Day 12, Wadebridge to Lands End

An early awakening and swift departure. The day started the way it would continue….Wet and uphill…. There seems to be a pattern to this.

Today the mental side should have been easy, but knowing that the end was so close gave the body the opportunity to give up. Last night my body went into shutdown at around 2am, ejecting my dinner before dropping back into a deep sleep.

Neither of us have ridden for more than 6 days without a rest before, we made it to day 10 before things started to get really tough. The two subsequent days have been the toughest hours I have spent on a bike. I’m still getting up on the pedals at just about every hill, but knowing that I don’t have to do this again the next day allows me to use every last ounce of energy to keep going through the thick wet mist.

We have both vowed never to visit Truro again, as it is surrounded by steep inclines in every direction. Missing a turning means we had to make an extra ascent too. Not really Truro’s fault, but that is not the point!

The biggest climb comes around halfway as we continue south of Redruth. The familiar place names being ticked off the mental checklist are going past agonisingly slowly.

The closer we got to the end, the worse the conditions got. Heavy downpours were followed by deep mist with visibility reducing drastically the closer we got to the coast. The Lands End building appearing out of the mist almost took us by surprise as we thought we had another half-mile to go!

After 64.7 miles, another 5256 feet of hills and an average of only 13.6mph, we calmly rolled towards the line, cameras and applause of our support crew before posing for the obligatory photos.

We parted with some cash for the official sign post and then sat down with a hot pastie and a bottle of Tribute. They have never tasted so good as when you have been thinking about them for 12 days.


The ride by numbers:

  • 12 days
  • 3 Countries
  • 962.9 miles
  • 45,735 feet of climbing (1.5x Everest!)
  • 3 Flat tyres
  • 1 broken gear cable
  • A lot of jam sandwiches
  • An obscene number of chewy bars

Once the book was signed we were straight into the car for the journey home. It was odd being in a car again.

We would also like to extend a massive thank you to everyone that made this possible, the support crew, our families for putting up with our training and absence, and everyone that has sponsored us. We have broken our target and the money is still rolling in! Everyman and Headway are really going to benefit from the big chunk of money we are handing over.


Final thoughts, a video and more pictures to follow!

Day 10, Avonmouth to Tiverton

Having survived the night in our “hotel”, we sorted our own breakfast and beat a hasty retreat from our industrial surroundings. The day started with another motorway bridge crossing before a gentle roll through segregated paths as we picked up part of the well funded Bristol to Bath route.

The gentle start was much needed after the testing climbs of yesterday. Everything remained nice and straight forward right up to our lunch stop in Woolavington, where we met with some of my family for a quick lunch.


A quick curry down the hatch and we were back on the road, through the outskirts of Bridgewater before we found the legendary West Country hills.

The altitude added up quickly with a 650ft climb at around 45 miles and a few more lumby bits before we found aother canal path to follow. Although gravelly and a little slower than the road options, it did mean the hills were interrupted until we arrived at the edge of the Tiverton Basin.   

A slightly less eventful day for the riding and the weather, with 81.8 miles under our wheels and around 3500 ft of climbs, albeit mostly between 40 and 70 miles!

With only two days left we are certain to make it all the way. The aches and pains will soon be over, but I’m sure they will get worse before the end.

Day 11, Tiverton to Wadebridge

Leaving Tiverton had us straight into the Devonian hills again, connecting up the lanes accross Morcham Bishop, Monkokehampton,  Hatherleigh and Holsworthy. We didnt stop much as we cracked on with the hills.

Shortly after lunch we found this 70s throw-back Celica in a hedge, looks as though it has been there some time!Celica A few minutes later, just after 2pm on our penultemate day there came a sign that really lifted the mood.


The hills are sharp and repetitive, forcing me to make the  regular acquaintance of my lowest gear. I no longer had the power in my legs to sit out the climbs so had no option other than getting out of the saddle at anything over 6 or 7%. Which turns out to be most of Cornwall really.

The country lanes deposited us onto the Davidstow Airfield atop a windy plateau, surrounded by roaming sheep and abandoned buildings. Fortunately the sheep here seem to be more warey than their horned Scottish counterparts, getting well out of our way at every opportunity.

It was all a little surreal as we battled into the wind whilst dodging the car-sized craters and debris that littered the run way. We crossed the northern reaches of the Bodmin Moor, still staying cautious of the livestock including sheep and ponies. The hanging mist and drizzle means the birds of prey are not circling today.

The last few miles into Wadebridge were fairly sedate as we made it in before the start of rush hour, straight to our pub based accommodation for the night.

