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June 5

82 miles St Kew Highway, Cornwall

It’s been a long but good day for us with fine weather. We stayed last night at Greg’s sister’s house in St Kew Highway and left at 06:30 to get down to Penzance and drop off our car. Roy from Enterprise car hire was most helpful and took us on to Lands End. We took our photos, and signed the "End to Enders" register at the First and Last Hotel, before setting off at about 10:00.
Our route essentially followed the N32 Cornish Cycle Path, passing through Penzance, Cambourne, Redruth, Chacewater, St Newlyn’s East, St Columb Major, and Padstow where we took the ferry across to Rock. After a pint of Doombar in the local hostelry we arrived back in St Key Highway at about 20:00. We got lost a few times on the way generally in the towns where the N32 signposts are less than clear. Strange thing is we usually found we’ve gone the wrong way at the bottom of the steep hills! Overall the route was pretty hilly and so our average speed today was only 12.3mph.
We had just one small piece of misfortune on a narrow cyclepath heading towards Padstow. On a blind bend we met a woman in the middle of the path leading a large horse ridden by a young girl. The horse panicked so Brian skidded and stopped dead. Meanwhile Greg, coming up behind, but with nowhere else to go, ended up in the hedge! Luckily we came to no harm.
So, overall we are feeling and doing OK and ready to head up into Devon tomorrow.

lands end

June 6

144 miles Chulmleigh, Devon According to the Devon Online Guide, "Chulmleigh is a peaceful, small country town sitting on a hilltop above the Little River Dart". After a tough day cycling up and down hills, Brian and Greg have now stopped for the night at a local pub. Brian thinks they have already climbed the height of Everest. Our intrepid travellers left Cherrel and John's at 9 o' clock in the morning and arrived at Chulmleigh at 5 0' clock in the afternoon, after covering 62 miles at an average speed of 10.8 miles.
st kew highway
June 7 213 Stone Allerton, Somerset

Greg and Brian's day began with a one mile climb up a 1 in 8 hill. So much for the Devon Online Guide's description of Chumleigh as "sitting on top of a hill"! The day was fine and sunny but our cyclists had to pedal into a headwind. The hospitality that evening was provided by Brian's friends, Lucy Hetherinton and Jim Mathers. Greg and Brian had a great evening with Jim, Lucy and their friends, Curley and Malcolm, first at the local pub and then back at Jim and Lucy's lovely home and garden for a barbeque with delicious home grown vegetables. The garden is fabulous. Lucy runs her own garden design business, "Little Weed" and is head of the Somerset National Gardening Scheme. She is an exhibition gardener herself. To find details and photographs, look on http://www.ngs.org.uk , click on Somerset and then Badgers' Acre. Thank you to Lucy and Jim from Greg and Brian for everything.

stone allereton
June 8 285 Grosmont,Monmouthshire

Brian and Greg cycled all day in brilliant sunshine, crossing Avonmouth alongside the M5 on the cycle path and then over the Severn Bridge, also on the cycle path. After rejecting a place to stay that wanted to charge them £170 for one night, they have found high quality accommodation at "Gentle Jane Bed and Breakfast", above a delicatessen. Greg refuses to look but Brian has admitted to a little "chafing". They aren't the only lunatics cycling from Lands End to John O'Groats. Today, they met up with Izzy and Justin, who began their trip one hour before Greg and Brian. Good luck to everyone tomorrow.

The accommodation and food at "Gentle Jane" were excellent. Brian said the breakfast was "to die for" and Greg loved the ambience. Not only that, Linda, the proprietor, sponsored them. Greg and Brian would like to thank her for her generosity.You can find out about this bed and breakfast by logging on to www.gentlejane.co.uk.

The Angel Inn is a local pub, owned by a consortium of regulars. Brian and Greg spent a very pleasant evening there listening to music and joining in. Rob was an excellent host .

tintern abbey
June 9 350 Bishops Castle, Shropshire After a tiring day in the saddle, in very warm weather, Greg and Brian are staying in The Poppy House at Bishops Castle. They covered 65 miles today.
bishops castle
June 10 404 Whitchurch, Shropshire The weather was very hot today and Greg and Brian made good progress in bright sunshine. They completed 54 miles at an average speed of 13.1 miles per hour, skirting the Long Mynd in order to keep to the flatter roads. They are staying with Dave and Terry, close friends of Greg and Pam's, so are able to enjoy all the comforts of home. Richard, Blue and Bubble have also contributed to their welcome..
whitchurch
June 11 468 Heskin, Lancashire

Greg went the fastest he has ever been on a bicycle today - a stunning 40 mph. This was in spite of the strong north-west wind and an overcast sky. The 64 miles covered by Greg and Brian included several detours. They blamed the diversions on their maps, which proved to be confusing in the towns. On the way they passed through Tarporley, stopping at Tarporley Health Store (http://www.tarporleyhealthstore.co.uk/). They would like to thank Linda from the health store for sponsoring them. Tonight, they are staying at the Farmers Arms in Heskin. Thank you to Malcolm of the Farmers Arms, who also sponsored them.

