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41ml.Wake up to find a feed station being put up for an ultra marathon that’s taking place today. Start was from Yubetsu and set off time for the first runners was 05.30am. 100km’s, wow that’s some run. After packing up and breakfast, same as yesterday, I set off and my route is the same as the runners. It’s great with all the Marshall’s keeping the runners safe all along the way. I feel like pulling in a feed station and being cheeky to get food, as all the people are egging me on too. But I keep going past lots of runners but when I hit a hill, they over take me. They are very fit and all ages, both men and women. There’s even people set up their own little tables at the roadside to give runners snacks and drinks at their own expense. A fantastic culture in Japan. The people are so kind, generous and polite. Even policemen and road workers bow to you if you’ve had to wait. I eventually leave the runners route at Tokoro and pick up a cycle path all the way to Omagari which goes past lake Notoro and finishes at Lake Abashiri. I stop at a 7/11 store for some WiFi and a nice lady comes to me and hands me a bag of sweets and a carton of cake’s, so nice, this happens quite often. The free campsite is a great location right on the bank of the lake.

Cycle path along lake Abashiri

Chilling on the beautiful free campground at lake Abashiri

Cycle path along the lake’s.

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37ml. After the day off I wait for the rain to stop before having breakfast, coffee and peanut butter sandwich. Dry the tent and pack up sharp before it rains again. It’s warmer today, 18°, so off I go to Yubetsu. Rode to the top end of the lake till you could go no more, where the sea comes in between land and into the lake. The campground is closed. So dead opposite where I am is a rider house, 12ml away so I sprint round there and arrive just as the rain starts. No one here. Doesn’t open for another hour and I can’t ring to book a space due to language barrier. Let’s hope there’s room for me, so I take shelter and decide to wait rather than do another 10ml to the next campsite. Only half an hour and the guy turns up and there’s space in the railway carriage. ¥300 for the night and ¥100 for the shower oh and the washing machine is free so I do all my laundry. So that was great and all for £2.90. I make myself a curry and rice, coffee with a bar of chocolate and retire to my carriage.

1st to arrive in the carriage and set up my space.

Rider house accomodation

The massive lake samora, biggest in Hokkaido

Shrine on the way at Yubetsu

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31ml. Wow it was 28° yesterday and I get going today and the temperature has dropped to 12°. Can’t believe how cold I am, gloves, long pants and coat on and I’m still cold. Only a short day to the next campsite rather than go where I intended at double the distance. Up a hill climb as usual lol and I have to ask where to camp as it’s such a big park. A man lets me follow him in his car and shows me where. It’s cold and loads of crows here so have to be careful leaving any food unattended. One pinched my peanut butter sandwich a while back lol. Only me here but the toilet has an electric socket so I can charge my Garmin and phone. It rains all night and most of the morning so I’m staying here as it’s cold again, well it is for me anyway, and it’s supposed to warm up tomorrow. Going shopping for some gas for my stove and a few food supplies.

Engaru free campsite

 

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65ml. Over 2 passes today, the 1st is Mikuni pass at 1,139m and is the highest national road in Hokkaido. Nice little cafe at the top where I treated myself to a curry and rice then a lovely ice cream. After the next pass I was getting worried as to where I was going to camp because there was no village or town and lots of bear signs. But I never pedalled for 6miles going down and did 30ml in quick time and when I stopped for a sandwich at the side of the road I glanced at the map and a rest station and campsite was only 6ml away. Happy days. Now I felt more at ease and happy.there was also a 7/11 store right near my turning to buy some supplies.

Rest station at Rubeshibe

Mikuni pass

Lots of beware bear signs

Taushubetsu bridge

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42ml. Another big climb today past the beautiful lake Shikaribetsu and down to the campground at lake Nukabira. Nice scenery and quiet roads. Stopped for I e cream at lake Shikaribetsu and nearly stood on a snake, scary. Not sure if it’s poisonous or not but made me jump. Lots of mozzie and bugs at the campground but in nature this is the price. Now I’m rural again the number of insects is astounding, beetles and spiders and bugs of all kinds and colours. Amazing but keep the tent zipped ha.

