Exactly a year ago today, I went on a brilliant adventure with a group of friends (aka Bike Gang). I part wrote a blog post and by the time I got around to finishing it, the spontaneity was lost, so I decided that I’d schedule it for a year on from the event, so here it is…
Ferry 1: Southampton to Hythe
Our days started fairly early, when we met at Town Quay to catch our first ferry to Hythe.
We had to buy our tickets from machines and had just enough time to buy some drinks before the ferry arrived.
It wasn’t long before the ferry arrived. I was surprised by how small it was and was glad that there weren’t many other passengers as our bikes took up quite a lot of room!
As you can see, it was my last big adventure on my work/commuting bike. The others all had road bikes (although Liz had a pannier, because she needed somewhere to store her sandwiches!) My double panniers and hybrid bike meant that I had the heaviest bike to ride.
It was a short and smooth crossing, and we were pleased that the sun was shining brightly.
Once we got off the ferry, we had a short ride from Hythe to Lymington. It wasn’t long before there was a split in the group – Stu, Suzanne, Emily and Piers were at the front of the group, whereas Katherine, Liz and I were lagging behind slightly. We came to a fork in the road and weren’t sure where to go. Unfortunately, we realised that the speedy cyclists had gone the wrong way and were on the other side of a level crossing where the barriers were down. Katherine set off to track down the others, giving Liz and I enough time to pose for some selfies!
Ferry 2: Lymington to Yarmouth
We regrouped at the ferry terminal and had a quick snack after we bought our tickets. Some kind German tourists took a group photo for us.
It was a beautifully warm day, so we enjoyed sitting out on deck and enjoying the sun. Liz finished off her luncheon and we all looked longingly at Lymington lido, which looked glorious in the sunshine.
When we arrived in Yarmouth, we had the main bike ride of the day ahead of us (about 20k). It was getting hot and I realised that I definitely had a disadvantage with my heavy bike as there seemed to be lots of hills and we never seemed to go down any of them!
In Cowes, we decided that it was time to refuel for lunch. I decided to go for a light salad and was relieved when I saw the size of everyone else’s portions. Emily had a cheese ploughmans with two pieces of bread and enough cheese to feed a whole family for a week!!!
It took a while for us to finish our food and digest it enough to get going again.
Ferry 3: West Cowes to East Cowes
It was then a short cycle to the chain ferry, so that we could get to the other side of Cowes. It took a while for the ferry to arrive and even I thought I might be able to swim to the other side faster than it took the ferry to get there… but the water was dirty and I can’t swim with my bike!
When the ferry arrived, we had to sit inside, which was a little stinky and warm, but we knew we’d only be on the ferry for a few minutes.
When we left the ferry, it was a short (8-10k) ride to Fishbourne, where we had a short wait for the ferry to Portsmouth, so we decided to relax in the shade for a while. (A ferry was just leaving as we got there, but we weren’t quite fast enough to get on it and didn’t feel that we were in a hurry as we were having such a fun time).
Ferry 4: Fishbourne to Portsmouth
Finally, we were on the fourth ferry of our adventure.
We enjoyed sitting on the top deck of the ferry and feeling the breeze.
Ferry 5: Portsmouth to Gosport
After we left Gosport, we had another 20k ride to get to Warsash. It was a beautifully warm day and the sea looked so inviting that most people went in for a swim… I didn’t want to have to ride my bike with wet shorts on, so I just paddled. Katherine loved it and didn’t want to leave the water… you can only see her feet in the picture below.
Ferry 6: Warsash to Hamble
We realised that we were cutting it rather fine to make it to the last ferry at Hamble as it was scheduled to leave at 6pm. We sent the fastest cyclists ahead, whilst Liz and I did our best at the back. Fortunately, Suzanne and Piers made it on time and we found that there were a few other people who also wanted to catch a ferry, so the boatman agreed that he would make an extra journey to be able to transport all of us across. This gave us some time to be able to take some photos of the cute waiting room.
It was difficult to squeeze all of us and our bikes onto the ferry, but the boatman managed it.
It felt quite sad when we finally got off the ferry in Hamble as it seemed as though our adventure was over.
Fortunately, we had one last opportunity for a group photo, with Dani King’s gold post box. (Dani King is a cyclist who won a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics).
If you’re ever in this area and have a day that you can spend with your bike, I’d strongly recommend trying this route. It was great fun and even with all of the ferries it only cost about £25.