I emerged from the depths of the ferry to a dark quayside, lights flickering in the water.

I had no route planned beyond 'head South.' Luckily, the first sign I saw was from the Voie Verte heading South to Caen.

Soon I was slipping along by the canal, cranes dipping and bowing in time to the dawn chorus, reflections glimmering through the early morning mist. I was overtaken by a less heavily laden cyclist.

"How far are you going?"

"New Zealand."

"Oh! I'm only going 30k and I have battery."

The electric motor kicked in and he sped away.

The early morning mist on the canal leading to Caen

The early morning mist on the canal leading to Caen

The Voie Verte Suisse-Normande continued beyond Caen, following the Orne river valley along an old railway. "Autumn is a second Spring, where every leaf becomes a flower."

Industrial architecture on the Suisse-Normande

Industrial architecture on the Suisse-Normande

From Thery-Harcourt to Conde sur Noireau I followed winding roads, catching my breath as every turn gave a new view where the low sun illuminated the rolling hills, stone escarpments and cotton wool woods.

As darkness fell I followed the D17 deep into the Noireau valley to find a bivvy spot. Dark, dank woods rose up high on both sides of the deep valley. A mist settled on the valley floor, oozing through fences and hedges. Historic mills loomed ominously, their blank windows giving out little clue as to what lay inside. An acrid scent and bounding lorries reminded me that there was still industry over the black water.