Road to lake Nukabira

Into his hiding place

Nearly stood on this

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39ml. Steady start and a stop at beautiful lake kanayama. Bought some food supplies in Minamiforano, from there it’s a long climb to the top of the pass and then down to a free campground at Sahoro. Lots of bears in the eastern area and many signs warning to beware. Quite worrying I must say especially when camping.

Scenic Yamabe

Minamiforano

Lake kanayama

 

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32ml. After the day off I start with a 6ml. Climb but a steady gradient apart from the Bogakudai viewpoint. More foxes along the way. After a great long downhill I get a bad headwind which makes it hard going. Furano is beautiful and so is Yamabe. Shame it’s too early for the flowers, what a sight it would be with the purple lavender fields in July. Stock up with food at a supermarket in Furano and make it to a beautiful campsite which is free 2km out of Yamabe.

Yamabe leaving campsite

Beautiful scenery around Furano

Mt Tokachi from the Bogakudai viewpoint.

 

 

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34ml. Went to Biei and called in at tourist office to see if any campsite nearby. Nearest one was at Shirogane so I carried on to the blue pond and Shirahige waterfall on a nice bike path along the river. Beautiful place with lots of hot spring onsens. Campsite was quiet and beautiful also. Heavy rain forecast tomorrow so I had a day off. Went up to the volcano Observatory and was really interesting history and measures what are in place now in case of another Mt Tokachi eruption.

Blue pond

Shirahige waterfall

Beautiful national Shirogane campsite.

Mt Biei, 16 peaks over 2,000m here.

Mt Tokachi volcano.still active

Great bike path from Biei to the blue pond.

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42ml. Steady today on quiet roads. Stopped for dinner at a nice park on Minamigaoka reservoir. Heading for Biei and the sky darkened like heavy rain on its way towards me, so I set up camp early on a free beautiful campground with a golf course on it at Asahikawa. Lawson’s convenience store close by.

Entrance to the free campground

Fed another friendly fox

Minamigaoka reservoir

Nice lunch stop.

Great river paths on route, no traffic and good for camping.

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65ml. Took route 118 today thinking it was a quiet road and Mapycz also dire Ted me that way. Big mistake. Got to another locked gate across the road and risked it again. What I came to was 10mile of offroad trail and 450m of elevation. Ha I like a challenge obviously. My thumb was hurting from ringing the bell all the time. It was too far to go back and it only occured to me later about the risk of bears when I startled something and heard lots of cracking of trees as it ran. It could have been a deer but made as much noise as I could and pedalled fast. I eventually arrive at the campsite but it looks like it’s been shut down. I pitch the tent after being eaten alive with mosquito and make for the onsen opposite for a nice clean up.

Nice painting on a farm building.

Saw this little chap on the way.

All goes downhill after here lol

Just before I get to the 118 locked gate.

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42ml. After 3 nights at the campsite waiting for the weather to improve and coincided nicely with my birthday celebration, I’m again travelling south although the rain has started again and it’s a tad cold.

Celebrating my birthday.

 

 

A steady day and I’m glad to reach a free cabin on the outskirts of Nakagawa to warm up and cook a meal.

Yama, the only other guy in a tent makes me a lovely meal

Road to Nakagawa

Yama doing a painting.

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36ml. At last a clear morning and manage to get some pictures of Mt Rishiri. After packing up I go on the cycleway back to Oshidomari and say my goodbyes to Patrick and Marcus. I do a quick shop at Nicot for some food and leave my gas bottle behind rushing for the ferry grrrr. After arriving back at Wakkanai, I ride 20ml south on a great cycle path parallel to route 40 which takes me to a great campsite at Kabutonuma. I check in for 2 nights as there’s a bad storm expected tonight that’s in for a while and find a sheltered spot in the trees.

Last shot of Mt Rishiri before the cloud cover.

Last shot of Mt Rishiri before the cloud cover.

On the way back to Oshidomari.

4am picture of Mt Rishiri.

