This 8 day challenge saw Andrew Martin and Richie head off from John O’Groats. This is an account of their trip.
Strong head and cross winds with a little rain, it was miserable at the start and we were glad to get off to warm up! The first big hill saw both of us making it up Berridale hill on the way to Muir O Ord. A big thank you to Nikki (Richies wife), Shaun Jones and Neil Travis for seeing us of – they were well wrapped up in coats and woolly hats, as it was freezing.
Another big hill on day 2 from Muir O Ord and then fast descent down to loch Ness – just on the edge of our comfort zone. Lovely ride alongside the Loch down to Fort Augustus, travelled on to the eight mile climb at Glencoe, views were stunning. 25 miles later, 5 punctures, 4 hours and bitten to death by Scottish midges (feasting on English meat) we arrived at Cranlarich very late and very tired!
Day 4 saw us crossing the border at approx 0930 and onto the Lake District. Got lost in Penrith and then took 2 hours to climb Shap, very windy and lovely views at 1400 ft, only took 30 minutes to get down. Then onto Kendal, Lancaster and Preston (which was a navigational nightmare, there is a reason we are engineers and not navigators!!)
Travelling through to Ludlow, the sun was out and the wind had dropped to a slight headwind. We managed to stay off the busy roads and headed towards Monmouth. One killer hill later and a hair raising, adrenalin pumping downhill and we were there. Monmouth was a bustling lively town with plenty to see, next the Wye Valley. Lots of hills, none steep and a beautiful Tintern Abbey, this was an enjoyable part of the trip. Over the Severn bridge and on to Bridgwater.
The next day took us through Someset, Dorset and Cornwall, reaching 48mph – the highest speed of the trip – but unfortunately straight down……These hills were the hardest of the whole trip, averaging about 7-8 miles an hour through Exmoor. The steepest hill was like cycling over a cliff, only to be followed by a longer but not quite so steep (approx 33%) hill that beat us both and the last third was definitely not on the saddle. After that it was up and down, up and down, reaching our destination and several well earned beers in the early evening. Probably the most challenging day (but good) of the whole trip with relentless hills and bloody caravans! Weather was great.
The final day we had good weather, with a side/tail wind for the final sprint to Lands End, covering 85 miles in 6 hours. Busy A roads all the way, St Michael’s Mount at Penzance equalled the most stunning scenery of the trip. We joined up with Andrew’s son Paul and his friend Martin who wanted to do the last bit to Lands End with us.
A brilliant welcome from friends and family at Lands End, we arrived 908 miles and 60 hours in the saddle at 2pm. After some photos and hugs, we had a couple of bottles of champagne to celebrate. Lands End was very busy and hot, so we stayed for a couple of hours and enjoyed the moment before heading back to Andrew’s house for a well earned rest and meal.
A big thank you to all those who have supported us, we have raised a little over £2000 and met several people on the way down who have benefited from the charity’s work.