NORMANDY - Portsmouth to Pegasus - 'OK, Let's Go!':
TUSCANY - The Tuscan Miracle:
THE ATLANTIC OCEAN TO THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA - Lex Deux Mers:
WORLD WAR ONE - ONE HUNDRED YEARS ON - In Flanders Fields and The Valley of The Somme:
Many of our itineraries are bespoke and therefore not published but to view our regular itineraries please scroll down. If you are interested in a bespoke itinerary anywhere in the world, please contact Nina on 00 44 208 748 5669.
NORMANDY - Portsmouth to Pegasus - 'OK, Let's Go!'
The Beaches and Memorials of June 1944
Arguably one of the most historic and evocative journeys in peacetime Europe, this cycle ride combines the elements of peaceful beauty with a powerful D-Day thread. The route from Cherbourg to Caen visits the major battlefield sites, and culminates at Pegasus Bridge, the first D-Day objective captured by allied gliderborne troops.
While this hushed fastness now echoes to glorious birdsong, in June 1944 it bore witness to the epic armada of D-Day, the start of a fierce and bloody campaign to release
- CCJ Independent
- Date: to suit client
- Price: on application
- Group size: 10 - 12
- To include:
- ferry crossings
- hotels b & b
- champagne aperitifs
- 3 x dinners
- 4 x lunches incl. wine
- morning coffees
- mineral water
- luggage transportation
- vehicle back-up
- guided route
- route notes
- route maps
- historical notes
- Duration: 4 days, 3 nights
- Total cycling distance: approx 121 miles
- Cycle rating: easy
Some quotes from past participants:
'It has been superb - emotionally, intellectually and physically.'
'To Nina-mamma and the team - thank you for the most fabulous time and for looking after us so well. A memorable four days.'
'What an absolutely wonderful four days. Your organisation was amazing with so many terrific details - the route, the lunches, the balance between cycling and sight-seeing. We loved the whole experience. Thank you so much for all your hard work. I hope my CD of photos show what a congenial group you assembled and what fun we all hand'.
'As memorable as last year and even slicker an operation from start to finish.'
To Nina and crew - thank you for the most fantastic, exhilarating, poignant trip'.
'Thank you for arranging a truly magical trip to Normandy. Your attention to detail in the planning of the itinerary every step of the way was quite remarkable and in no small way contributed to a very special holiday for us all. My thanks also to your excellent crew who looked after me whilst cycling and who worked so hard on preparing our delicious picnic lunches and teas, not to mention the timely breaks for champagne and strawberries. If you ever decide to do another one of these, plesase put me at the top of your list.
'I was not sure what to expect from four days in the saddle, combined with our visiting such poignant and historic sites. All I can say is that it exceeded all expectations. I loved the cycling and was very moved by the various sites that we saw. It really was a time to reflect and be thankful for the freedom that we are able to enjoy. My thanks to you, and the rest of your team, for the excellent way you combined seamless organisation with a relaxed atmosphere. No mean feat with such a mix!!'
Portsmouth – Ste- Mère-Èglise
30 miles approx cycling
Portsmouth 8.30 am - Arrive Cherbourg 12.30 pm
We exit the
port of Cherbourg around midday and begin a steady climb through small hamlets and pretty countryside. After a late light lunch in a local brasserie we head south-east before arriving in Ste- Mère-Èglise, the objective for 82nd US Airborne troops and where you can see the model of Private John Steele US Paratrooper whose chute famously became entangled on the church spire (he pretended to be dead before being cut down). You will also have time to visit the Airborne Museum.
Dinner is a short walk away from our hotel in a typically French restaurant in the heart of the village.
L , D
Ste-Mère-Èglise - Colleville-sur-Mer (USA Cemetery)
37 miles approx cycling
We start this terrific days cycling at about 8.30 am. Today's ride is a wonderful mix of varied scenery and masses of historical interest. Our first visit is to the somewhat sombre, yet imposing German Cemetery at La Cambe.
From here we travel north to the newly discovered and exciting Maisy Battery before stopping for our picnic lunch. Our next stop takes us towards the dramatic coast and to Point du Hoc and then on to Omaha Beach (US objectives) before reaching our hotel at Colleville-sur-Mer.
Dinner tonight will be in a restaurant overlooking
B, L, D
Colleville-sur-Mer (USA Cemetery) to Arromanches
22 miles approx cycling
We begin the day by visiting the impressive
USA Cemetery before we enjoy a gentle and very pretty eleven mile ride to the outskirts of Bayeux where we shall visit The Commonwealth Graveyard (UK) and Musée de la Bataille de Normandie.
After this visit we cycle through the centre of this very pretty city, passing directly in front of its famous and magnificent Cathedral before arriving at our picnic lunch stop amidst fields of corn and distant views of the Cathedral spires.
This afternoon’s journey takes us through more tiny hamlets and glorious countryside before reaching the coast again at les Batteries at Longues-sur-Mer, and then on to the Mulberry Harbours at Arromanches.
Dinner tonight in a spectacularly located restaurant looking out towards the Mulberry Harbours.
