The journey home

The white cliffs

We complied with the two hour check in so we were at the port for 07:00 but it was much quieter than the crossing from Harwich and we breezed through the checks. A long wait ensued, the signs encouraged us to visit the duty free shop and coffee bar, both were closed but we could sit in the almost empty waiting area and eat the tarte aux pommes. We boarded with the motorbikes, among whom were a couple of Hells Angels probably returning from Bratislava, and before the cars, we were the only cyclists.

We were allowed off last as expected but reached Dover Priory Station just in time to catch the 10:48 to St Pancras. There was no cycle symbol on any of the doors so we boarded a random coach. Someone told us the bike space was at the front, where we’d seen the disabled symbol so at the first stop we switched. There was a row of tip-up seats but no symbols and nothing to restrain the bikes when the train lurched, with no other options we parked them there.

The train was full and standing, the previous one having been cancelled. Long queue for the only lift after alighting but we made it to Euston in time for the 13:02 to Chester and I was able to book bike reservations at the ticket office. It was lightly loaded in contrast to the connecting 15:25 from Chester, always rammed in the summer. Lots of young people with rucksacks and older folk with enormous suitcases so I made sure to quickly identify the bike door and barge my way on before people filled it with luggage. I presented my interrail pass to the conductor whose response was “those never scan, just so long as I know you’ve got a ticket”. Similar at the gate at St Pancras.

We had to call into Tesco on the way home so we’d have something to eat in the evening, and arrived home at 18:30, the end of an epic holiday.

We took a lot of luggage but used all of it apart from the spare inner tubes, pumps and most of the tools. My small front panniers were useful for carrying food, avoiding it being crushed by squeezing into the rear. Booking accommodation in advance worked well, we saw few options outside cities for spontaneity. The one lesson we took from the experience was to be more careful when selecting unpaved tracks.