Having left the North Foreshore lighthouse in Broadstairs, Kent, the most south easterly point of Britain on July 19th, we arrived at Cape Wrath on August 2nd, the most north western point.
The journey ever northwards has not been without unexpected incidents, but unlike so many previous trips, the weather has been near perfect, save for one notable hail, thunder and lightening storm as we crossed The Thames. Resulting in our hotel room being flooded. During our trip the temperature has ranged between 40 degrees to zero. Beads of sweat to shivering with cold, makes for perverse pleasure and diverse entertainment.
Andy, Colin Whitlam, Colin Pickin and I have thoroughly enjoyed our ride, a journey that just didn’t hit the 1,000 mile mark, (reasons explained later). Covering 924 miles or 11,487km (sounds better in km) and climbing over 15,000m or nearly 50,000 ft. (sounds better in feet) of elevation, took us 73 hours of peddling, sometimes at 80km/h (still sounds good at 50 mph) and on one occasion 5km/h as I pushed my broken cycle up a hill.
We have stayed in hotels, bunk houses and bed and breakfast places. Eaten and drank well to replace burnt calories and have seen much of the British countryside, from the pan flat fens of Lincolnshire, to the Yorkshire Dales, the water falls of the upper river Tee and onto the stunning beauty of the Grampian mountains and the far north of Scotland.
We have crossed rivers on ferries and bridges, The Thames, The Humber, The Forth, spanning the Firth of Forth north of Edinburgh and at the time of it’s opening was the longest suspension bridge in the world, outside of the America, at 2,512m. We have ridden passed many cathedrals, such as Ely, where Hereward The Wake stood against William The Conqueror in 1071. Seen castles and bastille houses, walked along pristine sandy beaches and successfully avoided any crashes.
Our minor mishaps did impact on our objective. With only two punctures on the trip, these were the least of our difficulties. Then Andy developed a mechanical problem that was quickly sorted. Then my Jockey wheel malfunctioned and took away the use of my easiest gear, (the one you drop into on very steep hills, when legs are screaming and lungs can expand no more), it also occasionally prevented the next gear from use too, with the chain not engaging in to the rear mech. Having visited one mechanic in Edinburgh, a second visit to Velocity Cafe and Bicycle Workshop, a great community bike repairers in Inverness was needed. Sometimes you just know when people are good at their job, my considerable thanks to you. However no soon had that issue been addressed, the bottom bracket on Colin’s bike started to leak oil. Soon, as he turned the peddles they became loose as we rode the little travelled lane around Ben Hope, the most northerly Munro. Limping into Durness, our journey complete, save for a ferry ride and a 22 mile round trip dirt track ride, it was obvious that Colin’s bike would not weather the challenge. Similarly, the road we had planned to ride to Cape Wrath lighthouse was far rougher than expected. We chose the easy option, albeit, bumpy and went in a mini van through the military firing ranges along the 100 year old track built to bring in the building materials for the lighthouse. As we walked around the Cape Wrath lighthouse we had a feeling of quiet contentment and sense of having accomplished something.