B, L , D
Arromanches to Pegasus Bridge - Caen (Ouistreham)
32 miles approx cycling
We start with the sunrise today – around 7.30 am – for an exhilarating days cycling with a deadline to meet at the end. First we travel inland climbing gently until we discover the tiny and moving
Commonwealth Cemetery set amongst the cornfields at Ryes. From here we head towards Cruelly where General Montgomery set up his tactical HQ in the Chateau de Cruelly and where in June 1944 the BBC, US, Canadian and other allied radio stations took over the tower at Cruelly Castle to transmit a stream of bulletins to a world waiting for news of the invasion’s progress.
Now we cycle towards what is arguably a part of the most historic stretch of coastline in Europe from St-Aubin-sur-Mer to Hermanville-sur-Mer. Inland again for our final push towards Pegasus Bridge, stopping before we get there for a peep at the Commonwealth Graveyard at Hermanville and our last picnic lunch.
At Pegasus Bridge there will be time for you to visit the fascinating Pegasus Museum and walk on the original bridge which has become legendary as one of the most famous and daring episodes of the entire D-Day landing. From here it is a short, easy ride along the tarmac tow path to Ouistreham for the evening ferry home.
Depart Ouistreham 16.30 - Arrive Portsmouth 21.30
(End of Tour)
The following optional day, at the beginning of this journey, is geared specifically to those used to cycling long distances and who would like to challenge themselves!
The Park to Pegasus
Optional and extra Day
The Royal Star and Garter* (Richmond Park) to Portsmouth
85 miles approx cycling
*Home for severely disabled Servicemen
For anyone who is up for a very hard days cycling and who would like the feeling of having cycled from the Park (RSG) to Pegasus, this is being offered as an optional and extra day, guided, but without vehicle back-up and only suitable for those who are used to cycling long distances. The route has been devised to be as direct as possible and, therefore, whilst much of it is cross-country and very scenic once out of the environs of London, there will be some main roads and busy junctions to negotiate. Overnight accommodation can be arranged for you but this is not included in the price of the weekend. Those taking part in this day need to carry their overnight necessities with them. Luggage for the rest of the trip can be deposited to 57 Lonsdale Road beforehand and transported to Portsmouth in our vehicle.
This is a complex itinerary and may be subject to change - copyright of Celebrated Cycle Journeys
- 'The Longest Day' by Cornelius Ryan
- 'Pegasus Bridge' by Stephen Ambrose
- 'Band of Brothers' by Stephen Ambrose
- 'D Day' by Stephen Ambrose
- 'D Day - The Battle for Normandy' by Antony Beevor
TUSCANY - 'THE TUSCAN MIRACLE'
Birthplace of the Renaissance and the most civilised rural scene of earth!
A breathtaking contrast of ancient cities and spectacular countryside this cycle ride links Florence and Siena, two of the most famous Renaissance centres in the world, taking in the important and romantic hilltop towns of San Gimignano and Massa Marittima.
Tuscany is a charmed land, equally blessed by the genius of man and nature, and often by the combined efforts of both. Rows of baby green vines that manage somehow to march in arrow straight formation up the gently rolling hillside, bounded by single files of darker green cypress trees, and snaking sandy roads leading to rust coloured farmhouses and moss coated castles; fields of bright red poppies , an abundance of wild flowers and symetrically rounded hilltops crowned by ancient towns so tightly compacted as to seem one single building. Every inch of land has been sculpted , first by the elements and then by generations of inhabitants whose goals have always been twofold; make the land produce as much as possible, make the land as beautiful as possible. Tuscany enchants us today as it holds together as a region, from the tiniest hamlet to Florence the magnificent.
0900 – 1700
Florence to San Gimignano
47.5 kms/29.5 miles approx cycling
With an 0800 departure, we start the day with a 20 minute walk from our hotel to take a public bus to the outskirts of the city centre and from where we meet up with our bikes and begin our cycle. This way we avoid the current and ‘impossible to navigate’ on-going mayhem created by the installation of a massive new tram system in and around
Today is probably the toughest days cycling with lots of steep hills, both up and down but from the moment we leave Florence behind us we are in the midst of glorious Tuscan countryside with spectacular views, cycling through olive groves and vineyards and small rural villages.
After stopping for coffee in a local café (award winning Expresso specialists!)
With the worst of the hills behind us we head for the ancient very pretty walled, wine growing town of
After another three climbs (don’t quote me!) we will arrive at our hotel within the walls of San Gimignano hopefully in time for a wander in this famous hilltop town before dinner.
San Gimignano to Siena
44 km/28 miles approx cycling
We shall aim to leave San Gimignano after a lazy morning around noon. Another challenging ride, our route today takes us off the beaten track and sometimes off road. With the huge town walls behind us we begin a gentle descent on a mix of tarmac and gravel track before climbing steeply to our picnic lunch amidst the olive groves. From here it is down hill all the way to Poggibonsi from where the road climbs again up to the Convento S. Luchesse in Volponi and then undulates all the way to the outskirts of
Our hotel for the night is in the heart of
Lock up your bikes and have a ‘Free Day’!!
