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Where am I going in 2022?

Due to the ongoing uncertainty with Covid-19, my plans for the coming year remain tentative and provisional. I have two repeat holidays in mind. The first is my regular fixed-centre holiday in the Scottish Borders, the 19th edition of which had to be cancelled in 2020. The second is the multi-centre exploration of two scenic Canary Islands, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura (one of the last CTC Holidays to run before lockdown). This would take place in early 2022; it's a great place to kickstart your cycling year!  


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Scottish Borders

Though relatively unknown, the Scottish Borders is possibly the best area for cycling in the whole of the UK, with an excellent network of quiet country roads and varied scenery ranging from rounded heather-clad hills to rich rolling farmland dotted with abbeys and attractive small towns. This fixed-centre holiday is based in a four-star country house hotel on the fringes of Hawick, allowing us to explore what lies in all directions.Two daily rides of different distances lead to varied destinations, from market towns like Melrose, Jedburgh and Kelso to the Tweed valley, Ettrickdale and the Cheviot foothills. Although it's a hilly area, each route allows plenty of time to enjoy pristine landscapes, superb views and excellent cafes.

My experience and style

What to expect


Who am I?

I have been combining my love of the outdoors and travelling through cycletouring for around 40 years, exploring many parts of the British Isles and Europe, as well as further afield in South Africa and the Americas. I was CTC Tour Leader for over 20 years, running 40 tours in total, 15 of which have been in Spain. I am now well versed in this country's culture and way of life, and speak reasonable Spanish too.

My tour leading style

Participants on previous tours have usually described my leadership style as ‘laid back’. Where required I will lead the group on the road, for example to navigate out of a large town; but mostly I tend to bring up the rear. This means that I am able to encounter and help to resolve any problems that may occur during the day’s ride. I am happy for anyone to ride with me, and in this way to guide them along the route, but I am aware that my general style and pace of riding may not necessarily tally with other people's. Participants are provided with both turn-by-turn instructions printed on robust cards and a set of GPS route files. The expectation is that we team up with others of similar pace and thus proceed in small groups on the road. However, I do always try to ensure that no-one is left riding on their own all day.

The roads I take

I always try to devise routes that combine good views, quiet roads, convenient refreshment stops and manageable distances for a reasonably fit touring cyclist. This means that as you ride the unfolding panorama before you has lots of variety and interest, and doesn't have to be rushed. It also means that the terrain tends to be fairly lumpy (on the basis that scenery=hills). The majority of my routes are on surfaced back lanes and cycle paths, with the occasional stretch of gravel track or rural main road where this can't be avoided without a huge detour. On longer tours I always factor in one or two possible rest days, usually in a historic town where there's plenty to see.

The places we stay

Wherever possible I aim to use good quality family-run hotels and inns which can provide our evening meal and breakfast in the morning, as well as secure overnight cycle storage. Where there are no other alternatives I may arrange for us to stay in a multi-chain hotel or a youth hostel, but only as a last resort. Where establishments do not offer their own catering I get the hotel staff to recommend a restaurant nearby. In all cases both meals are included in the price.

Where do I go?

To date my cycling holidays have been either in the UK or around different parts of Spain. Apart from my regular fixed-centre visits to the Scottish Borders (18 and counting so far), domestic tours have tended to have a geographical theme, such as the Weymouth to Whitby 'Jurassic Jaunt', the St Abbs to St Bees 'A to B' and the two 'Bolton Wanderer' trips. My Spanish tours usually take the form of a multi-day loop through remote (and often rugged) parts of both mainland and islands. Areas visited include the Picos de Europa, Galicia, the Maestrazgo, the area around Cuenca, the Sierra de Cazorla and western Asturias, as well as the Canary Islands. There are other ideas in the development pipeline too, including the Spanish Pyrenees, the Sierras de Gredos and Francia and the Montes de León.

Where have I travelled before?

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Canary Island hopping

 

Run for three consecutive years, this tour explored two contrasting Canary Islands, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. A mixture of day and moving on rides allowed us to get to the heart of both islands, as well as giving time to relax and enjoy the pleasantly warm conditions. Riders marvelled at the varied volcanic landscapes, dotted with craters, conical peaks, barren lava fields and distorted rock formations. There was also time to admire the islands' rugged coasts and sandy beaches, as well as the sub-tropical vegetation, the low rise whitewashed vernacular buildings and the distinctive vineyards. While both islands are rugged and hilly, climbs are generally well graded and our reward was a series of superb coastal and inland views. Our accommodation consisted of one resort, one rural and one city seafront hotel.
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The Bolton Wanderer (Home and Away Legs)

 

This comprised a pair of tours designed to visit as many of the 80 places in Great Britain with Bolton in their name as possible. With most of these located in northern England or southern Scotland the tours involved a leisurely meander along minor roads through lovely north British hill country. Both legs ran from south to north, the first from Bolton (Lancs) to Carlisle, and the second from Sheffield to Dunbar. The former passed through some of the lesser known stretches of rural Lancashire and Cumbria such as the Forest of Bowland and the Howgills, linking together a string of out of the way villages and hamlets. The second traversed across Yorkshire, north-east England and south-east Scotland, through rolling farmland, flattish vales, incised dales, forests and moorland. We looped through the Yorkshire Dales and the West Durham Pennines and skirted the Cheviots before tackling the Lammermuirs head on. Both tours involved reasonable daily distances and comfortable hotel accommodation, and succeeded in introducing participants to parts of Britain that they didn't know existed.

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Spain - Galicia

This hotel-based tour traced a clockwise loop around Spain's distinctive north-western region. Galicia bucks the Spanish stereotype with its greenery, granite and Gallego language on the one hand, and its Celtic-infused culture and speciality seafood dishes on the other. A well mixed group enjoyed the blend of hilly scenery, coastal views and historic sites, with the tour sampling contrasting elements of Galician landscape and heritage We headed out through the remote hinterland of rustic hamlets, isolated farmsteads and historic towns, crossing the high moorlands and incised valleys between them. Our return followed the rugged Atlantic coastline via the end of the earth (Cabo Finisterre), various other headlands, lighthouses, fishing villages and beaches, plus a visit to Spain's northernmost point. Two rest days allowed trips by train or bus to the pilgrimage destination of Santiago de Compostela and the vibrant port city of A Coruña.

Tony's contact details

Tel/fax 0114 255 0907
bigT.ridinghigh@gmail.com
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