Saturday, 29 May 2010


I am in Norway and I have found someone inside a bubble! Is this person completely mad?

I am 3 days into this part of my journey and so far Norway is everything the advertising pictures say. It is incredibly beautiful. I am cycling across islands linked together by ferries and monster bridges. The scenery is rugged with forests, rocks, lakes and the North Sea is weaving in and out with enormous tentacles, My friend, Jaana, joined me in Bergen and had an instant problem when her pedal sheared from a new crank. Fortunately, a bike shop dropped what they were doing and replaced the offending parts.

Bergen is a bike friendly city and I cycled 12 miles from the airport almost entirely on cycle lanes. In fact, everywhere seems to be bike friendly. Cars stop for cyclists at junctions and crossings in such a way that they go to jail if they don't. Little children either walk or cycle to school where there are numerous cycle racks.

Jaana is one of a small group of friends and we all go cycling together. Here she is setting off into a forest

We met Martin yesterday. He lives in Oslo but has no car. He had to work in Bergen on Wednesday and his next appointment is in Stavanger tomorrow, so he decided to cycle there. This is about the same distance as Plymouth to Bristol but has many more hills. We cycled with him for about a day and we learned many things about Norway. Jaana is from Finland so we shared some Finnish and British culture with him. Martin thought his wife might like badger, my ever patient mascot, so he sent her a photo. Martin's wife said the picture was not good enough so badger had his picture taken a second time .
Badger is doing fine. He has got over the shock of the scarecrow in Norfolk, the ostridges in Scotland and the wind in the Shetlands. He is taking Norway in his stride and is very happy to find out that other badgers live in Norway and for his photo to be sent to Oslo. Unlike me, he is not all weatherbeaten. In my case, my daughter, Jo, keeps on sending me messages to put on moisturiser. This bloke does not do moisturiser but I am told it is normal these days. Maybe I should if only because daughters are always right.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010


Sandie and I arrived on the Shetland Isles on Sunday morning.
Our first view of Lerwick was thick fog so we cycled for an hour unable to see anything. This was rectified for the next two days with some strong winds that enabled us to see the islands wonderfully. They are full of remote hills, moorland, lochs and tiny villages. The coastline is rugged and there are lots of small islands. This is Simon King country who spent much of last year here for the BBC filming otters and killer whales.

The people we met were extremely friendly and we were taken on a tour of otter haunts. We cycled 96 miles around the coast. Our most Northerly point was reached at Sullom Voe and in the South it was Sumburgh. We saw lots of seals and Shetland ponies but sadly no otters or killer whales.

A new industry farming mussels has been formed. This has proved a great hit for the eider ducks who dive down to perhaps 4 metres and help themselves to this easy source of food. Needless to say the farmers are not too happy.

Sandie left yesterday while this morning I cycled to Sumburgh Airport for my flight to Bergen. I had the novel experience of cycling across the main runway to reach the terminal building. There were traffic lights in case a plane was coming.

I have now arrived in Bergen. I have now completed 1,522 miles of my journey.

Saturday, 22 May 2010


Sandie and I completed our cycle route in Orkney last night. There is no ferry to Shetland on a Friday so we have an extra day. Yesterday's ride was 61 miles as a circular route from Kirkwall and it passed many of the stone age sites for which the islands are famous. They are also famous for trout fishing and we watched a fisherman land a trout while we had our first break of the day. The picture below has a story that had us entranced on our third stop.

This is Tingwall ferry terminal which is tiny. Contractors were doing some work to a slipway. We watched as a diver walked into the water beside a crane which was sitting on a barge. He had an air tube connected to the land. What happened next was that the crane lifted a huge concrete plank and placed it in the water right beside the diver, who appeared to be acting as an underwater banksman. A man who was holding the diver's air tube then walked off leaving the diver alone below water. A ferry appeared and pulled up right beside the submerged diver and crane. The barge had just done a wobble moving the plank. We were very worried about the diver who seemed to be fixing the plank. We waited with baited breath. The ferry departed and a few moments later up popped the diver. All was well but we could not help thinking that the episode had the air of Spike Milligan about it.

