The final day of my Polish End to End was the hottest, sunniest day of the trip so far. It started with yet more miles of mostly decent urban cycleways, continued with rough and unready tracks through country parks with lots of other leisure cyclists, and finished up at Poland’s most northerly point, overlooking an azure Baltic.
Setting out early from the hostel I happened upon the start of the Gdynia Gran Fondue 2019, or perhaps Fondo, with thousands of cyclists competing over 80km or 134km.
The various category starts, excitably counted down by the compere, were great for my Polish numerals. Though some of the numbers are so long they obviously have to say them very quickly to get through them in time.
Route-finding out of the city wasn’t too bad, thanks to the mostly good network of cycleways (pic), but road closures for the Fondue and haphazard signing complicated things. Shops and bakeries were closed for Sunday morning too, even the branches of Żabka.
To judge by the many services that had dozens of congragation members standing outside, the staff were all at church.
The signed bike route took me through several places that tourists never usually see – building sites, car parks, derelict factories – and gave me glimpses of local fishing villages too, such as Rewa (pic), where you could amuse yourself by hunting for the signage that you obviously missed somewhere because you’d come to a dead end.
Eventually I recovered the route, R10 indeed (pic), which wound its way prettily through various conservation areas and wildlife zones. The tracks were very bumpy – dirt roads, uneven concrete-slab access ways, gravelly farm lanes – so after an hour I decided to go back to the tarmac alternative. Unfortunately they were even worse.
Finally, at Puck, I was on good quiet roads, and even a good railtrail for a few miles.
And I collected another for my series of ‘amusing Polish warning road signs’: this one (pic) of a car experiencing the unlikely mishap of collision with a steam locomotive.
(There are still, amazingly, some normal mainline scheduled steamers still running between Wolsztyn and Poznań, so there may be a potential Mr Toad/Ivor the Engine encounter there.
But sadly, they look like they’ll be phased out at the end of 2019.)
And so to the end of the trip, at the resort of Jastrzębia Góra, Poland’s most northerly settlement, on cliffs overlooking the Baltic coast. It’s the obvious finishing point of an End to End, as it has a monument (pic), the Gwiazda Północy (‘North Star’), marking the official furthest-up bit of the country, as determined by the maritime office in Gdynia in 2003, evidently.
Here’s my bike as far north as you can go in Poland (pic) without seriously compromising the drivetrain. It’s the official end of the End to End…
…though not the end of this trip of course. I glided from Jastrzębia Góra 10km along a good cycleway, downhill and with a tailwind, into Władysławowo, my accomm for tonight.
Tomorrow I’ll cycle to Hel, partly because it’s a lovely and much-recommended ride 20 miles to the end of a narrow sand spit, partly because well, who could resist a Journey to Hel, knowing that there’s a range of trains, buses and ferries out of the place?
But for the purposes of this post, that’s the…
END OF THE POLISH END TO END.
Well done bike! No mechanicals, no punctures, no problems. It’s been another highly enjoyable trip: often quiet and scenically mundane, as I expected.
But often there was surprisingly good cycle infra, pleasant people in ordinary little villages and towns who were mildly amused at my enthusiasm for their country and language, cheap beer and cheap places to stay (often of very good quality – the places to stay, not the beer), and some beautiful historic town squares that were an utter delight to sip a lager or two after a day’s ride.
I’ll always remember Zakopane’s scenery, Kraków still stunning in the rain, Częstochowa’s piety, Łódź’s vitality, Toruń’s elegance, Chełmno’s lovely square, Gdańsk/ Sopot/ Gdynia’s bike-friendly buzz, and the elation of completing.
Thanks bike, thanks Poland. Dziękuję bardzo, do widzenia. I’ll be back.
Miles today to Jastrzębia Góra: 35
Miles today total: 45
Total miles from Polish border (Łysa Polana) to Northern Star (Jastrzębia Góra): 570
Total number of days cycled: 14
Wildlife spotted (alive): Eagle, deer, hares (x2), storks (x3), fleas (x lots)
No of punctures: 0
No of sunhats lost: 1
No of cartons of ‘Danio’ vanilla gloop for dessert: 12
Total cost for 15 days inc all travel, accomm, food, expenses: £425