Dover to Cape Wrath FAQ
What happens when I arrive?
If you would like collecting from Dover we will meet you at the station & take you, your luggage & your bike to the hotel where we will spend our first night. Just let us know when you want picking up & we will meet you then. We will have a group meal at 8.00 on the Saturday night so if you are arriving much earlier you have the time free to yourself.
How do I get to Dover?
You can get to Dover by Car, train & ferry (or you could cycle). We can pick you up at Dover when you arrive on Friday and transport you and your bike to out first nights accommodation. If you could let us know when you will be arriving & we will make arrangements to collect you if required. To get to Penzance:
By Car If you are using a hire car there are plenty of car hire companies who have a depo at Dover. Just let us know when you want picking up and we can collect you once you have dropped off the car.
By Train There are frequent trains from London to Dover Priory and the journey takes between 1 hour 8 minutes to 2 hours 5 minutes depending on the time you are travelling and the station you are travelling from. Your ticket should cost between £30 - £40. For train timetables tel: 08457 48 49 50 or book online at www.nationalrail.co.uk
Why is the arrival day Friday and not Saturday? The reason that we start cycling on the Saturday and not Sunday is that we use the Gravesend to Tilbury ferry to cross the Thames. We use this ferry to avoid cycling through Greater London and the ferry doesn’t operate on Sundays.
What happens at the end?
We arrive in Durness on Thurday so that we are in place to catch the small boat across the estuary so that we can cycle the final 12 miles (each way) to reach the lighthouse at Cape Wrath. As Cape Wrath is no most north westerly point on mainland UK it marks our final destination. The road can only be accessed by boat and the road isn’t in a good state of repair. This section is suitable for hybrid bikes but not road bikes. As many people will be using road bikes we hire mountain bikes from a place in Durness to complete the final section of the trip (or use your own hybrid). Once we have arrived at the lighthouse we need to cycle back 12 miles to meet the boat back across the estuary to Durness. A coach will then take us to Inverness and we will spend the final night (Friday) in Inverness. You will then be in place for onward travel from either Inverness airport or the station.
If you are taking your bike back with you then we will transport your bike to Inverness for you or if you choose the ‘return transport’ option then your bikes will be packed & couriered back to your address for you.
What mechanical knowledge do I need?
We don’t expect you to be an expert bike mechanic but there are a few simple skills that will be a great benefit to you. The most important skill you need to know is how to fix a puncture. It is quite likely that at some point you will have a puncture or 2 so it is essential that you carry a puncture repair kit & a spare tube or 2 with you. It is also helpful if you know how to change your brake pads and adjust your brakes & gears however this isn’t essential. Our guides will help you with any repairs & adjustments en-route.
What are the lunches like?
We arrange a buffet lunch at a pub or café each day. This will be a mixture of sandwiches, pasta, salads, soup, pizza, pasta salad etc and will be different at each place. There will always be enough to go round so don’t worry if you are at the back of the group. The lunch stops provide a good opportunity to re-group & catch up with others and compare notes.
Will I be left behind?
No, a tour leader cycles at the back of the group so that you won’t be left behind if you are worried about cycling too slowly. Throughout the group there will be a mix of abilities & cycling speeds so you will usually be able to cycle with others that cycle at a similar pace. Some people like to cycle fast whilst others prefer to take their time, stop for coffee & cake or stop to take photos etc so whether you are a ‘speed demon’ or more of a ‘tourer’ there usually will be someone to cycle with each day.
Do I need to be super fit?
No, you don’t need to be super fit but a veryg good level of fitness is important as the D2C is a very challenging ride. The fitter you are & the more training that you do beforehand will add to the enjoyment of your tour and improve your chances of succeeding the challenge. If you need any advice about fitness please contact us and we will be happy to discuss any questions & concerns that you may have.
What are the groups like?
Obviously each group is different but generally they are a fun, friendly, helpful & adventurous bunch. There will be people of all ages and from all walks of life. We tend to get quite a few older riders although there will always be a few younger riders as well. So far our youngest rider was 15 & the oldest 74. We think that a group of 20-25 is ideal as there will be plenty of people with similar interests & character without being such a big group that it becomes too much.
Generally the group will be split 50/50 between people travelling alone & people that travel as a pair such as two brothers, two friends, two partners. There will be plenty of people to socialise with throughout the day and in the evening.
