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Touring by bicycle for six weeks arriving at Gatwick where to fly home from

We are flying into Gatwick with our bikes and luggage, taking the train to Bath and starting our tour from there. We will ride north through the Cotswolds, Peak District, Lake District and maybe to Newcastle Upon Tyne. We are debating if we should fly home from Manchester or if we should take a train back to Gatwick.

Posted by
2128 posts

Fly home from a convenient airport – Newcastle? Manchester? Difficult to advise without knowing where home is.

Posted by
5491 posts

We have done some long distance biking in the USA, but never overseas.
However, we have driven in most of the places that you mentioned above. Get ready for some hilly terrain in the Lake District and North of England. It is splendid scenery. Some of the back roads of Britain are narrow and we didn't see many bike trails. Are you camping or staying in B&Bs?

Posted by
88 posts

Manchester airport is on a direct train line from York which would make a good final spot for your trip. You could easily take a late afternoon train to an airport hotel, get your bike and gear organized, get a good night sleep, and walk to the flight the next morning.
Newcastle to Gatewick will require a full and pressure-filled day with long train trip, changing train stations in London and train to Gatwick. You will spend more time and money using Gatwick.
I have taken at least a dozen cycling trips in England and have flown into Gatwick and I would look at:
1. The cost of flights and the airline's policy on bikes and luggage.
2. Nationalrail website to get an understanding of train routes, pricing and cycle policy.
3. CycleUK website ( you may consider joining for a year ) as they have an active forum, advice on accommodation, and trip stories.
4.crazyguyonabike.com website with hundreds of trip stories and a great forum.
5. Sustrans is an organization that has set up long-distance trails around Great Britain. Some are great but many are unpaved and muddy, have step hills, and are poorly marked. I would check on forums before planning to use large sections.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Posted by
21726 posts

I would use a smaller airport but it depends a little on how your transport your bikes. Or if you need to return to a storage area for bike box, etc. We are totally self-contained so we can ride to the airport, find a quiet corner, breakdown and pack our bikes, repack our carry-on bags, and be ready for check-in in about 30,45 minutes. We may look a little goofy wearing our bike helmets on the plane but if anyone asks we just say we are wearing them in case of a crash. So for that reason we like to use the smaller regional airports that are a little easier to get to traffic wise.

Posted by
389 posts

Are you familiar with the 'Lands End to John o groats' challenege. Essentially travelling between the northern most and southern most points in the U.K. ? There's no set route but I often see cyclists hug the east coast along Northumberland and then head into Scotland via Edinburgh, so perhaps push on from Newcastle and fly out of there.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks all, for your generous responses.

Home is Madison, Wisconsin; we fly in and out of Chicago, O'Hare International airport.
We are used to riding in hills in the Driftless area of Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota. We have fabulous biking in SW Wisconsin.
We plan to camp, stay in hostels, bnb's, Warm Shower home-stays, and other accommodations as needed.

"We are totally self-contained so we can ride to the airport, find a quiet corner, breakdown and pack our bikes, repack our carry-on bags, and be ready for check-in in about 30,45 minutes." We love this idea and have questions: Can you buy a bike box at the airport? If not, how do you pack it? Do you pack some of your gear with the bike? What do you use for your carry-on bag? Can you name the smaller regional airports in the North of England.

I've been reading about the "Lands End to John o groats' challenge", by the time we get to Newcastle it will depend on how much time we have left before our departure date.

Posted by
3 posts

Alan, We will definitely look into joining CycleUK. Do you have favorite routes you've ridden?

Posted by
389 posts

Don't know what pace you want to set yourself and set aside for site seeing but lands end John o groats or JOGLE or LEJOG usually takes a charity rider 10-11 days.

Posted by
88 posts

I fly out of Montreal and local charter airline provides plastic bike bags and puts in cargo for $30. If your airline doesn't provide a box, I would go to a bike store in the final city and ask for a cardboard box that a new bike was shipped in. If flying out of Manchester, it should be easy to pick up a few boxes in York and take the train right to the airport.
Some of my favourite rides are in the northeast, Yorkshire and Northumberland but every region I'd loaded with history.. With six weeks you have a great opportunity to get a good taste of the English countryside. I would be happy to discuss any potential routes once you have sorted out your flights.
I would also consider staying nearer Gatwick on the first night, taking advantage of Advanced rail fares on your second day as it could end up saving you money. It is worthwhile learning the ins and outs of British trains as it can save you lots of money and frustration.
Enjoy the planning phase as it will pay off on the trip.
Alan

Posted by
21726 posts

Years....... ago ..... the airlines would provide boxes or plastic bags but now airlines don't, and they want to surcharge bikes, insist on deflating tires, charge for oversize luggage (especially bike boxes) and even with a box from a bike dealer damage can be a problem and expected. So we finally adopted a system to avoid most of these problems. We use a traditional touring bike set-up, seat angle (head higher than my butt), gearing - 9 gear freewheel on a three speed hub, etc. The bikes breakdown and fit into the largest made Samsonite rolling suitcase. Just under the acceptable limits for checking and total weight is 45 lbs including some of the gear. We pack our cycling and regular clothing in a standard carry-on size, backpack style bag. On arrival at the airport we find a quiet corner outside, assemble the bikes, the suitcase converts it to a pulled trailer, our carry-on clothing and carryon bag is repacked into the trailer (lots of room), we change to comfortable cycling clothing and within an hour or so we can be on the road out of the airport. And, of course, the reverse when returning to the airport. Sometimes we just take local transit to our hotel and do the assembly there. And we can delay a day or two until we are at our take off point if it is different point than where we land. While the packed bike suitcases weight close to 50 lbs and can be pain to handle on public transit, it does provide a lot of convenience. Years ago we used to use panniers on front and back racks but find the pulled trailer an easier solution. The big advantage is that the trailer can be disconnected quickly and stored and the bike is ready for local sightseeing. If on an organized tour with luggage support, then the trailer is just another suitcase. It works for us. We have logged a lot of miles in this configuration.

As I said earlier we wear our helmets on the plane since they are so bulky to pack and sometimes tie our cycling shoes to the outside of our carry on bag. Other than some strange looks, no one has ever said anything about our carry on or the helmets. Just stuff everything in the overhead bin. If you have a specific question, just PM me.

PS -- Just noticed your reference to camping in an earlier posting. We don't camp in Europe. Simply requires too much gear -- tent, sleeping bags, stove, food, etc. Our bikes will handle about 100 lbs of gear and we have done that in the US but not in Europe.