Belgium, France, Netherlands, UK
London to Amsterdam Cycle
- n/a days
About the challenge
Ride approx 350 miles from London to Amsterdam, Europe’s most cycle-friendly city! Cycling through the picturesque countryside of rural England, we cross the Channel and continue across the flat landscapes of France and West Flanders. Stopping in the magical city of Bruges en-route is a real highlight. We continue through the low-lying fields of Dutch Zeeland, protected from the sea by huge barrages, and head north to Amsterdam. After 4 long days of cycling, the sight of Amsterdam’s canals, cobbled streets and wonderful architecture will evoke a real sense of excitement and achievement!
Day 1: London – Dover – Calais
Cycle approx 128km (80 miles)
An early start from Blackheath Common allows us to avoid the morning traffic as we pass through the outskirts of London onto quieter roads. It is not long before we are among the rolling fields and villages of rural Kent, passing orchards and traditional oast houses where hops are stored. We head through Tonbridge and follow country roads across the hills of the North Downs to Dover and the coast. Taking the ferry to Calais, we have dinner on board and cycle the short distance to our hotel in Calais. Night hotel. (Dinner on ferry not included).
Day 2: Calais – Bruges
Cycle approx 135km (84 miles)
After an early and energising breakfast, we set off! We ride inland, tracing a line roughly parallel to the coast, and pass through farmland and small villages, skirting further inland to avoid busy Dunkirk. Our terrain is fairly flat, which will feel good after yesterday’s hilly route! The border with Belgium lies roughly halfway through our day; we cross it near the small town of Hondschoote. We continue along the flat roads of West Flanders, passing dairy farms and polders, low-lying areas protected by dikes and drainage canals. As we approach Bruges, there are a few low hills to test our legs. Famed for its canal networks, this ‘Venice of the North’ has some beautiful medieval buildings; the historic centre is a World Heritage Site. An evening wander is a very pleasant way to wind down after our day’s efforts! Night hotel.
Day 3: Bruges – Breda
Cycle approx 145km (90 miles)
Leaving the city, we ride north, crossing into The Netherlands at the small town of Sluis, and continuing to Breskens. A short ferry ride takes us across to the busy port of Vlissingen, in Zeeland. Here we ride east along the low-lying peninsula, formerly an island, which is protected from flooding by a series of sea barrages. Back on the ‘mainland’ we ride northeast through open fields of crops, passing small towns and villages. There are some low hills which stretch our legs before reaching the busier streets of Breda. Night hotel.
Day 4: Breda – Amsterdam
Cycle approx 145km (90 miles)
Our last day is another long one, but again we ride on flat terrain as we head north towards our goal. Intensively farmed fields stretch for miles along our route. Most of this region is artificially created by man-made dikes holding back the sea. These polders are huge and the many villages and intensive agriculture that takes place is a testimony to man’s ingenuity and skill. We cycle through these wonderful villages and pass the manicured fields. We pass the historic town of Woerden, known for its Gouda cheese making, en-route to the suburbs of Amsterdam. We then savour the experience of pedalling into one of the most cycle-friendly cities in Europe, passing canals and fascinating buildings on our way to the heart of the city and the end of our rewarding challenge! This evening we have a big celebration to mark our achievements. Night hotel.
Day 5: Amsterdam – London
We have free time to enjoy the sights of Amsterdam – a wonderful place simply to wander – before your onward journey home. (Lunch, dinner and Eurostar not included)
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
The tour cost includes all accommodation, as well as transport (excluding Eurostar) and all meals except those specified in the itinerary. It also includes full trip support of experienced Discover Adventure leaders, drivers and mechanics (see Trip Support below).
It does not include your travel home from Amsterdam, personal travel insurance, meals as specified, drinks, extra food, personal items or entry to any optional tourist sites you may wish to visit. Remember to allow extra for drinks, snacks, souvenirs & other personal expenses. Please note that costs may fluctuate and we have no control over any changes. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
Accommodation is in 2-3* hotels, picked for their proximity to our route. The hotels are comfortable with en suite facilities; standards may vary between the hotels.
All food is included except the meals previously specified. Lunches are generous buffet-style with plenty of energy food to keep you going! Dinners are generally eaten in the hotels.
Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Bear in mind that being vegetarian is not generally well-understood in this region, so meals may not be as varied as you are used to. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Please feel free to ask us for advice. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally when we are in towns or cities where you are free to explore and find something to suit your budget.
Discover Adventure Crew
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. They are also trained in expedition first-aid. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader. All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. The number of crew and support vehicles looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but the team will be looking after every aspect of your trip whether that’s transporting your luggage, ensuring your route is well-marked, making you lunch and sorting out any mechanical problems. At Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: cyclist ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.
Support vehicles are with the group all of the time. All luggage and spares will be carried in them.
Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft sailing bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. You should also bring a small daypack or large waist-pack to carry items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening. Bikes will be well-packed and protected during transit in our vehicles, but if you have an expensive or delicate frame, you may prefer to bring extra lagging to protect it more, or a soft bike bag.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency mobile phones, first-aid kits and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up in the UK. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and travel insurance – is all done with your safety in mind.
Preparing for the challenge
The cycling is mainly undulating. Distances are fairly long, between 80 and 90 miles throughout; you should make sure you are fit enough to manage these distances, which will seem longer if there is a head-wind. We ride mainly on small country roads. Traffic is light on most for most of the journey but when we pass through busy areas we may go through as a group. Drivers in this area of Europe are generally far more considerate to cyclists than here in the UK and there are plenty of cycle lanes. Distances may vary slightly depending on hotel location and any deviations. Please be aware that all cycle computers and GPS devices vary slightly: please do not feel cheated if your mileage does not agree with ours! We are always happy to talk through the trip in more detail with you if you are worried about your fitness at any stage.
We strongly recommend that you ride a road/racing bike (rather than a mountain bike) for this trip due to the long distances involved. Discover Adventure can provide hybrid or mountain bikes at an extra cost if you wish.
There will be a range of spares in the vehicle along with a full tool kit. However it is impossible for us to carry spares for every eventuality so it is vital that when bringing your own bike it is in good order before departure. It is imperative that you supply your own helmet and wear it at all times while cycling, with the straps done up.
Clothing & Equipment
We could be exposed to bad weather at any time so be prepared for all weathers and temperatures and remember that weather conditions can change quickly. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.
The climate of northern France and The Netherlands is very similar to that of southern England. Temperatures can vary widely, rain is always a possibility and it may be windy in flatter areas.
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.
Passport & Visa
A valid ten-year passport is essential; it must be valid for your entire stay in France, Belgium and The Netherlands. There is no visa requirement for UK citizens. Other nationalities should check entry requirements.
We insist that you have had a Tetanus injection in the last ten years, and highly recommend protection against Polio. You should always check with a GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.
Worldwide Sustainable Tourism
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through.
Discover Adventure Projects
We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with TCV and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org or call 01302 388883.