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28ml. After a day off updating the blog and chilling in the onsen, I decide to explore the island. I set off to cycle around, it’s only 38miles around the circumference so I just take my time and use the cycle path to start with which is approx 6 ml long from the campground heading south. I arrive at a lonely  Numaura free campground but there’s signs all over the place saying bear prints and feaces have been spotted near in 2 locations so I decide to carry on as I know I’ll not sleep worrying. A little further and I arrive at Otadomari swamp and take in the beautiful view. Shame about the low cloud as I’ve yet to see Mt Rishiri summit since I’ve been here. The wind is very strong today so I’m glad when I arrive at Kutsugata campground. Takes me an age to find a sheltered spot for the tent out of the wind but I make my mind up on the best spot and then make some rice and curry for tea. Then I settle in for the rough night ahead.

Best sheltered spot I could find.

Very windy today

Otadomari swamp.

Great cycle route from campsite

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23ml. Raining again ha, I get a little break in the rain and manage to dry the tent before it starts again. I set off in full waterproof gear up to Cape Sukoton, most northern point on Rebun island. After the photo I sit in the cafe and have an inflated prices coffee, ¥400 normal price is 100, but it’s worthwhile for the shelter and the nice chilled out view to reflect on all the milage I’ve done since Fukuoka. I was going to stay another night but due to the rain I elect to catch the ferry to Rishiri hoping I may get better weather. When I arrive at Oshidomari it’s still raining so I decide to do a food shop and use the campground here which is opposite an onsen. When I get to the campground I’m surprised to see Patrick and his mate here. I met Patrick near Chitose over a week ago. They have been here a few days as his mate has developed a problem with his knee and can’t cycle.

Patrick and Marcus.

Patrick’s folding bicycle he built up for this trip.

Great campsite at Oshidomari.

Wet Cape Sukoton.

Cape Sukoton.

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24ml. After my day off at the rider house I post the postcards to family at the post office and get the 1105am ferry to Rebun island. I chat with a Scotsman who’s travelling in a car around Japan, still ain’t met anyone from England, and after landing at Rebun I cycle as far south as the road takes me and then west as far as the road goes. As you guessed it’s only a small island, 29km long and 8km wide, then I cycle north to a nice campsite at lake Kushu. I set up the tent and have a shower, ¥100 then settle down in the tent as it’s cold again. Birds singing all night so I don’t get much sleep.

Campground at lake Kushu.

Luckily I get a decent shot of Mt Rishiri which was unexpected due to all the cloudy weather.

View of Mt Rishiri summit from south of Rebun island.

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40ml. Cleaned the bike and degreased and relined the drive chain and cogs this morning, making use of the hosepipe and bucket at the rider house. I booked through to stay at another rider house in Wakkanai as the weather is cold for next few days. 20ml to Cape Soya and have my photo taken by another young girl cyclist who has cycled from Okinawa.  Well I’m finally here after 1,913m or 3,078km and 38 cycling days The northernmost point of Japan. The young girl is staying at the same rider house which is handy as she speaks perfect English as she moved to Canada with her parents for 12yrs, but back in Japan on her own now. I book an extra night and take a day off to update the blog and download all my Garmin activities. Fantastic Rider house where every night a ritual is performed and the same lady has been doing it for 29yrs. It’s worth stopping just for the proceedings and everyone is so friendly even if there’s a big language barrier.

Mt Rishiri in the distance on the road to Wakkanai.

Finally Cape Soya.

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40ml. Was heading for Cape Soya today, 60ml but after a very misty morning and temperature dropping to 10° but felt colder cycling in the wind, I decide to stop short at a rest station at Sarufutsu as I think the Cape will be even colder. While at the rest station I look on a website and see a rider house is only 2km back and just by coincidence a man speaks to me in good English. I tell him about the rider house and he rings through for me to book. He says I must go immediately to check in as he has somewhere to go at 3pm. Great ¥1,000 for a warm bed for the night. After I check in, I go back towards Soya to see if I can find a cyclist called Kat who lives in London and has cycled the full length of Japan. It’s cold and I give up thinking I’ve missed her or she has stopped earlier. I go for coffee in seicomart convenience store and she rolls up. It’s such a pleasure to meet her and speak English again ha. She also speaks Japanese as she lived here for a number of years before she moved to London. I ride with Kat and another young Japanese cyclist who we see at the rest station back to the rider house and say goodbye as they do another 20ml to a lake for camping. How brave in this cold. Tougher than old me I can tell you.

