Thursday, June 16, 2011

Leaving London for the Southwest

[we've had a few issues with our UK Vodafail mobile broadband coverage in small towns, so there are a couple of posts in the pipeline - this is the first]

We had a nice mix of activities the day before we left London. On Saturday morning we walked via Primrose Hill (which has a great view over central London) to the famous markets at Camden Town and then back via Chalk Farm (where we were enticed into some last minute cycling purchases by the existence of two bike shops).

In the afternoon we rode alongside canals near Little Venice, between Paddington and Maida Vale (another nice residential area where Greg lived for 18 months in the early 90s) and returned via the busy local shopping area of West Hampstead.

After an early start on Sunday we reached Paddington Station 45 minutes before our train departed for Penzance, but as the platform number was announced only 10 minutes prior to leaving we had to hurry to the front of the long train to load our bikes in the compartment behind the engine, before collapsing into our reserved seats.

While it rained virtually the entire time during the 5.5 hour journey, we could still see the attractive countryside and coastline along the way. The hills we witnessed in Devon and Cornwall left us in no doubt about how strenuous the first few days of our ride would be.

The weather cleared on Monday for our day in Penzance. We we rode for about 25km visiting the pretty harbour at Mousehole and the castle on a small hill island off the coast at Marazion - St Michael's Mount, Cornwall's answer to Le Mont St Michel.

We were lucky enough to time our visit at low tide, so we rode the bikes most of the way out to the island on hard sand, then walked them back over the causeway as the tide was coming in. We enjoyed Cornish cream tea while watching the tide completely cover the causeway; visitors were then ferried to and from the island by boats.

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