Tonight we leave for Shetland. Accommodation is sparce there and we have booked into a remote cottage on West mainland which is close to our route. I try to update this blog every two days but it relies on wifi. Where we are staying is renowned for otters so time permitting we will try and spot one. I am doubtful if there is wifi though so the next report will be as soon as possible after that.

Thursday, 20 May 2010


I had a break of two days in Thurso and have now been joined by my daughter, Sandie. We caught the ferry to Burwick, the entry to Orkney for the North Sea Cycle Route and its most Southerly terminal. Tonight we are in Kirkwall. The route crossed the Churchill Barriers and these wrecked ships can still be seen. There are so many different species of birds here and it is a joy to see and hear.

On my second day in Thurso, I visited Caithness Horizons, a beautifully designed heritage centre. Much of this is devoted to wildlife. For me, there is a timely reminder why I am doing this challenge. It simply says......."We must care for and sustain our natural heritage if we want it to sustain us".

Tomorrow, we cycle 60 miles around Orkney Mainland and return here to Kirkwall. On Saturday night, we catch the overnight ferry to the Shetland Isles.

Monday, 17 May 2010


I have reached John O Groats and this means I have completed one third of my challenge. It is 1,230 miles so far and 2,400 miles to go. I am taking two days as a rest break and Sandie my older daughter joins me on Wednesday. We then travel to Orkney and Shetland. I am cycling to raise money for my local Wildlife Trust. Just a quick reminder for anyone who I can persuade to donate. It is easy to donate online, just go to

It is so important to support wildlife these days. Kate Humble on the BBC gave her reasons this morning on primetime TV. An important body representing landowners, the CLA, have just officially announced the same. If you are following my journey, can I ask you to do the same. Wildlife is fun and exciting and vital for our wellbeing.
This journey is fun and exciting. Scotland's top end is remote, rugged, full of lochs and open moorland and the coast has the most spectacular beaches. Oh and cuckoos have been singing their hearts out.

My family take precedence today. My daughter, Jo, sent me to spy out potential kite surfing beaches. She is a coach for medium and advanced kite surfers. I have suggested Dunnet Bay but Thurso looks good as well. Sylvia, my wife, sent me to the Castle of Mey to take photographs for an audio visual project she is doing. This was HRH the Queen Mother's home and is the only royal home where the family chose their own furniture.

Saturday, 15 May 2010


You can travel the World and see some fantastic scenery but some of the best is right here in Great Britain. I have just cycled up through the centre of the Northern Highlands to Tongue on the North coast. The scenery is breathtaking and this will be one of the highlights of my trip.

Sadly the Staggies lost 3 - 0 to Dundee United earlier today.

Thursday, 13 May 2010


I am in Dingwall, home of the Staggies. This is Ross County, Scotland's most Northerley football team. They are playing Dundee United in Saturday's Scottish cup final. It is football crazy here and I say " go for it, Staggies". It would be a formidable victory.

This picture shows where I passed the 1,000 mile mark yesterday. Only 2,600 miles to go. I am up for it.

The Moray coast is dotted with ancient tiny harbours. The snow covered Highlands are in the distance. Tesco at Inverness is a mecca for long distance cyclists, though they do not know it. We are having better weather here than the rest of the country and apparantly for much of Europe as well. Tomorrow, Jo leaves me while I head North towards Thurso. I am ahead of schedule and plan to have a day off before taking the ferry to the Orkney Islands.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010


There are now two of us cycling North. Jo arrived yesterday and we left Aberdeen after lunch for Banff on the Moray Firth. The route heads inland to Turiff and then follows the Valley of the River Deveron to Banff. Sustrans who signposted the UK section have been very reliable with their maps and signposting. The weather is unseasonably cold but, apart from two brief hail showers, the sun has been shining. We have a brief encounter with some ostridges on route. Badger has never seen an ostridge before.

Jo coaches medium and advanced kite surfers as her business on weekends so she can sometimes take time off during the week. However her phone rings 24/7 so below you see her conducting some business on route.