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19ml. After a nice onsen in the hotel it’s a late start, 12.30. The rain comes again as I hit the opposite coast at Esashi, so I decide to camp on the free campground on the shore. On the way I was almost being deafened by the noisy Cicadas after leaving. Also beware bear signs again as they told me at the hotel that 3 had been spotted a few weeks ago.

 

 

 

The noisy Cicadas.

Lenticular clouds in view from Esashi campground.

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67ml. Long day with lots of hills. Very quiet and scenic again. Took road to Bifuka and as I hit the main Street I saw an ice cream sign so I went in and saw they also served noodle soup. I had both and it was delicious. Opposite was a supermarket so I stocked up on food as there is nothing to my next stop of Utonobori where I hope to find a park to camp. Such a quiet road I even meet a hungry fox and share my bar of chocolate with him. 7km short of Utanabori I notice a sign in Japanese and decide to look on my map app as it looks like a national park. Voila, a hotel, onsen and free campground. Only problem I’m told at the hotel, the campground is a mile up on top of a mountain. So I decline the temptation of the hot bath as I know I’ll be sweating at the top of the hill. What a beauty, only me there and 2 lovely wooden buildings, one a kind of museum about tree habitat there and the other a lounge/ eating area with sink for washing up. Great stop and just before dark too.

Beautiful campsite at the top of the hill.

Saying goodbye to lake Shumarinai.

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56ml. At midday the rain came down heavy till 4pm so got a bit sweaty and wet under my waterproofs. I headed inland today from the coast at Obira. Nice route and quiet, just a shame about the weather but on a positive the campsite for ¥600 was beautiful on the manmade lake Shumarinai. ¥100 for a shower and a crow pinched my peanut butter sandwich while I turned my back for a second. They are bad and not afraid. You have to be careful and keep food hidden away or its its gone.

Great scenery on route.

Nice views on the way.

Making tea at lake Shumarinai.

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36ml. Short day due to the rain starting. Had to shelter a couple of times along the way. Campsite was on a grass shelf on the beach side. Was cold again tonight and rain forecast all night. Cornflakes for tea then early to bed.

 

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58ml. Great ride up route 28 north of Tobetsu. After saying goodbye to ken and his lovely family. I ride up past Lake Tobetsufukoro and join the 451 to a free site back on the coast. Great route and quiet roads today.

Great sundown at Hamamasu.

Lake Tobetsufukoro.

Nice scenery past the dam.

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Lazy day riding around today. Arrive at Ken, warm shower host’s. Receive a warm welcome from him and his family and have a great pasta evening meal. Ken travelled extensively in his younger days. I loved listening to his tales. A really nice and kind family.

Ken and his wife.

 

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28ml. After drying tent out I ride to a shopping centre and look around for a couple of hours just to kill some time as I’ve another night in tent before I can arrive at warm shower host near Sapporo. I go to an onsen on the outskirts of Chitose and meet a young German cyclist called Patrick who’s going to a campsite which isn’t on my map so I decide to go there after the onsen if the rain doesn’t start, rather than a small park around the corner.

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36ml. Rode to Lake Shikotsu and the clouds looked dark. Was going to go all the way to Sapporo but the warm shower host couldn’t accommodate me a day early so I rode out to the coast on a bicycle path and the weather turned cold. The rain came down so I found a shelter in a park to set the tent under.

Lake Shikotsu.

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52ml. Great day today, the views around lake Toya were breathtaking. I met Sue and her husband coming the other way, they are from Australia and it was really good to chat to someone who spoke English. I eventually reach my rest station but it was closed due to renovations but I found a quiet spot to camp around the back.

The great view from lake Toya.

The beautiful Lake Toya.

Dinosaur at rest station

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61ml. Followed route 5 and then do erred around lake Onuma and joined the 5 further north from the lake on a quiet road. Big shoulder to ride on the road. Parked just outside the town as a sign in the park said no camping. First I’ve seen in a park. I probably would have been ok if I’d have set up late but it was quite chilly so decided to find somewhere else.

Lake Onuma.

