Whilst most people have heard of the Lands End to John o’Groats route not many people have heard of the Dover to Cape Wrath route. So what about the opposite two corners? This sensational tour takes in some of the best cycling the British Isles has to offer, including the Kentish Downs; Rutland; the Peak District; The Yorkshire Dales and the unbelievably beautiful islands and coastline of the Western Highlands. Have we whet your appetite? Welcome to the Dover to Cape Wrath tour
The Dover to Cape Wrath cycle tour starts in the South East of England and takes in the quiet country lanes of The Kentish Hills and Cambridgeshire. We then head throughRutland the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales to Penrith and then on to the pretty village of Thornhill in Scotland before we take in the west coast of Scotland and also the islands of Arran, Mull and Skye before we reach the most north westerly point of mainland UK at Cape Wrath.
Covering a total of 997 miles, this exciting and challenging tour provides another rewarding experience in a similar vein as the Lands End to John O’Groats tour. There is slightly more climbing on the “D2C” but you are rewarded grandly for your efforts as some of the days are unrivalled in the British Isles for their sheer grandeur and beauty.
You are provided with detailed route notes and maps. A tour leader cycles at the back of the group and there is a support vehicle on hand should you require assistance. We also carry a few spare bikes just in case you have a major mechanical problems. Lunches are provided at a pub or a café each day and all your luggage is moved for you.
Whilst emphasis is always on safety we aim to provide a relaxed approach to cycle touring and wish to facilitate a fun and enjoyable tour with many laughs and memorable moments along the way. Our training days in the Peak District are designed to build confidence and discuss some of the logistics of completing a successful Dover to Cape Wrath tour.
The distance we will travel is approximately 997 miles, with an average mileage of 72 miles per day. It should be borne in mind that a reasonably fit cyclist will average around 10-12 miles per hour (including hills) and therefore we will be in the saddle each day for around 6-8 hours.
We will be at the start to meet you at Dover, and at the end we will take you from Durness to Inverness for our final meal. If you are worried about getting your bike home at the end of the trip we can arrange for it to be packed, boxed and sent to your address for you so you can relax when you have completed the challenge.
Fri 5th – Sat 20th August 2016 – Tour Full
Prices for 2016 are £1695 if sharing a twin/double, £1995 for a single or £2195 for sole occupancy of a double room.
Fri 16th June – Sat 1st July 2017 – Places available
Fri 11th – Sat 27th August 2017 – Places available
Prices for 2017 are £1795 if sharing a twin/double, £2145 for a single or £2295 for sole occupancy of a double room.
Dover to Brentwood (83 miles)
We set off on our epic journey on the Dover to Folkestone Heritage Trail and then turn inland and climb to the quiet country lanes above the City. A good part of the day is spent stretching our eager legs through the lovely Kentish Downs before finally returning to civilization to cross the river Medway near Rochester. Further on, we cross the Thames at Gravesend on the Tilbury passenger ferry before a final push to arrive at our evenings accommodation in Brentwood in Essex.
Brentwood to St Ives (73 miles)
A cracking little days cycling sees us on more quiet country lanes through the Essex and Cambridgeshire countryside. An unhurried Sunday lunch at The Cricketers owned by Jamie Oliver’s Mum and Dad will set us up for an afternoon of thatched cottages, winding roads and gentle streams through villages. The latter part of the day is spent on a great route through the vibrant University City of Cambridge, before joining the unique “Guided Busway” on our way to finally arriving at lovely St. Ives
St Ives to Castle Donington (81 miles)
After negotatiating some lovely cycle path called “The Thicket” away from St Ives for the first few miles, we then navigate on cycle path around a few busy sections near Huntingdon but the morning soon gives way to more quality country roads as we head towards Rutland, Englands smallest county, passing close by the rather well to do public schools of Oundle and Uppingham and the impressive Welland Viaduct on our way to the hillier sections of Rutland and beyond. This challenging, scenic day in the saddle is it’s own reward as we take a well earned rest in the tranquil setting by the river in Castle Donington.
Castle Donington to Thornsett (64 miles)
A shorter day today has us making our way through Nottinghamshire and on to some fantastic cycling through the picture postcard villages and terrain of the Peak District and all it has to offer. A great afternoon through this landscape then sees us descending out of the Peaks to the village of Thornsett in the North West tip of Derbyshire for some home cooked pub grub, fairly close to Peak Tours HQ.
Thornsett to Gargrave (58 miles)
A hilly but short day at 60 miles sees us continuing our journey skirting the edges of Derbyshire, Greater Manchester and finally Yorkshire by way of a mixture of some challenging but beautiful roads and some easier A and B roads. The edge of the Peak District allows some fine views out towards Manchester and on a clear day you can see as far as Wales. The evenings accommodation is in the village of Gargrave at the foot of the Yorkshire Dales amongst some lovely scenery.