69 kms/42.7 miles approx cycling
An early start - 08.30ish - to tackle our longest days cycling. The scenery today is completely different with long flat open stretches of farmland and dense woodland at times more akin to The Alps than
Having negotiated an awkward exit from the city we begin the day with a long but very gentle climb for approx 7 kms to the
From here and for the remaining 30 kms the cycling is fast and exhilarating on a mainish road – but with little traffic – undulating with an overall gentle climb to our highest altitude of the trip at 635 mts above
This must be one of the best days cycling ever! Nearly all flat or downhill, (just a few undulations!) through breathtaking scenery and on excellent tarmac. We shall aim to get on our bikes at around 10.00 after a leisurely coffee in the town. Immediately, we descend into lush open farmland and wild fowl reserves – scattered along the way with olive groves and vineyards. After approx 22 kms we reach the tiny hamlet of
(End of Tour)
This is a complex itinerary and subject to change - copyright of Celebrated Cycle Journeys
THE ATLANTIC OCEAN TO THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA - 'LES DEUX MERS'
One of the greatest cycle rides and not to be missed!
Only for the cycle-fit, this sensational journey takes us from the long sandy beaches and white rolling surfs of the Atlantic to the blue sparkling waters of the Mediterranean, through the heart of the Bearn and Languedoc Regions of Southen France.
Mainly on back roads we cycle through pretty ancient Romanesque cities, towns and villages which are linked by a network of rivers and, amidst stunning mountain scenery, over two of the most famous Tour de France Category One cols in the majestic Haute Pyrenees. We then follow the path of the gently winding Canal du Midi before the vineyards and sunflower fields of the east mark our approach to the end of this memorable ride.
Undoubtedly a challenge for some, but this holiday is a 'must' for anyone who loves their bike, and very suitable to raise sponsorship against should one so wish.
- CCJ Independent
- Date: to suit client
- Price: on application
- Group size: 12 - 14
- To include:
- bicycle hire
- bicycle transfers
- 9 x hotels b & b
- 6 x dinners
- 6 x picnic lunches
- drinking water whilst cycling
- luggage transportation
- vehicle back-up
- guided route
- route maps and notes
- city maps
- city notes
- entrance to Balnea Spa
- entrance to Labouiche Underground river
- Duration: 10 days, 9 nights
- Total cycling distance: approx 618 km/384 miles
- Cycle rating: challenging
Some quotes from past participants:
'I just wanted to thank you all so much for a brilliant trip. Nina and James your route planning was second to none and I loved the quirkiness of some of the hotels!Crew, you were amazing - Tonia I don't know how you produced such fantastic picnics from the back of a van and James your rose pouring was most professional ........The scenery was spectacular, particularly in the mountains - just wish I was back there......''I also just wanted to express my thanks for a most wonderful trip across France and thank you all for your fabulous company and companionship. It was a complete de stress and much needed. There is just nothing like 9 days of laughter to cleanse the soul'.'How do you start on a letter which needs to encompass so much over the past nine days?!The whole success of the trip (and it certainly was a success!) was down to your combined meticulous planning, from hotels, fruit stops, routes, places of interest etc. etc.I know we were blessed with stunning weather, but there was nothing about the itinerary that wouldn't have worked if rain had featured heavily.Thank you for a truly memorable trip'.
'Simply, the most incredible cycle ride!'
'I just wanted to thank you for inviting me to join you on such trip. I had a wonderful time and very much enjoyed the scenery, the evening meals, the company and being part of something so special.......'
Day One Biarritz Bike Fitting: 16.00 - 17.00 hrs Overnight: Hotel
Day Two Biarritz to Oloron-Ste-Marie 113 km/70 miles approx cycling Elevation Gain: approx 3,829 ft Leaving the Atlantic Ocean behind us we begin this first long day exiting this elegant seaside town at daybreak before the morning rush hour. After approx 11 miles/18 km and through the busy area of Bayonne our route becomes more rural. Some fantastic cycling brings us into the heart of the Bearn region. We continue on this scenic route passing through many villages, to our overnight stop in Oloron-Ste-Marie. Overnight Hotel: B,L,D
Oloron-Ste-Marie to Tarbes
73 km/45 miles approx cycling
Elevation Gain: approx 3,541 ft
Today is a succession of undulations and hills, with some stretches of terrific cycling. Now on the northern fringes of the Pyrenees and entering the Languedoc region we head directly east and for the first 22 miles/35.5 km follow a part of Stage 17, Pau to Tourmalet, of the 2010 Tour de France (in reverse).
Avoiding the busy towns of Pau and Lourdes we cross the wide Gave de Pau and continue towards our first Category 3 climb which takes us to the panoramic views at the top of Cote de Benejacq. Our overnight stop is in the city of Tarbes, an important trading centre and the capital of the Bigorre region since the 9C.