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36ml. Woke up to the rain just starting so I manage to get the tent under cover and packed before it gets wet. I use this opportunity to fit a new chain and brake disc pads. Set off for Cape Oma where I planned to camp but it was far too windy and the temperature had dropped, was cold at Cape Oma. So I decide to catch the ferry to Hakodate port Hokkaido. I found a quiet road that bypassed Hakodate and made it to a new rest station just north of Nanae on route 5. Found a small nice piece of grass to pitch the tent at the back which was perfect and quiet from the road.

Cape Oma, famous for its tuna.

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36ml. Rode to Kanika ferry port and got the ferry across to Sotogahama. Big climb going up towards Cape Oma. Went straight up at the junction instead of heading to the coast to see some tourist sight of a formation of big rocks. Was going to camp at the top of the hill at a small rest station but there was too many monkeys so I carried on and found a disused sports ground just on the way into the village.

Lots of Japanese monkeys on the climb.

Ferry port at Sotogahama.

Yes, more bear signs.

 

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56ml. Rode up to Cape Tappi, took melon road past Lake Jusanko which was quiet and scenic. 7km climb to get there with great views. Was going to camp there but it was too windy so I carried on and found a lovely small deserted park at the back of a Family mart to camp.

Beautiful Cape Tappi.

Cape Tappi.

Cape Tappi.

Great views going up the climb.

More beware bear signs on the climb.

Lake Jusanko.

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61ml. Felt tired today and the road was a bit hilly with the wind more of a cross wind. Called in an onsen after 10ml so maybe that sapped some energy. Wild camped on the beach near the port.

Another great sundown.

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83ml. Another flat road day with good tail wind. Found a nice river road from Hachirogata to Mitane with no traffic at all on for 10miles which was great. Camped at a Michi-no-Eki rest station.

Lots of hawks.

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73ml. Great day with the wind behind me for a change. Flat all the way along this beautiful coastline again. Find a camp spot at the back of a Lawson’s convenience store. Very handy for the morning coffee.

Another great sundown at Kisakata.

Ice cream time.

Deserted beaches all the way up.

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45ml. Another great day cycling the coast road. Late start at 12.30 due to the rain and drying the tent but hopefully fine weather for a while now. Coast road is quiet with traffic and mostly flat so it makes for pleasant riding.

Beautiful sundown at Kuwagawa

Few tunnels on the way.

Quiet on the coast road.

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81ml. Left Taka after a nice breakfast of museli and followed the coast north. The wind was quite bad, more of a cross wind but was hard going. I had a bad 20ml stretch of highway which couldn’t be avoided with lots of tunnels then I had 20ml of cycleway, happy days. It’s forecast bad rain tonight so I’m looking for a shelter to pitch the tent under but unfortunately I was out of luck so I just camped out on a disused sports field.

The very kind and great man Taka

Great scenery again

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46ml. Best day cycling so far here. Great quiet roads coupled with fantastic scenery. I took the 471 then onto the 360 to Toyama. I receive a warm welcome from Taka who I met in NZ and advised me to come to Japan. I’ve been getting lots of route information via email from him. He made a great meal, a veg curry and washed my dirty clothes which was great.

Great view’s on the 360 route

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47ml. Another great day on good quiet roads and chose a mountain route over to make my way towards Toyama and Taka who I met in NZ. 1,100m climb but worth it for no traffic. Hida was a nice with quite a few tourists but I rode a few miles to a Michi-no-Eki to camp just outside Hida on the river.

Quite worrying seeing beware bear signs on these quiet roads.

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56ml. Changed my route after setting off today to a more quiet side road. Was hilly but worth the effort as there was hardly any cars. I rode up past Iwaya dam which was beautiful and managed to find a spot to camp on this isolated road just before dark. I was a bit worried as I’d seen lots of monkeys a few Kms back so I covered by bike and bags with my bike parka.

Fantastic view from the Iwaya Dam.

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42ml. Late start after a lovely breakfast with Robert and Jacqueline, she kindly rode with me showing my onward route and all the quiet roads through small villages. We. Parted after about 13miles and I rode over a pass, which unfortunately had a chain across at the top. Too far to go back so I carry on hoping I can get through. They’d been a landslide but was ok for me to get through on the bike but down the other side I had to take all the bags off the bike and lift it over a locked gate across the road. Hot a big urban area but just followed the river path’s and found a place to wild camp at the Riverside with a toilet just before dark.

