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South Coast Explorer (Land’s End to London) – 2024


TYPE: Road Cycling
LEVEL: Challenging
07 Oct – 15 Oct 2024
DURATION: days / 8 nights  (8 days cycling)

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South Coast Explorer (Land’s End to London) 

With the recent explosion in the popularity of cycling and on-going uncertainty about foreign travel we have experienced unprecedented demand for our UK-based cycling holidays.  With some deferring bookings until the last minute in the hope of travelling abroad we are aware that there are frustrated riders who have not been able to find availability on a suitable UK trip. 

We have put our heads together and are pleased to announce a brand new, end of season, ride – The South Coast Explorer.  Starting in Penzance (with the option of a quick visit to Land’s End) we track the south coast all the way to Brighton before turning inland to finish in the heart of London for easy connections home.  Along the way we will detour onto the Isle of Wight and ride its southern edge before returning to Portsmouth, thus bypassing the busy city of Southampton. 

Starting on a Saturday and finishing on a Sunday this ride can be accommodated within a single week of annual leave and is accessible to almost any rider with an average 50 miles per day.  Our overnight stops include some of the great south coast resorts but our early October departure will allow us to visit them without the tourist throngs!

If you would like to read other people’s comments on our holidays then check out the Customer Comments page.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 0 – Arrival into Penzance

We will meet you in Penzance, where  your accommodation will be close to the railway station.  For those arriving in good time we suggest an afternoon ride to the Land’s End Visitor centre and back, an opportunity to check the bike and get the legs working.  We will provide two alternatives:  the direct route via the A30 or a hillier but more scenic route via Porthcurno, where the first transatlantic telegraph cables came ashore.

Day 1 – Penzance to St Austell – 48 miles/3400 ft

From Penzance we briefly follow the coast, past the iconic St Michael’s Mount, to Marazion before turning inland onto quiet country lanes to pick our way between the busy A30 & A394 trunk roads.  This is tried and tested country for us, forming the start of our 9-day LEJOG ‘Challenge’ route.  Redruth provides a good refuelling stop, after which we continue northeast tracking, but never on, the A30.   Eventually we turn due east, following the tiniest lanes imaginable to St Austell, our overnight stop.

Day 2 – St Austell to Tavistock – 44 Miles/3700 ft

Leaving St Austell we follow NCN Route 3, picking our way between the worst of the hills, rejoining our LEJOG Challenge route to cross the River Fowey well north of Lostwihiel.  Liskeard makes a good lunch stop and in the afternoon we pass through Gunnislake to the River Tamar into Devon for the final few miles to Tavistock, nestling beneath the western edge of Dartmoor.

Day 3 – Tavistock to Sidmouth – 52 miles/4500 ft

Our hilliest day starts with a steady 6 mile climb, after which the terrain undulates across open moorland, past the infamous Dartmoor Prison.  On a clear day the views are outstanding and an inquisitive pony will often join you as you take a break to enjoy the scenery.   We descend off the moor to the east and head to the coast, bypassing Teignmouth and Dawlish along the way.  Any day on a bike is enhanced by an ocean voyage and our crossing of the River Exe into Exmouth is facilitated by the Starcross/Exmouth pedestrian ferry.  Beyond Exmouth we follow NCN Route 2 whenever we can and our last dozen miles are spent tracking the coast to the delightful Sidmouth, gateway to the  Jurassic Coast.

Day 4 – Sidmouth to Weymouth – 46 miles/3600 ft

Although we start and finish on the coast, much of our day is spent slightly inland to avoid the busy (and hilly!) main coast roads.  The price of a night in Sidmouth is the short but steep climb back onto the cliffs, after which we head for Axminster where we temporarily part company with NCN Route 2 which heads inland to Dorchester.  Instead we arc back to the coast, passing through Bridport on our way to Weymouth.