If you would like to follow the progress of Justin and Izzy (see entry 8th June), who are doing the same trip as Brian and Greg, you can look up their web log on http://www.paigntonzoo.org.uk/news-events/news-detail.php?id=78. Their web manager is even putting in photographs. I wish I was competent enough to be able to do that!

farmers arms
June 12 535 Middleton, Cumbria Brian and Greg completed another 67 miles today and are now over half way. They were lucky to have no rain as elsewhere the weather was mixed. They were also lucky to meet three guys from Pendle Cycling Club who suggested a better, flatter route north, different from the route given in "Lands End to John O'Groats: the Great British Bike Adventure" by Phil Horsley which Brian and Greg have been following so far. They are now following a route east of the M6 and will be tackling Shap Hill tomorrow.
middleton
June 13 611 East Riggs, Dumfries and Galloway

Greg and Brian have arrived in Scotland after cycling 76 miles. Today's journey was hard work but the scenery was spectacularly beautiful. They climbed Shap Hill, passed Carlisle to the east on a cycle path, passed Gretna and are now staying in a bed and breakfast in East Riggs called the Graham Arms. They would like to thank Mandy and also the ladies from the Annan Academy reunion for the sponsorship

scottish border
June 14 691 Ayr, Ayrshire Todays journey was a bit longer than Brian and Greg wanted, but they had to cycle 80 miles in order to get to Ayr where they knew they would find accommodation.The weather was pleasant and sunny but there was a strong wind against them. After passing through Dumfries, they stopped for a delicious lunch in an organic cafe in Moniaive where they had toasted organic haggis sandwiches. From there, they followed the scenic route across the mountains to Dalmellington and then on to Ayr, where they were happy to stop for the night. They had an excellent meal at Callum's restaurant.
ayr
June 15 754 Whistlefield, Loch Eck, Argyll

http://www.whistlefield.com/Index.htm

The above website shows where Greg and Brian are staying tonight, at the Whistlefield Inn bunkhouse, Loch Eck, which is between Dunoon and Inveraray. It looks idyllic. They have covered 63 miles today. They had lunch at Largs Yacht Club with Brian's family; his sister Leslie, his brother Derek, Derek's wife, Caroline, and their two children, Craig and Catriona. They took the ferry from Gourock to Dunoon, then cycled alongside Loch Eck. Once again, they had good weather.

They would like to thank Kate from the Whistlefield Inn who donated, as sponsorship, the value of their accommodation for the night, a truly generous gesture.

June 16 826 Port Appin, Argyll Brian and Greg covered 72 miles today in very good time. Their route took them alongside lochs, past Inverary, and on up he coastl. They are spending the night at Port Appin, 25 miles south of Fort William following a meal at the Pierhouse Restaurant. Both of them are in good shape. They finished today's journey in the rain. Unfortunately the weather outlook for tomorrow is poor with further rain forecast for Scotland.
port appin
June 17 905 Drumnadrochit, Loch Ness, Inverness-shire

On the way to Fort William today, Greg and Brian had spectacular views of Ben Nevis capped with snow. They cycled along the Caledonian Canal towpath to start with but this became rougher so they rejoined the road. The rain came and went but at least the strong winds were behind them. Despite the weather, they enjoyed the ride along Loch Linney and Loch Ness. After 79 miles of cycling, they have found a bed and breakfast place at Drumnadrochit, three quarters of the way along Loch Ness. They had a good meal at the Loch Ness Inn, Lewiston. They calculate that they have about 170 miles left to cycle, so will probably finish in three days.

ben nevis
June 18 979 Brora, Sutherland Brian and Greg have reached Brora, Sutherland, and are staying in a very good guesthouse, Glen Avaron http://www.glenaveron.co.uk/ They have been lucky with the weather, with only one rain shower and the wind behind them all day. They covered 74 miles. The route took them along Loch Ness into Inverness. From there, they took the road to Cromarty, on the tip of the Black Isle. They had lunch in the Cromarty Inn and would like to thank Ron and Irene and Beryl and Graham for sponsoring them. From Cromarty, they took the Nigg Ferry across Cromarty Bay, then followed the A9. Tomorrow, they are going to turn off the A9 at Helmsdale and cycle to Thurso where they plan to spend the night. They hope to reach John O'Groats on Friday.
nigg ferry
June 19 1045 Thurso, Caithness

