Mike Hayward, Kevin Martin and Charles Bailey, accompanied by Graham Trott and Martin Hall - End to End ride June 2008

One thousand and thirty four miles over eleven days from Lands End to John’o’Groats. Those are the bare statistics, but they hide what was a great adventure and an exhilarating trip. Cornwall was all beautiful coast and archetypal skylines of long disused tin mines. Devon was rich red earth and an endless rollercoaster of steep hills in narrow lanes. Somerset had the Quantocks, the levels and the gorgeous Cheddar Gorge, probably the nicest climb of the whole trip. Onward to Bristol, the Clifton suspension bridge and then the Severn bridge to dip briefly into Wales. We finished that third day in beautiful Ross-on-Wye, so we were pedalling well.

The following day took us up the Wye valley and then across to Ironbridge for a late lunch and on to Market Drayton for the next night’s stop. The next day was relatively flat to start as we wended our way up through Lancashire bypassing many industrial towns and leaving the Pennines always on our right. This was one of our longest days at 107 miles and was rewarded by a rather uncomfortable night in a youth hostel in Slaidburn! Undaunted we set off the next day riding up through lovely hilly country becoming increasingly wild and with dry stone walling as we headed up to the lake district. We crossed the coast to coast cycle path near Penrith and then on to Brampton for our final night’s stay in England. Another long day the next day through the Cheviots took us all the way across to the east coast of Scotland for a night in Edinburgh. Our picnic lunch that day was our first experience of midge attack, they really do seem to wait at the border ready to bite. Into the Cairngorms for some serious climbing on day eight and stopped in a bunkhouse in Glenshee. The next morning still in the high mountains with snow visible on the peaks took us to the highest point at 2193 ft. A fantastic descent in a very gusty wind and then onward to the lovely Dee valley past Balmoral castle eventually finishing day ten at Culloden near Inverness.

The next day was our last long one and we were all beginning to feel that we had cracked it, but there was the inevitable sting in the tail with 35 mph headwinds and squally showers, thankfully leading to a glorious sunny late afternoon and a stop at Betty Hill on the far North coast of Scotland. The far north highlands have few people, many sheep and are surprisingly cold at about 10 deg Celsius. We set off on our final and shortest day in high spirits and with a tail wind and stopped not only for hot chocolate with rum at coffee time but also a civilised lunch with a couple of pints. Then we all rolled gently in to John‘o’Groats by mid afternoon to celebrate with champagne. It really had been a great adventure and fantastic fun, albeit with hard work some aching thighs and sore bums. We live in a staggeringly beautiful country and met many lovely people along the way. Four of us completed the whole trip accompanied by Dave our faithful roadie, bagman and lunch provider. If you are a cyclist I think it is a ‘must do’ trip and would recommend it wholeheartedly. If you are not yet a cyclist then I would still recommend it but perhaps start with some smaller distance rides like the coast to coast at only 140 miles and genuinely easily done at a gentle pace in a week.

Oh and I nearly forgot. We raised over £3,000 for Wessex Cancer Trust. May I say a very big thank you to all who supported us.

Every day the team tried to get on the road by 8:00am.  Here they leave at closer to 9:00 after the owners of the guesthouse overslept!

The team cross the Clifton suspension bridge

Next day in bright sun they cross the historic Ironbridge.

..later in the Scottish highlands they take an afternoon break by the support car.

During the last day a quick detour took them to the farthest point north on the British mainland.

Here are a few video clips shot in Scotland..

Kevin amongst the curlews

Birdsong and banter

Finally, on schedule the team complete the ride in excellent form.