Tandem Tour 2014 – Hastings to Dover

Tandem_Tour2014_Day1In previous years we have used the ferry between Hull and Rotterdam. This time, having moved to Hastings on the south coast of England, we decided to cycle to Dover and make the short crossing to Dunkerque en route to Belgium. At £10 each, with DFDS, it is a bargain.

Getting to Dover, however, illustrates just how far the English are from providing safe and enjoyable cycle routes. For example, the Royal Military Canal (right), flowing from Rye to Hythe (see map, above left) is an obvious potential route for the DSCF0573National Cycle Route 2. But alas, no. Private land ownership means that the cycle route has to weave around – albeit quiet roads – only being granted access in the approaches to Hythe (below left).

We had to cheat on our first day. We were unable get away before 1400. We took the train from Hastings to Ham Street towards Ashford (the Class 171 trains used on that route can accommodate a tandem with ease).

Once into Hythe, the cycle route takes riders on to the promenade which is wide enough to share comfortably with pedestrians. And then through Folkestone where, unfortunately, it is necessary to join a busy road that climbs out of the town in the East. The route then provides a dedicated track up to a quiet road (B2011) that runs parallel to the busy A259. DSCF0575 It provides a rewarding view over Folkestone by way of compensation.

Past the Battle of Britain memorial, through Capel le Ferne downhill in to Dover. If wanted. However, we followed the coast path which is a shade rough but worth the effort. We’d booked a B&B just outside Dover on the B2011, so we had to make our way back. There is a route under the A20 and a non-public road down. The gradient is significant. Unfortunately, it ends with a locked barrier. For single cyclists it is unproblematic. A fully loaded tandem, unfortunately, has to be unloaded in order to thread it under the barrier. The B&B (Farthingloe) was, however, adjacent.

A mixed 35 km for our first half day.

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