No canal paths means that there is nowhere to hide from the hills, over 6,000 ft of climbing clocked up on our 81.3 miles. That’s more uphill than any of the days in Scotland or oop north, after 10 tough days it has really taken its toll. The remaining 64 miles are likely to be the toughest yet as the fatigue, and relief, take hold.

Day 9, Cleobury Mortimer to Avonmouth

We knew today was due to be a tough day, with 88 miles mapped out taking us through several counties of varying topography. Things were made slightly harder by the locals, it may look like a sleepy historic town but the night life went on to the early hours, even on a Sunday!

Heading immediately across the county line to Worcestershire, once out of Tenbury Wells we threaded through the lanes and villages taking big chunks out of the Midlands whilst avoiding any arterial roads, riding south just a few miles from the Welsh border.

Shortly after lunch we were into the Forest of Dean, well known for its mountain biking trails. The roads are quiet and sheltered through the tree canopy, our hilly start giving way to steady ups and sweeping gentle downs.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough with my camera when a small group of wild boar crossed the road and disappeared into the undergrowth whilst we were having a quick bite to eat.

Out of the tree cover and back into the most hilly part of the F.O.D, an absolute killer climb with a persistently steep gradient takes us (slowly) up to the village of Bream, rewarded by an ice cream and some jelly babies for refill the back pocket fuel tank.

A few more testing climbs cross us into Wales, past Chepstow race course and into Monmouth. Things flattened out a little as we hit the Severn estuary, before we crossed the Severn bridge and found our second Welcome to England sign:


From here it was a simple case of avoiding the juggernauts for the next 15 miles or so through the industrial hub surrounding the port town of Avonmouth. We arrived at the in-appropriately named Royal Hotel after 88.7 miles to a distinct lack of regal elegance. The hygiene levels in general meant we decided to take a drive out in search of food with our appetite charged by over 5 thousand feet of climbing and an average speed of 15.5mph. The less time spent in here the better really.

Day 8, Winsford to Cleobury Mortimer

Now into the 8th day of our journey and the breakfast/packing/departure routine is getting quicker. Well, other than me, as everyone else seems to pack up around me while I try and work out what I am forgetting. I’ll try again tomorrow, as there is still a few days to perfect things!

Blue skies greet us for the first time in England, with the forecast for sunshine and showers.

The rolling lanes of Staffordshire and Shropshire were much more like riding at home, however a large looming hill on the horizon stops us from getting too confident.

With spending two solid weeks in each others company near on 24/7, it was inevitable that Chunky and I would come to loggerheads at some point:


We crossed two or three sections of bridle paths of varying quality. At one stage my eyes rattled so much in my head that I struggled to focus, holding my line became more and more difficult….The off road activities seem to have taken its toll on my bike too, as the rattles have increased.

The last few miles packed a real punch, the short sharp climbs rolled in one after the other as we approached the southern reaches of Shropshire. A back pocket stuffed with wine gums giving us the final little boost to reach the 16th century Talbot Hotel in Cleobury Mortimer after 77.8 miles at 15.4mph.

Day 7, Garstang to Winsford

Day 7 arrives with threatening skies for our shortest day of the journey, with a couple of major towns to negotiate the day is looking a little dull.

Showers arrived as we rode in towards Preston, fortunately not as busy as we had feared being a Saturday morning. We went straight through the town centre on the A6, which dumped us in the suburbs before we knew it.

The showers abated as we continued on to Wigan, the distinct smell of McDonald’s hanging in the air as we passed through the shopping area. Delightful.

Happily, the towns were left behind us and we crossed the county line to Cheshire, confirmed by the lack of hills and high number of Range Rovers roaming the lanes.

The day remained uneventful (and unpictured) as we arrived into Winsford for an early finish at just under 64 miles. Just a short stroll for dinner and soft drinks at the Red Lion before an early night. Hopefully this will translate into enough rest and recovery as we push the miles back up over the next couple of days.

Day 6, Penrith to Garstang

We’re now into a couple of shorter days as we hit the midway point, to allow us to try and recover while negotiating some of the busier parts of the northwest. In similar fashion to last night, the breakfast portions are enormous. For the first time in days I’m not hungry!

The forecast isn’t great for today so we don the wet weather gear and head out towards the main climb of the day, Shap Fell, which forms part of the A6 that was once the main route to Scotland. Thankfully it’s a little quieter now the M6 is in place.

Already wet from the typical Lakeland weather, after around 14 miles we head through Shap village before starting the exposed climb to the 1400ft summit.


The rain lightens to a drizzle as we ride into the low cloud and mist. Visibility at the top is seriously reduced and the temperature drops to 8 degrees as we reach the peak of the climb.

After the terrain and weather we experienced in Scotland, this felt a lot easier than we anticipated, but it was too miserable to enjoy any views at the top.

