11 July, 2015

Hot off the Press!

The Cover of Issue 87:

Association News, Issue 87

The Association Committee has purchased a new website address: “LEJOG.org” from Iain Boyd, who used the site for fundraising during his own ride in 2008. We hope that the shorter name will make it easier to advertise ourselves, and will encourage others to display and link to our website when fundraising for their own trips. We have just completed the process of registering this new address, and will be adding the Association details there as soon as the transfer is complete. The original website remains in use and will do so for the time being. Many thanks to Brian Dawson, Jeff Chambers and others who enabled this purchase; we hope it will become a helpful acquisition to the Association in the future. 

Vice-President Peter Hume-Spry has suggested that we consider setting up a QR code for the Association, and we will be looking into creating one. If anyone has design experience with artistic QR codes, please do let me know as it would be fun to customize one to include an impression of our logo, an outline of Britain. 

The Late Summer Social weekend, organized by Jack Adams, will be at the Mercure Abbots Well Hotel in Chester, the weekend of 24th -26th September. You will see that payments need to be received by Jack by 27th July, so please do not delay if you would like to attend this enjoyable weekend. To all those making the trip, please do email me your photographs.

I am looking forward to hearing about all the new end-to-end trips happening this summer. If you read about, or hear of any, please consider asking the travellers to join the Association and give us an account of their trip. Alternatively, you could send me an email with any information you have: <quo.vadis.editor@gmail.com>.

Enjoy reading the Summer Edition of Quo Vadis?

10 July, 2015

Welcome to New Members

Andrzej R Wdowczyk of Birmingham found our website when searching for information about the Highlands. He writes, "For 3 years I've been the owner of my beloved Boxster. I use it for commuting, although it deserves better treatment. To celebrate the 15th birthday of my car, I decided to extend my trip to my family in Forres to John o' Groats, and then go to Land's End. I had a fantastic journey and it was a great challenge for my car." Andrzej left John o' Groats at 4pm on 20 May 2015 and arrived at Land's End at 6pm on 25th May, driving a total of 963 miles. His total round trip from Birmingham, over 8 days, was 1,968 miles.

Martin Johnson, of Pulborough, West Sussex , made his end-to-end on motorcycle as part of a longer journey. His blog is and I hope to publish an article and pictures of his trip in a future issue: “In addition to the Land’s End to John o’ Groats part of my adventure, I was also able to incorporate Scotland’s newly-launched North Coast 500 Route with its awesome views and scenery, as well as completing the Royal British Legion Scotland Riders Branch “Saltire Challenge,” which requires the rider to visit the four corners and the centre of Scotland without going over the same road twice to reach the destinations, and to raise a minimum of £100 for any chosen charity (mine is Voices for Veterans). In doing this little adventure, over 8 days I covered 2,486 miles without experiencing a single problem with my motorbike, a Kawasaki 1700 Voyager Cruiser. In addition, there was never a moment when I suffered any aches, pains or numbness from being on the bike in the saddle for long periods each day. This is testament to the fact that if you have the right bike and the right clothing and equipment, you do not have to be caged up in a metal box to enjoy long journeys on the open roads.”

09 July, 2015

Welcome to New Associate Members

Luke Gallacher of Great Barr, Birmingham.

Joe Philpot of Crewe and Chris Lanceley of Northwich plan to drive from Land's End to John o' Groats in June 2015 in a 1986 Citroen 2CV.

08 July, 2015

News and Appeals

Member Adam Dawson has updated the website of his 2014 LEJOG hike so it now contains all the details of his trip, which raised funds for the World Scout Jamboree. If anyone is planning a walking route, you will find it useful.

Member Blind Dave Heeley has returned from running the Marathon des Sables, and I'm looking forward to hearing about that extreme experience. Through the event, he has raised an impressive £29,819.41 for the Albion Foundation (Helping Disability Sports). In the meantime, he writes: “I have had a little proposition thrown at me! And so, am quietly working on a project, for which I need some help. Through the network of people within the Association, do you know of anyone who would own such a thing both north and south, as a rickshaw?” Please contact us if you can help.

Rosemary, Dave and Tony in the Marathon des Sables

Chris Nicoll, the Course Director of Reaper Events, is organizing an Obstacle Running End-to-End run in September. He is planning on the course covering about 50 miles per day, and contacted our Route Advisor Chris Hatton for advice. The event aims to complete 1000 miles, over 1000 obstacles, arriving at Land’s End 20 days later. It will bring together the whole Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) community across the UK by visiting OCR centres along the route. Participants can do a few miles, or a few hundred miles, and at the same time raise funds for the veteran's charity Help for Heroes. If you'd like more information, visit or if you're on Facebook, look up the outdoor OCR training centre called The Obstacle Gym in Lutterworth, Leicester to see some pictures of amazingly-muddy people having what looks like a lot of fun!

06 July, 2015

Fame in a Name

A Puzzle by Eddie Sedgemore

This is based loosely on word-pairing competitions that have been in past issues of Quo Vadis?, the difference being that two clues will give an Association member's surname. All answers are members mentioned in the Spring 2015 issue of Quo Vadis? I was going to have an odd name out but I don't think that would be fair to that Association member!

Winners will be announced in the next issue. Enjoy! 

a/ "A Question Of Sport" team captain 
b/ An elderly monarch 
c/ He played the part of an archaeologist in a series of films 
d/ An original member of the Rolling Stones 
e/ Judges room for hearing private cases 
f/ Sometimes controversial pop singer of the early '80s 
g/ Retired motor racing commentator 
h/ A bird, native of Australia 
i/ Third in line to succession of the British throne 
j/ Much-liked TV comedian, now deceased 
k/ "Dads Army" character 
l/ Heavy headgear 
m/ Throat fruit 
n/ A neighbourhood in Manhattan; take off the last letter 
o/ Snooker table and cue manufacturer 
p/ Canadian rock singer 
q/ Another "Dads Army" character 
r/ A brewing company 
s/ Jazz singer and pianist 
t/ A member of the Beatles 
u/ Jewellery quarter of London 
 v/ British motor car no longer in production 
w/ An American book of words 
x/ A tea manufacturer

05 July, 2015

Dover to Cape Wrath, Part 2

The Spring Issue included the beginning of Bill Atkinson’s cycling trip of “the other diagonal,” and here follows the end of the journey…

by Bill Atkinson

Day 11: Chesterfield to Leeds, 68 miles

The night before I left home for this section I realised that I’d miscalculated the mileage on this day. If I faithfully followed the Trans Pennine trail route I would have to do about 80 miles’ cycling: too much for me. I left home at 5:45 so that I could start cycling at about 9 o’clock. The first 10-12 miles were fantastic: off road and on a good surface, so no messing about.

However, as I reached the outskirts of Sheffield the instructions took me into more housing estates. No way! Sheffield is big, hilly and busy. I gave up on the instructions and it was 2 hours later, after many stops to ask for help, that I celebrated with coffee and a very large bacon bap in a café to the north of Sheffield. I knew where I was, and my planned route worked perfectly as I quickly bypassed Barnsley and rejoined the Trans Pennine Trail route towards Wakefield. I was very pleased with my progress.

But what happened in the little village of Heath? Where did the direction signs go? The only route I could see on my map would mean doing an extra 4 miles or so. After a minute or two a passing cyclist recommended that I took a nearby bridle path through some trees. This would get me to the Stanley Ferry Marina, he said. He was right, it did, and a young lad on a mountain bike probably would have enjoyed the next two miles; an old guy on a heavily-laden road bike certainly didn’t! It was a narrow, muddy path over tree roots and up and down slopes. I was so relieved to reach the Marina.

I could have done with stopping for a drink, but I felt I had to get on. After a few more miles, the Trans Pennine Trail went on a long off-road meander, so I joined the A462 heading for the Aire and Calder Canal to get me into Leeds. The Canal path was great apart from one bridge. Usually canals paths go under bridges, but this one didn’t. I had to strip everything off my bike to carry it over. It was too hard, too late in the day.

