To blog or not to blog?

Normally when I set out on a week long tour my wife keeps a blog running for each day.  This year life is just too manic for her to be able to find the time.  Working and looking after three boys on your own is no joke without an extra burden.  It is certainly much harder than being out on the bike all day with nothing to worry about other than pedalling, eating and sleeping.

So, this year I either have to do it myself or not do it at all.

Being a Luddite when it comes to mobile communication I do not have a smart phone or a tablet. Until now.  I have been persuaded to invest in a tablet for the family. This is mainly for my children to play games on but I am now experimenting to see whether I can use it to blog. This is my first blog post using the tablet. I’ve accidentally clicked something on the screen which is now allowing me to speak directly into, or at, the tablet and the words are magically appearing on the screen. Perhaps I should have bought a tablet a long time ago ☺

At the beginning of this post I was sure I would not be blogging. Having found this fantastic feature I am sure I will be able to blog each evening. I am also sure my kids will wish I had never found it

Thanks for All Your Support

Thank you to everyone who has supported me through this trip (main congratulations to excellent one woman support team at home dealing with everything I didn’t have to and my mum who travelled down to support the support).  Your comments, emails and texts have been most welcome, not to mention your sponsorship.

I have now updated the blog with some photos so if you want to browse back through feel free.

I am also in the process of finishing a draft travelogue of my last trip following the non edited Google route.  This gives a much more detailed account of the trip and the reasons for it than are contained in the blog, which is essentially just a listing of text messages.  I will be looking for volunteers who might be willing to proof read the draft in PDF format and give some feedback to help polish it before I publish.  If anyone is interested leave a comment or contact me at

Day Eight, Inverness to John O Groats, 200km, 125 miles

08:10 Light rain at start.  Chilly.  I’m off to warm up…

10:08 Forgot to switch phone on! Now in Evanton. 22 miles.  2 hours

11:55 41 miles.  Dornoch Firth.  Total distance 1451 km. Last time was 1400 so done about 25 miles more this time. Very strong wind. Hopefully won’t affect me too much until last 30 miles.

13:19 Just sent a text message to myself! Lol.  Read – Dunrobin Castle Station.

Dunrobin Castle Station

13:49 At the hobbit house having a wee.  63 miles

14:37 Helmsdale.  Joined Saruman’s orcs this time.  Going to storm the wall (of a climb).  Loaded an extra kilo of water on board to assist.  72 miles.

Sensible Sign on A9

17:03 Still in Scotland.  Lybaster.   Straight into wind now.  Really strong.  Must be at least 25 mph. Will be exposed too – wind farm.16:16 I’ve stopped for a break.  87 miles.  Dunbeath (I think)

17:04 Top of climb.  76 miles.  Steeper but shorter climb in about 4 miles.

18:15 105 miles just beyond wind farm.

Camster Cairns – Built Over 5000 Years Ago

19:28 On very looong straight road.  Can see a measured 2 miles behind me and more than that in front.  10 miles to go!18:49  Wind not too bad at mo.  But had to stop because cramps in right thigh.  If necessary I can pedal mostly one legged from here though.  Overdid it into the wind.

Pipes Crossing Path – Can’t Go Under Them,  Can’t Go Through Them – Had to Go Over Them
o Over Them

19:43  Can see orcs in the distance.  Sorry meant Orks.  7 to go.

20:09 One to go…

20:15 Done it!

Ta Dah!

Day Seven, Dunkeld to Inverness, 168 km, 105 miles

08:00 Raining  here.  Just going for breakfast.  Feeling sooo tired and shaky.  Just watching weather.  Looks like I’m going through the wettest part of the country today and possibly tomorrow.

08:06 Going to try and get some breakfast down.  Might help settle me.

08:12 Going to try and take things as easily as possible today.  Plod, plod. Haggis has arrived.

08:38  Off in 10.  Rain getting steadily heavier

09:12 Only 3 miles. V slow.  Been off road! Red squirrels sign.  Must be gloomy the camera is auto flashing


Arrgh!  Tis the Wee Beasties with the Pointy Teeth!!

