Sunday, 31 May 2009

Sir John d'Abernon

In Cycle Rides round London, Charles Harper starts his 1902 ride from Esher to Stoke D'Abernon: "Leaving the village behind and pursuing the Portsmouth road". This is now the A307. Maybe it was because the cup final was on at the time,  but on this saturday afternoon it wasn't too busy, so I followed the same route, past Claremont house. Charles continued to Cobham before turning left, but I took a shorter route on quieter roads across country.

Saint Mary, at Stoke D'Abernon is a pretty church, with a host of interesting monuments, and with his liking for churches as museums, Simon Jenkins gives it three stars.

The picture shows one of the the remarkable 14th century brasses, of Sir John D'Abernon, which is possibly the oldest of its kind in England. There are also some monuments of local gentry reclining on their tombs, looking very relaxed, a collection of old stained glass, and some wall paintings.

Often on this project I find a church locked, and even when they are open, many are deserted. But for the second time on this outing I received a warm, and informative welcome. The people of Surrey certainly know how to help visitors appreciate their churches.

Charles Harper believed in speaking his mind: "Stoke Dabbernun, as the rustics call it, is at once exhausted of interest when its church has been seen". Oh dear.

On the way home, just beyond Cobham, a motorbike drew alongside me, and asked if I knew where the nearest petrol station was. He was running very low on fuel. I directed him back to one I had passed about two miles earlier. He turned round. I carried on, around the corner, and passed another 100 yards further on. I just hope he had enough fuel for a couple of miles. 

Princess Charlotte

St. George’s church at Esher (bless you) is the next great English church to be ticked off my Jenkins quest.

The church was built in the 16th century, but superseded by the larger parish church that was built in the 19th century.

St George's church is associated with Princess Charlotte, daughter of George IV and heir to the throne, who died in childbirth aged 18. This is the monument to her, and her husband Leopold (who went on to become King of the Belgians). Had Charlotte lived she would have become queen, and there would have been no Queen Victoria.

The church remains consecrated, in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. I arrived just as they were locking up, but the lady in charge kindly kept it open for quarter of an hour, gave me a quick tour, and showed me the best places to photograph.

Things have improved since 1902, when Charles Harper visited for his "Cycle Rides round London". This is what he had to say (not long after Victoria died).

Saint George, Esher
The old church of Esher, long since disused and kept locked and given over to spiders and dust, has a Royal Pew, built for the use of the Princess Charlotte and the Claremont household in 1816. It is a huge structure, in comparison with the size of the little church, and designed in the worst possible classic taste ; wearing, indeed, more the appearance of an opera -box than anything else.

The authorities (whoever they may be) charge a shilling for viewing this derelict church. It is distinctly not worth the money, because the architecture is contemptible, and all the interesting monuments have been removed to the modern building, on a quite different site, across the road.

It cannot be too strongly insisted upon that the death of the Princess Charlotte in her eighteenth year made a vast difference in English history or, at least, English Court history. Had she survived, there would have been no William the Fourth, and Queen Victoria would never have been queen. Think of it ! No Victorian Era, no Victoria Station, no Victoria Embankment, no Victoria in Australia, no Victoria in Vancouver Island ; and, in short, none of those thousand things and places "Victoria" and "Victorian" we are surrounded with. None of those, and certainly no Albert Halls, memorials, streets, and places commemorative of that paragon of men.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Sandown park

This is an extract from "Cycle Rides Round London", written over a century ago, by Charles Harper, in 1902.

Notice the very highly ornamental iron gates and railings of the park : a romantic history belongs to them. 

They came from Baron Grant's palatial mansion of Kensington House, built but never occupied, and then demolished, which stood in Kensington Gore.

Kensington House is now quite forgot, and on its site rise the stately houses of Kensington Court. It was in 1873 that Baron Grant, bloated with the money of the widow and the orphan, plundered from them in his Emma Mine and other rascally schemes, purchased the dirty slum at Kensington then known as the "Rookery," and set about building a lordly pleasure-house on its site. Just as it was finished, his career of predatory finance was checked, and he never occupied the vast building. For years it remained tenantless, and was then demolished. "Grant," as he called himself, died obscurely in 1899. He had in his time been the cause of the public losing over £20,000,000 sterling.