Gargrave to Penrith (73 miles)
A fantastic day in the saddle sees us heading into the beautiful Yorkshire Dales where we join part of The Way of the Roses route, cycling through distinctive limestone hills and quiet country roads. Further on we pick up a gated road to Dent through some sublime scenery along a wonderfully peaceful section of The Dales. As if the Dales wasn’t enough, the latter section of this great day’s ride is spent exploring The Howgills, a lesser known part of The Lake District but no less beautiful for it.
Penrith to Thornhill (79 miles)
Today we cross the Scottish border as we pass through Gretna, Annan and onto Dumfries and Thornhill. An easy start sees us on part of the Coast to Coast ride in the morning, and later on those of you who have completed the LEJOG ride with us will began to recognise the roads just before Dalston. There are some long flat sections to get stuck into in the afternoon, and after making our way through Dumfries we take quiet, undulating country roads to the pretty Scottish village of Thornhill
Thornhill to Brodick (Arran) (67 miles)
A moderate start today past castles and by quiet lanes next to gentle rivers gives way to cutting across the countryside in Ayrshire and then navigating on cycle paths, as we head to Ardrossan to catch the ferry to Brodick on the Isle of Arran. From here we begin the most exciting section of the trip as we continue northwards along the rugged, wild and untamed beauty of the West coast of Scotland.
Brodick (Arran) to Craignure (Mull) (78 miles)
A superb coastal road takes us northwards to Sannox Bay before cutting inland to the north coast of Arran where we will catch the ferry over to Kintyre. A cracking day with fantastic scenery takes us along Kintyre often hugging the coastline up to Oban where we will take the ferry to the Isle of Mull.
Craignure (Mull) to Mallaig (73 miles)
A short cycle followed by an early ferry across the Sound of Mull takes us back onto the mainland. Here we cycle amongst some of the most spectacular scenery that our country has to offer, lets just hope the weather is on our side! We spend the night in the small coastal town of Mallaig, ready to catch the ferry in the morning.
Mallaig to Kinlochewe (75 miles)
An early start and another spectacular day takes us across the Isle of Skye to cross the impressive Skye Bridge at the Kyle of Lochalsh and back to the mainland. We have an optional detour to the picture-postcard little village of Plockton which was used as the back drop for Hamish McBeth, The Wicker Man and The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries. The second half of this day is as fine a days cycling as you will encounter anywhere within the British Isles.
Kinlochewe to Ullapool (75 miles)
Inching ever closer to our goal we continue past the impressive mountains around Beinn Eighe and Kinlochewe. Cycling by the banks of Loch Maree we pass Loch Gairloch and Loch Ewe and pass the Isle of Ewe and also Gruinard Island before passing the Falls of Measach and onto the picturesque fishing village of Ullapool.
Ullapool to Durness (68 miles)
This will be our last full day in the saddle as we position ourselves at Durness ready for the final stretch to our destination at Cape Wrath. Yet more stunning scenery awaits around every turn, plus the best descent of the trip, as we inch closer to our destination. Durness is a beautiful little village situated a stones throw away from the last section over the Kyle of Durness towards Cape Wrath.
Durness to Cape Wrath (and back) (24 miles)
Getting to Cape Wrath is logistically challenging but it is worth the extra effort to get to the most north westerly point of mainland UK. Firstly we need to hire mountain bikes and take a small boat over to the road that takes us to Cape Wrath. Once over the water, feeling strange on our hire bikes, we tackle a 12 mile section of road that is in bad condition and also the area is often used by the army as a firing range! After a victory conga and hugs all round at the lighthouse we need to get back to Durness and to our coach which will take everyone to Inverness for a last night celebratory meal.
The tour price includes 15 nights accommodation, 15 breakfasts, 14 lunches, snacks, tea, coffee, & hot chocolate, full trip support including a tour leader that cycles with the group, back up van with spare parts and a few spare bikes, detailed route notes so that you can cycle at your own pace, certificate, cycle shirt, luggage transfer each day, transfer from Dover Station to your hotel and transfer from Durness to Inverness at the end of the tour.
What’s Not Included?
Evening meals, cycle hire (available for a fee), mountain bike hire for Cape Wrath (around £20 or so), ferries (seven in all, should be around £35), transport to Dover, transport from Inverness.
The group will be a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 25 people. We feel that this size of group works best as there will always be enough in the group for some good company but there won’t be so many people that it becomes overcrowded.