Top of the pass and road closed.

Nice paint job.

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35ml. Easy day making my way to warm shower host. Nice along lake Biwa, especially the botanic garden. Spent a while just chilling and enjoying all the beautiful plants and flowers. Met Robert, very funny man, and Jacquelene at their lovely house and enjoyed a great meal and conversation. A few Kms before I arrived and a man invited me in for tea and his wife made me some food. What a coincidence, he knew the yellow house where I was headed as Jacqueline used to teach him English.

Beautiful botanic garden at lake Biwa

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36ml. After breakfast I rode the few Kms down to Nara park where the biggest Budda statue in Japan is housed in the biggest wooden building in the world. A fantastic place with lots of friendly wild deer that let you stroke them, but they’re only after treats. The Tojai-ji shrine is enormous and worth paying to go inside. So after my sight seeing I decide to miss Kyoto out as I heard it’s just so busy and full of tourists, I get to Kihan island at Lake Biwa and camp at the side of the lake in the park.

Camping at Lake Biwa.

Biggest bronze statue Buddha in Japan.

Great Buddha house

Lots of deer at Nara park

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52ml. Quieter roads today till 20ml from Nara. Then urban hell again. Met Kisen who spoke English and told me not to camp in the park at Nara as it’s full of deer so he kindly found a campsite for me which was closed but he rang and arranged for me to stay there the night. I met a guy who was a professional darts player in Japan on the way to the campsite and he gave me some food and drink and we threw a few arrows ha. Was great to meet him and his lovely Mrs and he gave me his number in case I had any problems. Japanese people are so nice and polite.

The very kind Kisen who sorted my camp spot.

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49ml. Better day riding today, took route 1 over a big hill and never saw a car. Then hit another urban area but it was pretty quiet as it’s Sunday. Got a ferry from Tokushima on the island of Shikoku to Wakayama back on to the main Honshu island. I followed a river path and found a lovely place to camp on the side of the river. Met Sako on the river path he’s been travelling over thinka year pulling his little house along. He does about 25kms a day.  I’ve sussed it now. If a river is going through a city or town and it’s it’s heading the way you want to go, then follow it even if it’s a little out of the way. It’s quicker, no traffic lights and quiet, no traffic and good places to camp along the way.

Met Sato along the river pulling his house along.

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44ml. Another day in urban hell. Flat but up and down pavements and traffic lights become tiresome. Hot today, 28°. Campground at a park and paid ¥500, my first time paying to camp but I got a shower in the sports centre. Visited a beautiful park on route today.. Ritsunin park in Takamatsu.

Ritsunin park.

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55ml. Flat roads today but bad due to urban hell with heavy traffic. Managed to find a wild camp before dark.

Nice sundown before bed.

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47ml. Finish off Shimanami kaido cycleway today, the best view was on the last bridge. I ride south of imabari to a free campsite and just had a nice pleasant days easy riding.

Imabari castle

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57ml. Got the ferry back to Kure and cycled to Onomichi where the start or end is for the more famous Shimanami kaido cycleway. You have to get a small ferry from Onomichi on Honshu island to the first island, a bit like the Woolwich ferry back home, ¥100 then you’re off. It was getting late so I got to the second island and camped on the campsite on a park with a big dinosaur model on it.

Peace museum, the only building that survived at the epi center of the atom bomb blast.

Sharing the campground with this fella.

1st bridge on Shimanami kaido.

On route to Onomichi through a long tunnel segregated from the traffic.

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47ml. Caught the ferry from imabari to Okamurajima to do Tobishima Kaido. A cycle route that connects 7 islands by bridges. It’s fantastic as there’s little traffic on route. After arriving on Honshu I cycled to Kure and caught a ferry to Hiroshima. I was going back on myself at this point but I had to visit the atom bomb museum or peace museum as it’s called. A great place to visit although very sad looking round the place. I returned to the port and camped in a small park at the side. I went into a Lawson convenience store and met with Kav, an Irishman who lives there. First person I’ve met who speaks good English. Early ferry again in the morning so early to bed.