The Daily News spoke of him as an Irishman, but it will readily be conceded that his real name of Gottheimer is not strikingly Hibernian. He was, it is true, born in Dublin. So was Dean Swift: but, as the Dean himself remarked, to be born in a stable does not prove one to be a horse.

Although "Grant " died obscurely, and his name and his schemes had long before that time become discredited, it must not be supposed that he was personally ruined with the wreck of his projects. Not at all. He lived and died very comfortably circumstanced, while many of his creditors remained unsatisfied. He could pay debts when he chose, but when he chose not to, there were no means of compelling him. Where have we heard the same story in recent years?

Where indeed, Mr Harper. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

An epic day

Today I've ticked off two more Jenkins churches (Saint George, Esher & Saint Mary, Stoke D'Abernon). I've covered another chunk of one of the cycle rides that Charles G. Harper described in 1902. And I've fitted in a few more highlights between, including taking the bike onto the water, across the river between Weybridge and Shepperton (on the ferry). All in less than 70 miles. 

My route was down the Jubilee river to Datchett, then the Thames path to Hampton Court. From there, south to Sandown Park, and Esher. Then Portsmouth Road and minor roads across country to Stoke D'Abernon. I made my way back through Cobham and Weybridge to the Thames, then Shepperton, Staines and Windsor to home. All went to plan, apart from getting a bit muddled between Staines and Egham.
Too much to fit into one post, so there is more to follow.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Think global, act local

Cyclestreets have introduced unique URLs for hundreds of different UK towns

As far as I can make out, there is no real difference from using the complete system, except that if I use the right URL, then the initial map is centred on my home town (my local version is It also tries to detect where I am, but it thinks I am in London. Which isn't quite right.

If I'm right about what is going on here, this is really just spin. But what the heck. It gives us an easy link to home. If it attracts more people to a useful site, and encourages us all to experiment with new routes, then it seems to me that the ends justify the means.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Promising idea from the Observer

This looks as though it should be worth following. Mike Carter is going to have a weekly column in the Observer about a 6,000-mile cycle tour of Britain.

Monday, 25 May 2009

National Highways and Transport Public Satisfaction Survey

This mouthful of a title was a survey to measure public attitudes to local authority transport services. It was carried out in 2008, and measured attitudes to walking, cycling, and public transport. Thirty-three authorities took part, and the results for thirty of them are published here.

The idea is to identify best practice, and inform policy. 

In principle I'm all for consultation, and evidence-based policy development. Sadly (like most people, I suspect) my first thought was to see how my local authority stood in the rankings. It isn't there, but among neighbouring authorities, Oxfordshire ranks highly, and Buckinghamshire poorly for cycling issues.

As a general rule, people who participated seem to be most satisfied with the provision and condition of cycle routes, and least satisfied with provision of cycle parking. 

It must be tough for local authorities to do the right thing when they are faced with a small number of vocal activists on the one hand, and widespread apathy on the other. Particularly when so many votes in the forthcoming local elections are probably going to be influenced by MP's expenses, and the economic situation, rather than anything our local authorities are doing to improve our lot. This kind of survey must have a lot of potential to help shape better local priorities in areas of activity that don't have a high public profile. 

The 2008 survey seems to have been a first attempt, and I'm not sure that it is realising its full potential just yet. Perhaps the 2009 survey will tell us more.

AA Cycling guides

Amazon is sending me a series of emails suggesting that, as I have purchased other cycling books, I might be interested in the AA Cycling Guides to Britain. 

They are right, I am always looking out for new ideas for trips, and I might be. So all credit to Amazon for a fairly smart recommender system.  

On the other hand...

Perhaps it's just me, and these may be excellent guides, but isn't there something slightly odd about the idea of an Cycling guide produced by an Automobile Association?

Fred Whitton Challenge

The Country Diary in today's Guardian is about the Fred Whitton challenge that took place a couple of weeks ago, on a 114 mile route that crosses the main passes in the Lake District. 

"It is not often that the summit of a Lakeland pass attracts a crowd, but two Sundays ago the tortuous road over Hardknott Pass was flanked by spectators basking in spring sunshine. There they sat on rocky outcrops that made informal terracing for an annual spectacle involving a thousand cyclists storming the heights. The occasion was the ninth 114-mile Fred Whitton Challenge, a "sportive" cycle event that must surely rate as the nearest thing to Tour de France hill-climbing in England, and taking in the District's most demanding passes - starting from, and finishing at, Coniston".