09:46 My sat nav doing well.  Hard to text in rain. Hope key board waterproof.

10:05 Slight easing in rain.  Forecast at least only for “blue” rain not “yellow” rain that they use for thunder.  So not pissing it down.  Reroute to Pitlochry.  Having a meat pastry and crisps

10:25 Pitlochry. 14 miles. Outside Christmas Emporium. Closed! Guess trade not too hot in June.  However, they have a sign saying 196 days to Christmas.  But that could have been from yesterday.

It was Actually 195 – I Worked it Out Riding Out of Town

11:42 At the warning sign.  Bitchin Pass.  V muggy.  Wet weather gear off for climb.  Better wetty than sweaty.  26 miles
10:53 TA.  Another stupid sign – blind people drive slowly. Is that just a comment or a warning? If the latter, waste of time – blind people couldn’t read it.

13:10  Top of the Drumochter summit.  Sign still not been corrected says 462 m whilst sat nav insisting only 461.  And warning sign at the bottom reckons 457! What happened to accuracy hey.  Climb much better than remembered.  Lots of bright yellow broom and gorse.  Also patches of wild lupin (flowers not wolves)

13:26 Still snow a bit higher up in clefts and hollows

14:31 Newtonmore.  56 miles.  Rain stopped for some time now.  Not as bad as expected.  Bought mini French stick and pate and chocolate milk.  Going to find somewhere to sit.  Maybe Ruthven barracks a few miles up the road.  Taking it very easy today and enjoying it.

14:58 Ruthven Barracks.  59 miles.  About to eat

Ruthven Barracks

15:11 Stopped too long.  Getting cold

Random Nice View in Highlands
Storm Brewing in Aviemore – Can’t Go Under it, Can’t Go Over it…Have to Go Through it!

17:11 81 miles. Carbridge.  About to climb schlod pass.  Much steeper than the other one.  Much shorter though.

Ancient Bridge

17:46 Nearly at the top.   Passed a sign half a mile back saying tomatin (where I stayed last time) 5 inverness 25.  Now at sign saying tomatin 6 inverness 23?

17:58 At summit.  They are still a metre out.  Sat nav 400 sign 401.  87 miles.  Quite a lot of downhill to come.  Lots of stored climbing energy.  Didn’t text for a while coz raining hard.

19:18 I’m here.

Day Six, Moffat to Dunkeld, 189 km, 112 miles

07:53 Fell asleep reading last night.  Kit still damp.  Might get wet today anyway by looks of it.  Tomorrow looks like a downpour all day at the moment.  Still, tomorrow is tomorrow.  At least it might bring the pollen count down.  Really suffering from hayfever.  Eyes puffy and itchy.

08:15 The national forecast is very annoying banging on about scorchio and how Brazilian the weather is.  Not up here mate!  Although not raining to start.  Struggling through breakfast.

08:36 Just setting off.  Chilly

08:44 Good luck you too.  Moffat toffee in the bag, literally.

10:25 Twenty miles. Abington

11:08 Thankerton 30 miles

11:51 Carnwath 37 miles

12:00 Passed sign to Biggar.  Wonder if it has a sister town called Betta

12:01 Shops like buses.  None for 3 hours then 3 in one town

12:39 This time the relentless up and down south of Edinburgh is killing me.  Legs have no juice.  25 miles.  Woolfords.  4 terraces of cottages all in a line along one side of the road in the middle of nowhere.  What’s that all about?

Woolfords was built to house the mineworkers for the coal, lime and shale mines
, Tarbrax and Baads Mill

15:01 Forth Road Bridge trying to take photos.  So bumpy!! 68 miles13:43 Livingstone.  Reroute working well through here so far. 56 miles

Forth Road and Rail Bridges

16:50 Kinross.  86 miles.  Slowly dying.
16:11 Climbing all the bloody hills after the Forth Road Bridge.  Going thru forest.  Think downhill and flat then til Kinross.  Can’t remember after that. 79 mile but sat nav still says 40 to go.

