Bicycles and Pleasure Steamers 2013

As a boy in the 1950s I loved the great fleet of pleasure steamers that sailed down the Firth of Clyde from Glasgow and the railway piers at Craigendoran and Gourock, where I lived. It’s still possible to enjoy a steamer cruise and it can be a great way to extend your reach when cycle touring. I’ve compiled some information that will help you do that.


West of Scotland – The Waverley

A few years back we started a very successful tandem holiday in Argyllshire with a cruise down the Clyde to Tighnabruaich on the classic restored paddle steamer, Waverley. As we enjoyed it so much and it took us from the middle of Glasgow into the heart of the countryside I’ve got into the habit of compiling a schedule of the summer timetable for the Waverley in a form that makes it easy to see how you might fit it into your cycling plans.

Map thanks to Sail Scotland

Map thanks to Sail Scotland

There are lots of possibilities for planning ambitious tours, or day rides with interesting start and finish locations, especially as you can tie it up with other ferries and trains in the region.

If you want to buy tickets or confirm any of the times you can use the Waverley website

Moselle Valley Cycleway – Kolb Brothers’ Pleasure Ships

Recently I have been looking at the possibilities of the Moselle Cycleroute. It looks very attractive for a relaxed tour with a lot of interest, not least the Moselle wine. It’s also well-served by trains and the very extensive fleet of pleasure ships operated by Kolb Brothers, who have been running pleasure cruises on the Moselle since motor boats were first available in 1921.


Map thanks to the Romantic Germany Tourism Organisation

So I have a second spreadsheet that shows the towns and villages along the Moselle route together with a schedule for the Kolb Brothers ships as well as indicating which places have railway stations and where there are campsites. German Railways are particularly good for cyclists and have an excellent online timetable and booking system which I can vouch for. The central section of the route is not served by trains but is the busiest area for pleasure ships. If like us you like to use a caravan or campervan, so need to get back to your temporary base before moving on, these transport systems allow you to make more ambitious round trips from your campsite without having to cycle both ways (although the Moselle route has the advantage of a left bank or right bank option with different views, and towns on each side).

I’ve just noticed that there are some other boat operators on the Moselle so I may update this later.

You can buy an excellent English language guide to the Moselle Cycle Route online from Stanfords, the information in the spreadsheet comes from a combination of this guide, the Kolb Brothers’ timetables and a mileage chart provided by the cycle holiday company, Radweg-Reisen, who will sell you a supported tour of the Mosel or other areas of Germany if you prefer to have somebody experienced to do the hard work of planning and transporting your kit (NB I have no experience of this company’s holidays but they do provide excellent clear information on the web which is a good start).

Always please check the schedule for the actual service you intend to use as I can’t promise I have not made typos or the services may change. Waverley and Kolb both publish timetables online but they are aimed at tourists in particular locations looking for an excursion and not  a good layoutl for planning by cyclists.

Finally, if you are a tandemist, or maybe have some other kind of more cumbersome cycle there is good news. We had no difficulty taking our Hase Pino Tandem on the Waverley (lots of suitable deck space and helpful crew) and Kolb Brothers have confirmed that you can take a tandem on their boats. German Railways will also take a tandem if you pay for two bike tickets (I don’t think they are expensive).

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