Initially I missed my Ibis hotel when I arrived in Leeds but soon found it and was very surprised when I was allowed to take my bike up to the room. It was about 6:30pm. It had been a very hard day but also very interesting.

Day 12: Leeds to Kirby Lonsdale, 62 miles

This was forecast to be a very wet day and in fact it was battering down with rain when I left Leeds. I was heading for Kirby Lonsdale about 60 miles away and I was hoping that I could make reasonable progress along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal to Cargreave about 30 miles away. The rain eased off at about 10:30am but by this time I was soaked through.

At Bingley Locks (the steepest set of locks in the country) I had a well-earned coffee, and chatted to a lady manning (or should that be womanning?) a Canal Society stand. She told me that though the path had been very good so far, this would not continue. She also told me, as though this would please me, that about £5 million was to be spent upgrading much of the surface, but this would not be done until the next year. It has probably been done by now. As I struggled through mud and over stones and boulders, this good news was rather lost on me. I even had to get off and walk at times as I was so afraid of falling into the canal.

Fortuitously, when I was near Silsden the main A road approached the canal and there was a very nice footpath alongside it. Sorry you purists, I didn’t hesitate, and from then on I made very rapid progress, bypassing Skipton to join the A65, on which I cycled for the rest of the day. The coffee and cake in Cargreave were very welcome; the A65 was not too busy, and I felt reasonably safe. I got very tired as I approached Kirby Lonsdale which I reached at about 5 o’clock. After a little searching I found a reasonably-priced B&B above a restaurant and settled down for the night.

Reasonably-priced B&Bs are getting fewer and fewer; this one was just as it would have been in the 1970s. And there were biscuits in the room.

Day 13: Kirby Lonsdale to Carlisle, 58 miles

The forecast was awful: there was to be very, very heavy rain all afternoon. After breakfast I took a quiet B road to Kendall, with lots of hills but beautiful scenery. I bought another waterproof there and then set off to climb the dreaded Shap. It meant a lot of walking, pushing the bike but I got there and enjoyed the doughnut I had bought to treat myself at the top.

When I looked back I could see the rain clouds massing behind me so I hurried on to get to the café in Shap before the rain started. Though cloudy, it actually felt unpleasantly warm and I wished I had lighter clothes with me. I sailed downhill into Penrith. From the top of Shap into Penrith was my type of cycling: downhill, with the wind behind me.

I tired as I reached Carlisle but I made it before the rain. I got the same room in the same B&B I’d stayed in twice before, and enjoyed the evening’s rest. I decided I would reach Abington the next day and as a treat, booked myself into the hotel there. Three years earlier when walking from John o’ Groats to Land’s End I stopped there for afternoon tea. It had been a very, very hot day and I must have looked on my last legs. Two ladies fussed over me giving me cake and arranging a fan to blow cold air over me to cool me down.

Day 14: Carlisle to Abington, 59 miles

It had absolutely poured down all night and was still raining in the morning. I enjoyed my breakfast talking to two other guys, one a walker and the other a cyclist, so we ‘bored’ each other with stories of our ‘adventures’. I had to put all my wet gear on, and by the time I reached Gretna Green I was passing out with the warmth and the humidity. Gretna Green has been ‘upgraded’ since I was last there. It was packed with tourists from all over the world but what an awful place. Are all tourist hot-spots like this? After coffee I was glad to be on my way. Even though it was still raining slightly, I had to take my waterproofs off.

Progress was very slow (3 hours to do 20 miles). I passed through Ecclefechan and then on to Lockerbie. It has always rained when I have been in Lockerbie in the past but this time it was dry. I always think of the disaster here when I pass through. After another break for rain in a transport café I began to climb up the Clyde Valley. Everything here is packed into a fairly narrow valley; the river (the not-so-mighty Clyde), a motorway, a main railway line, huge pylons, a very quiet B road and still lots of trees.

By the time I reached Beatock, a really attractive little village, I was all in. I had had enough. There are no cafés so I ate a bit of chocolate and tried to summon the will power and strength to do the next 20 miles. The first 12 miles or so are uphill and for the only time on this section of my journey the wind was against me. The next 10 miles took me 80 minutes; I do not think Bradley Wiggens would have been proud of me! It was fascinating seeing all the wind turbines. I hadn’t realised there would be so many of them.

I’d hoped it would be easier once I reached the summit, but the wind was blowing strongly and I pedalled hard to get downhill. Dragging myself past Crawford, it started to rain, and I reached the hotel just before 6pm. I could hardly get my bags up the stairs. At £65, there should have been biscuits.

Day 15: Abington to Dumbarton, 59 miles

Early in the morning I felt very tired but once I was on the bike I felt great, full off energy and enthusiasm. How did that happen? What’s more, the sun was shining, the sky blue, and the wind behind me. I had only 40 miles to the centre of Glasgow. It was a Saturday, and before I started I worried about finding accommodation, so I already booked into a cheap place in Glasgow.

I was on a cycle path to the side of the B road and for much of the time this is well away from the motorway. The area around here is rather stark, a little desolate but beautiful in its own way, and the miles passed very easily. I had a brief stop for coffee in Lesmahagow and from then on it was mostly downhill to Glasgow. A couple of times I passed, and was passed by, a motorhome bearing the sign, “Supporting Charity Runner”. When I asked what was happening I heard it was supporting a runner from Land’s End to John o’ Groats in 20 days. That is two marathons or 52 miles a day. I wasn’t surprised to hear that his knee was paining. Good luck to him, though!

The roads soon got very busy as I passed through Larkhall, Hamilton and Blantyre. After stopping for lunch – a huge apple turnover – in Combuslang, I found a small detour enabling me to join the River Clyde cycle path, straight into the centre of Glasgow. Almost immediately I saw the blue NCN (National Cycle Network) signs to Dumbarton and Loch Lomond.

It was only about 2:30pm and I felt really energetic so I made the decision to carry on to Dumbarton and try and find accommodation when I got there. The path was fairly straightforward and took me along the Clyde, along a canal under the Erskine Bridge and into Bowling, where the canal joins the Clyde. I reached Dumbarton at around 5 o’clock to find it was full. No room in any inn. I had to resign myself to getting the train 18 miles back to Glasgow, find my room and then go back the next morning. This would seem to be a real nuisance but quite perversely I enjoyed it. The train journey was interesting and I enjoyed being in Glasgow.

Day 16: Dumbarton to Inverary, 50 miles

It rained heavily all night, but the morning was reasonably sunny. I got the train from Partick station back to Dumbarton and was on my way by 10:00.

I knew I had 23 miles on a cycle path right through to Tarbet, halfway up Loch Lomond. The cycle trail to Balloch, on the banks of Loch Lomond was fine. I had never heard of Balloch but it seemed to be something of a tourist hot spot. It even had a Shopping Park. Wow.

After Luss the cycle path is along an old road right on the edge of Loch Lomond, with beautiful views of the trees in their autumn colours. At Tarbet I turned westwards on the A83 towards Oban. I cannot remember why I went into a Tourist Information Centre here, but it was ironic that the lady there asked me all about cycling; she certainly got more information than I did. It started to rain as I cycled around the top of Loch Long, only a shower, and then drizzle as I climbed uphill to Rest and Be Thankful, with only one short walk. Luckily for me the road had only just been reopened after a landslide. Despite the damp I was far too hot to put on waterproofs. As I reached the top, the clouds cleared and I was treated to lovely views back down into the valley. I was very glad to ‘rest’ and I was ‘thankful’ that there was a tea van.

Rest and Be Thankful

I whizzed down the hill towards Loch Fyne and was soon heading around it to Inverary. The castle was beautiful but the area seemed rather run down. I could have stayed at the Youth Hostel, but felt like a bit of luxury and I booked myself into the hotel. £55 was reasonable and there were biscuits.