On with the descent, which was only interrupted briefly for some short rises, the cold began getting to my hands and feet because of the water. This is where Chunky gets his own back for me dropping him on the way up by putting a fair gap between us on the twistier sections.

Once at the bottom we start to warm up again as we roll to Kendal. I couldn’t help but laugh Chunky voiced his frustration when the signs indicated a 17% gradient ahead. Luckily the sign was a bit over optimistic.

We slowly picked our way via a number of smaller villages as we headed out of Cumbria to Lancaster. The cycle path guided us through the city once again before we picked up the quiet canal path, then back in the lanes and the rain.

Inspiration came from seeing a sign for North Wales in the final stretch to the market town of Garstang and The Royal Oak for a well earned beer and feed after a soggy 73 miles, hitting our target pace of 15mph again.

We are now past the half way point, taking big chunks out of the country each day, just 6 more days to go!

Day 5, Abington to Penrith

The day dawns in Scotland’s highest village. We don’t have much on the cards today, other than crossing the border into England.

From the high starting point we use NCN 74 to get going with a steady descent and the absence of the wind allowing us to pick up more pace than we’ve managed all week. It doesn’t take long to reach our lunch stop at Ecclefechan at 40 miles where we were treated to some Eddie Cochrane over the village hall PA as they set up for an event.

Another 10miles from here and we are at Gretna, with England in sight we refill the bottles and plough on through to the border, Chunky nearly missing the sign in the excitement



The end  stretch was pretty uneventful, rolling into Penrith after 84.1 miles. The lack of hills  or head winds allowing us to achieve a 17.1 mph average. Our overnight stop at The Agricultural Hotel provides some serious portions:


A few moments later:


Time for a walk and an early night before we tackle Shap Fell in the morning.

Day 4, Aberuthven to Abington

After another huge breakfast and some help packing from Willow (the dog) at Smiddy Haugh, who’s owner kindly added a donation to our cause.

We set out for another overcast start with a slow 8 miles of gently uphill before a 4 mile decent drops us into the valley at the southern end of the Grampian mountains with a rich of head wind and undulating road.

In a bid to keep us entertained, I practiced some finish line salutes in the style of Cav, Wiggo, Sagan and Frome to prepare for lands end. I didn’t bother with the on  handed wheelie though!

We cross the Kincardine Bridge over the forth and set about skirting around the major towns an  arterial routes before following the cycle path through Falkirk and its suburbs.

We stopped to top up our water at a shop on the outskirts and I got chatting to a guy with a German shepherd the size of a bear. Dave carried on onto the shop as he doesn’t speak Scottish, but it turns out he had been helped by Headway following a stroke. Some change was  donated an  we were on our way again.

The town’s gave way to some steep climbs as we left the last of the Grampians behind us the head winds whipped up through the valleys once more. After a slog up an exposed drag, at least we found a picture opportunity:


Rolling farm roads don’t allow us to get in a rhythm or carry any momentum for the final stretch to Abington, arriving after 84.1 miles at a little over 14mph average.

Day 3, Kingussie to Aberuthven

Tuesday comes around for what is supposed to be our longest ride. We headed out of Kingussie and picked up the cycle path on NCN 7 into Dalwhinnie passing Scotland’s highest (and one of my favourite) distilleries. No need to stop today though. Here we picked  up the almighty head winds once more.


We rode alongside the A9 climbing the valley sides on a path that resembled single track mtb trails. We suffered the first puncture just ahead of the Drumochter summit at 1516ft above sea level, which is around twice the height of the highest point in Kent.

The middle part of the day brought us hills by the truck load, which at least gave some shelter from the wind. A steady climb just before lunch had Dave at a low point, jam sandwiches at the peak sorted us out for two and a half miles of descending.

A cheeky water refill at a secluded hotel and we climbed once again for several miles to the exposed tops into the misty cloud cover. Another long descent that had Dave grinning like a Cheshire cat bought us to the next village.


There wasn’t much going on here so we pressed on to Aberfeldy for another snack and refill. After a little lie down on the green we hit the days last big hill, climbing over 800ft in 4 miles before a long exposed stretch took its toll on us, once more using huge amounts of energy to battle the wind.

The last fifteen miles were punishing as we followed the rolling forest roads approaching our overnight stop at Aberuthven. The Smiddy Haugh hotel provided a great big pie and a couple of beers to refresh us after the 89.3 miles and 4882ft of climbing at a 15mph average.

The hills have been really tough on us today, but they made the ride one of the best we have had. We’ve never had the opportunity to ride such long climbs or descents, the sun shone enough to leave it’s mark on my face and we made it through for another day.