18:15 Sat Nav driving me crazy pausing and auto resuming.  Can’t switch the auto off.  100 miles I think.  Going to reset and try again.  Think still have 18 to go.

19:00 Think resetting it and starting course again has done the trick.  Now done 7 miles.  Lol.  Hopefully this will be my last pit stop.

19:02 Interesting sign in luncarty – children please drive carefully.  I would hope they weren’t driving at all.  But it is very rural so who knows?

View Over Lake a Few Miles Short of Dunkeld
Dunkeld Cathedral

20:13 Here.  Spent a few minutes trying to get into cathedral but shut.  I’m 4 floors up.  Not what my legs needed! Not ensuite.  Shower 2 floors down.

Room in the Roof – Top Middle of Picture

20:18 No probs getting stuff dry I hope – it’s baking in here.  Going for shower now…

Day Five, Condor Green to Moffat, 201 km, 125 miles

Roy made good time yesterday catching up two hours and getting in just before 10; the reason being that he reduced the amount of stops – only one at the Morrison’s in Stoke and the other in Broughton on the A6.  His stoppage time in total was 2.5 hours but that includes faffing around at the bike shop and numerous traffic light stops on his revised route on fast roads.

He was knackered (understandably) but in very good spirits.  His arms were aching from the stress of cycling on an urban route in rush hour and avoiding drains and rubble on the side of the road.

So, we’re now half way through in time, and just over half the distance.  What does today hold in store?

07:38 Up and showered.  Eating breakfast.

07:47 Feeling tired but that’s inevitable.  Legs not too bad on the stairs.  Have to wait to see how they are on the bike.  Might take a while to warm up.  Hopefully no rain today.  Apparently, Preston centre was flooded yesterday.

08:11 Leaving now. Drained myself without dementors…

08:47 Legs ok.  Lune aqueduct.  6 miles. Hope canal ok.

Lune Aqueduct

09:34 Off canal.  15 miles.  Mostly good tarmac, not too broken.  Last mile mud and grass, not too muddy.

10:19 22 miles Holme.  Had to back track on “extra” canal bit I added because over grown.  Badly stung!  Boo hoo!

10:44 Going ok.  But cassette rattling loose.  Can you see if there is a bike shop in Kendal and text postcode.  If not, I think there is one in Penrith.

11:12 Local put me onto Brucies.  Fixed it in 2 minutes.  At shop just about to leave Kendal.  31 miles.  Stings are a pain but at least my legs feel alive!

12:18 Top of Shap Fell.  41 miles. 422 m up. Much much harder than last time, after yesterday.

View When Climbing Shap

13:13 57 miles Woodland glade in middle of rbt nr Penrith for a wee!

13:21 Co-op in Penrith

14:21 Feeling sleepy.  Have kept off caffeine except for one cup at breakfast every day.  65 miles sat on bench in Skelton.  First time I’ve sat down on any day. Mts in background.  Must start cycling or else going nowhere.

Bench Plaque – I Did Rest and Enjoy – Thanks Rose

15:48 Carlisle Castle 80 miles

Och!  Tis Scotland

17:01 92 miles Gretna.

17:46 100 miles.  Just a quarter of that to do again. Lol. Just grinding out the miles now.

18:09 Climbing the Echlefechan hill.  Not swearing – long drag in Echlefechan.  Birth place of Thomas Carlyle. Statue of him sat on a chair so maybe he is famous for bringing the chair to Scotland?

Thomas Carlyle – Writer

19:47 I’m here.  Text once settled in.

Day Four, Stafford to Condor Green, 194 km, 120 miles (theoretically…)

To fill you in on the details, Roy sustained 3 punctures late yesterday afternoon/early evening stranding him north of Kidderminster.  I located where he was on Google and then found and booked a hotel about 7 or 8 miles away from where he stopped.  They very kindly offered to give Roy a lift but he declined, saying he was “managing”.  He must have gerry-rigged up some sort of repair. I still don’t know how.

His tyre was completely ripped and the side walls now damaged where he needed to cycle on it to get off the fast road.  3 punctures in around 2 hours is hard going.  Roy thought he was getting them on the canal path, so swapped to the road, where he picked up the next two within 10 minutes of each other.

