New Year Exchanges with Essex

From: Richard
To: Andrew
Subject: Maps

Hi Andrew,
Hope you’ve had a good Christmas. I see you’ve been busy on the blog. I’ve started telling people about my plans and am very much committed and excited about the trips. I think I will plan to try meet you in Brussels if all goes well. I have started looking into routes from mine to Dover on Sustrans. Do you think it is a better idea to stick rigidly to the cycle routes or go for the shortest route? Also I see you have purchased maps for northern France and Belgium. I was thinking of buying these and wondered if we could have a chat about possible routes from Calais to Brussels.

Speak to you soon.

From: Andrew
To: Richard
Subject: Maps

Hi Richard
Thanks for the email and I’m glad you’ve gone for the Brussels to ??? bit of the trip. I’ve never really discovered that little corner of Europe (the bit going south from Brussels through Luxembourg and then down the Rhine towards Switzerland) and it will certainly be one of the most interesting bits. As for getting from Essex to Dover, well, you are kind-of lucky in that you could follow the National Cycle Network route 1 more or less all the way to Dover. That said, you make a good point about whether it’s a good idea to follow the route or go for the shortest route. Last summer I followed the cycle path as closely as I could and it did hold me back with constant junctions, referring to the map all the time etc… It did slow me down. I think the best thing to do is to follow the cycle path where appropriate (when it is along a canal or disused railway line for example) and then use minor roads to make up the distance.
As for getting from Calais to Brussels, the blurb in the official description of the EV5 says the following:
“In Dover the white cliffs wait for you. Channel crossing by train or ferry to France at Calais. Then you follow Canal de Calais to Saint Omer signed as LF1 and continue through Lille / Roubaix into Belgium. Here you follow the river / canal Escaut, which is the border between Fanders and Wallonia and then through Ronse and into Brussels.”
I haven’t actually looked at the map yet to work out the detail of the route but I’ll be basing it on that description – it sounds flat (on canals!). Let me know if you manage to plan anything more detailed. Obviously you will be cycling that bit before me so I’ll let you take the lead on this part of the journey!
Best wishes to you and your family in 2010.

Speak soon – keep me updated with your plans.

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