Tarbes to Arreau
60 km/38 miles approx cycling
Arreau to Avajan
12 km/8 miles approx
Total Elevation Gain: approx 4,768 ft
This is a day of spectacular views and a very big climb! Leaving Tarbes we cycle south-east towards the little Spa town of Bagneres-de-Bigorre where the 2008 Tour de France finished the 9th Stage. With views of Tourmalet and Aspin on either side we cycle through the beautiful valley of the river of Ardour de Payolle. Now in the Haute Pyrenees, a gentle climb of approx 4.5 miles/7 km brings us to the beginning of the 8 mile/12 km ascent of Col d'Aspin, the first of two most important Tour de France cols included in this itinerary. An 8mile/ 12 km descent round hairpin bends and spectacular views brings us into Arreau which sits on the river Aure at the apex of three Pyrenean valleys, and which will be our base for the next couple of nights.
After a bar/restaurant lunch in this very old and picturesque town we cycle a further 8 miles/12 km to Avajan, a tiny Pyrenean village. Here we shall leave our bikes and you will be transferred to Balnea Spa where you can indulge in the luxuries of its wonderful waters........ A transfer back to Arreau and the prospect of a lie in tomorrow on your free day!
A free day to relax in this charming Pyrenean town, enjoy the spectacular scenery, take a walk into the Pyrenean wilderness, or perhaps indulge again in the luxury of the nearby Balnea Thermal Spa.
Avajan to St. Girons
113 km/70 miles approx cycling
Elevation Gain: approx 5,208 ft
We make an early transfer to Avajan from where we begin another tough day beginning with the ascent of Col de Peyresourde. Throughout the 6 mile/10 km climb you will have magnificent early morning views with the reward at the top of a unique cafe which is full of Tour de France memorabilia and 'serving the best crepes in the world!' This is followed by a brilliant 11 mile/18 km descent... Graeme Fife, author of The Great Road Climbs of the Pyrenees says: 'The descending road flicks round three mighty hairpins before opening out into one of the fastest downhill runs in the Pyrenees, a hearty encouragement to 'switch the brain off annd let it roll'!!
From here we head north, gradually leaving the Hautes Pyrenees behind us until we reach our overnight stop at St Girons.
St. Girons to Foix
56 km/36 miles approx cycling
Elevation Gain: approx 1,967 ft
A much gentler day today on quiet roads, through pretty valleys, few hills and fantastic cycling! The first 15.5miles/25 km takes us a long the route of Stage 15, 2010 Tour de France. We break the back of the day by lunch time when we shall take a trip along the longest navigable underground river in Europe, before arriving in the charming castle town of Foix.
Foix to Carcassonne
88 km/56 miles approx cycling
Elevaton Gain: approx 3,302 ft
Ever eastwards and the undulating road offers some sensational cycling and stunning views. The scenery changes and becomes quite Tuscan at times with Cyprus trees and vineyards as we enter the sparkling Blanquette wine producing area. A 4 mile6.5 km downhill stretch takes us to the outskirts of Carcassonne and views of the ancient fortress of La Cite, said to be one of the finest and most interesting towns of the region, if not the whole of France. Our hotel this evening is situated immediately in front of La Cite and we should finish our ride today with plenty of time to explore this historic and important monument.
Carcassonne to Narbonne-Plage
100 km/ 63 miles approx cycling
Elevation Gain: approx 1,485 ft
Pushing our bikes across the pedestrian Pont Vieux we leave the ancient Cite walls behind us before tackling a difficult exit through the busy new town of Carcassonne. Soon on the towpath we cycle the next 10 miles/16 km along the banks of the tranquil and beautiful Canal du Midi. We then follow the River Aude almost all the way to the coast. The final sting in the tail to this memorable ride is a 3 mile/5 km climb over the Montagne du Clape. However, at the top and if time permits, we may stop for tea at the beautiful L'Hospitalet vineyard. A further 3 mile/5 km descent takes us to Narbonne-Plage and the edge of the Mediterranean Sea where we can celebrate the end of this fantastic cycle ride.
End of Tour
(Transfer from Narbonne-Plage to Beziers airport for return flight to UK can be arranged upon request)
This is a complex itinerary and subject to change - copyright of Celebrated Cycle Journeys
WORLD WAR ONE – ONE HUNDRED YEARS ON
FLANDERS FIELDS AND THE VALLEY OF THE SOMME
'A tribute to man and horse'
Today, Flanders Fields and the battlefields of the valley of The Somme provide some terrific road cycling, so this is a holiday that is unique and un-equalled in content – the ride; the history; and of course the engaging story of Warrior. You will not find it anywhere else, so please do join us!
We begin our WW1 journey in Belgium where we visit the British and Commonwealth Cemetery at Tyne Cot – remembering the 11, 956 troops who died in the Ypres Salient during the war. This is the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world in terms of burials. We attend the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres, and we visit Flanders Field Museum and The Museum of The Somme. We visit most of the significant memorials such as The Canadian Memorial at Vimy Ridge, with a tour of the tunnels; the Newfoundland Memorial at Beaumont-Hamel, with a tour of the trenches; the British and Commonwealth Memorial at Thiepval, commemorating 72,191 British and South African servicemen who died without trace during the Battle of the Somme; and La Grand Mine at La Boiselle. Apart from all this, our cycle ride takes us past endless numbers of tiny military graveyards in the Flanders Fields and the Valley of the Somme, most notably around the area of Beaumont-Hamel.
