Tuesday, 6 March 2018


Snowdrift in Green Lane after Storm Emma near my house: 2 March 2018
At the moment, I am focussed on my bike ride coming soon around Ireland. 😊😊😊. 

So last week when a friend invited me for three days cycling around Cheshire, I jumped at the chance. Not only would it give me some valuable training but Cheshire is an unknown county for me and I wanted to see it. As usual, I went by train and my wife accompanied me on her route to Cumbria.

I had read about a major weather warning for Scotland nicknamed "The Beast from the East" but Scotland is a long way from Cheshire.

Three days were just perfect but it was cold. The temperature ranged from +2 to -2C. Cheshire is a beautiful county with lots of dairy farms, old buildings, beautiful villages, not very hilly but has a good number of warm friendly coffee stops and the walled city of Chester on the River Dee was well worth a visit.

Cumbria too was cold, in fact icy cold and I froze on my only short bike ride. Wednesday, 1 March was the day of two Red Alerts for snow and high winds and this was the day for our train journey home.  Red Alerts are the highest level of weather warning in the UK with danger to life. One was in the Scottish lowlands and the other at my home in Devon. Added to this, there was to be a high tide at Dawlish in the afternoon and the railway closes if there are storms due its proximity to the sea. Dawlish was on our route. This promised to be a challenging journey.  Cars slipped and slithered all over the place on the journey to the train station. I had a bike and my wife had a big case.

There were no trains arriving from Scotland because one had broken down on Shap summit but two were sitting waiting behind it unable to get through. Eventually the broken one arrived with what smelt like a very worn out clutch. I don't know if trains have clutches but they shunted it off into a siding. What happened next was nothing short of a miracle. We were told that there were to be no more trains to Scotland but one arrived from Scotland. Somehow and despite three changes we arrived at our local station on time.  Trains were being rearranged and we could hear controllers working furiously what to do with trains that were stuck or in the wrong place but piecing it altogether.  We watched the high tide coming in at Dawlish.

It was not over at home. It is just over a mile from the station to our house. I had planned to cycle home, collect the car, drive back and collect my wife. The roads were sheet ice.  It was too dangerous to cycle and our car could not cope either so it was a long walk dragging a case and bike through the snow.  I then to get some food so this entailed a 3.5 mile walk to find the supermarket that just enough food for the night. 

The wind roared during the night and this was followed by a 21 hour power cut. Dinner was made over our open fire and comprised jacket potatoes and toasted bacon sandwiches.  I took a few images of the snowy scenery.  Not only was it unusual but it was nature in the raw. Yet somehow, one tiny daffodil showed that Spring is not far away.

Today, there is still some snow. I managed a 48 mile ride along the Dartmoor Way to Lustleigh and the weather was a balmy 6 degrees C

Tuesday, 13 February 2018


I want to tell you why I am going to Ireland with my bike.  It starts in April so I am on countdown.  It is the Full Monte as I will be cycling around the entire coastline.  I have been to Ireland several times ranging from Wexford to Dingle, Donegal, Derry and the Antrim Hills.  This journey will connect these places up so I will be revisiting the North West Trail in Donegal and finding new places such as exploring the Copper Coast in Waterford.

Ireland has so many heads, or promontories, that I find it impossible to work out the distance.  I am guessing that it will be about 3,000km.  Ireland's climate will be interesting too.  My friend, Colin from Donegal, talks about Irish mist and leads me to believe that it is a whisky.  When I cycled the North West Trail 3 years ago, it was in glorious sunshine and Donegal Bay opened up as a spellbinding maritime vista.  On Valencia Island last year, the wind was so strong that I could not make any forward headway at all.

I will start at Rosslare and my first destination will be Hook Head, then peddle up alongside Waterford Harbour and onwards towards the windswept Mizen Head.  The journey north from Mizen will be dramatic and, I hope, enchanting along Ireland's Wild Atlantic coast. Malin Head will be the most northerly point, then the journey will turn east and south through Dublin back to the start at Rosslare.

Here are a few images from previous trips

The North West Trail, Sligo

The Cycle Route to Achill Island, Co Mayo
High Street, Wexford
His latest purchase
How long have I planned for the journey? My answer is that it will finish when it's over. I have allowed 6 weeks but, if I don't finish then, it is a good excuse to come back

Monday, 15 January 2018


I am planning a mini adventure and it starts in April. It will be over 2,000 miles around the coastline of Ireland.  I want to experience Ireland's wild coastline from the Irish Sea to the Wild Atlantic Way and the Antrim Coast. This will be my biggest journey for 8 years. 

On The Edge of Ireland: My Coastal Route Plan
I have cycled in Ireland several times and I have been drawn back to do the big tour. It has a magical quality with stunning cliffs, beautiful beaches, not to mention a warm Irish hospitality. Whether it is black pudding from Clonakilty, locally caught sea food, Guinness or cider, there is much to look forward to.

I will be recording my journey on these pages showing my daily mileages and hills climbed using what I hope are some new skills from a sports watch. 

My journey plan is to cycle 50 miles a day average.  I will do some blog posts beforehand to show my training.

