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Bicycling in Britain

<i> Izon is a Canadian travel journalist covering youth budget routes. </i>

Bicyclists who are considering a visit to Great Britain but don’t know how to begin planning a route can get helpful information and suggestions in a free publication produced by the British Tourist Authority.

The 35-page “Britain Cycling 1989-90" includes suggestions for 12 routes that steer cyclists through the countryside of England, Scotland and Wales.

For each route you’ll find a basic map that shows where you can find low-cost youth hostel accommodations. Beside each map are notes on sights along the route and the locations of tourist information offices.

The booklet also includes information on where you can make reservations for bed and breakfast accommodations or camping facilities, plus bicycle rental locations, basic traffic laws, tour operators and helpful groups such as the Cyclist Touring Club.

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The CTC is a membership organization, but does provides some information for nonmembers. I visited its office during a day trip, by train from London, and found it a good source for more detailed information on British and European cycle routes.

Avoiding Traffic

For example, the CTC can provide information on the Byway Network, a collection of bicycle routes covering Britain that are designed to avoid heavy motor traffic. The organization also has a handbook that lists recommended B&Bs; near cycling routes.

For information on memberships and CTC cycling publications, contact CTC, Cottereil House, 69 Meadrow, Godalming, Surrey GU7 3HS, England.

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Free copies of “Britain Cycling 1989-90" are available from the British Tourist Authority, World Travel Center, 350 S. Figueroa St., Suite 450, Los Angeles 90071.

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New Zealand is one of the most attractive destinations in the world for hikers. It has a variety of popular trails, but the most famous is the South Island’s Milford Track.

The 33-mile trail runs from the top of Lake Te Anau through lush rain forests and over an alpine pass to Milford Sound. It takes four days to complete the journey.

You can’t just go to Te Anau and expect to begin when you choose. The number of hikers allowed to set out on the trail each day is limited; your best bet is to make reservations well ahead.

Of the two ways you can hike, one is as a member of a group arranged by the Tourist Hotel Corp. of New Zealand, the other as an independent walker. THC hikers pay $775 N.Z. (about $527 U.S.), plus 10% tax. The fee includes guide services and hot meals waiting at warm huts (with men’s and women’s dormitory rooms).

Packs Provided

You have to worry only about carrying your own clothing and sheets, and the THC provides simple packs. The group also spends a night at the THC hotel in Milford Sound and takes a boat trip out to view the sound area.

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Independent walkers must carry their own food and bedding, stay in more Spartan huts and make their own arrangements for accommodations in Milford Sound if they want a day of rest after the walk.

On a more positive note, independent walkers pay only $122.50 N.Z., tax included. Although the accommodations in the Fiordland National Park Huts are much simpler, the huts are spaced so you cover more ground the first day and have an easier time when you need the energy for hiking up to the mountain pass.

Remember, seasons south of the Equator are the reverse of ours. The Milford Track stays open only until mid-April.

The hiking fees include transportation between the trail and Te Anau. You can make reservations to walk with a THC group, or independently, by contacting Walshes World at (800) 663-1141.

Correction: An item in last week’s column listed an incorrect telephone number. To obtain information from outside California on a new 22-day tour of China for 18- to 30-year-olds, call STI Travel, a Northridge-based youth tour operator, toll-free at (800) 225-2780. The in-state number is (800) 637-7687.


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