Great sights on the Tobishima Kaido cycleway

One of the bridges on Tobishima Kaido.

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65ml. I leave Kyushu island and After an early rise I get the ferry to Yawatahama on Shikoku island. I was cycling and was going to go all the way to Imabari but decided to fall short and go to a campsite on the beach about 8mile short. Nice and quiet and rain came down as soon as I set up the tent so was a good choice.

Leaving campsite in morning. Lovely spot.

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52ml. Hard day on the bike. Lot of climbing but on good roads. Lot quieter roads ha. Arrive late in Beppu and sus out a camping spot on a park near the port but go into onsen till it goes dark before setting up the tent. Early ferry in morning have to be at the counter for 05.20am.

Quieter roads today

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62ml. Changed my route after an hour on the road. I got a reply off a warm shower host at south Aso so I head there. It’s a hard day over 2 mountains. I arrived late at 18.45pm. was cold also but Jiro and his family made a lovely meal and I camped in a greenhouse on the farm. I end up staying 4 nights as I hike up Mt Neko Dake and ride up Mt Aso, an active volcano. I also try an onsen for the first time and wow, I’m going to stop at many while I’m here.

Lovely warm shower host’s, Jiro and his family.

Active volcano Mt Aso

Mt Neko Dake.

On the way to Jiro’s

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31ml. After a 2hr delay in Hong Kong, I arrive in Fukuoka late to assemble the bike in the dark and rain. I find shelter at a football stadium and camp for 2 nights due to the rain. I set off all nervous not knowing what to expect. I do 31ml in the rain and camp at a rest station under a bridge to shelter. The new stand alone tent comes in handy. Lot of travelling on pavements today and the urban areas seem to go for ever and never end. I’m not over excited at this point but things can only get better.

Opposite the rest station I stop for my first night on the road.

Detour to a shrine at Dariwa and a little look around

Camped at the football stadium at Fukuoka, sheltered.

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41ml. Wow is all I can say. I couldn’t stop taking photos along the route of the beautiful Queen Charlotte drive. I met a couple going the other way from Blenheim who I met on the Molesworth. Was great to see them again. After lots of pictures I land at a warm shower host’s, Don and Val who kindly let me camp in their beautiful garden and enjoy a fantastic evening meal. Up early for the ferry in the morning back to Wellington so it’s goodbye south Island.

Scenic Queen Charlotte drive.

Lots of great post boxes painted along the way.

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41ml. 2 climbs and good shoulder on the road to cycle on. Late start 1pm, after fishing with David and his son, and arrived at Rai valley. A small hamlet really but free options of camping each side of the village but I chose to camp at the Tavern for $10 and have a good meal and few drinks. Lovely place. Even met an English lad here who was travelling around in a van.

Nelson art

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57ml. Fantastic day on quiet roads and cycle paths. Wakefield to Nelson on the great taste trail was good. I arrived in Nelson at David’s house, I met him and his children on the Molesworth. A really warm welcome and delicious meal. His wife was lovely and was great to meet again. So kind in letting me stay another night and took me fishing on his boat in the morning. Really great stay.

David and his son.

Great art on the buildings in Nelson

Beautiful cathedral in Nelson

Great taste cycle path

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50ml. Took a gravel road to lake rotoroa. Bit of a climb but hardly saw a car this way. The lake was beautiful but was being eaten alive with sandflies so I moved on. Also there was a lovely campsite, really quiet before the climb in a big garden for a few dollars. Got to Lake Rotoiti where I was staying for the night and it was overpriced doc site so I went back to a cheaper one a few miles back.

Gravel road to lake rotoroa.

Beautiful Lake Rotoroa.

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54ml. Steady riding today with a call in at Lyell and Inangahua to look at the earthquake museum and interesting history. Arrived at warm shower host’s house, Owen, a great guy and let me stay another day so I could hike up a hill to have a break from the bike.

A view from my hike.