On Day 5 we begin our tribute to the millions of horses and mules who perished either in battle, or in their hugely important task of transportation. We do this by following the Canadian Cavalry route as they retreated from Ennemain, close to the front line at St Quentin, to finally confront the German advance at Moreuil Wood south east of Amiens.
This operation was led by Jack Seely, the ‘larger than life’ British Member of Parliament and close friend of Sir Winston Churchill, on his trusting mount Warrior. Jack Seely commanded the Canadian Cavalry and the operation culminated in their courageous and successful charge at Moreuil Wood on 30 March 1918. It is said that ‘without them Amiens, even the whole Allied cause, might have gone’. Warrior (not to be confused with the horse called Joey in the play War Horse) was noted as 'The Most Famous Horse in History', and 'The Horse the Germans Could Not Kill'. Focusing on this specific and amazing story will hep us to understand in more general terms the plight of the animals.
Day One - DOVER TO DUNKIRK - approx. 2.3 miles cycling 16.00 Depart Dover 19.00 Arrive Dunkirk Overnight: Loon Plage, Dunkirk
Day Two - DUNKIRK TO YPRES - approx. 54.5 miles cycling
Having done the ferry crossing the evening before, we get straight into our days ride and quickly onto quieter roads and open countryside. The cycling today will be mostly flat with some long un-interrupted stretches as we head towards the Belgium border. Once across the border, the vistas and landscape of today’s richly ploughed fields makes it easy to imagine the plight of the men and horses who so bravely fought in the impossible rain sodden fields of clay. We continue to the Tyne Cot British and Commonwealth Cemetery, just outside the village of Passchendale. This is the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world in terms of burials. From here we head towards our overnight stop in the pretty Belgium city of Ypres in time to visit the Flanders Field Museum.
We shall begin our evening in Ypres by attending the moving Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate. Overnight: Ypres - Meals: BLD
Day Three - YPRES TO ARRAS - approx. 52 miles cycling
Another mainly flat and exhilarating days cycling today so we are hoping that we don’t have a head wind! We are now getting into the land of cemeteries and from now until we get south of Albert on Day 4 we shall be passing many tiny military graveyards, all immaculately cared for but sadly, too many for us to stop at them all. Just after exiting Ypres we shall pop into The Ridge Wood Cemetery, which is a good example of just how peaceful and remote some these little cemeteries are, and also the British Cemetery at Croix-du-Bac. This afternoon we stop at the impressive Canadian Memorial at Vimy Ridge, and take a guided tour of the tunnels. Overnight: Arras - Meals BLD
Day Four - ARRAS TO ALBERT - approx. 33 miles cycling
A short day in distance, but a big day of sites, the start of some hills and more terrific cycling!
After negotiating a busy exit from Arras Centre we immediately arrive at The Faubourt-Damens British and Commonwealth Cemetery on the outskirts of the city. Now in the area of The Battle of The Somme we make our way towards Beaumont-Hamel where the countryside is scattered with tiny cemeteries, and where we take a tour of the trenches at the Newfoundland Memorial. From here we make our way to Thiepval, the main British Memorial commemorating 72,191 British and South African servicemen who died without trace during the Battle of the Somme. Our final stop today will be at La Grand Mine, and if it is open, The Glory Hole, at La Boiselle.
We should arrive in Albert in time to visit the Museum of the Somme, which is located in the centre of town.
Tonight there will be a short film about Warrior - The Real War Horse, which will give you some background into the story of our route for the following three days. Overnight: Albert - Meals BLD
Day Five - ALBERT TO VILLEQUIERS-AUMONT - approx. 45.5 miles cycling
Another great days cycling through true rural Picardie. We begin to leave the Memorials and War Graves behind us, and after a brief stop as we cross over The Somme at Christ-St-Briost, we begin to follow the Canadian Cavalry Route to Amiens. We take this up at Emmemain and pass through Offoy and Villeselve before reaching our overnight stop just outside the small village of Villequiers-Aumont. Before getting to our charming lodgings you will have the option of a beer at ‘The Welcome Bar’ – a favourite and much needed pit stop whilst carrying out our recce’s! (Look out for Rue de la Soif!) Overnight: Villequier-Aumont/Viry Noureuil - Meals BLD
Day Six - VILLEQUIERS-AUMONT TO COMPIEGNE - approx. 36 miles cycling
As we continue on our ‘Warrior’ journey, we pass through many villages which, in places, seem to remain untouched since those days 100 years past, with ruins of barns and houses still very much in evidence…… it will be easy to loose yourself in the story with such evocative surroundings. We cycle through the Foret Domaniale and stop in the tiny hamlet of Les Cloy where Warrior came close to losing his life, before taking a quick look at the ruins of the chateau in Carlepont which provided shelter for horses and men, and for one soldier ‘the best night’s sleep since the offensive began’.
From here we cycle on a delightful route to the Clairiere de l’Armastice, in the Forest of Compiegne. The Glade of the Armistice is a war memorial, which stands on the spot where in 1918 the Germans signed the armistice that ended World War 1. Here you will be able to see an exact replica of the railway carriage in which the Armistice was signed.