Day 17: Inverary to Oban, 40 miles

I was finishing the day in Oban and this was to be the end of this section of my journey. I know this is now getting a bit (very) boring but yet again the forecast was for heavy rain all day, and as I left on the A819, up a steep hill, it did start to rain. However, it only lasted a few minutes and I was so glad to strip off my waterproofs. The warmth and humidity were very difficult to cope with (Today was 7th October).

Though it was gloomy, the scenery was lovely. The road passed through a tree-lined valley surrounded by hills and mountains. When I reached the south-east bank of Loch Awe I joined the A85 where according to a roadside notice I had just passed the largest tree in Great Britain at Cruachan. After a coffee from the Post Office in Awe, sitting in the rain on a wet bench, I carried on alongside Loch Awe. Probably it is very attractive, but not today.

I went over the Pass of Brander which, as passes go, was very easy. I had decided to leave the A road at Taynault and take a single track road across country to Oban; the recommended road for cyclists. I stopped at Taynault for tea and a “wee shortbread” and relaxed, with just 12 miles to go.

I rang my wife who was away walking with friends, and one of her friends who had lived in Oban said it was all downhill into Oban. This relaxation was absolutely no good for me as I then found every slight hill a real effort. Despite my tiredness I thought this 12 miles was wonderful: very little traffic, very few houses, just me and the countryside. After one final climb I descended into Oban. I found a B&B and booked my train home the next day. I found it strange standing on the pier watching the ferries and thinking that it would be quite a few months before I returned to continue. It was actually to be 8 months later.

The Western Isles

A sight I saw occasionally: June pushing her bike up a hill

For the 6 days cycling on the Western Isles, I was joined by my wife, June. She uses a bike to get around but has done very few longer days of cycling and we did not want to do long, tiring distances each day; we wanted to ‘stop and stare’ and enjoy the experience. I planned quite short days, all less than 30 miles, but in the event we often did more by exploring around.

We took two days to get from home to Castlebay in Barra. There were at least 30 other cyclists getting the ferry across to the Isles. After our evening meal in Castlebay, we went for a short walk along the sea front. It was about 10:30pm but seemed more like late afternoon. In the middle of June it never really gets dark this far north.

Day 18: Castlebay (Barra) to Lochboisdale (South Uist), 38 miles

After leaving our pleasant and friendly B&B we initially cycled even further south to briefly visit Vatersay, and we then headed around what is apparently the more beautiful west coast of Barra. We visited the tiny airstrip on the beach in the north of the island, and a plane came in from Glasgow while we were there – all very sweet.

Unfortunately, it then started to rain so the rest of our day was not quite what we had hoped for. We got to the ferry terminal and went across to Eriskay. There were no views, just greyness and wetness. As we went up through Eriskay and across the causeway onto South Uist, it got wetter and wetter, and the little detour we had to make to get to our hotel in Lochboisdale seemed a bad mistake. On the way to the hotel I popped into the local Co-op to buy a paper. “Aye they will be in any time,” I was told. It was nearly 6 o’clock in the evening.

After drying, showering and enjoying our meal, things didn’t seem quite so bad, but it was still pouring down with rain in the morning. What made this a little ironic for us was that the rest of the country, including most of Scotland, was enjoying a heatwave.

Day 19: Lochboisdale (South Uist) to Lionaclait (Benbecula), 27 miles

We hung around in the morning hoping the rain would ease, but no luck, so we set off to reach a little museum-cum-shop some 10 miles away and, after visiting Flora MacDonald’s house, we managed to kill about 2 hours here. At this point I thought South Uist was the worst dump I had ever visited: wet, drab and flat. We had to get going eventually, and a miracle occurred: the rain stopped, the sun came out and leaving the main road took us into a place of sheer magic. The machir was covered in flowers, the lakes/lochs were covered in lilies and there were so many birds. And then we reached the whitest beaches and the bluest sea I have ever seen. We stopped and dawdled and then dawdled some more. I was so glad we had plenty of time, and I completely revised my opinion of South Uist.

We crossed another causeway to get onto Benbecula, and again, it was very flat, but the vegetation here seemed more ordinary. When we found our accommodation in Lionaclait the lady remarked that it was a pity about the mist. They’d had no rain here, just 15 miles from 24 hours of continuous rain.

Day 20: Lionaclait (Benbecula) to Lochmaddy (North Uist), 27 miles

We cycled round the west coast of Benbecula, while it was cloudy but not raining. The machir and the beaches were stunning. Coffee was in the village of Balivanich which has a bigger airport than Barra, and then we continued across the North of Benbecula, which is incredibly flat, and a maze of inland lochs. At Carnish we visited the ruin of a ‘temple’ which had been a very important centre of learning even before the Middle Ages, and then finally left Benbecula on another causeway to reach North Uist.

This time we took the east coast road to our accommodation in Lochmaddy; apart from the causeways, this was the first two-lane road we had encountered. We stopped en route to visit a stone burial chamber, the Barpa Lungass cairn. We were on a new road but I noticed the old road was still intact and as it runs alongside the new road; it made a perfect cycle path. After briefly chatting to a couple peat cutting, (we found that it costs £10.00 a year to hire a ‘bank’), we reached Lochmaddy. Our B&B overlooked the bay and it was a beautiful, still, warm evening.

Day 21: Lochmaddy (North Uist) to Tarbert (Harris), 33 miles

Today we had to cycle up North Uist, cross a causeway to the next island, Bernaray, and then get the ferry to Leverburgh on Harris. The morning was rather gloomy and misty and this rather spoilt the views on the ferry crossing, but what caused even more consternation amongst the passengers was that there was no milk in the coffee machine.

I had wondered if Leverburgh would be similar to Lord Leverhulme’s village of Port Sunlight on the Wirral; it wasn’t. It was Sunday and we’d been told that Harris closes down on a Sunday. In fact, even the quayside Butty Bar was closed. At this point we had to decide whether to take the flatter and lovely west coast route or the hillier and more dramatic route on the east coast, the Golden Road. No contest: we took the flatter route.

By the time we reached the village of Northton (or An Taobh Tuath, if you prefer) the sun had reappeared and a sign reading “Café, Open on Sundays, 1 mile” made things even better. It was a delightful community café on the banks of the loch. We then cycled around the West coast of Harris. This remains one of the most memorable and enjoyable cycles of my life. Even a slow puncture which made progress a little wobbly, didn’t spoil it.

View after view! On a gloriously calm, sunny day like this, I could not understand how the castaways on the nearby island of Taransay could ever have found life difficult. All too soon, we had to turn away from the coast and climb over to the east coast before reaching our hotel in Tarbert. When I got there I tried to blow up the tyre and my pump immediately broke; it was good I hadn’t tried to use it earlier.

There were other cyclists at the hotel and I asked if could I borrow a pump. Harry and Jim didn’t just lend me a pump, they came and changed my inner tube and fixed the puncture – so good of them. Later, I thought that maybe they did this because I seemed useless! Whatever the reason, they were great guys and I was very grateful.

Day 22: Tarbert (Harris) to Loch Erisort (Lewis), 23 miles

It was 2 days before I was able to buy a new pump in Stornaway and I felt very vulnerable during this time. This was to be a short day and we didn’t leave until after half ten; I knew there were a couple of biggish hills between Tarbert and Stornaway but we were in no hurry. We set off up the A859, and after coffee in a new gallery overlooking the mist, we started to climb the first of the hills.

It was rather long, but as we descended we came out of the mist into scenery that was very similar to North Wales. Shortly after a long sweep downwards we left Harris and crossed the ‘border’ into Lewis. It was rather bleak, there were very few houses and definitely no cafés.

We visited a cairn/statue erected in honour of the men who fought against the evictions. It must have been a terrible time; no wonder they hated the mainly-English landowners. From the A859 it was a long 1½ mile detour to the Loch Erisort Inn. It was only just after 3 o’clock when we arrived and were able to have a very relaxed evening. We only had 16 miles to get to Stornaway the next day, and June was feeling fine, so we decided that we really ought to visit the ancient Stones at Callinish. This would mean we’d be doing 40 miles.

