Author Topic: Beginner's questions about September in Scotland or England  (Read 7309 times)

flocsy

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I am planning my 1st proper tour. It would be a "delivery" meaning I'd fly to the UK, then using public transportation get to somewhere where ebay/gumtree/facebook.this forum takes me (wherever I'll find a bike that I'll finally buy) and then cycle "back" towards the airport. For some reason most of the Thorn bikes I see are either from Scotland/north England or somewhere between Land's end and Bridgwater (maybe people buy more Thorns because it's close) but if the 7-10 days won't be enough then probably I'd hop on a train to skip the last part (assuming the closer I get to any airport => big city => more traffic and probably less scenic views)

My 1st big concern is the weather. The last time I've been to England was 30 years ago, in the summer vacation. I don't really remember the weather. From what I read in September I can expect at least half of the days being rainy, and especially in the north pretty cold (at least to my standards - in the last 15 years I live in Israel's coast, so the coldest winter is around 10 degrees C, and we have like... I don't know maybe 10 days of rain a year, and we we don't really go out on those days, 'cause you'll have "better" days soon enough. So I am not much accustomed to cold and wet. What kind of clothes and gear would I need to carry with me? How do you deal with the rain, when it's raining every day for a week and everything (clothes, tent, maybe even the sleeping bag) is already wet?

Also: currently I am thinking about bringing my decathlon tent with me and try to use it for camping (maybe use some hostels if the weather is unbearable, hoping that September is after the season, so I'll be able to find something in the morning for the evening) What are the rules for camping? Is there something I need to be aware of? I'm not used to the wild life there. Is it like in north America, that I need to be aware of bears and other wild animals? Though I would feel more comfortable to go to campings. What are those huge national parks north of Manchester? Is it allowed to camp there?

How much of an issue is to find food (a supermarket will do it) and refill water? In the Netherlands I had no problem at all, but how is it in the more remote northern areas?

Since this will be my 1st solo trip I'll also be happy for some tips regarding security. How much insane should I be with locks and locking the saddle, the panniers as well when I stop in a supermarket or during the night when I camp? (My uncle just updated me on his tour last summer from the Black see to the Black forest, and most of his gear (bike + everything that wasn't inside the tent) was stolen in Bulgaria during the night)

mickeg

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Re: Beginner's questions about September in Scotland or England
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2023, 03:12:11 am »
I have never been to the UK.  I am quite clueless.

Late September, day light should last about 12 hours.  If camping, bring a good headlamp for your head.

Weatherspark is my go-to website for finding about weather anywhere I go.  Lots of great info there.  Put in a city, preferably where there is an airport for data.  Note that on the probability of precip, they consider less than 1mm of precip during the day to be zero.
https://weatherspark.com/


Matt2matt2002

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Re: Beginner's questions about September in Scotland or England
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2023, 06:06:49 am »
I'm English and have lived in Scotland for a few years.
To answer some of your questions;
Food, no problems.
Weather, we frequently have the four seasons in one day.
Security, generally good away from towns but if course it only takes one tealeaf....

Can you clarify your bike plans? You'll be buying one here?
Interesting plan.
Fwiw: scenery, stunning. West coast wetter than the East coast. Northern islands stunning. Hebrides, extra stunning but super busy in summer.

Best

Matt
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flocsy

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Re: Beginner's questions about September in Scotland or England
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2023, 09:21:30 am »
Can you clarify your bike plans? You'll be buying one here?

Yes, the plan is to find a second hand Thorn somewhere in the UK, and do a 7-10 days tour on it "on the way home (to the airport)", then take the bike home with me (flight).

I am originally from Hungary but live in Israel and I really miss green landscapes. I know I'll have beautiful views in the UK, and I guess (because I've never been up north) that even more so in Scotland.

navrig

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Re: Beginner's questions about September in Scotland or England
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2023, 10:23:24 am »
I live in Scotland and have lived all over - Central belt (Edinburgh/Glasgow), Dundee, Aberdeen, Inverness.

Food & water - no major issues.  Unless you go VERY remote the furthest you will be from a grocery shop of some sort is about 20 miles.

I would guess 95% of tap water is guaranteed safe.  The other 5% will be where the water is stored locally in a small water tank and may not be fresh due to lack of use.   I am thinking rural toilet blocks sort of place.  The only tap water not drinkable is on trains.

Wildlife - it isn't wild so no issues.

Wild camping in Scotland is generally accepted as long as you leave no trace.  Best done in the countryside rather than the local children's play park.

National Parks across the UK tend to be in hilly or mountainous areas.

There is a national network of cycle paths

https://www.sustrans.org.uk/national-cycle-network

I suspect you wont get direct flights to anywhere in Scotland from Israel so that may be a limiting factor.  The main airports at Edinburgh and Glasgow are accessible by bike so you may not need to jump on a train - neither are served directly by train anyway.

You could easily create a 10 day tour from Glasgow to Glasgow and see some wonderful parts of Scotland.