This part of the Moray Firth has some very old harbours. Tonight we are staying in Portsoy and its harbour was built in 1692. A local seafood delicacy is Cullen Skink. Tomorrow we head West along the Moray Firth.

Sunday, 9 May 2010


I reached Aberdeen at 7.00 this evening and I have completed a quarter of my journey. Yesterday, I cycled alongside two World famous golf courses, The Old Course of St Andrews and Carnoustie. I crossed my third big bridge, the Tay Bridge into Dundee.

The route North of Carnoustie to Stonehaven had several attractive harbours such as this one at Johnshaven. I meet my daughter, Jo, tomorrow who is cycling with me to Dingwall.

My mileage to date is 901 and this is almost quarter of my journey. To put it another way, this is the same distance as Lands End to John O' Groats.

Friday, 7 May 2010


St Andrews was reached this evening and I walked around the town. It has the ruins of a castle and cathedral, a sandy beach, a university, a harbour and an attractive lively centre. The North Sea shimmered in the setting sun. More well known is that it hosts a World class golf course.
Yesterday, badger and I crossed the Moorfoot Hills. We did not see them because of the wind and rain. I knew it because there was a hill 12 miles long. Badger was freezing and much preferred to be in his sett. It was a lonely road and I was first to find a woman who had just climbed out of her car that was upside down in a peat bog. Although obviously shocked, she appeared unhurt and then another car arrived. The driver took her to the nearest town. It could have been much worse.

My route took me through Edinburgh and over the Forth Bridge to last night's stop in Inverkeithing. The Forth Bridge was not as scary to cross as the Humber Bridge. It is not good to cycle over these bridges if you suffer from vertigo. Tomorrow I cross the Tay Bridge and this is closed to cyclists when it is windy.

Today was sunny and cold. There was a moderate headwind. Badger and I are now in hill country. The countryside today was again stunning with contrasting scenery from lowland arable farms to open moorland and forests. Loch Leven and the Lomand Hills made for stunning backdrops.

Edinburgh and the Forth has lots of history. Here is a lesser known fact. The first roll on/roll off ferry in the World started service in 1850 on the Forth. It was named Leviathon. It carried railway wagons loaded with coal, limestone, grain and whisky from Burntisland to Granton.

Tomorrow I leave for Dundee and Montrose. The forecast is fine but cold and there is to be a headwind.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010


My journey today followed the valley of the River Tweed to Innerleithen. The beautiful rolling hills of the Scottish Borders beckoned.

This is a land of castles. Perhaps the most beautiful is at Bamburgh. Grace Darling came from Bamburgh and on 7 September 1838, she with her dad rescued 9 survivors from SS Forfarshire by rowing out to them in a small open boat. She became a national hero.

Further on, for the benefit of us who live down South, Berwick on Tweed is definately in England and has been so since 1482. Prior to this, it changed hands with Scotland 14 times.

Most of my overnight stays have been good and here is a second one that deserves special mention - . It is 4 miles from Berwick

Monday, 3 May 2010


I have reached Alnmouth in Northumberland today and my distance is now 569 miles. Yesterday I stayed in Teesside and visited my Aunt Barbara who was 100 years old earlier this year. The journey after I left her took me through Tyneside where we had our first ferry crossing. Badger, I am happy to say, was not seasick.

Northumberland is one of the most beautiful counties in England and I have been looking forward to my travels through here. Tomorrow I head up the coast to Berwick on Tweed.

Sunday, 2 May 2010


My entry into Yorkshire was through Hull and this proved to be incomprehensible to this cyclist. However my disappointment was short lived. I decided Yorkshire is a county than deserves a longer visit and that I will come back again. The route went through Beverley with its magnificent churches and town centre and onto York.

Route 66 is the Trans Pennine Way where Badger and I both thought that we were going in the wrong direction but it is correct.

If I stopped in York, I decided it would be for two days so I kept going. Greg, if you are reading this blog, I reached my destination ok. After York, I cycled to Thirsk, a beautiful town, but the Council should do something about the cars. Next was cycling aroung the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors and to Hartburn where I stayed overnight with Margaret and John, both delightful hosts.

My mileage to date is 492 and I am a day ahead of schedule.