Day 23: Loch Erisort (Lewis) to Stornaway (Lewis), 40 miles

We chatted to three other cyclists over breakfast; all were loving the cycling on the Western Isles. After a fairly uneventful 20 odd miles to Callinish, we arrived in glorious sunshine, and after the obligatory scone and coffee, we very much enjoyed our visit. While not as tall as the stones at Stonehenge, or indeed those on the Orkneys, they are so evocative. What was it like then?

The Stones at Callinish

We met a couple here whom we’d encountered 3 or 4 times in various places. Like us, they were loving the Islands but I am sure doing it on a bike is an infinitely better experience than by car. We also visited Callinish 2 and 3, and it was after 3:00pm when we set off again. After about 8 miles we turned off onto a quiet, single-track road across the moors. The next 10 miles or so were cycling heaven, particularly the last 3 miles: slightly downhill, the wind behind us, the sun shining, no cars and lovely views. Arriving into rush hour in Stornaway was a real shock to our systems.

Day 24: Stornaway to Ullapool by ferry, 12 miles

We were not to get the ferry back to Ullapool on the mainland until the afternoon and we explored Stornaway and the Castle area across the bay in the morning. There was a cruise ship moored in the bay but I don’t think the small groups of tourists wandering about looking rather lost were getting a real feel for the Outer Hebrides. Once we arrived in Ullapool after the ferry journey, we easily found our hotel, only to be told that we were not booked in! Apparently the online company that we booked with had booked us into an Argylle Hotel on the Island of Bute a few hundred miles away. A bit too far for us to get to! Apparently it wasn’t the first time they had managed to do this. We were lucky: there was another room, and we were fine, but for a few moments it was a little worrying.

Day 25: Ullapool to Kylesku, 35 miles

I would now be cycling on my own for the next two days. It is 70, very demanding miles from Ullapool to Durness, and I decided that 70 miles of continuous hills was too much for one day so I split it into 2 days. I luckily found accommodation exactly half way in Kylesku. June had only really wanted to do the Western Isles, so we arranged for her to catch the Inverness/Durness bus on both of the days; this worked perfectly.

The weather on both days had everything: wind in all directions, sunshine, cloud and rain, and sometimes all conditions within half an hour. But what wonderful country it was! There were lots of hills, and I was very glad when I reached the café at Elphin. I had noticed the strange building at Knockin Crag but it was high up the hill and it was pouring with rain when I went past. It was only later that I found I really should have paid it a visit as it describes the geology I was passing through. The whole area is a designated Geopark. Nevertheless, I found it interesting reading the notices dotted about explaining the features to be seen in the rock formations.

At one point I was passed by a minibus with ‘Land’s End – John o’ Groats Expedition’ written on the side. I was intrigued as to what it was doing in this area, and fortunately the driver stopped to ask me what I was doing so we were able to trade explanations. The cyclists he was supporting had come up from Land’s End and crossed over to Mull and then island-hopped. After Durness, they would cycle along the North Coast to John o’ Groats. He seemed amazed that I should choose to be unsupported but I have never felt the need. It did explain why I had earlier been passed by several cyclists with no panniers.

Though I thought I was making very slow progress up the hills and into the wind, I reached Kylesku at about 3 o’clock and I felt fine; I could have done more. After a meal in the nearby hotel we watched an abject England get beaten by Uruguay.

Day 26: Kylesku to Durness, 35 miles

When I finished the day before I had thought I should have carried on to Scourie, just 9 miles away. An exhausting 1 hour, 50 minutes into the next day’s journey when I crawled into Scourie, I felt delighted I had stopped at Kylesku. There had been 6 long, steep hills in wind and rain. After that it was great: the wind dropped and it was much sunnier. I passed Foinaven (the mountain, not the Grand National winner), but couldn’t see it in the mist. I passed and saw Ben More Assynt.

The final hill was very long but not steep and the wind blew me up, and the 5 miles down on the other side were incredible – another bit of cycling heaven. What scenery! I had almost finished the downhill stretch when the skies darkened, the temperature dropped quite dramatically and it began to rain slightly. However, the bad weather stayed over the hills, and a mile further on it was sunny, warm and calm. If I had gone over that pass just half an hour later it would have been a nightmare rather than the delight it was. It was now about 3.30pm.

June had cycled to meet me on the banks of the loch, and we cycled together to investigate the ferry across to the headland for Cape Wrath. We met the boatman who runs the boat, and it seemed a bit vague: he started at 9:30am and he would take me and my bike across, but it depended on how many passengers he had. June would cross with me, get the minibus to Cape Wrath and wait for me. We were staying in the Hostel in Durness for 3 nights so we did a bit of shopping and had a relaxed evening.

Day 27: Durness to Cape Wrath, 11 miles

We managed to get on the first boat, and I was on my way at 9:35am. Immediately I had to go up a steep hill on a very poor road. There is only the one road, single track, and in very bad repair. There are just a few traces of tarmac and a lot of gravel. With mist, the wind against me, rain and the threat of much more rain, it being very cold, and all uphill, what else would I have to cope with? A touch of diarrhoea – that was nice! There were mile posts but it seemed an awfully long way between each one.

The ferry to Cape Wrath

After a sudden 10 minute squall when I was lucky to be able to shelter behind a low wall, it got easier, and there were even some fairly flat stretches. Believe it or not, it took me 2 hours and 45 minutes to do those 11 miles. Is that the slowest cycling ever? Mind you, it takes the minibus nearly an hour. I had a well-earned coffee and rest at the Ozone café before having a walk around. What a wonderful place! It felt great to have made it, and I was so glad to take the minibus back. We thoroughly enjoyed our two days in and around Durness. Smoo Cave was well worth the visit, and we had a couple of great walks. We loved the area.

Cape Wrath Lighthouse

To get home we took the Durness/Inverness bike bus to Inverness, and after overnighting in Inverness we took four trains back to Hoylake. The total mileage of the trip was 1,106 miles, but I did quite a few extra miles, and just getting from Dover to Cape Wrath was 1,007 miles, virtually the same as my two trips from Land’s End to John o’ Groats. All in all, it was a fantastic experience. I would have preferred to do the whole journey in one go, but for one reason and another it wasn’t really possible. Maybe next time?!

04 July, 2015

The Ten Tors Challenge

“The vital, tremendous, indefatigable youth of Britain will always rally to a good cause.” 
Colonel Gregory, event founder, c.1960

Photograph from the Ten Tors website
by Harry Waugh 

Ten Tors is a classic young persons event which started in 1960 whilst I was a boy soldier in Devon. I did the first event as a 15 year old: walking 55 miles, camping overnight, and carrying what we thought would suffice. Since then the event has grown, and obviously is now covered by a million rules and regulations, especially of the health and safety variety.

Over 350,000 young people have taken part in the event. I have helped in the organisation and safety of several since the first, as have other End-to-Enders to whom I have spoken over the years.

The 50th anniversary in 2010 saw myself and 9 other ex-Denbury boys forming a team after being invited to take part as a one-off, 50th celebration. (normally, no adults are allowed). As OAPs we were only invited to complete the shorter, 35-mile overnight route.

“If there is anything more important than the will to succeed, it is that the will shall not falter.” Colonel Gregory

Continued by Katharine Arzul:

The National Park of Dartmoor is a dramatic, unpredictable wilderness, with huge, ever-changing skies and spectacular granite outcrops, ‘tors’. After Steven Spielberg had been filming there, he wrote “I have never before, in my long, eclectic career, been gifted with such an abundance of natural beauty.” The park is 368 square miles of hills with some 160 tors, and the high ground is the catchment area for many of Devon's rivers, including the River Dart, after which the park is named.