Here is something I put together for a guy in South Africa.  This is Glasgow to Edinburgh.

https://www.komoot.com/tour/1049091497?ref=wtd&share_token=a4CnZbKuG1zBfbi8GaWU0gfMWsbSrlfqJ9OY9flQLhCTCD7pWA

Weather - September is as late as I would tour in Scotland.  You could be lucky and be in shorts/t-shirt or you could be chilly/old and wet.

JohnR

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Re: Beginner's questions about September in Scotland or England
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2023, 10:41:34 am »
Weather, we frequently have the four seasons in one day.
A good summary. :) There's not much difference in temperature between a cold summer day and a warm winter day. It all depends on where the wind it coming from.

One advantage of Scotland (outside of the central belt) is that the roads are relatively quiet compared with England. Also, Scottish hills may be fairly long but are rarely steep and the climb is rewarded by a pleasant descent.

flocsy

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Re: Beginner's questions about September in Scotland or England
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2023, 11:41:50 am »
I suspect you wont get direct flights to anywhere in Scotland from Israel so that may be a limiting factor.

No direct flights. This is also tricky, because it's not easy to know in advance whether I can send the bike in Edinburgh and get it in Tel Aviv or do I need to recheck it for the connection (sometimes it's explicitly written, but I'm not sure if not being written guarantees otherwise) and it's also not clear whether I need to calculate the budget including 1 or 2 times the bike fee.


Matt2matt2002

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Re: Beginner's questions about September in Scotland or England
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2023, 03:08:41 pm »
I suspect you wont get direct flights to anywhere in Scotland from Israel so that may be a limiting factor.

No direct flights. This is also tricky, because it's not easy to know in advance whether I can send the bike in Edinburgh and get it in Tel Aviv or do I need to recheck it for the connection (sometimes it's explicitly written, but I'm not sure if not being written guarantees otherwise) and it's also not clear whether I need to calculate the budget including 1 or 2 times the bike fee.

Aberdeen and other Scottish airports have good flight connections to Amsterdam. From there you can reach Tel Aviv.
My flight from Bangkok to Aberdeen came through Amsterdam and the bike and baggage went through without me having to check it.

Re reading your plans, I'm slightly concerned that you hope to buy a bike here and then cycle on a tour. Co-ordinating the purchase with flights could be tricky. And do you require a visa for UK?

Matt
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Danneaux

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Re: Beginner's questions about September in Scotland or England
« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2023, 05:05:38 pm »
With regard to buying a bike on arrival, the best/quickest option for acquisition may be the nearest Decathlon store. They often run specials and offer a wide variety of bikes starting at an effectively low price point.

However, you get what you pay for and the bike might be considered largely disposable by the time your tour ended if not along the way. I have doubts they are serviced beyond mere initial assembly, so hubs may not be fully packed or adjusted, etc. While any ride can be accomplished on any bike, having something specific to the task makes for much more fun (and likely far less pushing up hills).

One of the biggest drawbacks to buying a bike on arrival is fitness for purpose. If you arrive with panniers and such, then you'll need racks to hang them on and not all bikes have fittings to readily accept touring gear...and the extra weight may quickly point up shortcomings in handling and weight-carrying capability. For a "credit card" tour involving Air B&Bs, gites and gasthofs, you could get by carrying considerably less.

If I were to go this route, I'd arrive with my preferred saddle and pedals and packed bags I could readily hang on the bike with a minimum of fuss or required support accessories. I'd probably take my large Ortlieb handlebar bag and mounting bracket along with my packed Carradice Camper Longflap...
http://thorncyclesforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=11787.msg85858#msg85858
...Either would fit almost any bicycle and in my experience, would be suitable for use along Europe's Eurovelo routes where food and water are easily replenished from stores along the way. By carrying a tent and sleep system as well as a stove and cook kit, there is always the possibility to be independent of lodging and restaurants and the overall weight is low. I would need to check but I believe size and weight would allow both bags to be carried with me inside the aircraft, avoiding the need to check baggage carried in the cargo hold. Certainly, on my last European tour, I carried my handlebar bag with me and placed it under my seat; the check-in desk classified it as an "allowable purse". I placed my two Ortlieb SportPacker front panniers in the overhead bin without incident; the rest of my bags rode in the hold.

Best, Dan.


flocsy

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Re: Beginner's questions about September in Scotland or England
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2023, 06:05:54 pm »
Fortunately I don't need visa. But you're right that it's a nightmare how to organize this remote purchase + flight.

Regarding Decathlon: while that is something I did consider, but... Currently I am only going for 10 days or less, so I would end up with a bike that is impossible to sell there (especially considering that I'll fly back so I will need to sell it on the spot, so it's only possible in some bike shop. but then I would get maybe half price after 10 days of use). If I don't sell then I'll need to fly it home, but then I'll end up with a bike I could also buy here in the local Decathlon, and I don't really need/want it on the long term.

Another option I considered is to but a second hand city bike (price < GBP300). It's not a bike that I would use for a 2 months tour but for 10 days it's probably OK. And it would be possible to re-sell it in a bike shop (maybe even in the same one I purchased it) with a loss that would be comparable to renting a bike for 10 days.