I may not find hills quite as daunting as I used to, but I still am in awe of anyone who takes part.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Visiting giants

The "giants" at Aldworth are nine 14th century stone effigies in St Mary's church. They represent members of local aristocracy. The De La Beche family were knights, retainers to the king, and Sheriffs of Oxfordshire and Berkshire. The carvings were bashed about a bit in Cromwell's time, but are impressive nonetheless. Not least because they are supposed to be life sized. Some of the knights are represented as being over seven feet tall, and one is shown with a dwarf who apparently he took around with him to emphasise his own height.

I had been through Aldworth once before, when I got lost mapping the Round Berkshire Cycle Route, which runs nearby. I hadn't see the church before though, because it lies to the edge of the village. From outside it is nice enough, but not particularly impressive. It is inside that is remarkable - mainly because of the giants.

It's been a good day for a ride. The weather was sunny and still - but not too hot. The bike was riding well, and I covered 57 miles in total. I followed the Round Berkshire Route for most of the way out, through Reading. My return journey was more-or-less in a straight line across country through Goring & Streetley, then Henley to home. That's a straight line on the X and Y axes by the way. Vertically it went up and down quite a bit, with some rapid descents and slow climbs. It seems that a week of pulling two heavy panniers around Northumberland and the borders has left me a bit less daunted by hills than I used to be.

Apart from a few stretches on main routes, and through Reading, the roads were fairly quiet, and there were not many other cyclists around. I saw a few, but I was obviously away from the main family and club routes. I traced the whole route on the GPS, but I think most of it is already on Open Street Map. There will be more time to upload the trace tomorrow, and check for anything that needs fixing.

St Mary's was the next church in my Jenkins quest, leaving four more to visit this year. I would definitely include it among the highlights.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

An early start

I woke up early this morning, the birds were making a din, and there was too much going on in my head to get back to sleep. So I got up, got dressed, got the bike out and got moving.

I did a familiar 18 mile loop round Winter Hill, Cookham, Maidenhead Riverside, Bray, Holyport and White Waltham, then home for breakfast - and it was glorious.

On the way up to Winter Hill there was a low blanket of thick mist over the fields. I saw a fox trotting delicately through the woods, heading purposefully to somewhere important.

When I reached the top of Winter Hill the valley below me was still full of mist, but the tops of the higher trees were just beginning to clear. There was quite a chill in the air, but while I was on the high ground I was already in bright sunlight. Over the next few miles, as I descended into Cookham every detail of the landscape began to be picked out.

Then as I drew closer the the river again I came back into the mist. Crossing Widbrook Common, the cows on one side of the road were half-hidden, while on the other side the willows were breaking low sunlight  into shards as it came towards me through the mist.

By this stage I'd covered about 8 miles. It was still before 6:00 am, and I had only seen one car moving  on the road.  I was thoroughly enjoying myself, so rather than turning for home I  carried on along the river, and followed a wider loop round the south of Maidenhead. When I do that route in the evening the roads are normally very busy, but this morning I saw only the occasional car, and it was a treat have things pretty much to myself.

I couldn't have been luckier in hitting on the perfect morning, and the perfect time. I could really have done with a couple more hours sleep, but that was a small price for the kind of ride that really lifts the spirits. I only wish I had taken the camera with me to share some of the sights.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Sustrans pack

A little pack of stuff arrived in the post from Sustrans this week.

The map is the most useful bit, but somebody has done a good job on the rest of it. They are asking for donations, but the real intent seems to be to get us out on our bikes more often. That's a worthy cause, and they make some serious and important points with a light touch.

I requested this by filling in a form on the old Sustrans web site, and I was going to provide a link. But now I can't find it again.  Perhaps somebody else can help point out where it is.

In any case, well done, Sustrans.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

New Sustrans web site

I have just discovered the new Sustrans web site. In my view the mapping is still not a patch on the OSM cycle map, but it is much improved.

