B2L – Delft to Hoek van Holland, Harwich to Great Bromley (Day 16)

Click here to see my progress so far: Auntie Helen’s Berlin To London ride

My cycle ride is featuring on the Help For Heroes website at the moment: Berlin to London on a recumbent trike

If you think what I’m doing is pretty cool, perhaps you might sponsor me to give me some encouragement and, more importantly, to help a really good cause. All sponsorship greatly appreciated! The link to my sponsor page is here: Auntie Helen’s sponsorship page

Saturday 12 May 2012

I really enjoyed my evening in Delft and the hotel in which I stayed was excellent.

Breakfast was good except the rolls weren’t very exciting. They had crepes in a warming pan thingy which I noticed when checking out what was available but then forgot about – a crepe would have been a lovely end to breakfast!

As I didn’t have far to ride this morning and my ferry didn’t sail till 14:30 I stayed in the hotel until ten in the morning, at which point I fetched Alfie, loaded him up with my panniers and set off. I added my German flag to Alfie this morning (Stefan helped me find it in Münster the other day):


My route was to be a distinctly un-direct one. The official LF4b cycle route goes through The Hague and then down the North Sea Coast cycle path. I’ve done the bit south of the Hook of Holland and it’s a really nice route so I fancied trying this other section. So rather than travelling south west from Delft to the Hook I started off going north-west to The Hague, then went west until I hit the cycle path. This probably added 10 miles to the journey but it was a nice, warm, sunny day and I had loads of time so it felt like a good plan.

I saw signs to the Hoek van Holland pretty early on:


I heard a brass band at one point and there they all were, apparently playing to the closed doors of a shop. Random!


I watched my mileometer click over 600 miles for the tour. This means I might just about make 700 miles in total by the time I’m in London – my original calculations, following the official cycle route the whole way, was nearer 800 miles, so I saved a lot of mileage by going my own way.

I arrived in The Hague, or at least its outskirts, and saw lots of tall buildings. I turned more west and soon found myself on the North Sea Cycle Route. Although this went right along the coast, it was about 50 metres inland and amongst a lot of sand dunes and the lay of the land meant that I didn’t actually see the sea the entire five miles that I cycled alongside it. It was only when I arrived at the Hook of Holland that I first saw the North Sea.

The route along the dunes was very nice with a decent road surface and lots of cyclists (mostly very fast roadies). I soon came to the village of Monster and decided to stop there for a cup of tea and piece of cake. Unfortunately cake seemed to be in rather short supply – the one bakery I found had nothing that inspired me and had no seating anyway, so I carried on. Fortunately I found a little café just off the cycle route which made me a cup of tea and I bought a little pastry (there was only a choice of apple or strawberry so hardly a comprehensive food offering, although it was tasty).


A friendly dog watched me eating and through doggy ESP managed to make me drop some crumbs.


I mentioned yesterday that James had reported something about bicycle signage being like mushrooms. Once I was on the North Sea Cycle Route I saw exactly what he meant – these signs appeared quite frequently.


Then once I got very near the Hoek van Holland I found signs to Harwich being surprisingly near!!


Only 2km, really? Why does the ferry take six hours to get there then?

I carried on, arriving at the Hoek van Holland at 12:30 which gave me two hours until the ferry sailed. I decided to buy some lunch at the supermarket and, once I had some crisps and bread and cookies, thought it was time to check in to the ferry (I had booked my passage last night).

The thing was, the main road to the ferry terminal was being dug up and resurfaced and I couldn’t seem to find my way to the ferry. I kept going round in circles, coming up against the barriers that blocked you from going on the old road. I asked a passer-by who said I needed to go right out to the big roundabout out of town, which I did, and then I saw some bike diversion signage. I followed these signs and then found they had disappeared where I had a choice of several ways to go and, of course, the route I chose took me to another impassable barrier.

I decided to give up being a bike and to pretend I was a car and followed the car route to Hoek van Holland Strand, where you could go around the end of the railway and end up the correct side of the line. It was easy to follow the railway line then along to the ferry terminal where I was able to check straight in and cycle onto the ferry, looking like a giant maw:



I parked Alfie behind a load of motorbikes.


And eventually we headed off for Blighty!


A day crossing on the ferry is a bit boring really as there’s not too much to do. I was able to watch the Giro D’Italia cycle race (although with Dutch commentary) for the first few hours.

After six hours or so we saw some familiar landmarks. Felixstowe:


Harwich Old Town


And here we are arriving at the berth in Parkestone Quay, into which we reversed:


And a view of some of the wind farm turbines being stored here


I went down to rejoin Alfie and had a closer look at a couple of motorcycles parked in front of me. Really interesting sidecars:



What was even more interesting was that the sidecars were for a trio of cocker spaniels!

Anyway, we were soon off the boat and I headed off to the A120 towards Colcheser.


I usually take the scenic route to Harwich along the National Cycle Route 51 or via Wrabness but I was keen to get home so rode all the way along the A120 which is fun with all the huge lorries whizzing past. The motorcycles with sidecars passed me after about five minutes and waved, as did a German car (presumably because of my German flag). I did get beeped by several cars though, presumably expressing the thought that I shouldn’t be on the A120; that was more car interaction than I’d had in two weeks in Germany and Holland!

It was a lovely evening for a ride and I felt pleased when the water tower at Horsleycross Street came into view as it was only five miles to home from there.


James my husband came to meet me a few miles from home (he was on his bike of course) and then we cycled together back home. My next door neighbours were there to welcome me and took some photos – and Lesley had baked me a cake! I was beginning to be a bit concerned I would suffer withdrawal symptoms from cake so this will keep me going for a few days!

Tomorrow is the final, final push to London.

Statistics for today:

Distance travelled: 36.78 miles
Moving time: 3 hours 53 minutes 33 seconds
Maximum speed: 20.7 mph
Average speed: 9.4 mph
Average heart rate: 116
Maximum heart rate: 175
Calorie burn: 1,378 calories




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