Well, I still can’t believe it properly – I am actually here! I arrived with my friend Anna at 7:15 lst night. It was again not an uneventfull day:
We set off in the rain on a very interesting route which I called “ferry hopping”. The N2 national cycling route offers 2 alternatives – 1 going via Hayling Island and involving 4 ferry crossings, the other, further inland, mostly along busy roads. I initially said we would take the 1st option, then because of the rain I thought the 2nd might be better after all. However, the signs led us to Hayling, it soon stopped raining and we continued happily along this route. The first part of the journey went fairly smoothly except for a very wet and muddy track. The 1st ferry left within 5 minutes of us getting there, as did the 2nd to Gosport. On our arrival in Gosport, Anna went into the tourist information office and got what we thought was good help in finding our way to the next ferry, as we knew that the N2 was not complete. Unfortunately we were not able to pick up the route which should have taken us to the “Pink Ferry” and ended up on a path with enormous puddles which we had to side-step. Eventually we found the ferry, but not without my FIRST problem with my bike (apart from the original gear settings, which had been not quite right from the beginning). This wasn’t the bike’s fault – I had had a big bag on top of my panniers and had bought a raincover to go over everything. Anna suggested putting some of my luggage into her car, which she would then bring it to me, when she collected the vehicle. I opted to keep the panniers, but to give her the sportsbag, which meant the least repacking, but as it was raining I had put the cover over, trapping the surplus in the luggage rack, as I thought. However it was really still too big and it was this that got caught in the discbrake, causing me to come to a complete halt. Fortunately the man who had just given us directions came up behind me and immediately offered to help. He loosened the brake, removed the wheel and untrapped the raincover before putting everything together again. I hope the brake isn’t permanently damaged – he thinks it might be bent as there is a slight noise, but at least I could cycle again. Thanks, Good Samaritan, if you should be reading this!
After the “pink ferry” we were soon in Southampton, where we looked for the Town Docks and the Hythe ferry. We had picked up the N2, lost it again and asked a couple of people. While I waited, Anna asked a man “where is the ferry?” and he replied “It doesn’t run anymore, you’ll have to go over the bridge! So we carried our bikes up the stairs onto the bridge, then to find out there would have been a ramp on the other side! When we got to rhe other end of the bridge, guess what? The Hythe ferry was signposted. By the time we were in Hythe it was 3:30 in the afternoon and we had expected to be there by 12:30!!!
The journey throught the New Forest was very pleasant until the signposting could no longer help us and we went a fair way on the main A35. That was horrendous for me and we finally managed to get off it and back to the tranquil roads of the New Forest. We arrived at the hospital to find nearly everyone had been there in the afternoon to greet us and there were very few people left. However it was a very hearty reception with champagne, flowers and photos thanks to Neal Williams of Macmillan Caring Locally and his family.
I will add more photos later.
Trip stats for the last day: 105,32 Kms., 347 hm. 7:40:53 bike-time.