Old bric a brac store in Murchison

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37ml. Steady day and weather a lot better. Stopped at a lovely campsite at Ikamatva on route with a nice Tavern attached and chatted for an hour with a lovely couple. I’d have stayed as it was also st Patrick’s Day, but it would have been to far the next day as I’d arranged a warm shower stay. Was a lovely campsite at Reefton and the cheapest holiday park so far with a great kitchen.

Road to Reefton

Lovely Reefton.

 

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24ml. Day 1, Fit a new chain this morning and I’m now doing the wilderness trail. Sunny start to the day and only did a short milage day enjoying the scenery through beautiful woodlands and stayed at Hokatiki at a warm shower host’s, Kevin, a retired scientist and an avid tramper in his younger days.

Beautiful wilderness trail.

West coast wilderness trail

29ml. Day 2. Hokatiki to Trapper’s rest. Rained all day after leaving Kevin’s and a great breakfast. Was soaked by the time I reached Cowboys retreat just short of the summit. Was offered a cabin at a special price of $100 by the owner but passed, ha. Rode over the hill and down to a little siding with lovely grass. An old bus with a double bed in it, a Teepee and even a shower. I stayed in the teepee and it was so peaceful. I left a donation for the owner who traps possum’s. The rain was relentless so it was a big relief to stay in the Teepee.

Wet wilderness trail

Cowboys retreat

44ml. Day 3, Trapper’s rest to Greymouth. Rain had stopped in the morning but it was grey like it was going to start any minute. I finished off the wilderness trail and arrived in Greymouth, it was a lovely town with a holiday park but decided to push on to Blackball and stay there. An old mining town and was intrigued with the history. I had 3nights here due to the rain and loved it. Luckily it was weekend and the hash harriers were there and another group from Christchurch who were up for the annual cricket match. ( Tragedy in Christchurch this weekend with the racist attacks) Live band on in the club sat night and was a really good weekend. This town is expecting an influx of tourists soon as a new tramping trail is being put in which ends/starts at this small dying town. Tramping is very popular here in NZ. Good luck to Blackball and I hope it brings in lots of tourists to this beautiful community of friendly locals.

Road to Blackball and a memorial for a mining disaster.

On the way to Greymouth

Leaving Ross.

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59ml. Steady day but rain to start with. Managed to pack tent away just before it came down heavy. Stopped raining later and made it to an old tavern and got a room for $20. Rained all night so I was glad. Enjoyed a bowl of chowder and a few pints in the pub. Last out again.

Some comical sights on the way.

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45ml. No wind today and got all 3 hill climbs done to Franz Josef by 1pm. Early camp pitch at Lake Mapourika.

Road to fox Glacier

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54ml. 2 climbs today then mostly flat. Good weather again and saw 1 cycle tourist on the other side of the road lying down with ambulance in attendance and a campervan and cars stopped. Obviously been knocked off his bike. Got to pine grove and it was a fantastic little place, only enough room for a few tent’s and a lovely little lounge/kitchen area. I rang through the day before just to book in advance, although I’d have been ok, as only 1 more tent arrived, but you never know.

Road to pine grove motel

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58ml. Good day with nice scenery. Steady climb over Haast pass with some nice wayerfalls. Nice campsite on left just as you turn into village with a great kitchen and there’s also a store within walking distance.

 

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Today was fantastic for views but a hard climb over crown range, the highest sealed road in NZ. I got a reply via email off Sally and Malcolm, friends of Jill from white cliffs, so that was good news and they were a great couple who made me feel really welcome when I arrived and made a great evening meal. Their son was a fell runner and also a great guy. Windy day but great sunshine.

Lake at Wanaka

Fantastic views from crown range

Crown range summit

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Rode into Queenstown and met Herman again for a nag and coffee. Took a hilly bike path to a lovely campsite at Arrowtown.

Beautiful views on route

On route to Arrowtown

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34ml. Rode by Lake Wakatipu on the gravel road to Mt Nicolas where, after a 2hr wait, I caught the ferry to Queenstown. $34 from here or $50 from Walters peak, which is 11km further and the ferry is an old steamer called Earnslaw. Queenstown was very touristy and campsite wanted $45 for a tent so I rode out towards Glenorchy 7ml to a doc site on the side of the lake.

Queenstown in the distance.

Gravel rd to Mt Nicolas