Thames Crossings

Rob Ainsley has put up a page for the Thames Crossings series that he's been blogging about on Real Cyclist. It shows all 33 ways of crossing the Thames with a bike, in the tidal section between Teddington and Tilbury.

What a brilliant idea. 

Presumably it can be adapted to any major river. At some point I can see myself organising another trip to Tyneside, but in the meantime I'll be adding this the list of things I need to find time for - once I complete this year's Jenkins quest.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Four hundred miles on a bicycle

The Real Cycling site points to an article on bicycling MPs from 1898, and recommmends the British Library digitised newspapers for more. I thought I would give it a try, and almost immediately came across this succinct log of a ride from London to Edinburgh from 1869. 

I can see this being a great time-waster.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

A present from Craster

Kippers are not the most attractive looking food, and not the easiest to eat, but good ones are worth the effort. And I was so fortified by this treat from Craster, that after lunch I rushed out and started chopping down trees. Yes, really, but don't worry. I'm OK. 

Though I have been known to work all night, and sleep all day (and hang around in bars). 

Sunday, 10 May 2009

St. Mary's, Haddenham

The next church in my Jenkins quest was the delightful St Mary's in Haddenham (Buckinghamshire). It is mainly noted for a Norman Aylesbury font, and for carvings on the pews, but for me the real treats were a formidable Early English tower, a light and airy interior (very little Victorian stained glass) and a charming location, next to the village duckpond.

I rode out via Marlow and Stokenchurch. After a break for lunch surrounded by ducks I rode a couple of miles further on to Nether Winchendon, where there is another Jenkins church.

Oddly the distances to the next eight churches on my list only differ by a mile or so. Although they are only a few miles apart, Haddenham ranks 20th by distance from home, while Nether Winchendon ranks 33rd, and doesn't come close to this years list. When I got there, the scaffolding was up to repair the roof, and the church was closed. The interior seems to be the main attraction, so I've decided it deserves another visit if I am still doing this next year.

After Nether Winchendon I worked my way back via Princes Risborough and High Wycombe. My original plan had been to pass by Lacey Green windmill but in the end I chose to stay on the main road for a faster return. If I had realised that the mill was open today I would probably have made the extra effort.

The weather was sunny and not too windy. I added sixty three miles, or just over 100km, to this years tally without covering much new ground for Open Street Map. There were a lot of other riders out, on a glorious day, and I only hope that they enjoyed themselves as much as I did.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Revenge on Walter

I just raced Walter again round the Winter Hill loop, and I did in in 44 minutes, beating him roundly. It's not quite my fastest time, but it is pretty close. So I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself, and ready to crack open a can and join the dancing in the streets as the sun goes down over the yard-arm. Or whatever.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009


My updates to the Coast and Castle route through Northumberland are now appearing on the OSM cycle map

I can't claim a lot of credit. Most of this was already plotted by others. But I've done a little bit, and the whole route I took from Newcastle to Edinburgh now looks complete. For the uninitiated, it's the red line labeled [1] that follows the coast up to Berwick then turns inland, then over the hills to Edinburgh.


Is somebody picking on the poor man?

Thanks to the BBC (and CTC twitter for the link), we are up to date with the latest crisis in the Tory party.

This morning, David Cameron's Scott bicycle was stolen for the second time in the last year. A neighbouring colleague lent him a replacement.

OSM in the Whitehouse

The man doesn't look all that comfortable on a bike, but his team is using Open Streetmap in a neat way. See this with thanks to the OpenGeogata blog.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Recommended read

I've been lent a copy of "Slow Coast Home" by Josie Dew, and I'm thoroughly enjoying it.

It's about her 5,000 mile cycle ride around the coast of England and Wales (which puts my 300 mile trip into some perspective). 

It's the first time I've encountered Josie's writing, and I'm only 80 pages or so in, but it came highly recommended, and I'm thoroughly enjoying it.

The blurb describes the ride as "quirky", which hardly does it justice. Right from the start, her ride round the coast starts at 4pm in Hampshire, heading north towards Oxford. Later she quotes what she claims is a Chinese proverb, which captures something of the spirit: "If you don't change direction you will end up where you are going".

It's not really my style to be quite so spontaneous, but I can't help admiring her for it, and it certianly makes for a great read. 

But doesn't she carry a lot of luggage?