It is a short cycle from here to our overnight stop in the lovely town of Compiegne. Overnight: Compiegne - Meals BLD
Day Seven - COMPIEGNE TO AMIENS - approx. 70.5 miles cycling
An early start for our biggest day!
Today we reach the pinnacle of Warrior’s story but not until we have pedalled some undulating, but very pretty 70 miles or so with much story telling thrown into the mix! We leave our hotel and immediately cross the River l’Oise and are very soon in glorious countryside. We pass through several villages important in this story, including Arsy, Estrees-St-Dennis (where we stop for coffee), Pronleroy, and the tiny hamlet of La Borde. The Chateau of La Borde was, for a short time, the HQ of Jack Seely and an unusually comfortable haven for The Canadian Cavalry. As we get ever closer to Moreuil Wood the distant views give us a comprehensive insight of the surrounding area, and as we cycle into the heart of the wood we get a true feel and understanding as to the magnitude of the operation to secure Moreuil Ridge. After this fascinating stop, and at the end of Warrior’s story, we embark on our ride into the city of Amiens. Overnight: Amiens - Meals BLD
Day Eight - AMIENS TO DIEPPE - approx. 72 miles cycling DIEPPE TO NEWHAVEN 18.00 Depart Dieppe 21.00 Arrive Newhaven
Another early start and another long day but with our history lesson over we are left to simply enjoy the ride and we should be able cover the distance easily in time to catch the 18.00 ferry from Dieppe to Newhaven. Our route continues to take us off the beaten track, undulating at times, through many villages and past some impressive chateaux. We stop for coffee in a typical village bar and have our picnic lunch on a grassy bank with far reaching views towards the coast. It is a terrific days cycling! Meals BL
(A mini-bus transfer can be arranged from London to Dover, and Newhaven to London, but this is not included in the price of the holiday)
This is a complex itinerary and is subject to change. It belongs solely to Nina Jackson for Celebrated Cycle Journeys.
'This is Burma and it is unlike any land you know about.'
Rudyard Kipling, Letters from the East (1898)
Since Burma/Myanmar has opened up to tourists again everyone wants to go, and those who have been are returning home waxing lyrical about this 'new' and fascinating destination......... but our journey will be very different......... This is a trailblazing cycle ride which takes us south of Yangon and well off the beaten track. We visit famous Golden Rock and travel as far south as Thanbyuzayat passing through Moulamein, the first colonial capital of British Burma back in 1826. At Thanbyuzayat we pay our respects at the Allied War Cemetery and go to the terminus of the Thai Burma Railway, known locally as the 'Death Railway'. All this as well as cycling to all the 'must-see' sites in Central Burma. We also include an excursion to the epic Goktiek Viaduct which, at the time of construction, was the largest railway trestle in the world, and the highest span of any bridge in the British Empire.
Day One YANGON
Today is intended simply as an arrival day. We will have a welcome dinner this evening and meet the crew who will be looking after us during our cycling days. We will stay in the downtown area for easy access to the railway station the following morning.
Overnight: Yangon – Meals: LD
Day Two YANGON TO KYAIKTO via The Golden Rock - train and cycle approx. 25km cycling
The train departs at around 6:30am, so it's fortunate that the train station is just a short walk from the hotel. We are in the upper class cabin, which is a curious term for it, given its dilapidated condition, but this is Myanmar and investment in the rail system is not something that has been paid a lot of attention for the last few decades. Even so, the train journey is a memorable one. You are sure to make lots of local friends on board who will take delight in speaking with you on subjects ranging from history, current political affairs to the English Premier League! The scenery is varied, from the urban areas of Yangon to the sparse areas around the edge of the delta zone. All things going according to plan (or timetable), the train will arrive at midday in Kyaikto. After checking into our simple, but clean accommodation, we cycle over to Mt. Kyaiktiyo, where we see the Golden Rock, a huge granite boulder with a tiny Pagoda atop. The boulder is covered in gold leaf and looks as though it may tumble down the hill at any moment, although it's unlikely that it will happen while we make our visit as it has been in place for a very long time!
Overnight: Kyaikto – Meals: BLD
Day Three KYAIKTO TO THA TON - cycle approx. 80km cycling
The next 5 days is a ride for pioneers. As Myanmar has only recently opened it's doors to the world on a large scale, our route for the coming days has not seen many travelers and certainly not many on bicycles. The riding today is mostly flat as we ride quite close to the coast and at times close enough to get a view of the water. As the day continues, we cross a river inlet and continue on down a slightly busier road to reach Tha Thon. This is a small town and our accommodation befits pioneers such as ourselves. It is clean, but simple.
Overnight: Tha Ton – Meals: BLD
Day Four THA THON TO HPA AN - cycle approx. 80km cycling
Today we ride inland on a smaller road. The landscape changes and we start to see more hills. The greenery also increases as we enter a more remote, less populated area. We arrive into the small town of Hpa An in the late afternoon. This is a town of only 50-60,000 people, located on the Thanlyin River and is the capital of the Kayin State. Our accommodation this evening is once again, quite basic.