We stay in a mixture of B&B’s and hotels. The price quoted assumes that you will be sharing a twin or double room. If you are travelling alone you will share a twin room rotated with others that have chosen the same accommodation option. If you choose the single room option (additional £350) then you will have your own room throughout.
Although the most direct route is much shorter, our route of 997 miles avoids main roads and takes in some of the UK’s most beautiful scenery. Wherever possible we cycle along quiet country lanes and cycleways and only join main roads when we absolutely have to. The terrain is varied but hillier in the middle through the Peaks and Dales and also the West Coast of Scotland.
All of your breakfasts and lunches are included in the price of the trip. You will have a choice of full English, toast, cereals, fruit juices, tea, coffee etc. Lunches will be provided each day and will generally be a buffet at a cafe or a country pub. Evening meals can be bought at your accommodation or in a nearby pub. The back up van also stops to brews and snacks in the morning and afternoon.
An experienced tour leader will cycle with you each day and be on hand to help with any bike problems that may occur. You will have detailed route notes so that you can go slower or faster than the leader if you prefer or you can cycle behind the tour leader so that you don’t have to navigate at all.
A back up van will leap frog the group a number of times each day so that help is never far away. We carry a range of spare parts so that repairs can be made en-route and we will have a spare bike available in the event that your bike has a serious breakdown.
We highly recommend that you use a bike that you are used to and feel comfortable riding. Your bike should be fully serviced and in good condition before you start, this will reduce the risk of mechanical problems and unnecessary stoppages along the way. Either a road bike or a hybrid bike is preferable, however the ride can be done on a mountain bike if you prefer. We have a range of hybrid bikes available for hire (£100 – £200 per person) if you don’t have your own bike. At the end of your trip we can arrange for your bike to be sent to your address (£60.00) if you don’t want the hassle of transporting it yourself.
This tour is suitable for someone with a good level of fitness and who wants a challenge. If you do plenty of training beforehand you should have no problem completing the ride. We will have a training day in the Peak District available if you would like to join the group before the main event.
It must be stressed that a good amount of training before the ride will make your tour much more enjoyable and ensure that you finish your ride. We are always happy to advise you about training plans in preparation for the ride.
Clothing and Equipment
Clothing for all weathers is recommended so waterproofs are essential. A full recommended kit list is provided & we are always happy to answer any questions that you may have.
You can do washing at many of the B&B’s so that you don’t have to bring a mountain of clothes.
What happens when I arrive?
If you would like collecting from Dover we will meet you at the station and take you, your luggage and your bike to the hotel where we will spend our first night. Just let us know when you want picking up and we will meet you then. We will have a group meal at 20:00 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 our first nights accommodation. If you could let us know when you will be arriving and we will make arrangements to collect you if required.
To get to Dover:
By Car If you are using a hire car there are plenty of car hire companies who have a depot 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 the 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 only suitable for mountain bikes really. As many people will be using road bikes, we hire mountain bikes (this will cost around £20) to complete the final section of the trip (if you had fairly wide tyres on your hybrid bike you could try it but we wouldn’t really recommend it). 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 two so it is essential that you carry a puncture repair kit & a spare tube or two 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, quiche, salads 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 will usually 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 good level of fitness is important as the D2C is a 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 eldest 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 choose 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 £70.00 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 we 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 and 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. If you are using a lightweight racing bike it would be better to use a slightly wider tyre than 23mm if possible for touring long distances, for comfort and the different road surfaces you may encounter. Tyre inflation & rubber composition is important and a tyre width of 25mm 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 and also bring 3-4 spare inner tubes, pump, puncture repair kit and 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 and rear lights on your bikes and 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 three types of hybrid bike available and two types of road bike. You may choose the Dawes Discovery 301 which costs £100.00 for the tour or you may wish to upgrade to the Dawes Galaxy Plus at £150 or the Dawes Super Galaxy at £200.00 for the tour. The road bikes we have for sale are the Canondale Synapse at £150 or the Cannondale CAAD10 at £200.
All of our hire bikes come fitted with mudguards, cycle computer, water bottle cage, bell, map holder, rear rack and front and rear lights. We can also provide a pannier with a multi-tool, pump, puncture repair kit, spare tube and tyre levers at no extra cost. All bikes can have flat pedals or SPD’s but if you would prefer to use your own (and maybe your own saddle) then please bring these along with you. 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.
To book a tour please send a completed booking form and (a) Deposit of £250.00 per person for tours of 10 days or longer or £50.00 for all other tours or (b) The full holiday cost. If only the deposit is paid at time of booking then full payment of the holiday is required no less than 6 weeks before the start of your holiday. No further reminder is sent. If you book your holiday within 6 weeks of the holiday start date, the full holiday cost is required at time of booking.