And I could maybe just rent a bike for 10 days, but then I might end up anywhere in Europe (and maybe in September I would then look further south)

Another option is: to buy a real touring bike (used) that seems to fit my plans for the next few years, and keep it after the trip, then upgrade it if needed before the next year's bigger trip.

Of course the charm of the last option is that I end up with a nice souvenir :) but it's also the hardest to plan and execute, and probably also the most expensive, but it's a good investment for the next few years.

Below this is a bit off topic, but I hope the OP doesn't mind ;)

What doesn't help my decision (which touring bike to buy) is there are at least 2 price ranges (based on resent sales in ebay, gumtree, facebook) I might consider:
GBP 350-650 - I saw some Sherpas, Nomads (both mk1) or Club Tours
GBP 700-900 - Ravens
GBP 1000+ newer Nomads, Ravens,...

Given that Thorn bikes are almost always custom built it's also very hard (at least for me) to compare them. I started a Google Docs where I list all the features from the ad + what I can see in the pictures, but it's very hard. What is more important? Dynamo hub + lights or Rohloff gears? Or is Alfine fine?... And then there's also the sizing...

There are some bikes currently being advertised in this forum that look decent, but similar (at least to my eyes) bikes were sold 30% cheaper in the past month on ebay. I don't really know if the bikes in ebay had some drawback that I don't see, or the winners were really lucky or the bikes here are too expensive compared to the market.

navrig

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Re: Beginner's questions about September in Scotland or England
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2023, 06:59:42 pm »
There is also the aspect of how you make the purchase.  Do you pay in advance of collection hoping that the bike is properly described both in specification and condition or do you commit to pay on arrival.

If I was a seller I would be nervous or maybe even suspicious of someone travelling from overseas to buy my bike.  I'd want the deal properly sealed.

If the bike is not fit for a 10 day tour you then have the issue of losing tour time whilst you try to find another bike locally.

I suggest you rethink your strategy for getting a bike.

Make your decision on where you want to pick up the bike and look for someone trustworthy to inspect any potential purchase before you fly or commit money.

mickeg

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Re: Beginner's questions about September in Scotland or England
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2023, 08:59:06 pm »
Dyno powered lights are not important at all.  Since 2014, I have always toured with a dynohub, but I use it to charge up my batteries.  On a tour it is not used for lighting.  I have used a Sinewave Revolution and a Cycle2Charge V3 to convert dynohub output to USB power.

I sometimes tour on derailleur bike, sometimes on a Rohloff, each has advantages.

If buying a used bike, in my community if you buy something used from someone, you need to be ready to pay in cash. 

I think it is not a great idea to plan to find the right bike, in the size you need, with the right equipment on it (racks, etc.) for touring that fast. 


PH

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Re: Beginner's questions about September in Scotland or England
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2023, 09:30:30 pm »
I don't wish to be negative, but I find the idea of flying into the UK and finding a specialised bike in a matter of days hugely optimistic. That could work out of course, I just don't think the odds are very good. Plus as discussed elsewhere, you still don't seem to have narrowed down what bike your're looking for, you've put brand above purpose, which IMO is a mistake.  The more critical it is to get a bike, the harder it'll be to reject one that isn't right.
I think you should do one of either :
a) Come looking for a bike, have as many test rides and see as many as you can, accept that you might go away empty handed, but be better informed from the experience.
b) Come for a tour, hire everything you can't bring with you.  Plenty of choice for hire, there's at least one company with Thorn bikes. 

Matt2matt2002

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Re: Beginner's questions about September in Scotland or England
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2023, 09:52:01 pm »
I don't wish to be negative, but I find the idea of flying into the UK and finding a specialised bike in a matter of days hugely optimistic. That could work out of course, I just don't think the odds are very good. Plus as discussed elsewhere, you still don't seem to have narrowed down what bike your're looking for, you've put brand above purpose, which IMO is a mistake.  The more critical it is to get a bike, the harder it'll be to reject one that isn't right.
I think you should do one of either :
a) Come looking for a bike, have as many test rides and see as many as you can, accept that you might go away empty handed, but be better informed from the experience.
b) Come for a tour, hire everything you can't bring with you.  Plenty of choice for hire, there's at least one company with Thorn bikes.

I'll second that idea. Given what you've described option wise. I'd go for hirer a bike.


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Danneaux

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Re: Beginner's questions about September in Scotland or England
« Reply #14 on: July 13, 2023, 02:06:01 am »
Quote
I don't wish to be negative, but I find the idea of flying into the UK and finding a specialised bike in a matter of days hugely optimistic. That could work out of course, I just don't think the odds are very good. Plus as discussed elsewhere, you still don't seem to have narrowed down what bike your're looking for, you've put brand above purpose, which IMO is a mistake.  The more critical it is to get a bike, the harder it'll be to reject one that isn't right.
I believe Paul's advice is really valuable here and would only add this:

If a bike does not fit or cannot be made to, you'll have a miserable time, might not complete the tour, and could incur some injuries.

Fit, fit, fit first, then look for other things. :)

Best wishes and bon chance, Dan.