Monday, 4 May 2009

"Not turned out too bad"

In the cold wind and drizzle, somebody says "not turned out too bad", leaving me searching for an appropriate response.

Are they being ironic, and really mean that this is horrible? Are they trying to show how hardy they are, really meaning that they are capable of dealing with much worse? Or are they being stoic, really meaning that we mustn't let a little thing like weather get us down?

Their tone is neutral - they are giving nothing away.

My reply is "It's OK". Which I try to pitch somewhere between "I can also laugh in the face of adversity", "I can handle this just as well as you can" and "I'm sure the nice men in white coats will be along soon".

I'm not fooling anybody.


I discovered this amazing site yesterday. It illustrates data on global economic and social development over the last couple of hundred years, in a highly compelling way.

Play around with it here, or view examples here.

It puts the credit crunch in some kind of perspective.


It has taken me a while, but I have finally managed to get a decent outline of my local authority, and most of its neighbours, onto Open Street Map.

The picture shows how OSM Inspector judges my success. As far as I can see, the red lines are where different levels of boundary coincide, and I can't see a consistent way of tagging them to remove the error. Otherwise, the different authorities in what used to be Berkshire all seem to join up correctly, in closed loops.

Compared to adding roads and streams I found it remarkably difficult to get a satisfactory outline of the local authority. This is partly because boundaries are not clearly plotted on the out-of-copyright maps, and there have been some changes over the last fifty years or so. It's also partly because local authority boundaries coincide with a lot of other features, such as rivers. In some cases, a rough outline had already been added, and these had to be identified, and disentangled from neighbours so that I didn't do any damage. 

So a hat-tip of respect to those who are adding the other boundaries.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

C&C wrapup

I'm back home now, after completing the Coast and Castles ride last week, and it's time to take stock.

On the numbers, I rode a total of 332 miles, including the 200 miles of the route itself, plus an outing to beyond Hexham along the Hadrian Cycleway ,as well as various side trips. That's my highest weekly mileage by a comfortable margin, and it's put me ahead my plans for the year (at last).

Unfortunately, I did put on a bit of weight. It would be nice to ascribe that to developing extra muscle, but the truth has more to do with regular cooked breakfasts and pub food.

The week went more-or-less to plan. I strayed off the route a few times, but never got seriously lost, and my aim of covering 40-50 miles a day turned out to be about the right distance. That made the route itself a five day trip, on top of the journey up to Newcastle and back from Edinburgh.

I had been a bit worried about the facilities to take a bike on the train, but in the event was impressed with how easy it was.

The route itself is lovely, with plenty of interest and variety, and gorgeous scenery. There are no really tough sections. Some of the coastal stretches in Northumberland are not ideal for a road bike, but I only ended up walking and pushing for a short stretch. At that point I could have taken the alternative route along roads, if I hadn't been keen to see that particular part of the coast.

During the week I got a bit better at pacing myself during the day. Early on, I tended to be in a hurry to reach my destination. As I got more confident in the pace I could sustain I got smarter at planning breaks.

The weather was slightly disappointing - a couple of really nice days, quite a lot of grey cloudy periods, one morning of steady rain and one afternoon of cold wind and drizzle. Nothing unmanageable, but it could have been better.

The bike performed well apart from a click that developed in one of the pedals, which was easily fixed by the next bike shop I reached.

It isn't a very hilly route, and the extra weight of luggage was less of a problem than I feared. If anything two full panniers improved handling except at very low speeds, and only really proved a problem on the odd steep hill. Next time, though, I will take a bit more care to keep the weight down. The bike needn't have been so heavy, and it feels very light now without the panniers on the back.

In general I was delighted with the accommodation I found. Obviously, I stayed somewhere different each night, and most were pleasant and hospitable. A couple of places were not up to the high standard of the rest, but nowhere was a real disappointment. I booked the first and last night before I set off, because both were in cities, and the last night coincided with a bank holiday weekend. Apart from those two I rang ahead each evening and booked the next night's stop. I always got a room in my first choice. This was fairly early in the season, and outside school holidays - maybe in the height of summer accommodation would need more forward planning.

