Lands' End to John O'Groats Cycle 2011
"We left on Saturday Aug 20th and after getting the train down from Lochwinnoch (via London in John's case), we did the 10 miles to Land's End & back, and stayed at the YH in Penzance.
Day 1. We then set off on the Sunday morning through beautiful, hot and sunny Cornwall, across the very scenic King Harry ferry to Golant. Remote but homely :-)
Day 2. The next day, after "one of the team was hit by" (or rather "one of the team rammed"!) a Toyota pick-up, we went on to very picturesque Tavistock and over Dartmoor. Hard! Being Scots, we didn't know Dartmoor was so hilly (a moor in Scotland being a flat area) and so ended up late in Exeter, completely knackered after a 12 hour day. In Exeter, David stopped to ask a local for directions to the YH. The person he asked did not know, because he was from Lochwinnoch! (Jonathan Fawcett)
Day 3. Then via Taunton (very pleasant town) & Burnham-on-Sea (lost in the ice-cream 60's) to Stablegrove B&B in Wrington south of Bristol - best B&B we've ever stayed at; thoroughly recommend it!
Day 4. Then through sunny, beautiful Bristol, across the Severn bridge - in and out of (wet) Wales- to a B&B in Lea and a rather eccentric landlady!
Day 5. On via Wildergrove YH (impressive and great food), via Ludlow (lovely market town where we sunbathed at the castle) to Winsford where we stayed with friends. One member of the team had a 'senior' moment and chained up his bike to railings in a town centre en route, only to discover he had lost the key. Cue intervention from local DIY shopkeeper, much to amusement of other team members and assembled crowds.
Day 6. A few thrills and spills on the way through a very rainy Manchester and up to Slaidburn - very nice but wow(!) a great climb to get there!
Day 7. Over the hills the next morning (a hard very wet 12 miles!) to Bentham in the Yorkshire Dales (great breakfast at hotel) and through the Lake District on to Carlisle where we stayed at the IBIS Hotel - good value - and a free round of drinks on the house!
Day 8. Danny McCusker joined us at Carlisle and we headed over the border. Unfortunately Danny's bike fell apart shortly after Dumfries, and he and the bike had to get back on the train to Lochwinnoch for some serious repair work. The rest of the team went on up to the Galloway Activity Centre on Loch Ken where we stayed in a Mongolian Yurd - interesting! Special word of thanks to a Castle Douglas taxi-driver called Brian, who later that night drove the team to and from to a pub in Castle Douglas, and gave us £50 donation for the charity!
Day 9. Next day up to Ardrossan where we all headed back to Lochwinnoch to have a night in our own beds. One team member went to the Brown Bull Quiz - and his team won (again).
Day 10. With Danny and bike back on the road, we headed back to Ardrossan the next morning, and took the 7am ferry over to Arran - and a quick sprint from Brodick to catch the next ferry from Lochranza - where we all fell asleep and had to be wakened to leave! ....eventually on to Lochgilphead, where we stayed with friends.
Day 11. Incredible views and sunny weather on the cycle right through Oban, then on to Fort William (overnight), around the Commando monument and up the (a bit wet) A82.
Day 12. From Fort William along the Great Glen and off to the east of Loch Ness where again the views and sunny scenery were awesome, and on to Inverness.
Day 13. On the Saturday we did the Inverness Monster Duathlon round Loch Ness - a great (if mad) diversion from LEJOG and then we had an into the night ride up to Helmsdale afterwards (best YH on trip I think).
Day 14. Big, blue sky ride, taking the Helmsdale hills in our stride, and up to JOG where Orkney was just a touch away. At least we think it was John O'Groats, because there was no sign to confirm that. Instead, just a notice, which read: "I am sorry but the John O'Groats sign is staying closed Saturdays and Sundays due to unforeseen circumstances, usual service will resume Monday morning 10am. Thanks, Peter." Priceless.