Ten Tors couldn't have a more challenging and breath-taking setting for the event: it is a two-day hike held every May, and organized and run by the British Army. The participants are 2,400 young people (between 14 and 19 years old), in 400 teams of 4 to 6 teens. As Harry wrote, the first Ten Tors took place in September 1960, with around 200 taking part. Although in the late '70s more entrants were allowed (more than 2,600 in 1980), the numbers are now limited to protect the environment, and only teams from the 7 counties of the South West of England are eligible.
Photograph from the Ten Tors website 

Most groups train for months before the event, and they are largely made up of Cadets, Scouts, and school and college teams. Before it was limited to locals in 2012, teens came from as far afield as Australia and New Zealand to participate. It is not a race, but some teams do compete for the fastest time. What it really offers is a challenge: of fitness, teamwork (if a team drops to fewer than 4 participants and can't join with another group, they are “crashed out” of the event), navigation and survival skills, endurance and will-power, and possibly the ability to cope in extreme weather conditions.

Not only can Dartmoor's weather be extreme, but it can change rapidly. The event has been affected by snow storms, flooding rivers, gale-force winds, freezing temperatures, and unexpected heat (26°C in 1998!)

The 50th Anniversary team of 2010. Harry Waugh is in the black-and-white bandanna immediately in front of the cross. 

There are three different course lengths depending on age: 14 to 15 year-olds walk Bronze routes of 35 miles; 16 to 17 year-olds walk Silver routes of 45 miles; and 18 to 19 year-olds (or 17 year-olds who've walked a Silver route the previous year) walk Gold routes of 55 miles. The Bronze participants must camp at a manned tor, but others may choose where to stop for the night. However, they may not pass through a checkpoint between 8pm and 6am, nor pass the ninth tor (eighth for the Bronze routes) until Sunday.

There are 19 different manned tors and teams must visit all 10 tors on their route (one of 26 different routes) in order, to receive a medal. A team leader is nominated to ensure that the route card is stamped at each tor; usually a primary navigator is also decided upon.

Ten Tors, 1964
As Harry wrote, there is plenty of health and safety regulationing, including a training camp for the organizers, a safety-briefing video for the teens before they begin, and Navy helicopters standing by for evacuations. The teams have their equipment thoroughly checked, known in the event's own lingo as “scrutineering.” They carry a first aid kit, emergency rations and water purification tablets for drinking water collected on the moor. This, in addition to navigation equipment, maps, tents, clothing, food, fuel and stoves. 

Traditionally, music is played before the start at 7am on the Saturday, and the event also has its own, quite lovely prayer. They gather for the start in a huge semicircle on the flat expanse at Anthony Stile, near Okehampton Camp on the northern edge of the moor. A cannon is fired, and the teams then have until 5pm on Sunday (34 hours) to complete the challenge and return to Anthony Stile. 

Ten Tors, 1961. Harry Waugh is holding the radio.
"If it's not hard, it's not worth doing." (unattributed)

03 July, 2015

2 Boys, 2 Wheels

2000 miles in 49 days around the coast 

The Woods' route.
Red lines: cycling
Green lines: by train
Ed: Dwight Wood and his son Lewis from East London cycled the equivalent of a return end-to-end last summer, taking a few ferries and trains along the way. It was intended as an educational tour, and also a way of giving Dwight's mother a virtual holiday to many of the places she'd visited during her life. Lewis wrote a blog, which his gran read and commented on as they travelled. The trip was planned to be 60 days and some 2650 miles, but they returned early due to Dwight's mum passing away. The realized journey was from Exeter, around the coast to Edinburgh, taking in LEJOG on the way.

Dwight and Lewis Wood, ready to set off

Dwight wrote: “Although we raised money, (some people insisted), the idea was to raise awareness for the nationally-important Wanstead ParkWe have travelled many places in the world, but seeing all the many and varied places in the UK is not to be missed. We are life members of the National Trust, and visited many of their places en-route, plus the vast array of sites and activities on the way. More than half the nights we couch-surfed. Meeting all the people on the way was brilliant; what a great way to meet many generous and hospitable people.” 

Lewis has been cycling since he was 4 years old; he rides to school every day, rain or shine. Their training before the trip included a 5-day Coast-To-Coast, from Whitehaven to South Shields with friends in May.

by Lewis Wood, aged 11, extracts from the blog: 2 Boys, 2 Wheels:

5 July, Day 1
Hi everyone, this is my first blog for our big trip. Today it was raining heavily so we cycled to Stratford to take the tube. At Paddington Station, Loong and my mum were waiting there for us. We said goodbye, and got on the train for Exeter. The journey took 2 hours, and I slept the whole way. At Exeter we visited Diagon Alley and The Leaky Cauldron, then cycled to Newton Abbot to meet Ashley and James. They cycled with us to their house three miles away which is very nice. They made a delicious dinner and we ate with them. They're very kind and it's a really fun place up the hill where it is.

6 July, Day 2
We went to Agatha Christie's house, a very big house with massive rooms. Mainly there are tonnes and tonnes of figurines in cupboards or on mantelpieces. Afterwards, we walked down a rocky track to a mooring bay for a ferry to Dartmouth. The weather is crazy: it's changing from sunny to rainy every minute. We had to stop for a while for one of the downpours.

7 July, Day 3
Today we cycled 75 miles. It was really tiring! Plymouth was 21 miles, and then we took the ferry to Cremyll. Next we cycled another 13 miles to Finnygook Inn for a very nice lunch. It was hill after hill after hill until we came past St Austell and we had to stop for something stuck in my chain. We were very close to our destination, when Dad realised he was wearing the wrong glasses, so we went back to look for them, and luckily found them.

9 July, Day 5 

Today we cycled thirty miles from Falmouth to Penzance. We visited St Michael's Mount which we approached by ferry from Marazion. Our ferryman was fat and jolly like a ginger santa. The main house on the Mount was massive! As usual, there was a quiz, like all the other big places, but this house was my favourite so far - it had lots of antiquities.

St Michael's Mount 

11 July, Day 7
Today we cycled 40 miles from Hayle to Padstow. We cycled a first 5 miles to Hell's Mouth café, and stopped because my lugs were aching (I'm not sure why). After we had been filled, we went for a short walk to a suicide point where people have jumped off the cliff. We took a few pictures and set off to cycle to Portreath.

We cycled till we came to Newquay, and there we had our first pasties! Then through Newquay and out the other side till we came to a sign for a scene of the cliff and a café, so we stopped and walked to the cliff's edge. There was a very nice view but Dad kept on complaining about not liking it on the edge. 

12 July, Day 8
Today the weather was not kind. We cycled a total of 36 miles. We only set off at 10:30 because the ferry took a long time and we had missed the first one. The ferry was like a landing craft with a lever slope for embarking and disembarking. At the other side it was already a tiny bit foggy so Dad and I put on our rain/windproofs. We cycled to Port Issac where we saw all the scene places for Doc Martin (one of the shows dad used to like). There was a 20% hill there; we beat that easily and cycled on for a few miles. We were up high now, and the fog was really thick, so Dad took a couple of pictures.

Our next stop was Tintagel where supposedly King Arthur lived, and we looked at Merlin's cave. We learnt a bit about the myths and legends there. Afterwards we went uphill to look at the old post office. It's apparently over 600 years old we found out. 

Tintagel Post Office, possibly the oldest building in Cornwall 
After lunch we continued on to Bude and came into Boscastle, where they had had one of the worst floods in Britain. You can see the video online. Around 6 miles from Bude we came across two 30% hills (very steep for bikes). Our first one had really slippery gravel on it so we had to walk up it, and the second one was fine, but a car came past. It was too narrow for both of us, so we had to walk. So that was really disappointing.

