee and a couple of beers to keep it all company. Just the ticket!
Now looking forward to another fine day tomorrow. chin-chin!