Weymouth to Southampton and onwards to Hamburg by Queen Mary days 1 to 4 12th to 15th July 2012

The cycle route from Weymouth to Southampton

It is in yellow, move it around, click on "View Larger Map" and print it:

The Downloads:

Downloads for this route in Garmin Google Earth and .GPX formats

The files are in .zip format. They need to be unzipped and saved to a directory of your choice. You can then load them into the appropriate application and GPS.

The Blog

Weymouth to Hamburg

Day 1, 12th July 2012 Weymouth to Christchurch

Bilbo left the Shire by disappearing. Without a magical ring we had made extensive preparations before we left, rather earlier than planned, along the Rodwell Trail. We were early because of the dreadful weather forecast. We could not avoid the rain but at least we got over the Downs before it set in for the day. We made excellent time and decided to get the nasty road from Wareham to Poole out of the way before lunch. The pretty route via Arne, Corfe and Studland was a pedal too far for us today.

We should also mention that there are three of us on this trip, the stoker, the management and a certain bionic Nanny who helps us up the hills.

We decided on lunch at the cafe in Upton Park but sadly it was not to be. A health and safety jobsworth stepped in. To be on the safe side we asked to top up the bike battery. Health and safety said no and so did we and we moved on to Wetherspoons in Poole. Here the rules, if they exist at all, appear to be different. We had a nice meal and a good solid top up.

Bournemouth prom is closed for cycling during the day in July and August so we took the badly signed and hilly inland route. Navigation was difficult in the rain which had got worse but we managed it with only one slip.

After a brief seafront ride at Boscombe and crafty navigation through Christchurch we were delighted to arrive at the Premier Inn. The room now looks like a Chinese laundry with our wet clothes hopefully drying out for the morning.

Days 2 and 3, 13th and 14th July Christchurch to Hamburg via Southampton

It is often best to break the rules. Having paid in advance we exited the meandering Premier Inn via the fire door. We think it is competing with Frimley Park Hospital for having the longest, almost interminable, corridors in the UK.

Once on the road we made the mistake of taking the cycle route over a large roundabout. The management should have known better. We were still in Dorset. The complex structure of bridges was unsigned with two barriers too tight for the tandem. We suspect that Miles of Piles may have had a hand in it. Suffice to say that our average speed was still down by a kilometre per hour at the end of the ride.

We found the rather overgrown cycle route on the wrong side of the Lyndhurst Road and of course studiously gave way to even the most minor egress onto it. But the best was yet to come. We passed the Hampshire sign, the management's home county. The cycle route stopped. Miles of Piles obviously hadn't spoken to anyone in Hampshire. Much to the stoker's amusement we took a narrow path to the right which brought us to the top of a flight of steps.

The management briefly considered riding down the steps but in the interests of not breaking the tandem pushed down them instead. It was not too difficult going down but we must avoid them on the way back.

We soon navigated the maze of suburban streets on the edge of Christchurch and it was a breath of fresh air to arrive in the New Forest. Even the constant flow of vehicles was better than the greater Bournemouth sprawl. It was not long before the threatening sky delivered the promised heavy shower. We took refuge in one of the few remaining red phone boxes "no coins accepted".

The stoker's waterproofs kept off the rain for the rest of the ride. This was uneventful except for the questions from a friendly but curious roadie who perhaps thought we were going rather fast uphill considering our load. We put him out of his misery and explained about Nanny.

We arrived in the busy village of Hythe and got our first view of the Queen Mary 2 on the other side of Southampton Water. We rode the long pier, our wide tyres easily bridging the gaps between the planks. Manoeuvering on and off the ferry was tricky but made much easier by the odd bit of help from Nanny and a friendly cyclist who lifted the trailer.

A brief and probably unnecessary circumnavigation of a busy one way system brought us to Dock Gate 4. As passengers we cycled straight to the departure building. Unlike Portland Port there were none of the silly security arrangements preventing us from entering.

Embarking was easier than we thought it would be. We were directed by the porters to an area where it was easy to dismantle the tandem. Once this was done they came and took it and the trailer away. We then went through the airport style check in and security carrying the heavy Nanny battery and our electronics. Surprisingly the only problem was the stoker's shoes which set off the alarm. It is best not to wonder about the idiocy of security but sufficient to say that G4S were involved and it is clear that the terrorists and the paranoid have won.

Queen Mary is the most comfortable ferry we have ever travelled on. The staff, many of whom are friendly Filipinos, were very helpful and our cabin was very pleasant. Everything on the ship was very "nice" though we both think it pretentious. We had to dress for dinner and the decor is, to our minds, just awful. And having to put up with the religious gingoism of "The last night of the proms" as we left Southampton was almost more than the management could stand.

On the whole we are much better suited to travel by cargo ship but for this voyage Cunard was cheaper, easier to arrange, and most importantly, left from Southampton not Felixstowe.

Day 4, 15th July Hamburg to Duvenstedt

The Queen Mary navigated the long Elbe estuary during the night and when we awoke to the 7am alarm she was in port and had turned ready to go back to sea. She is certainly the quietest ship we have been on with almost no engine noise or vibration and though it was not rough no discernible motion at sea.

We had time for a pleasant breakfast before our allotted departure time at 8h45. We found the tandem with the rest of the bags in the liner terminal at the foot of the gang plank.

Assembling the bike is not difficult but it is always a tense time. This time we went for minimal packing in the forlorn hope that the baggage handlers would be respectful of its delicate nature. It almost worked with the worst damage being a slightly buckled rear brake disc.

Within about an hour we were pedalling through the surprisingly quiet streets of Hamburg. We seldom stay in cities if we can avoid them but as big cities go Hamburg seemed ok, although it was Sunday. We went over picturesque canals and rivers. Our cycle path went beside city centre lakes dotted with sailing dinghies.

Even the stoker was impressed by the management's route which took us via minor roads and cycle paths to the wealthy leafy suburbs. Just as we emerged into the countryside we found our hotel exactly where it was waymarked.

The weather had been on our side for the morning's short ride. We avoided the only really heavy shower of rain by stopping for coffee and giving the talkative waiter the opportunity to speak English.

The afternoon was spent at the hotel fixing the bike. Then we had a rather long walk in the pretty countryside and we had an appetite for our enormous dinner.