14 July, Day 10, 43 miles

Dad and I cycled from Woolacombe to Minehead. We started at 10:45 (very late) and my body was aching (I was extremely tired and grumpy most of the morning) but we still kept a good pace. Challacombe post office was our first stop after 17 miles. We continued after a nice snack and I had cheered up. We stopped for lunch at 2pm and came to Dunster Castle, built around 1066. We sped through the castle as Dad wanted to get to bed early for at least one night. Then we cycled straight to Minehead, only 2.5 miles away.

15 July, Day 11, 30 miles from Minehead to Weston-super-Mare

Dwight with steam train tickets
We took a steam train from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard. At Burnham on Sea it was happy days: warm; only 13 miles to go, and we broke out the sun cream. At Weston-super-Mare, Dad and I went for a walk down the pier and found an amazing sand sculpture enclosure place:

The Sand Sculpture Festival at Weston-super-Mare
17 July, Day 13, 85 miles, Weston-super-Mare to Cardiff

We've crossed into Wales. I'm shattered. We set off at 10am and the next I knew we were on the Severn Bridge, almost half way. We stopped, and found that we could feel the whole bridge rocking and vibrating. Our first stop was just past there at Pete's food hut. We had a nice snack, and continued on till we came to a special swing bridge across a river, which was basically a big cot hung by wires to a bridge. The cot, to transport us, was pulled across by the wires on the bridge moving from side to side and that was fun. On the other side we had lunch at Fanny's Café Stop. There were really nice people there and I got a free milkshake as they had a new machine. The café was filled with old posters, a jukebox and more stuff like that. We cycled next to the Cardiff barrage and crossed that. Now we're at Richard's house for the night and Dad is chasing me to go to bed so 'night.

18 July, Day 14, Cardiff to Swansea

It's a really hot day, although going up hills isn't the best with heat. We set off at 10:30 as Dad had to have a new crank bearing put on as the old one was worn out. The only two biggish things we saw today were the Bedford Park Ironworks which were old, but I didn't see much history about them, and the Vale of Glamorgan, meant to be special for being so city-free, just soft countryside. By the time we got to Swansea Bay it was practically sweltering, but it is beautiful. We're going down to the beach now for a short walk before bed. 

 Yatton Station, Strawberry Line Trail 
19 July, Day 15, Swansea to near Tenby 

The weather was dreary. I'll just say this now: never cycle on a dual carriageway unless you have no choice. It wasn't nice: cars roaring past, endless thoughts of being hit, and endless noise. We came off, and were hit by the smell of cow poo and saw pretty much an endless line of it. So the country road was horrible as well, and we decided to go back on the carriageway (we were that desperate). Near the end, we had a break at a restaurant near Dylan Thomas' boat-house (the famous Welsh poet) where I had a lemon Bakewell tart and we had a nice chat with the lady running the place. To finish, we ended about 1 mile from Tenby.

20 July, Day 16, 38 miles from Tenby to Mathry

We cycled till we came to Pembroke and as we were eating lunch, there was a marching Welsh band. They were really good, and Dad took a video of them. Apparently it was something to do with the fact that the town was twinned. Cycling on, we came to a toll bridge and had a view of the Milford Haven Refinery which is a really massive and impressive industrial cathedral stretching its chimneys to the sky. At this point the sun was shining brightly so we took 15 minutes to put on sun cream. The next thing I knew we were in Haverfordwest. After a nice stop there, we cycled 13 miles to a pub where we waited 2 minutes before John arrived to take us to his National Trust Field Centre where he lives in a National Trust bunkhouse. It's a nice big place with lots of beds, and I really like it.

21 July, Day 17, 80 miles from Mathry to Taliesin, Machynlleth

We started at 8:30 as it was a long way, and cycled 30 miles to Cardigan where we had our second breakfast. After that, it started to get hot and sunny so we put on sun cream and rolled down the arms and leggings. We came across a farmyard with lots of different types of birds like turkeys and peacocks, all roaming freely. After crossing over a ford and up a big hill we eventually came into Aberaeron where, after a nice lunch, we looked for sweets to stock up on - yay! We bought sherbet lemons, and then cycled on for a long time to Aberystwyth, up some really long hills. Coming down one, we managed to get up to 43 miles/hour! (new record)

The longest electric cliff railway in Britain, Aberystwyth 
So at Aberystwyth we found the special train to take us to the top of the hill and save us one climb. After this we set off along a coastal path (groan) and it wasn't nice: steep downhill, with gravel, and bumpy. At the bottom of the hill we cycled 8 miles to Taliesin. And that was the end of today.

22 July, Free Day No.2

We drove to our first activity which was to go to an RSPB centre which had an osprey nest with two chicks. They had a nice walkway through some fields so you could see the wildlife in general. At the end of that, as we were hot Michelle, Jasmin and I [hosts] had ice creams.

For lunch we had a picnic in the garden under a tree with sandwiches and sausage rolls. Then we set off again, walking this time, to the river to swim. The first thing I'll say is that it was cold for me; everyone else was fine. It was fun anyway, going down small waterfalls and climbing about. At the end I was freezing, but it was nice to explore, and even slipping on rocks wasn't so bad. Like yesterday, we had a pasta dinner on the lower roof looking over some fields. Our last thing to do at 7pm was to go to the beach, as Dad wanted to see the sand dunes, and the rest of us wanted to swim.

We spent 30 minutes at the sand dunes - it was still warm - then changed for swimming. Timothy, Jasmin, Eoin and I made a sand-mound and tried to protect it from the sea for a long time. Then we swam. The sea water was a lot warmer than the river, but the waves weren't very good at the start. As the sun began to dip, the waves got better. I managed to get sea-salt in my mouth and up my nose a few times, unfortunately. We only came back at 9:30 and as usual Dad is chasing me to bed, so good night.

23 July, Day 19, 46 miles from Taliesin to Cwm Pennant hostel, near Porthmadog

The weather has been hot all day - I'm guessing around 28 to 29°C. We set off at 8:15 to catch the 9:04 train at Dovey Junction, apparently the only station in Wales not to have a road up to it. The train took us 30 miles as we missed the other stations, yay!

We got off the train at Fairbourne, as my gran's old bungalow was called Fairbourne Lodge. We set off cycling to Harlech Castle and saw a 40% hill! Plus, we cycled down it. It was scary, and felt like I was going to fall over my handlebars. At 2pm, we cycled up a big hill and found the Ffestiniog Railway with a steam train to take us around the hill. Most of the time, up and down, I read my kindle, but when I did look out of the window, the views were spectacular. We arrived back at the station and set off again by bike down the hill to Porthmadog where we had dinner at a pub, and shopped for food for breakfast at the hostel.

24 July, Day 20, 25 miles from Cwm Pennant hostel to Llanberis

It was a short day, and a great day weather-wise: hot, but not too hot because of the wind which was with us most of the way. The views were amazing. We set off at 10 after a nice lie-in at the hostel. The first part of the journey felt too easy, with the wind on our backs and the sun keeping us warm. We explored Caernarfon Castle, which is very confusing if you're trying to find your own way around, but we did it. Next we cycled to Llanberis, where we bought dinner and a snack for tomorrow. The last leg: we cycled up a hill to get to our hostel and are having a nice time here.

25 July, Day 21, 20-30 miles from Snowdon to Llandudno
The first thing we did today was ride on the Snowdon Mountain Railway which set off at 9:30 and took an hour to get up. The views were amazing; naturally most of the time I had my head in my kindle and only looked up every now and then. At the top there was a café that blended in nicely with the scenery, and we walked through it to get to the top. It was cold because of the wind, but clear, and the landscape looked almost faked. After half an hour, the train people called us for the trip back down.

View from the Summit of Snowdon 
We cycled 11 miles before lunch, and then crossed the Menai Strait suspension bridge in which Dad was extremely interested. We visited Penrhyn Castle which was amazing, and actually meant to be a stately home, but it was huge and the family who owned it used lots of money for it.

