9-11/9/16. ….. for now! (More of our future plans to come in a future episode. Stay tuned.) We have reached our final destination before the UK in getting to Dieppe – which completes the “circle” (sort of) in that this was where we made landfall in April 2015 when we first set off on this giant “holiday”. While there was no particular need to get back here it has a certain symmetry that appeals to the accountant in us!
Going to bed with the wind still blowing “a good ‘un” on Thursday night we were anticipating a tough day battling against it on Friday, only to find that, hallelujah, it died overnight! However, it was still uppy/downy and, as the morning went on, the wind started to blow a little. Nothing like as bad as the previous day but enough, with the hills to get off the bike and walk uphill (Christine) or to get the ticker going in Stephen’s case (because he wasn’t going to get off – absolutely no way!)
Arriving in Boulogne (admission time!) we were tempted by the thought of taking the ferry to Dover rather than plugging away into the wind all the way to Dieppe. However, our weakness was thwarted by the fact that ferries no longer go from there despite the signs to “Car Ferry”. We only found this out after a detour of 2 km, mainly downhill – which, of course, meant we faced 2 km back, mainly UPhill! That will teach us to succumb to temptation and weakness! (Maybe)
As we had almost no food with us and it was after midday we were hunting around for a supermarket but, according to the Garmin, they were all back in the centre (2 or more km downhill) so we pressed on, more in hope than in expectation. Suddenly we saw an Alimentation (old style grocer) and bought the minimum necessary to keep body and soul together (because prices were astronomical). Of course, we then immediately came upon an Aldi!! The law of sod prevails!
After buying a few extras beyond the “necessary” we dined in Aldi’s car park (we know how to live!) before setting off again. Miraculously the wind eased off and so did the landscape, meaning that we could make better progress. To cap it all, some of the route was along cycle paths (courtesy of the EU, at least partly) so we had a much better afternoon than morning.
We made it to Berck (no sniggering!) and found a campsite located next to the beach. The location was excellent (a splendid sunset looking out over the estuary) but the rest left something to be desired. It was relatively expensive (€23 not including showers) and the sanatation facilities hit a new low for France – not only no loo seat or paper but also filthy and the nearest handwashing place more than 50 yards from the toilet block in a building that was locked between 10 at night and 8 in the morning! And pissoirs in full view of anyone walking past. Hmm.
The relative flatness and absence of wind continued for much of Saturday as we pressed on trying to get as close to Dieppe as possible so that we could accommodate Christine’s pill day (which effectively knocks out half a day of cycling at least) and still catch the ferry in the middle of the day on Monday as we had planned.
It all went well until mid afternoon when there were a couple of long upward drags and the westerly picked up which, combined with aggressive traffic on a busy road, to make Christine go “twang”. She walked the last 5 km to the nearest campsite.
However, we had achieved the objective. We were about 40 km from Dieppe which meant that, even if it was as hilly as we feared, we should get there by Sunday evening leaving us Monday morning for Christine to have her pill before a leisurely saunter to the ferry port.
In fact, the final bit of the route wasn’t as bad as we feared although there was a real b**tard of a hill (up to 12%) to the top of the cliffs above the pretty little town of Treport. Perhaps we should have investigated whether bikes were allowed on the funicular that also went that way! Once up there the route only dipped down to sea level and back up once before the final descent into Dieppe.
Dieppe was packed with people attending the biennial kite festival but we found ourselves a “room at the inn” in a hotel on the promenade and an excellent seafood dinner to celebrate having made it all the way from Berlin to the UK (barring the ferry ride) – more than 2,500 km in two months (including a week’s break back in the UK with our sons and their ladies). Not bad for a couple of oldies. We feel quite proud of ourselves!