Day 5 – Weymouth to Lymington – 51 Miles/ 1700ft

A prompt breakfast so we can leave Weymouth using the SW Coastal Path which forbids cycling after 10am!  We rejoin NCN 2 a little east of Dorchester, following quiet country roads past Wareham and through the many wetland  nature reserves to the south of Poole Harbour.  Corfe Castle is a short detour for anyone with the time and inclination.  We cross the mouth of Poole Harbour on the splendid chain ferry  to Sandbanks, site of some of the most expensive property in the UK.  Bournemouth is bypassed via the seafront promenade after which we have a choice of routes, depending on whether the tiny Mudeford or Wick ferries across the River Stour are running or not.  One way or another, on the far side of the river, we have just 10 miles to Lymington, our home for the night.

Day 6 – Ryde – 46 Miles/2900 ft.

For no better reason than because we can, today we head to the Isle of Wight.  A short ride takes us to the ferry terminal for our 40 minute crossing to Yarmouth.  Once through passport control and customs we will spend our days riding the southern portion of the ‘Round The Island’ route, a real undiscovered gem.  Of course, it is a circular route so there are endless ‘short cuts’ for anyone looking for an easier day!

Day 7 Ryde to Brighton – 56 miles/ 1200 ft

We catch the morning ferry to Portsmouth where we skirt the southern edge of the city before taking our last ferry, across the mouth of Langstone Harbour onto Hayling Island.  From here we rejoin the mainland via a causeway and roughly track the A27 through the southern edge of the South Downs national park.  Once clear of Chichester we return to the coast,  following seafront cycle paths and promenades through Worthing and Shoreham to Brighton.

Day 8 – Brighton to London – 59 Miles/3200 ft

From Brighton we head due north, starting with a stiff climb over the South Downs.  Beyond Crawley we join our London to Paris route in reverse, entering London via the Wandle Trail cycle route.  Once across Clapham Common we join the side of the Thames for the last couple of miles to the finish point at the London Eye. 

Holiday Details

The Tour: This is a fully supported holiday with a tour leader (who cycles with the group to ensure nobody is left behind) and vehicle support to carry all the luggage and provide additional assistance if necessary.  The daily mileage is between 44 and 59 miles a day, and there are no rest days.   The first 4 and final days are quite hilly.  

Accommodation & Food: This holiday uses B&B/Hotel accommodation.  B&B accommodation is generally graded 2-3* or similar, we usually book en-suite rooms if possible but this cannot be guaranteed. Single people travelling alone will be booked into a twin bedded room with another single person of the same sex – unless you have paid the price for a single room (please note that there are only a limited number of single rooms available on this holiday). Breakfast will be provided at the accommodation each morning. Evening meals are available at nearby pubs or restaurants.

Start: The ride starts in Penzance, Cornwall where accommodation is provided for Day 0 (the arrival day).  The ride commences on Day 1.  We will be avialable to meet you from 2pm on Day 0.

Finish: The cycling ends in central London.  The holiday price does NOT include accommodation In London but there is a Premier Inn within walking distance of the finish should you wish to stay.

Cycle Transport: If required we offer a cycle transport service to take your bike to Penzance or return it from London provided your address is within the mainland UK (additional fee payable).

Documents: Insurance is optional for this holiday for UK residents. Participants from outside the UK must have suitable travel insurance.

Bikes: All types of cycle are suitable for the trip. The most important thing is that your bike functions properly and that you are comfortable riding it. However you should make sure that it has suitable gears as there are some very steep hills on parts of the route, notably in Devon and Cornwall.

What’s Included


Hotel/B&B accommodation (8 nights)


Vehicle support

Isle of Wight ferry

Services of leader/mechanic

Local transfers

Route information (GPX files only, printed Turn by Turn Instructions will not be provided)


Accommodation in London

Lunches or evening meals

Any snacks or drinks required during the day

Transport to Penzance or from London

The cost of any optional excursions, entrance fees etc.

Minor ferries

Get In Touch

If you have any questions about any of our trips, please call us on 0800 002 9559 or send us a message below.