Overnight: Hpa An – Meals: BLD
Day Five HPA AN TO MAWLAMEINE – cycle approx. 75km cycling (alternate 120 km option available)
Today is another day through sparsely populated areas. The landscape begins to flatten again and the rice paddies start to replace the drier farming zones. We cross a river late in the day and then ride into what will seem like a bustling city after the places you have been for the last two days. Mawlameine (Moulamein) was the first colonial capital of British Burma from 1826 for around 20 years. Remnants of those days can still be seen and some very good English is still spoken in these parts by the older people who, in some cases, are descendants of those first British colonialists. The hotel this evening is much more comfortable than the previous two nights.
Overnight: Mawlameine – Meals: BLD
Day Six BILUGYUN ISLAND AND MAWLAMEINE – ferry, cycle and walking tour approx. 50km cycling
Rather than check out and move on from our comfortable accommodation, we take a day ride to explore a sizable island sitting just off Mawlameine. It is separated from the mainland only by rivers, so a short ferry crossing takes us to the island where we take a ride to explore. In the afternoon, your guide will give a walking tour of some of the important points of Mawlameine town.
Overnight: Mawlameine – Meals: BL
Day Seven MAWLAMEINE TO THANBYUZAYAT ALLIED WAR CEMETERY - cycle and drive approx. 90km cycling
Our last day of cycling on this southern leg, takes us further south on a mixture of back roads and slightly busier, main roads. Our destination today is the terminus of the Thai Burma Railway, known locally as the "Death Railway". An Allied War Cemetery here is the resting place of more than 3000 allied POWs. We take time to pay our respects and in the afternoon, we pack up the bikes and drive back to Mawlameine.
Overnight: Mawlameine – Meals BLD
Day Eight MAWLAMEINE TO YANGON – fly and explore
The flight schedules are subject to frequent change, but we will aim for a morning flight, thereby arriving in Yangon late morning. In the afternoon a walking tour introduces you to the downtown area of Yangon, with its collection of crumbling Colonial-era buildings and vibrant street scenes. We walk through Chinatown, Little India and finish up on the Strand where we can stop in for a coffee at the Strand Hotel. We then board a bus and drive just a short way to the most famous and impressive religious monument in the country, Shwedagon Pagoda, a towering Buddhist Pagoda covered in gold leaf. Sunset here is an amazing experience.
Overnight: Yangon – Meals: BLD
Day Nine YANGON TO HEHO - Nyang Shwe and Inle Lake - fly and explore
Flight schedules are subject to frequent change, but it is anticipated that we will have a 7 or 8am flight to Heho. We then have a drive of an hour or so to reach Nyang Shwe, the main town for the Inle Lake area. Our hotel here is a simple affair, but located within the town which is an interesting place to explore on foot. The rest of the day will be free for you to relax and explore. We stay in the town as it allows more independence. There are some lovely resort style properties on the lake, but it is easy to feel somewhat a captive at these locations while the town is a pleasant, low-key area without a great many travelers staying here.
Overnight: Nyang Shwe – Meals: BLD
Day Ten INLE LAKE - by bike and boat! approx. 40 – 50km cycling
An early start today as we get back on our bikes Our ride takes us around the eastern bank of the lake on a small, unpaved road. We see some lovely views over the lake on the small rises and at one point can climb a staircase to a small pagoda for an even better view. We then make our way down to the shore and board boats. These are open long boats that fit four people to a boat. We then explore the lake where we see the floating gardens that support life on the lake as well as the famous fishermen with their distinctive leg twisting style of rowing. We visit a rotating market which moves it's way around the lake according to the days and is a vibrant affair. Villagers from the surrounding area look forward to market day as it's not only an opportunity to trade, but also to socialize, play some games and generally enjoy themselves after a hard week in the fields. We miss the touristy souvenir shops and head straight to the west bank of the lake where we unload the bikes and pedal our way back to town on another small road. The views today are stunning with many photo opportunities.
Overnight: Nyang Shwe – Meals: BL
Day Eleven NYANG SHWE TO PINDAYA - cycle approx. 65 – 70km cycling
A meaty days cycling today starting with a ride up into the hills. The climb is split into two sections of approximately 6km each and while it is continual climbing, it's not too steep. We plateau in sections and after about 30km, we find an unpaved back road that we will take most of the way to Pindaya. The scenery from here on in changes from dramatic mountains to rolling hills with patchwork fields. We are on a downwards trend at this stage and the last section into town is a pleasant downhill coast. Pindaya is only a very small town, but is famous for it's Golden Cave, full of gold covered Buddha images. The cave is the subject of a legend involving a handsome prince and a Giant spider that takes a number of princesses hostage in the cave. Never mind though, it's a story that ends well, just like your ride today. We stay in a friendly local guesthouse, which is simple, but clean.
Overnight: Pindaya – Meals: BLD
Day Twelve PINDAYA TO MANDALAY - cycle and drive approx. 80 – 100km cycling
We are in for an epic ride today, as we leave the Shan Hills, but not before we spend at least 70% of our ride, traveling through some really beautiful countryside with limestone crags in the distance and picturesque farmland. We stop at a small village half way for lunch and then push on to the edge of the plateau. For those who like a descent, a great 20km downhill section awaits, before we pack up and drive the last section into Mandalay. Please note that this drive is around 3 hours. It's not ideal, but it's the only option as there is no accommodation between the two points and the bike ride is well worth the discomfort of the drive. We have dinner along the way.
