The Dog Detectives UK Book Tour – July to September 2011

During the summer of 2011, we rode our bikes around the UK to promote the latest Dog Detectives picture books, ‘Lost in London’ and ‘The Great Grizzly North’. Along the way we staged book signings and raised money for the UK charity SusTrans, a wonderful UK charity who have 30 years experience delivering practical initiatives that enable many more people to travel by foot, bike or public transport. Amongst their greatest achievements is the impressive National Cycle Network. To show your support for sustainable transport, you can donate to SusTrans here…

For all the details and tour dates, click here…

Cotswold TV Interview – Cheltenham Waterstone’s

Thanks to Cotswold TV for the video stream.

Cycling in the UK: Choosing a Long Distance Route

A cycle trip can be a joy or misery depending on the route that you take. That doesn’t mean you need to spend long hours trawling blogs, or reading books to find a great ride. For those of us yet to convert to GPS, finding a good map can make all the difference.

The UK has a great network of cycle friendly roads and dedicated bike routes – it’s just a matter of finding them. SusTrans, the charity behind the National Cycle Network, has many detailed maps of bike routes, but if you are planning a cross country ride, that would soon become expensive.

A great alternative that we have come across for planning a long distance ride is the AA Close Up Britain Road Atlas. It boasts an ultra large scale of 1.5 miles to 1 inch, making it Britain’s largest scale road atlas. Most importantly for the cyclist though, it shows all the SusTrans National Cycle Network by a series of green dots. This has allowed us to link up bike routes and quiet back roads to navigate peacefully through what might seem like a congested country. Other handy features are icons for campsites and pubs, and detailed town plans for the major cities.

The one drawback for the cyclist is that it can be difficult to decipher just how steep the roads are – and the UK has some of the steepest we have cycled anywhere in the world. A handy addition would be to have road gradients marked by their steepness – three arrows for the steepest, down to one arrow for the milder climbs. Instead they have only one marker for all gradients and then use it inconsistently.

As a general rule, expect ‘white roads’ to be largely free of traffic but very narrow (often just wide enough for one car). This is fantastic for photography. The narrow roads really frame a bicycle well and make you feel more a part of the landscape. An abundance of hedgerows also provide some welcome relief from wind. They also tend to link up some charming ‘middle of nowhere towns’ with cozy old pubs. The drawback is the white roads are almost always the steepest way of getting from A to B.

‘Yellow B roads’ are often a gentler but slightly busier alternative to ‘white roads’. We often choose these roads if we want to get somewhere a bit faster.

‘Red A roads’ usually have a steady flow of traffic and can be a little precarious. We generally avoid them, but if you are in a bind you can always ask for local advice on whether they are safe for cycling or not.

‘Green A roads’ should be avoided altogether unless you have inside information of a footpath or wide shoulder.

Being so detailed, the road atlas is quite heavy – the A4 edition clocks in at 752 pages. To cut down on weight I would recommend using a knife to cut out the unnecessary pages (ripping creates a big mess), but leave enough pages to give you flexibility in case you change routes along the way.

Happy riding…

4 thoughts on “UK

  1. Hello,

    First of all, your bicycle adventures with your dogs are AMAZING!
    I was wondering what airline/company you used to ship your dogs from the US to the UK etc. I would like to bike Europe with my dog but I have to find the best way to get her there from the US. Any advise would be greatly appreciated!


    • Hi Trisha,

      I have flown my dogs three times and with three different airlines.

      It is really important to try and get a direct flight when flying dogs as the transfers and refueling stops can be dangerous for pets.

      I had very good experiences flying my dogs with KLM and Lufthansa. I had a HORRIBLE experience with Air Transat and they endangered my dogs’ lives (could’ve killed them) and I would never recommend anyone flying their pets with Air Transat. They are not a reputable airline!

      As of January 2012, it is easier to bring pets to the UK so many airlines may have changed their policies. In the past, it was so difficult to fly pets directly to the UK. Here is the link on the new Defra leaflet on bringing pets to the UK:

      Click to access pb13582-bringing-pets-to-uk-120229.pdf

      Basically, as you are coming from an Approved Non-EU Member country you have to ensure you have the following:

      For your pet to enter the UK from these countries, you must answer ‘yes’ to the
      following questions:
      • Is it microchipped1?
      • Is it currently vaccinated against rabies?
      • Was it vaccinated after it was microchipped and was the rabies vaccination
      administered as per the vaccine manufacturer’s data sheet?
      • Have you got an EU Pet Passport or Official Veterinary Health Certificate2
      from your vet certifying the microchip and vaccination?
      • Have at least 21 days passed since it was vaccinated?
      • Are you travelling into the UK with your pet on an approved route with an
      approved transport company?5
      • Has a vet treated your dog for tapeworm 1-5 days before its arrival in the
      UK and recorded the treatment (with exact times) in the passport or Official
      Health Certificate?

      Where in the States are you flying from? If you let me know I can help research the best airlines for you as it really depends what country and city you are flying from.

      Best regards,


  2. Hi there
    I’ve traveled with dogs and cats twice now from the US and also found that KLM were wonderful. It’s also easier and cheaper to fly to Amsterdam with them and then take the train and ferry across to the UK. The only issue is that you will need a EU pet passport, which as I don’t speak Dutch was a slight challenge, but well worth the effort.

    • Hello Em.

      We also had a very good experience with flying the dogs via KLM. We once flew our dogs with Air Transat and they almost killed them. I would NEVER use Air Transat again or recommend them.

      It is getting easier to fly pets direct to the UK but I agree flying to continental Europe and then taking a ferry is a good option. We have flown direct to Paris and then boarded the ferry to Portsmouth, England. One thing to note however, is that many ferry companies won’t transport dogs unless they are in a car. Transporting dogs on bikes is an extra challenge with regards to ferry crossings.

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