How I made it to Edinburgh

It’s 11pm and the sun is still setting in the Highlands of Scotland.

A few days ago I made it to Edinburgh after 3 days on my bike, for the first time ever. I’m stoked about my trip even though I have to confess, I cheated. After 80km on the second day through the Scottish hills, I was quite worn out. It was a real ‘learning by doing’ kind of feeling as I probably should have taken it easy the first days as the most challenging bit was waiting for me between Hawick and Edinburgh.

I woke up early and felt I was more keen for a hot chocolate in bed and a sleep in rather than a full English Scottish breakfast. My body ached from biking but mostly from a cold I caught and I already knew it would be a tough day.

I head off in the morning, again on a hot sunny day. I was pretty much ready for anything to happen/go wrong except for one: sunny hot weather. It’s Scotland we’re talking about it. Thermals and goretex jacket remained nicely packed in their panniers though as it was sunny and 25+ degrees…  I even got sunburn!

As expected, the first hill felt like a high altitude summit attempt. The first hour always is the toughest whether I hike, climb or bike, so I ignored the pain and convinced myself it would get better (at least tried). The ride in the countryside was so lovely that it made up for how exhausted I felt anyway.

But at some point I had to face reality, I didn’t have the energy for another 80km day. After 30km, I ended up jumping into  a train to Edinburgh. That way, I’d be on time for l’apero as my friends that I hadn’t seen in 2+ years were waiting for me at the pub.

Some things just come first in life 🙂


How lovely is the Scottish countryside?


And finally…downhill!

I am very happy about my first cycling trip and feel I’ve learnt a lot from it. I know a little more what to expect for the upcoming one.


1 – Plan at least a little bit (routes and where to sleep). I am ridiculously adventurous unprepared, a bit more planning ahead would allow me to enjoy more the non riding time.

2 – Do not underestimate the saddle (new one on the way, hope the Brooks one will break in quickly!)

3 – Less weight, less weight, less weight…hard when you want to combine city visits, cycling, hiking, climbing, photographing, camping…haven’t found the solution yet, open for tips and ideas!

Edinburgh is a pleasant city though pretty touristy, interesting (free) museums and really nice to wander around. I haven’t any rainy day so far, how bizarre!

Coming up next: the Highlands and how good it feels to be in the North of the north again…


The Meadows in Edinburgh


Random street, Edinburgh


Street art, Edinburgh


Up Arthur’s Seat, old volcano overlooking Edinburgh


Would be cool to go climbing there next time!



Cowgate, Edinburgh

Just keep going!

I left the lovely Sandysike house this morning after a huge English breakfast which was greatly needed.

After a few miles I stopped for coffee (yes already!) as I wasn’t too sure which road to choose. It’s amazing the effect you have when you get to a village with a fully loaded bike. People are already super friendly in the UK but when you’re a woman travelling alone and on a bike it get to another level! Kids ask me questions and people are curious about why and where. I had forgotten how social solo travelling actually is. Anyway I talked to a rather old men on his way to Glasgow by foot and two other cyclists who had come up from Cornwall.

Not long after was the border to Scotland.


The first miles were rather flat and the road not too busy. I put some music on and felt great. It quickly became steadily uphill but not as bad as yesterday. I didn’t push my bike once today!


There wasn’t much around apart from green hills, sheep, horses and beautiful stone houses.


Crossing the river near Langholm


Slow travel is the best


And after 50 miles (80km), I reached Hawick where I’m staying  tonight before reaching Edinburgh tomorrow (hopefully). I feel great even though my butt hurts, I should maybe get another saddle at some point…



I’ve learnt 2 things again today:

1/ that it’s good to start early so I take more time to have breaks and take photos

2/ that it’s wise to close my mouth while cycling so no insect get it (I wonder where the one getting in my nose end up?)

And last but not least, today’s soundtrack: “A moon shaped pool” by Radiohead, The National, Calexico, Nicolas Just and various Nova Tunes compilation.

May tomorrow be as awesome as today 🙂

From hiking to cycling

I know nothing about bikes. Well, I know how to ride one so that’s a start. Although to be completely honest I’m not sure I’m very good at using all those gears properly yet. So when I left Penrith station today with my new old bike fully loaded, I felt a mix of excitement and “what on earth are you doing now” kind of feeling.

I’m used to riding a bike around or to work though. One day, while I was at work day dreaming about the coming 4 months trip to Europe, it came as an evidence. I needed more and I would ride a bike around bits and pieces of Europe while visiting my friends and family.

So I started reading about bikes. A lot. And I talked to my friends who’d done touring before (thank you so much for your  patience and tips). And I read books and blogs. A lot.

I won’t bore you with more details about which bike to choose and why but I ended up going for a second hand Long haul trucker Surly bike that I pimped a bit.

So there I am at Penrith station this afternoon, heading towards the hills. It is nice and hot in northern England at the moment which makes the English countryside even more gorgeous.

25 miles later I made it to my first destination, Brampton (Cumbria). I have no idea where I’ll end up tomorrow but today I’ve learned 2 things:

1/ Do not underestimate British hills

2/ Do not underestimate yourself

Edinburgh here I come!


Waiting for the train at Manchester station


Trying not to rely on GPS and phone too much





Lovely Sandysike farm


Riding through Cumbria