Overnight: Mandalay – Meals: BLD
Day Thirteen MANDALAY TO PYIN Oo LWIN – drive and cycle approx. 30km cycling
We drive up out of the central plain and into the Northern section of the Shan Hills. Here we discover the former hill station of Maymo (now known as Pyin Oo Lwin). In the afternoon, we take a ride around town to learn some of the history of this colonial hill station. At 1,095 mts about sea level it is delightfully cool after the hot plains, but you will need a sweater in the evening. Here the public transport is by beautifully decorated horse drawn carriages, and the clock tower in the centre of the town is a sure sign of British colonial town planning. Successful Burmese businessmen are now building or restoring houses here to escape from the heat of Mandalay, so it has an injection of new life, with little restaurants, café’s and shops springing up all over town.
Overnight: Pyin Oo Lwin – Meals BLD
Day Fourteen PYIN Oo LWIN TO MANDALAY via The Goktiek Viaduct - train and drive
In the late morning we will take a ride on one of Asia’s last great train lines. A short way in, we pass over The Gokteik Viaduct. This viaduct is a railway trestle in Nawnghkio, between Pyin U Lwin and Lashio and when it was completed in 1900 it was the largest railway trestle in the world, and the highest span of any bridge in the British Empire. The components were made by the Pennsylvania Steel Company and the parts shipped to Burma from the USA. The rail line was constructed as a way for the British Empire to expand their influence in the region. Rumour has it that the Burmese Government did no maintenance on the bridge whilst a British insurance policy was still in force. However, you will be relieved to know that the bridge was renovated in the 1990’s and the crossing (at walking pace) is one of the most spectacular train rides in the world and truly a ‘must experience’ for any train enthusiast. We alight from the train early afternoon, and having had a bite to eat we drive back down to Mandalay.
Overnight: Mandalay – Meals BL
Day Fifteen MANDALAY TO MONYWA – cycle, ferry boat and drive approx. 25 – 30km cycling
Today we explore Ava and Ubein by bike. After our busy day yesterday we have a slow morning starting with before we a get back on the bikes for an unforgettable ride on small trails through the ancient court of Ava and onto Ubein Bridge. Ava was the capital prior to Mandalay and today consists of scattered ruins and a tower, interspersed with vegetable gardens and banana trees. We exit Ava on a ferry and then continue our ride. We pass through a Muslim enclave that is said to be the home of Mayor Ubein, himself the instigator of the bridge project that bears his name. We approach the lake on small boats down the canal, feeding into the lake where we have a great view of the teak bridge. After lunch, we take a drive out of Mandalay division and onto Monywa, an agricultural trade center to the northwest Mandalay. The hotel today is clean and comfortable with a pool, but standards in service befit it's location………
Overnight: Monywa – Meals: BLD
Day Sixteen MONYWA TO BAGAN via Phowinaung Caves - ferry, cycle and drive approx. 70km cycling
A great ride awaits us this morning. We first take a ferry across the Chidwin River and then cycle down lovely quiet, sealed roads past old pagodas and sleepy villages. At some point we leave the road and ride on a gravel trail out to the Phowintaung Caves. These caves contain Buddha images, but more impressively, some beautifully detailed paintings that are dated somewhere between 14 and 18th century. These are amazingly well preserved and a real treat to visit. After our stop here, we continue on towards a small town called Yasagyo where the Chidwin and Irrawaddy Rivers converge. At this point of the day a drive is necessary to reach our destination of Bagan. Our accommodation this evening is one of the more comfortable on the tour, with a pool.
Overnight: Bagan – Meals: BLD
Day Seventeen BAGAN – explore the plain by bike! approx. 30 – 35km cycling
Today is an amazing experience as we explore the Bagan Plain. By bike is really are the only way to see this sandy flatland, home to four thousand or so Pagodas. We won't visit each of them, but will take in the more impressive and historically important ones. The riding is a lot of fun, mostly on small trails. Crops here are very different to what we've seen elsewhere. Sometimes peanuts and other dry zone plants. After lunch we return to the hotel for some down time.
Overnight: Bagan - Meals: BL
Note: Balloons Over Bagan is a unique and amazing experience and one that is in high demand. Prices are not yet released for 2014, but we can expect it to cost around $350 per person. The flight is at sunrise and is done in true style by an experienced and professional, British owned outfit. Please inquire at the time of registration if you would like to take this option.
Day Eighteen BAGAN TO YANGON - flyThe end of the adventure! The flight to Yangon should leave Bagan at around 08.30am arriving in Yangon late morning, so plenty of time for connections with your international flight,
This complex itinerary and is subject to change in case of adverse weather conditions or a change in political status.
Please be aware that Burma/Myanmar is still adapting to its recent surge in tourism and in some places hotel accommodation is sparse, especially when we are cycling off the beaten track. We shall be staying in 2/3 star hotels or guest-houses, most of which will be simple, authentic and clean. All rooms will be en suite. A list of hotels will be sent out once reservations are confirmed.