Surprisingly, given that they were all right on the Coast and Castles route, the accommodation wasn't all that well prepared to store bikes. Only one had a rack installed, one kept the bike in the dining room overnight, and none of the others had covered storage. I don't think cyclists can form a big proportion of their clientele.

I was also a bit surprised how few places had wireless internet connection, though several said that they were planning to offer it shortly.

Most of the route was already well mapped on Open Street Map. In fact I used the Garmin with OSM Cycle map quite a lot during the week to help stay on track. So thanks are due to everyone who has already plotted the bulk of the route. There were a few gaps around Bamburgh, which I've added this morning, along with some missing link roads, including a chunk of the Hadrian Cycle Way near Hexham and Corbridge.

I did the Hadrian Cycleway at the weekend, and that was well used, but on the Coast and Castles route I didn't meet all that many other cyclists. However, I did meet some lovely people on the way. Their conversation and their company has been part of the delight of the week, and something that I hadn't anticipated beforehand.

So in summary, I'm very pleased with how things have gone. There's nothing of substance that I would do differently. And all that remains is to start planning the next one.

Friday, 1 May 2009

C&C day 5

Last day of the Coast and Castle ride today, from Innerleithen to Edinburgh. Tomorrow I return home.

I had been viewing the morning with a bit of trepidation, because it involved a long climb over the Moorfoot hills. I had a plan to take it easily and steadily, with plenty of breaks. But in the event, while it is certainly a long climb, it is not very steep. So there was nothing to worry about really.

The downwards sections were brilliant: long stretches at 30mph or thereabouts, covering the ground very quickly, and hardly turning the pedals. Unfortunately the weather steadily deteriorated, and once I reached the level most of the day was cold, windy and wet.

The section from Dalkeith to Edinburgh is on good cycle paths, but it struck me as particularly uninteresting landscape. So it was a real pleasure to reach the final section, along the Innocent Railway, and round Arthur's seat and into central Edinburgh.

I had planned to stop on the way, but the poor weather made it more appealing to press on. So the only point of interest was passing the Piper's Grave on the climb over the Moorfoot Hills.

I arrived early in Edinburgh. The weather had brightened by then so I had a bit of a look around, then called it a day.

C&C day 4

The fourth day took me from Coldstream to Innerleithen, via Kelso and Melrose. It was the best weather yet - dry nearly all the way, not much wind, and sunny for most of the day. The only real exception was about ten miles short of my destination, when I had promised myself a break, and the rain started just as I approached a bus shelter. So I stayed in the dry for 20 minutes while the rain passed. As I covered the final leg, the sun came out again and it was a lovely end to the ride.

Towards the end of the previous day, the bike had developed an annoying click, which got worse as I travelled from Coldstream to Kelso. So I stopped at Simon Porteous cycles in Kelso and they kindly took a look at it, and fixed the problem. So far (touch wood) it's been the only problem, and it turned out to be not very serious.

The place where I stayed in Innerleithen had a folk evening in the bar. Excellent music, and excellent company, so it turned into quite an evening. Looking at the bar bill the following morning I deserved to feel much worse than I did.

C&C day-3

My third day on Coast & Castles started with Holy Island, and ended in Coldstream.

I had a slightly late start, waiting for the tide to clear the causeway, then crossed to the island and mooched around the village and part of the harbour. I had been warned that the island had lost some of its magic as the number of visitors had built up. It's hard for me to judge. My memories of childhood holidays on the island now seem like something out of Swallows & Amazons or the Famous Five. I'm hardly going to recapture that kind of magic in my fifties, no matter whether the place itself has changed or not.

The next stage of my journey hugged the coast up to Berwick. It's not a route I'm familiar with, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There are stretches along the dykes and salt flats, and others along (minor) cliffs. All very varied, and the sun gradually came out as I approached Berwick.

Berwick itself was much better than I remembered. On my last visit I thought it was a bit disappointing, but this time it seemed a really nice town. Perhaps the weather helped, perhaps I am getting less pernickety. Whatever - I liked it.

On the route from Berwick to Coldstream the sun came out properly, and I had a lovely afternoon's ride.

It struck me that cycling is the best way to see this part of the country. I can see advantages in walking rather than cycling the Northumberland coast. Some of the best places are easier to reach on foot than on a bike, and the highlights are closer together. But for the border country it's difficult to imagine a better way than cycling.