With 66 miles covered today, Greg and Brian have passed the 1000 mile mark. They have only another 20 miles to go before they reach John O'Groats. Although there was a strong wind and heavy showers, they enjoyed their ride through beautiful wilderness scenery along the Helmsdale Valley. They saw a deer at close quarters and visited the RSPB reserve at Forsinard where they were able to watch a web cam showing a hen harrieer on a nest

From John O'Groats, they plan to contine their journey by ferry to Orkney. Another Ferry from Kirkwall will take them on to Lerwick on the Shetland Isles.

helmsdale to forsinard
June 20 1070

John O'Groats, Caithness

 

 

St. Margarets Hope, Ronaldsay, Orkney

Message from Greg and Brian; "Just arrived at John O'Groats. 1070 miles, 15 days, 2 hours. No dinasaurous" (Disasters? - I blame predictive text. OK I get it - dino-sore-arse)) CONGRATULATIONS!

If you have been following this log and want to send a message to Brian and Greg, e-mail pam.hart@btinternet.com

On their way to John O'Groats from Thurso, Brian and Greg encountered strong winds; fortunately, the winds were behind them. At one point they were doing 20 mph without pedalling. They covered 25 miles, making 1070 miles in total for the journey. They had no punctures and no breakdowns. They have received messages from many friends by text and e-mail and would like to thank everyone for their kind words and for following their journey.

After signing in as End to Enders, they caught the ferry to St. Margaret's Hope, South Ronaldsay, Orkney. They stayed the night in the Murray Arms, where they had a good evening and joined a jam session in the bar. Thanks to Linda who sponsored them. Their plans are to go on to Shetland today but the weather is appalling.

John O'Groats
June 21   Lerwick, Shetlands

Spent the day in Kirkwall and caught the overnight ferry to the Shetlands. A bumpy ride in a NE gale but we slept through most of it arriving at 0700 in Lerwick. There were lots of things happening in Lerwick including a Flavours of Shetland Festival on the pier, lots of yachts competing in the 1000mile doublehanded north sea race from Bergen & back, and a large bikers rally. These, combined with a strike at the airport, made accomodation difficult to find but we eventually found a room at the Breiview guest house.

We spent a very chilly day in the marquee on the pier listening to local musicians and sampling the locally brewed viking ales.

Lerwick
June 22   Lerwick, Shetlands

Our original plan was to complete day rides out from Lerwick but Shetland is a pretty hilly and very windy place. So we decided to hire a car & visit Unst, the mot northerly island of the UK about 120 miles away. We drove up the west coast, took a look a Sullom Voe, took the ferry to Yell and then the ferry to Unst. Again it was difficult to find accomodation but we eventually checked in to an overpriced chalet hotel in Baltasound.

In the evening we took the walk out to Herma Ness which is a magical willife sanctuary at the very north of the island. Superb views looking North to Muckle Flugga, lots of seabirds, and very few other tourists.

Its midsummer with the "simmer dim" where the sun barely sets so far north.

shetland ponies
June 23   Unst, Shetlands Visited the wildlife information centre at Herma Ness, the boat museum and heritage centre at Haroldswick (all good) before driving back to Lerwick in the evening. We were made very welcome by Catherine at the excellent Eddlewood guest house, had a good meal at Monty's Bistro followed by a very good traditional music night at at local tavern.
muckle flugga
June 24   Noss, Shetlands We took to our bikes for our last day in the Shetlands, caught the ferry to Bressay, cycled over the hills (against the wind!) and took the rubber dinghy ferry accross to the island of Noss. Noss is fantastic wildlife sanctuary and home to otters, seals, thousands of sea birds and some other rare birds(ask Brian!). We were the only visitors and had the island to ourselves. After a very helpful briefing by the reserve warden we took the 5 mile walk round the perimeter of the island which rises to 600ft on the eastern flank. Sitting on the cliffs watching the puffins just a couple of feet away was one of life's unforgettable exepriences.
Noss
June 25   Aberdeen We caught the overnight ferry back to Aberdeen via Kirkwall in the Orkneys. Again in gale conditions and a distance of about 250 m
ferry
June 26   Home A 550 mile drive home in vile weather and in a transit van, via Glasgow to pick up some of Brians furniure, completed our expedition. We got back safe and sound at about 2100.