Cancellation by Us
In the unlikely event that we have to cancel the tour you will be entitled to a full refund of all monies paid or we will move you to a different tour date if you’re able to do so. If the tour is cancelled because the minimum number of people required to operate this tour hasn’t been reached then you will be notified no less than 3 calendar months before the departure date. If the tour is cancelled by us we will not be responsible for any incidental expenses that you may have incurred such as travel expenses, visas etc & no compensation will be paid to cover these expenses.
Cancellation by You
If you have to cancel your holiday then please notify us as soon as possible. We always try to be fair and will always try to move you to different tour date if possible. If you cancel your tour less than 6 weeks before your tour start date then you will lose all monies already paid. It is for this reason that we strongly recommend that you take out adequate travel insurance to cover cover this.
Notice of Cancellation Charge (% of Full Price)
Length of time before the tour is due to start Cancellation Charge More than 42 days before start date Deposit Less than 42 days before start date 100%
Cooling Off Period
If you decide to cancel your tour after receipt of your booking form you will be entitled to a 14 day cooling off period. During this time you will be entitled to a full refund of any monies paid.
B&B Option – double or twin
If you chose the B&B only option you will stay in a mixture of B&B’s, hotels and country pubs. If you are travelling with a friend then you will be roomed together in a twin or or if you’re with your partner then you will be in a double room (or a twin if you prefer). If you are travelling alone then you will be roomed with another member of the group in a twin room (same sex). The actual stopovers may change from the advertised accommodation providers, if this happens then an equivalent standard of accommodation will be used nearby. The majority of the rooms you stay in will be en-suite however you may stay in a couple of rooms that are not en-suite.
Single Room Option
If you choose the single room option you will have your own room for the duration of the trip. This will be in either a single room or single occupancy of a double room in a mixture of en-suite and non en-suite rooms.
Sole Use of a Double room Option
If you choose this option you will have a guaranteed double room to yourself throughout the tour. You will always have an en-suite each night of your tour. There may be a rare occasion when you have a separate bathroom but this is very unlikely.
YHA (Youth Hostel) Option
This option is only available for the 14 day LEJOG tour. If you chose the YHA option you will stay in a mixture of hostels, hotels & B&B’s staying in single sex dormitory rooms, single rooms, twin rooms & triples.
On tours with 8 people or less in the group then there may only be one tour guide with you who will drive the back up van each day. Tours with 8 – 15 people in the group will have two tour guides with one guide driving the back up van and the other guide cycling with the group or both guides driving a back up van each. Tours with 16+ will have a guide that cycles with the group plus two back up vans do provide support.
If you choose the cycle hire option you will be provided with your bike at the start of your tour. The bike comes with everything you need for your trip although some people like you use their own saddle, peddles and/or helmet (just let us know beforehand). At the end of your tour you can simply hand your bike back to us when you finish cycling. Please see the additional cycle hire sheet for details of the bikes we have available.
If the minimum number of people required to run the trip is not met then we will have to cancel the trip. You will be notified at least 3 calendar months prior to the start date of the trip if the minimum number (usually 8 people) hasn’t been met & you will receive a full refund of all monies paid.
In order to comply with EU Travel Regulations 1992 your deposit & final payment will be held in a separate account until your holiday is completed. This is to ensure the financial security of your holiday.
It is compulsory that you take out adequate holiday insurance including medical cover, personal accident, loss of belongings & cancellation cover. We cannot be held responsible for your own illness, injury or loss/damage of your bike or belongings while on holiday.
EHIC – European Health Insurance Card (for EU nationals travelling in Europe)
This card entitles you to greatly reduced or free state medical services throughout Europe, including Switzerland. We recommend you send off for one of these before the trip and carry it with you. It’s important to bear in mind that these cards are not a substitute for travel insurance and adequate travel insurance is compulsory for this tour. This link will give you all the information you need about the EHIC. www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/EHIC
Cycling is a potentially dangerous activity & the risks involved should be considered before undertaking such a trip. We will be cycling mostly on quiet back roads however there will be times when we cycle on busier roads where traffic density is higher. All persons undertaking this tour do so at their own risk & Peak Tours cannot be held responsible for any accidents that may occur whilst on the trip. For further details please see our risk acknowledgement statement here which forms part of these conditions.
By signing your booking form you agree to the booking conditions as outlined above. Peak tours will carry out our obligations as detailed in the tour itinerary & any information supplied to you.
The following extras are available for this tour:
One of our customers made a photo gallery on You Tube of the trip, here is a link to that: August 2015 D2C