How do I get my bike home at the end of the trip?
If you are flying then you will need to box your bike before you board the plane. If you chose to do this you will need to send your bike box or bag to the final destination at the hotel in Durness as we don’t have space in the back up van to carry bike boxes or bags for everyone. If you are travelling by train you will need to ensure that your bike is booked on each leg of your journey. We will transport your bike back to Inverness for you.
An easy alternative to transporting your bike yourself is to use the services of Ticket to Ride (www.johnogroatsbiketransport.co.uk). Whilst we don’t take any responsibility for any outside bike couriering services previous customers have used them and have reported that they offer an excellent service.
The way it works is that we will transport your bikes back to Inverness where a member of the Ticket to Ride staff will meet us at the airport/station & take any bikes that are to be posted or they will collect bikes from Durness. The bikes will then be boxed (this usually means that they will remove the front wheel, pedals, saddle & handlebars) and posted to your address. The price for this service is £65.00 per bike. If you would like to use this service please let us know & we will book it in for you.
What happens in the evenings?
Once you have arrived at your accommodation you should have chance for some time to relax, have a shower etc before the evening meal. We usually arrange somewhere to eat for the evening meal so that we can all get together & you won’t be left alone if you would like to eat with others. Quite often will simply arrange a certain pub to meet up & just drift in when you are ready whilst at other places we have a set time to eat – it just depends on the location.
Does the support vehicle follow the group?
No, the back up van doesn’t drive behind the group at all times but the van shouldn’t be too far away if you require assistance. In the morning we have a group brief and set off cycling, meanwhile the backup driver will collect all the luggage from the various B&B’s & hostels. Once all of the luggage has been loaded, the support vehicle will leapfrog the group stopping when necessary. The backup driver will be at the lunch stop should you need anything from the van & in the afternoon will go on ahead to ensure that your luggage is in place before you arrive.
How much luggage can I take?
There is limited space in the back up van to store luggage. We therefore request that you try to keep your luggage size to a minimum & try not to bring too much with you. Washing clothes can be done en-route so you shouldn’t need to bring a clean set of clothes for every day. The ideal size for luggage is 70 x 50 x 30 cm and a weight of 15-18kg (or less).
What training should I do?
The more the better. We will provide a training guide for you so that you can build up your cycling strength and prepare for the ride in the correct way. It is important that you cycle two long days back to back whilst training & also that you cycle on some hills. We hold training weekends at the start of the season so that you can meet with others in the group, ask any questions you may have & also test yourselves amongst the hills of the Peak District.
What bike should I use?
The most suitable bike for this trip is a hybrid/touring bike or a road bike, however it is entirely up to you what type of bike you use. Some people may be riding mountain bikes, others hybrids & others on racing bikes.
Please ensure that your bike is fully serviced & in good working order before the start of the trip.
If you are riding a mountain bike then it is advisable to use slick tyres or if you are using a lightweight racing bike it would be better to use a wider tyre if possible as the route does include narrow lanes & some bumpy sections of road that can have pot holes. Tyre inflation & rubber composition is important & a tyre width of 25cm or more is recommended for this tour. Please ensure that you have hard wearing tyres with plenty of tread.
You are going to cycle 1000 miles so it is important that your bike won’t let you down. You may want to fit new brake blocks, tyres & inner tubes before you start the ride & also bring 3-4 spare inner tubes, pump, puncture repair kit & multi-tool to carry with you each day. It is essential that you are able to fix a puncture.
It is also advisable to have front & rear lights on your bikes & try to be a visible as possible.
Can I Hire a bike from you? It is advisable to use your own bike if possible however we realise that it is not always possible to use your own steed so you may wish to hire one. We have a range of touring and road bikes available starting from £100
All of our hire bikes come fitted with mudguards, cycle computer, water bottle cage, bell, map holder,and front and rear lights. We also provide a pannier or saddle bag with a multi-tool, pump, puncture repair kit, spare tube and tyre levers at no extra cost. All bikes have flat or SPD pedals so if you would prefer to use your own (and maybe your own saddle) then please bring these along with you and the guides will help to fit them. We can also provide a helmet for you at no extra cost.
What gear should I take?
We provide a suggested kit list so please contact us if you would like a copy sending to you.
What is the male / female ratio?
This varies with each group. There are usually more guys than gals but an average would be about 1/3rd ladies & 2/3rds gents.