Here's to Old Kinsale Head, Dingle, Achill Island and revisiting some of the North West Cycle Trail

Saturday, 16 December 2017

2017 IN 60 SECONDS

My favourite journey in 2017 was cycling the Radnor Ring which is a circular route through the mountains in mid Wales
I enjoyed the remoteness and spectacular scenery.
Wales is a great place for the touring cyclist and in the evenings, I often find myself talking about farming, rugby and red kites.
I have also been to South West Ireland. This has superb coastal rides and there is still much to see of old Ireland. Castletownbere is an excellent centre where there is a thriving fishing industry and heroic lifeboat crews. There is also MacArthy's Bar where you can buy a tin of beans, a pint of Guinness and hear stories about Dr Aiden MacArthy, a true hero of the Second World War
My favourite place in Ireland is Westport in Co Mayo.  There is a ride passing Croagh Patrick to Mweelrea where the scenery is unbelievably beautiful.
After a day's bike ride from Westport, there is sometimes Irish Dancing to watch in its Theatre in the evening, always a joy for me.
Nearer home, I cycled the length of Cornwall meeting many visitors from Europe and a group from Australia.
My favourite ride locally is the Devon C2C from Plymouth to Ilfracombe but I usually stop at Barnstaple and catch the train home

Dartmoor with Burrator Lake and Sheepstor in the Background

Sunday, 3 September 2017


Cornwall is surrounded on three sides by the sea and is almost cut off from Devon by the River Tamar which runs from its source close to Bude to discharge into the sea at Plymouth. It is a land of rugged beauty with a coastline of dramatic cliffs and spectacular beaches. On the north coast the seas roar in and surfers are challenged by the waves. The south can fool you by looking more gentle but there are plenty of shipwrecks that say otherwise.
Inland much of it is shaped by man from its history of tin, copper and china clay. Nature has a habit of taking back when man departs and no more is this so than here in Cornwall as in the image below. Elsewhere there are wide open moors, rivers that rush to the sea and just occasionally some serene vistas of gentle rolling farmland

My tour last week with my friend, Jaana from Finland discovered much of this landscape on our bikes.  We followed the National Cycle Network from Lamorna Wink near Penzance to Bude and on over Devon's border to Barnstaple.  The main cycle routes are NCN3 and 32 but using Sustrans maps there are several recommended routes that open up the county quite well.  The NCN avoids busy main roads and we met many out on their bikes including a group of tourers from Australia. Perhaps the most enthusiastic was Vincent from Utrect who we met in Bude. He was on a 1,500km journey around Normandy, Brittany, Cornwall and Devon

This is our experience including from previous trips. Cornwall can be busy during the holiday periods so some care is needed in towns and we found Truro required extra vigilance. We found the NCN to be well signed. Route difficulty rating is moderate but challenging in places and expect to encounter at least one 30% hill. There are plenty of places on route for coffee including some specialist bike cafes

There are sufficient rail connections throughout the county with GWR who I find to be quite helpful. For the NCN in Cornwall, this is the link to buy maps.  My tour including in Devon was 235 miles. This is another link for cycling in Cornwall

These are Cornish food and drink that delighted my palate: fish from Newlyn, cream teas, pasties, tea, cider and beer. 
AND FINALLY the ride was not without its oddities and problems

Sunday, 23 July 2017


Periodically I visit Usk in Monmouthshire and I am always pleasantly surprised how many people I see out on their bikes. This is probably not surprising because it is near the start of the legendary Lon Las Cymru cycle route and at the same time has an interesting east-west route too. They are NCN's 42 and 423.

Local people in 2017 with its Festival of Flowers decided to make cycling its theme and I was encouraged to see that people of all ages took part. Participants ranged from school children to shop window displays, pub bikes, fishermen's bikes and the police.  Here are a few piccies for you to decide:

This unusual community should be applauded with its creative approach to involving everyone and, who knows, it creates greater awareness and perhaps a few more people will be tempted to ride?  Here is a link to the Usk area

Sunday, 18 June 2017


The Beara Peninsula is in the far south west of Ireland. It is an area of wild beauty surrounded on three sides by the sea with the Slieve Miskish Mountains as its core. It is thought to be the warmest and most romantic part of Ireland. Among the things you should know are that the Mare's Tail is the highest waterfall in Ireland and Berehaven is the second safest natural harbour in the World with 7 miles of safe anchorage. Castletownbere, its main town, is the largest white fish port in Ireland.

The Beara Way Cycle Route is signed and 138km long. For the most part it is on safe quiet roads. The route varies from being flat in places to having challenging hills on others. The north and west coasts in particular have hills around every corner but the rugged coastal scenery make every rotation of the pedals feel worthwhile as if expecting something new each time.

At one moment, I found a hare running in front of me. On another, I could hear the sound of the sea over 1km away yet the only other sound was the lowing of cattle but there was no other noise. Beside the sea, there were gannets diving and I could see shoals of fish in the crystal clear water. 

I have been here twice and on each occasion, there were very few motorists and many coffee stops. The colourful little villages were competing with one another to be the tidiest place and local people always give a welcome asking how are you.

There is more to see on this route as many cyclists come to climb the Healy Pass while there are numerous little side roads that disappear off only to reappear beside a cove with perhaps a jetty or beach.  

For another view of this route, this is a link.  The image above is the Healy Pass and below are a few around the coast:

View from the copper coast:

Eyeries main street:

Castletownbere trawlers:

Cyclist climbing the Healy Pass:

The north coast road with the Kenmare estuary on the right

I stayed in Castletownbere and used this a base for short tours cycling between 25 to 40 miles per trip.