Today’s blog is by Steven Rittey, Leisure Cycling and Walking Holidays Manager at Wheel2Wheel Holidays based in Manchester. Steven writes a monthly blog for OS to tell of his adventures and ‘Tales from the Cycle Trails’, a weekly newsletter for leisure cyclists. Here he describes a great ride across Scotland…
I have been on numerous night trains across Europe and like the fact that you can leave a city in the evening, travel through the night and end at your destination without spending another night in a hotel or travelling throughout the day. You can even sleep in a bed if you like or choose a cheaper reclining seat. Whilst this form of train travel is part of the everyday rail timetable in mainland Europe, the U.K only has two ‘night train’ routes left – London to Northern Scotland and London to Penzance. Despite my love of train travel, I had been on neither.
Bikepacking, which is growing in popularity worldwide, is one of the key focuses of the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling this year. Held from 11 to 21 June the festival, now in its third year, is a real showcase of all aspects of bicycle culture.
What is Bikepacking?
Bikepacking isn’t a new way to enjoy flat pack furniture or the dismantling of bikes for fun. It’s an off-road cycling discipline where riders take tents, and other camping essentials with them on their bikes. Packing your bike to ensure optimised space for gear is a skill in its own, with specialist equipment for different parts of the bike:
We currently have 250 field surveyors who contribute to the 10,000 changes taking place every day in our database. Thanks to them our master map of Great Britain is constantly, subtly shifting and changing. Luckily, the country is nothing if not varied, and not all of our surveyors are pounding concrete and worrying about urban canyons (the phenomena of being in an area so built up that satellite signals – can’t reach their GNSS kit). Some spend their days surrounded by sheep, not Starbucks. One such surveyor is Guy Rodger who looks after Shetland. Guy’s worked for OS for 30 years and spends an average of four weeks in Shetland every year and has to carefully plan his work to maximise his time there. I caught up with him recently to ask him some questions.
You could say that we’re a nation obsessed with our history. Turn on the television and what do you see? Celebrities on historical quests to trace their family roots, historical documentaries about individuals or battles, and period dramas set in and around some of Britain’s famous historical landmarks.
We admire them when they’re on the box, but how often do we actually get out there and see the amazing historical landmarks that are right on our doorstop? Here’s a rundown of some of our favourites.
When writing about historical landmarks in the UK, it would seem almost churlish to start anywhere but Stonehenge. Regardless of how you know of it – be it The Beatles performing in ‘Help!‘ with a clearly visible Stonehenge in the background, the infamous rock classic “Stonehenge” in mockumentary ‘This is Spinal Tap’, or more recently several episodes of ‘Doctor Who’, the point is we all know of it.
The first time I attempted this walk, two friends and I, in very inappropriate footwear, ran up the direct route to Arthur’s Seat. About half-way up (we had to stop, it’s very steep!) you can see breath-taking views across Edinburgh right out to the Firth of Forth and Fife. At this height, the course of the weather can be seen and we watched in amazement as a ferocious storm shifted across the lower lands. What we did not realise was, that within ten minutes, that same storm would hit us. Much to our dismay our quest to reach Arthurs Seat had to be abandoned ten metres from the top, as the inappropriate footwear and lack of waterproofs made fighting the hail near on impossible. Since our plans were thwarted, we headed home and decided we should plan a more appropriate route to the top. Lesson Learnt! So, here is our second, more successful route to Arthur’s Seat.