Unfortunately, I needed to cancel his accommodation booked for that night as it was 30 miles on and out of reach.  Hopefully, Roy can drop in today if/when he passes to collect his parcel.

I also found details of a cycle shop in Wombourne as luck would have it, on his route, only 4.9 miles away and texted Roy.  The next problem was how was Roy going to make up the time being about 30 miles out?  And allow time to fix the bike?  Day 4 was definitely going to be a long one.

So, on we go…..

08:54 Bike shop in Wombourne only open in 10.  Heading to Wolverhampton.  If you can could you google a bike shop and text post code.

Found Fred Williams Cycles (amongst many I found) who are changing tyres and inner tubes.  Roy will buy up big stock of inner tubes.  His plan is to enter the post code of his start point for Day 4 and get there as quickly as possible on fast roads.

I have called ahead to Stork Inn to say that Roy is likely to arrive after 11 and is that a problem?  No, just call at 10 to say how far out he is.

(10:20 Bike ready.  set off again…..)

10:54 24 miles so far today. Heath Hayes and Wimblebury.  15 miles to start.

12:16 (Phone call) At Stafford, at start point.  Picked up parcel.  Now back on route.  Will go as quickly as I can and see how I get on.  120 miles.  Eta midnight.  Did A6 last time and agree with Chris – wide, safe and tail wind, so may pick that up if necessary.  Will call The Stork at 10.  Chappie from hotel last night said he would have come to fetch me but his wife was out.

13:52 Stoke at Morrisons.  60 miles, 20 for today’s route

14:41 Left bike shop at 10:20.  Tyres vittoria randonneur.  £25 each. 4 tubes £5 each. Schwelbe marathons would have been £35 each (and heavier).  No probs so far.  Biddulph valley railway line.  69 miles

16:35 Kenworthy Woods. 94 miles.  54 today’s route

16:37 Absolute downpour for nearly an hour.  Lots of thunder. Soaked

18:31 I abandoned the route due to mud. Not sure a good decision. Now slow due to traffic.

18:57 This route v urban. Been thru Bolton now heading for Blackburn.  Don’t know what road called but a long way east of route.  Just been over a big climb.  Now raining. 119 miles

20:02 135 miles somewhere past Ribchester.  Knackered.

20:48 140 miles 

A6 Broughton

21:57 TA dah!

Day Three, Olveston Bristol to Stafford, 193 km, 120 miles

Roy has suffered a series of punctures today (4) resulting in him running out of inner tubes with a mashed tyre early this evening and me needing to arrange alternative accommodation for tonight and locating a bike shop for tomorrow.  I think we have it in hand, but needless to say it has been a fraught evening.  I have pasted the blog to where we got to late this pm, and will try and fill in more details tomorrow.

07:36 Eating breakfast here.  Already feeling tired though.  Hoping food will revive me…

08:03 Finished breakfast and off in 10.  Feeling v tired already.  Hayfever not good.

08:25 On the road.  Good luck.  To you that is…

08:37 First fox sighting

09:32 Sharpness Canal – widest in Europe when built

09:53 20 miles.  Stopped at a swing bridge crossing.  First time for everything I suppose!

09:58 Good so far but now on stretch of tow path that is just grass.  V slow

10:04 Found a dirt strip now – as wide as my tyre

10:36 back on proper path.  Think dead bodies did me a favour last time!  All the bit I missed was really rough  When Roy rode this part of the canal last year the canal path was closed by the police because a dead body had been found in the canal.  Roy had to divert around and missed this grass and mud section.

10:57 Sainsbury in Gloucester.  28 miles

11:45 Now in, literally, Ashleworth tithe barn

11:50 Goat and pony friends not here for a chat today.  Last trip Roy stopped for a chat with a goat and a pony just around the corner from the tithe barn.

12:53 49 miles.  White rabbit.  He’s a bit overgrown – would have missed him if I didn’t know he was here. Stopped for traditional wee and chat.

