Santander to UK: Up to Ille d orleon

On Day 6 we crossed the border into France it was a very hot day we had a massive climb to get to San Sabastian and we were feeling really good on the bikes. The road was really quiet and shady so we got to the top in no time at all. From San Sabastian there was another big climb and the day was hotter and there was no shade. I was drenched in sweat and my hands were slipping all over the bars it was really uncomfortable. When we got to the top my head was about to explode with the heat. A couple came to our rescue and gave us some ice cold water. It was much needed. We ended up in a campsite called Ametza it was lovely and the receptionist was very helpful, but it was not quiet at night, even though they said they had strict quiet times. It was probably the worst I have been on for teenages talking by our tent the whole night.

Day 7 we rode to a campsite called le Pavilion Royal in Bidart. This campsite was really nice and we had a cool pitch under some trees everyone respected the silent times at night it was very peaceful. For food that night we made tea on the beach and saw an amazing sunset. It was a stunning view as we had the mountains as a back drop it was unforgettable. Eva was happing playing in the surf and we were happy chilling with a bottle of wine watching natures wonder unfold before us and what makes it ultra special is knowing that you got yourself there under your own steam and effort.

Day 8 we stopped at some apartments because it was an overcast day we felt we needed to recharge everything easily. We would make up the shortage in mileage the next day. I tried to book them through Booking.com, but we got ripped off as they were shockingly horrible. None the less the bed was comfy and we had a nice sleep. The ride that day was lovely through pine forests all day long. This is when the route turned to what Rachael and myself imagined in our heads when we were reading about it.

Day 9 we made up the shortage in mileage from the day before and stopped at at a site that had been pre-booked. We got there real early too. Every site as had a pool but Eva was even more happy as this had water slides. The day was again spectacular, it was pine forests all day long and the weather was beautiful, the pine trees providing the shelter we needed. The route is so well organised, sign posted and cycle paths away from traffic I encourage anyone to do the route or parts of the route and have an adventure.

Day 10 we rode with no plan and just thought we will get a campsite on the road. We saw more pine trees and this route took us through woodland as well. We had a bit of a down pour in the morning but the rest of the day was fine. Eva had some more time in the pool and we tried to replicate our other night on the beech by taking our stuff to cook tea. We did make pasta and had wine but it was really windy. It was still nice though. A bit cloudy so we did not see a sun set that night.

The days are starting to blur at this point so I will describe what I remember over the last few days since day 10.

The route has continued to be well away from the noise of any traffic, it is just beautiful tarmac cycle paths weaving through forests, this Velodessy route is just unbelievable, the veiws you have of the coast and forest are truly life enhancing. We are passing family after family with loaded bikes, kids younger than Eva that are riding the route on their own bikes with panniers, there have been many tandems with kids this is a real family friendly route and I know a few of my friends at work will be aching to come and do it with their kids. The only thing I would say is don’t pre book your campsites that is a mistake I made, the sites in most cases have enough space for one pitch for one night. We have decided to go off the plan and play each day as it comes.

We got speaking to a cycle touring family on a site where we popped in for breakfast and he told us to go see Europes largest sand dune by going around the back and avoid the tourist, we took his advice and we near enough had the dune to ourselves. We rode further and realised just how lucky we were to avoid the tourists chomping up this single path like sheep in a traffic jam.

The other night we went to a site I had pre-booked for the previous night. On this instance they were full but the manager let us put up the tent in his garden. He had a beautiful house on the site and a beautiful grey Border Collie called Laya. He let us use the pool and all the facilities it was a truly lovely gesture.

From then we got up early and cycled to a site that had a waterpark!

We cycled 75km that day and we still arrived in the early afternoon so Eva could make best use of the park. We knew the next day we needed to cover 100km to get to our site that had been pre booked because we are spending 4 days chill time on the island of Ille d Orleon.I have been here before and knew it would be the perfect place to have a bit of non bike time. The 100km was a very hard ride. We had the strongest headwind I have ridden in. EVER! As we were in the coast it was right down our chuffing faces all day long. In the morning we had to contend we the occasional down pour. I gave up putting my coat on and off as after you got soak you were dry about 10 mins later. We got the ferry across the inlet to Royan and that was the halfway point. After the ferry it was blue skies but the wind had got stronger. To get across to the island of Ille d Orleon you need to go on a 2km bridge the wind was still coming straight on and with the trailer and all the baggage it must of been the slowest and hardest 2km of my time on a bike,it went on forever! After the bridge there was still no shelter from the wind but we only had 5km left. We made the site and it has a little lagoon that Eva got straight in after we had made our way via the pool bar for a well earned White Russian. After Eva had finished the the lagoon we set up camp and made our way to the bar for food as we were too tired to cook, the food was smashing and the red wine kept on coming whilst the evening entertainment was on.

I am currently at the side of the lagoon. We are here until the 14th then we get back on bikes for a night in Rochefort.

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