We cycled into Gillingham town centre following the NCN 25 signs, but coming out of the other side of town we realized they were taking us in the wrong direction. We backtracked to the town centre, found the NCN signs but none of them said where they were going. Following them out of town in the other direction, they took us past the turning for the campsite we’d just left, but further up the road we knew we were on the right track, so continued on.
Another day of very pleasurable cycling – we won’t mention the heat as it was better than cycling in pouring rain! At Childe Okeford, after stopping at the pub for a sausage sandwich and a drink (non-alcoholic, I hasten to add), we picked up the excellent, newly opened North Dorset Trailway, a cycling and walking route following the old railway line from Sturminster Newton to Spetisbury. Coming off the Trailway at Blandford Forum, we continued to follow the NCN 25, which took us right to the centre of our home town.
We had thoroughly enjoyed our first ever cycle tour in the UK; in previous years, we have cycle toured in France. Also, it was our first tour using the Brompton bikes, fully loaded with camping gear. The bikes performed very well, especially on the tracks beside the Kennet and Avon Canal, some of which were quite rough in places. The bikes were very comfortable to ride and travelling with them on the train was a doddle; we encountered no problems whatsoever.
Our remaining impression from this trip is that travelling by bike takes you through places and countryside that you would normally never see. Modern-day travel takes you from A to B by the quickest route possible – you jump in your car and take the most direct, fastest road to get you to where you want to be. We miss so much by this form of transport. The bike slows down the pace of life, you have time to absorb your surroundings, inhale the smells of nature – both good and bad! Time to stop and chat to people you meet on the way. We are all isolated and insular, cocooned in our speedy metal boxes, cut off from our surroundings and the people in them. We can never return to this slower pace: our whole world is geared up to instant/constant communication, speedy travel, fast food, quick fixes, everything is PDQ. But we are so lucky to be in the position to take a step back now and again, slow everything down and go travelling on our bikes.
Now, where to next?
Here is a short video I made of the trip (apply HD – in top RH corner – for better full-screen viewing):