13:16 Just beautiful through here.  Don’t remember it much from last time. Passing through lots of quintessential English villages. Sunny.  Green. Welsh mountains (Brecon Beacons?) in back ground.

13:47 (Phone call) Planned to re-route to avoid track but sat nav not picked up re-routing so picked up same track.  Pushed through but v muddy. Got muddier and muddier on slick tyres. Deeper and deeper until became really mired. Then foot down.  Then push thru.  Brakes, gears, wheels all mired in mud.  Luckily there was a house at the end with a hose.  Knocked on door and hosed down bike (and myself). Got rid of thick mud.  Gears not working now.  Calling from just under the M5 – 55 miles in.  Now back to standard 10 mph.

14:32 Worcester 62 miles

15:43 77 miles somewhere before Kidderminster.  V hot

16:15 Drinking lots.  At church in Kiddeminster. Well, at lock by church – not praying for deliverance.  Yet.  83 miles.  Am I really half way through England?  Cool!

16:22 Bloody puncture!

16:38 Might go back for a pray.  Still, only 27 cm to Scotland…(I can explain….you need a ruler and wall map…)

18:25 Another puncture – only one inner tube left

18:47 Another puncture….  somewhere on A449 (lethal road), north of Kidderminster, south of Stafford…. 151 km in (out of 193 km)

He clearly didn’t go back to pray!

Day Two, Torrington to Olveston, 206 km, 128 miles

07:11 Crap night, didn’t sleep well.  Up at 5:00.  Church bell tolls the hours and I heard every one except 1 and 2.  Just hanging around waiting for breakfast.  128 miles today.  If like last time will get in around 9 pm

The accommodation doesn’t seem to be working this time with two poor night’s sleep.  Also the room was not en suite with the bathroom through the bar – tricky when you only have the clothes you cycle in and just washed them in readiness for the next day.  Don’t know what he will do when he needs a wee before bed time.  Not even a tap in the room so unable to fill bottles.

07:18 At least once I’m through the first 50 miles or so it is all flat.  Your day gets hillier towards the end…

07:41 Having breakfast.  This time in hidden restaurant. Much niceugh it hasnt – new sunglases!  (Like me, you’ll need to translate that last bit.  Any suggestions welome!  I have no idea what he is going on about.)

07:50 I didn’t type nichuug, have no idea what that was.  I typed ‘ Much nicer with view over garden with pond. They just need to sort ensuite.’  Excellent breakfast.

08:09 I’m off. Into the wind.

09:08 Beaford

10:10 (Voice message) 2 hours in.  Not sure where I am.  20  miles in, thought I would be in Tiverton but just seen sign saying Tiverton 14 miles, so hopefully my calculation is correct and I have not just added 14 miles to my journey.

10:43 In Nomansland – literal and metaphoric

11.23 (Voice message) In Tiverton.  Done 30 odd miles…just checking…37 miles.  Going along quite nicely, should be relatively flat from here on

13.03 (Phone call) I’ve just hit the canal path and fixed my first puncture. Hope my tyres are up to it and not a sign of things to come.  Rear tyre is quite worn.  Mind you, think I probably got puncture from road – all been very gritty up to now.  Might need to find a cycle shop en route to change tyres.

15:00 On Grand Union canal path, 10.7 km from Taunton 68 miles in. Half way. Eta at B&B 10 pm

Don’t be Fooled – Even the Little Ones are Vicious Buggers

16.10 Sedgey, sedgey, sedgey, sedgey sedgey sedgey, sedgey.  (Our little ditty for King Sedgmoor’s Drain)

17:14 94 miles.  A38 AVOIDANCE route Excellent but still 3 miles or so A38.  Now on strawberry line

17:40 100 miles

Anyone for a House Under the Motorway

18:31 107 miles.  Just stopped at garage and used their tap to sort of clean think mud from my legs and bike.  Feet now waterlogged.

Wind Mill Reflected in Puddle

19:03 Everywhere very wet.  Have another fine coating of mud now.  At car import place 112 miles

19:08 Trying to take photo of all the cars for book

20:53 Am in.  Bike washed and oiled.  Will call once showered.