The next part is a joke because yet again the National Cycle Routes put us on a beach and then through a field and back on to the beach so I said to Dad, "It's bumpy, it's rocky, it's uncycleable; it must be a National Cycle Route!" We got a dinner of fish and chips at Conwy and came to Llandudno near the station to pick up Loong tomorrow, and found a nice B&B here.

The Smallest House, Conwy quay 
26 July, Day 22, 28 miles from Llandudno to Prestatyn
Today we cycled with Loong - yay! We set off at 9:45 from Tideways, owned by Peter and Cynthia Jones who were very kind to us, and cycled to Llandudno junction. When Loong arrived we were really exited to see her and spent most of the morning chatting about home and catching up. Our first stop was Colwyn Bay where we shared a hot dog and then cycled to Rhyl. We were only 5 miles away from Prestatyn when Dad and Loong spotted an offer for tea at "the teddy bear tea room" where I counted over 280 teddies! The lady running it was really nice. She was trying to open up a teddy emporium but the council kept on trying to shut her down and that was a shame as it's a really nice place.

We cycled the last miles to where we're staying, and they let us into the garden to put up our tent, and let us use their shower. Loong brought the tent, and it's been ages since I slept in it. They have four tortoises here which I'm really exited about. One of them got under the tent, but Loong got it out before anyone sat on it.

27 July, Day 23, Prestatyn to Southport, England

We set off at 5:46, really early! First we cycled to Flint and sat outside the town hall and ate some stuff bought yesterday. After that we crossed over the River Dee bridge and came to an MoD firing range. 

Lewis and Loong 
We took a ferry across the River Mersey and on the other side they we're having a parade! There were three huge string puppets: a granny, girl and a dog, although we didn't manage to see the dog. After that excitement, we had our first proper breakfast at a café.

Giant Spectacular Street Theatre
We went to the Cavern Club which hosted the Beatles. In Liverpool we also saw the Grand National Horse Racecourse. There were some competitions going on for the horse riders, and those were nice to watch.

We got to Southport by a torturous NCN route as usual but managed to get there in good time. Tonight we watched a movie at a view cinema! One of the new ones called Hercules which we all thought was really good. So we're staying in tent again tonight in a Scout Club place on their green by a river. We've just finished dinner and are going to put up the tent. 'Night.

28 July, Day 24, 35 miles from Southport to St Annes 

Sadly, we said goodbye to Loong after breakfast. Our first stop was in Preston at the Green Frog Roadside Café where we had brunch. It was only 14 miles more, and it passed like a blur. We arrived at 13:40 at Joe's house and had a tea before he took us to the Blackpool Tower. The whole of Blackpool seems like a new country; the tower seems just like the Eiffel Tower. Our main thing was the Pleasure Beach: inside is really big. The first place we went to was Nickelodeon World where we went on some really fun rides including the highest roller-coaster in the UK. But cutting to the chase, we went on the ride called The Mouse. It isn't anything like it's name. It's rickety, rocky, jerky, and feels like you're going to go over the edge. The reason we went last on it was because a long time ago my gran went on that ride and ended up on the floor of the car at the end off the ride. Anyway, Dad almost lost his glasses: we were going down one section when they flew off his head! Luckily, it was almost time for that ride to close, so the men went under the tracks to get it for us - phew! Joe picked us up outside at 7pm and took us for dinner, and now we're having a nice adult conversation at his house which I'm not paying attention to.

29 July, 'Day of the Flies', 60 miles from St Annes to Rampside
We set off to Blackpool and went all the way along the front to the Fleetwood ferry, and took it across to Knott End-on-Sea where we had a massive shared breakfast. Then the torment: along the road the flies were everywhere. They were flying in all directions. I was so lucky to have my buff and glasses on - Dad wasn't so lucky. He got loads in his ears and all over his face. For him, it was horrible, and it went on for 2 or 3 miles.

Our next stop was at mobile café which was about to close, but the ladies gave me a free hot-dog, which cheered me up. From the outskirts of Lancaster, we came in across the mini Millennium bridge, and then cycled another 30 miles partly along Lancaster Canal. We were surprised to see no locks. We arrived at Arnside, and took the train to Ulverston, and cycled looking for B&Bs. Right now, after dinner, I'm sitting here as I'm too full to move, and that was today.

30 July, Day 26, 50 miles from Rampside to St Bees
We cycled into Barrow-in-Furness, to the Dock Museum. It was closed so we went to see two warships being refuelled, and get a coffee before cycling back. The museum was really good. It had a dock section, and a history of Barrow section. There was so much, so many ship models and pictures.

Cycling on, we came to our first proper hill in ages! Thank God, in a way. It felt quite big, but that's probably because we weren't used to it any more. The view at the top was amazing and we didn't feel the cold, and the downhill was even better: it was a really good one, not too steep or gravelly, so we didn't need to brake and we whizzed down it.

31 July, 'Toothy Day,' 56 miles from St Bees to Wetheral
A luxury today: we had a lie-in before cycling to the local priory church for tea and cakes. Our first stop was in Workington at a café where we had Eggs Benedict. I was allowed it, because Dad said it had been ages since I'd had egg. That was second breakfast. Heading on, at literally every junction, Dad had to stop to check the map for directions - rather annoying. We got on a very nice piece of road before I realised my tooth was coming out. Surprisingly, it came out in only one day. It's not much, but it is sort of special to have a tooth come out on this trip, I suppose. Dad and I had a race which I won, but both of us managed to achieve 30 miles/hour on the flat! That's Tour de France average speed. Anyway, we finally arrived at Wetheral through Carlisle, and tomorrow is a free day.

2 August, Rainy day 29, 30 miles from Wetheral to Kirkcudbright
About the tooth fairy: I got five pounds! That's the most I think anyone I know has got. I expect it's because I'm on this trip. As it was raining, we took the train to Dumfries. Unfortunately, Dad told me that it would be raining for the rest of the week, and for most of Scotland there won't be a train on our route (uh-oh). As the train took us 40 miles and we only had 30 miles to cycle, we followed the National Cycle Route 7. It surprised us as it's the only NCR that hasn't taken us on a bad track.

We cycled 19 miles before we rested. I was mucky and soaked from the rain. We stopped at a café called The Mad Hatter in Castle Douglas. Back outside, it was raining very lightly, but as my gloves and buff were uncomfortable I decided to swap to fingered gloves and a new buff. We set off, and eventually the rain began to get really heavy. It was belting down and it hurt when it hit us, but we just had to cycle on.

We came to Threave House and Gardens, and cycled up to the entrance. This is really a story Dad should tell: we're about to park our bikes under a shelter as it's raining, but a man comes out and says to park them in some proper bike place with lock-up loops. Dad asks if it's under shelter; the man, called Neill, says No, so we ask if we can lock them up under the shelter in no-one's way The man says No, so Dad gets angry and we leave, and that's pretty much it.

After that episode, we continued with the horrible rain and finally arrived at Kirkcudbright. Dad's phone is acting funny and not working at all now but we can use my phone. If we get some rice, we're hoping to get rid of the water in the phone. Our host Kenny has left to do a little babysitting for a six year old, and we'll see him tomorrow, but that's it for our proper rainy day.

3 August, 25 miles, Newton Stewart to Port William
After breakfast, we waited a bit as it was raining. Kenny and Dad chatted while I read. After seconds of hot chocolate, Kenny kindly offered to take us from Kirkcudbright to Newton Stewart in his dad's borrowed van because of the rain. We took him up on the offer, and skipped 25 miles – yay - I was happy about that. It was 'Support Vehicle Day.' We put on rain proofs and extra gloves for me as we could see lots of rain clouds along the way. We weren't wrong to do that. Soon it was raining heavily in short, harsh downpours, but eventually we got to a nice café in Wigtown with loads of books inside and a seating area at the back, and shared a nice salmon pie.

Our next town was Withorn where we had another tea and Victorian cake, also Scottish crumpets which are like our ones but squashed flat like a pancake. After that, Dad took a detour of the town and we found a St Johns filling station and car repair which we both thought was worth a mention. We had a race on the way to Port William, and I won all of it apart from the free-wheel downhill.

