On Sunday I passed a plaque commemorating the route that Lieutenant Lapenotiere took in 1805 to carry news of Nelson's victory at Trafalgar from Falmouth to the Admiralty in London. The bi-centenary of his journey was celebrated in 2005 by marking out the route with plaques, and producing a map. One of the plaques is on Kensington High Street.
Lieutenant Lapenotiere covered the 271 miles in 37 hours in a fast carriage called a post chaise, drawn by four horses. He changed horses 21 times at a cost to the admiralty of £46 19s 1p in expenses.
It occurred to me that one day his route might make for an interesting longer cycle trip. So this evening I started playing around with route planners to see what sort of options there were.
If anyone has produced a Post Chaise Route Planner then I'm not aware of it. Bike Route Toaster generates a straightforward suggestion that takes a fairly direct line through Exeter, Yeovil, Salisbury, Andover, Reading and Slough. The most significant difference form the original route seems to be that Lieutenant Lapenotiere took a longer, more southerly loop through Dorchester between Exeter and Salisbury. Then he took a more direct route through Basingstoke and Staines rather than today's longer suggestion further north through Reading and Slough.
Falmouth to London is too far for CycleStreets to plan in one go, so that will need breaking down into shorter steps. Meanwhile I thought I'd give Google Maps a try. It does't have a cycling option, so I asked for a walking route, and got an interesting suggestion.
Perhaps it's a good thing that they didn't have this stuff automated 200 years ago. Under the circumstances touching down a couple of times in France would have been a little tactless in 1805.