St Johns filling station and car repair, Withorn. 
Blog comment from Alex: 
This might be my favourite photo so far: 
funny, weird and depressing all at the same time! 

We made it to Port William and photographed a random statue of a fisherman we know nothing about. As we could see the rain coming in from the sea, we quickly cycled to literally the end house of Port William to our B&B. For dinner we went to a burger bar called The Streetery. The couple running it are really nice and are travellers.

Lewis and Dwight on the sea-front, and 
'A Fisherman' by Andrew Brown, 1999 

4 August, Day 31, 37 miles from Port William to Pinwherry, Over Half Way

Today was a short day and our only stop was at Barhill, 33 miles from Port William, and there we bought a packet of sherbet lemons and a small circular pie each, so not much for lunch.

5 August, 57 miles from Pinhwerry to Isle of Arran, Disaster!

We cycled 18 miles and got to Culzean Castle, actually pronounced Calaine, so it seems like a weird spelling. Inside was big, and we waited till 11 for a one-hour tour. It has a massive armoury with over 700 pistols!

Next was the disaster. We were going up the hill and I was on my lowest gear but my bike gear changer felt like it could be pushed down, so foolishly I did, as it never lets me push it if I'm in my lowest gear. So... my derailer was raised to be above the chain rings and got caught in the spokes!

We stopped, and Dad told me to stand somewhere else while he bent back the derailer. He forced it back although the stopper has fallen off, meaning the chain is loose but still just functional. The thing is: I can ride, and we managed to go on. Dad was still a bit annoyed but able to laugh. We went to two bike shops along the way but they couldn't do the stuff we needed. We got to our ferry place and waited an hour for it to get to Ardrossan. It was one of those big ferries for taking lots of cars and trucks. We put our bikes in a bike shelter there and walked to the main floor. It was too foggy to see out the windows. In Arran, we only had to cycle up the road to our B&B.

6 August, Day 33, 28 miles from Arran to Tarbert

We set off late, as we fiddled with the bike and took stuff apart, and while Dad did things on his phone I played with the rabbit outside our B&B. We cycled only 2 miles to Brodick Castle across the bay. Inside was like any other castle apart from how many deer heads there were hanging up: there were loads. We had a quick look through, and Dad took a few photos even though you weren't allowed. In a kid playroom, we saw a special piggy bank which is a man who drops the coin into a purse.

We waited in the café for the rain to pass, but then gave up and cycled in the rain instead. It was light, but when we got to our only hill for the day, which wasn't very big anyway, it was raining heavily enough so that when I stuck out my tongue, it actually gave me water and didn't just make it dry. Halfway up the hill the rain stopped, and I made it up in my 4 and 5 gear, surprisingly. We came over the hill and down the other side and saw the ferry straight ahead; that was lucky, as we came just on time.

On the other side, we were both feeling really hungry when we remembered we had a wrapped-up sausage. We had half a sausage each and a sherbet lemon to keep us going to Tarbert. We got there after about 12 miles and had a late, thankful lunch. Our place for the night is the same as our pub lunch. We went for a walk and saw some fishing ships which Dad was extremely interested in, so we went to look at those before we walked back to the hotel. Then, as Dad wanted an ice-cream, I got him one, walking through the rain to get it.

Ed: I'll include the second half of the Woods' journey in the next issue. You can see more on their blog, and read about Wanstead Park on the website, .

02 July, 2015

LEJOG by Bus

by Kenneth Mellor, 2014

I am now 74 years young, and over the last 15 years or so I have completed LEJOG on foot, on a bicycle, on a train and also in a sports car. I have always kept my mind open to other possibilities and it was Adam Mugliston's trip that set me going. My first ambition was not to attempt to beat Adam's time, because I was using his route notes. With this in mind, I left Land's End at 6:05pm on Sunday 20th July 2014 and then stayed at the Union Hotel in Penzance. The following morning I caught the earlybird bus to Truro at 7am. I kept going (using Adam's route) until I reached Yate in the late evening, and too late to catch a bus to Wotton-under-Edge, the next leg.

I stayed the night there in a public house (The White Lion, Church Road, Bristol). The next morning I caught a bus at the small Yate Bus Station at 7:15am to Wotton-under-Edge and again I kept going until I reached Crewe (once more using Adam's route). I stayed the night at the Waverly Hotel, only 5 minutes' walk from Crewe railway station and my bus stop. I was up early the next morning and caught the 6:04am bus to Macclesfield, and kept going until I was in Newcastle. It was now late so I checked into Premier Inn for the night.

By now I was feeling very tired and took a leisurely approach the next morning to Newcastle Bus Station for the next leg to Berwick-upon-Tweed. I had in mind to stop for the night in Aberdeen but I was unable to find a room, so at 9pm I caught a bus to Inverness and arrived at 1am on the 25th July. It was nearly 2am before the receptionist at Holiday Inn took pity on me and found me a room!

Fortunately, the first bus to Dunbeath didn't leave until 9:40am so I did get some sleep. I finally arrived at John o' Groats at 1:15pm on the 25th July. The three worst aspects of the trip were almost intolerable tiredness; missing the Cheltenham bus by 2 minutes; and lower abdominal discomfort because of the lousy diet I was on. My favourite moment was passing a small hill in Yorkshire called Roseberry Topping, up which I have climbed many times with my three grandchildren.

01 July, 2015

A few End-to-Ends by Bus

by Katharine Arzul

End-to-end trips by public bus have been made several times over the past few years, with varying budgets, degrees of discomfort, scheduling luck, and length of travel time...

Richard Elloway, 2008

In 2008, Member Richard Elloway, from Somerset, made the journey in 1 week, six hours and 10 minutes. Not only that, but he did the return trip too, with the entire time totalling 2 weeks, 8 hours and 30 minutes. Richard used his concessionary bus pass, making the journey free of charge, and raised money for the Youth Hostel Association.

Richard Elloway, 2008 

Stephen Gibbs
Member Stephen Gibbs, of Leicester, made an extended, return, bus-pass trip in August last year, from Land's End, through John o' Groats, to Burwick in the Orkneys, and back to Land's End. The time of this trip was 13 days, catching 66 buses. Stephen was awarded the Charlie Hankins Memorial Trophy in January, and he raised £2900 for Children in Need. 

Adam Mugliston, 2014
Not (yet) a member, Adam, from Suffolk, broke the (unofficial) record for the fastest LEJOG time by public bus in June 2014. Adam was then 16 years old, and his parents dropped him off at Land's End for the adventure. He spent £170 on tickets, and took 36 buses. The trip was 4 days, 10 hours and 44 minutes, beating the previous record of James Aukett, a London Buses employee, who in 2011 took 5 days, 7 hours and 25 minutes. Adam was in Year 11, and the trip was his way of celebrating the completion of his GCSEs.

The young man has a passion for public transport: "Buses have always been my thing and I read about people trying the challenge so I thought I'd give it a go but do it quicker. I want to go to university to study transport and hopefully get work with Transport for London. I've got work experience there this summer. I'd love to work in scheduling transport. That has been an issue while planning this trip."

Our membership Secretary Adrian Cole was quoted in The Telegraph saying he had not heard of anyone coming close to Adam's time before: "4 days beggars belief. His predictions on bus times must have worked out well. From my experience on the buses - and I work for a bus company - that is really quite impressive." 

Adam Mugliston, 2014.    Photograph: SWNS.com

Gertrude Leather, 1954 and 1955
Interesting for comparing today's bus costs with those of 60 years ago, Gertrude Leather made the trip via London for £6.26, worth about £160 today. She travelled by seventeen local buses from Land's End to London in 1954, at a cost of £1 19s 6d (£1.97½), and the following year travelled from London to John o' Groats by 25 local buses at a cost of £4 5s 9½d (£4.29).