A week or so ago, I had a bike ride to deliver scrubs fabric to a friend who lives in Newport. Lockdown was making her feel redundant, so she had thrown herself into making scrubs for Addenbrooks. She had run out of fabric, so I dug out a lot of my Mum’s old sheets and duvet covers, and I’ve now pedalled twice to Newport (with cake). This makes me feel I am doing something useful as the Braintree fabric/cake delivery service! I started by riding along the Flitch Way, coming off at the station, and going past Restaurant 47 on Rayne high street. Apparently it used to be the Cock pub. I rode around the back of Stebbing. Stebbing still has major roadworks where they are sorting out the culvert a

Virtual Lands End to John O'Groats .... Week 9

Saturday 23 May Loch Loyal-Golval 34 miles. Total 933 miles. From Loch Loyal the route heads north to Tongue. The name Tongue comes from an old Norse geographical term, for land shaped like a spit or tongue. Here this land is the end of the Kyle of Tongue glacier. Historically this area was a crossroads for the Picts, Gaels and Vikings. During the time of the Scottish clearances (when crofters were removed from the land in order for absentee landlords to put sheep in their place) many crofters were removed from the Sutherland area, and were resettled in Tongue. Tongue House (below) was the seat of Clan Mackay, but had to be sold in the early 1800s due to debts to the Sutherland family. The

Virtual Lands End to John O'Groats .... Week 8

Saturday 16 May Inverness- Easter Fearn 40 miles Total 852 miles From Inverness, I am no longer writing from memory of the LEJOG tour that Jim and I did in 2013. Back then, I had to return home a couple of days, for a dental appointment (new wires on my brace) and for my degree art show. Unfortunately I fell over in the garden and badly sprained my ankle, so it was “tour over” for me. From Inverness the route heads north, past the RSPB Tollies Red Kites Nature Reserve, to Dingwall. Dingwall means meeting place of the assembly, and indicates the Viking connections of the town. Like many towns in Scotland, one of the key employers is the distillery. Glenwyvis is the first modern community-ow

Virtual Lands End to John O'Groats .... Week 7

Sunday 10 May. Benderloch-Fort William 36 miles. Total 742 miles The road from Benderloch to Fort William (A828/A82) is narrow, with poor visibility as the route twists and turns along Loch Linnhe. When Jim and I rode it in 2013, the road was not busy, but most traffic overtook us despite there being double white lines along most of the road length. However according to the map now, from Barcaldine to South Creagan, there is a separate cycle route. At the bridge at South Creagan, cyclists cross the narrow midpoint of Loch Creran, which is a marine area of special conservation. Until 1999 crossing to the other side of Loch Creran was by passenger ferry, or by rail on the 1903 viaduct (pictur

Virtual Lands End to John O'Groats .... Week 6

Saturday 2 May. Patna- Lochranza 43 miles. Total 638 miles From Patna, it is easy cycling across to Ayr, on the west coast of Scotland. Ayr has an affluent town centre, and local industry is centred around tourism (birthplace of Robert Burns), golf and Prestwick airport. The route from Ayr wends its way up to Troon via idyllic cycle paths across the local golf courses. After Troon, we returned to riding the roads, because the cycle path, idyllic though it was, ended up meandering and increasing the distance. We were on a time limit to arrive at Ardrossan in time for the ferry departure to Arran. The ferry crossing to Brodick, on the Isle of Arran, takes only an hour, and does one return j

Virtual Lands End to John O'Groats .... Week 5

Saturday 25 April Penrith-Annan 38 miles. Total 530 miles From Penrith, the route continues north, again on the A6, which is remarkably quiet with wide wild-flower filled verges, because the M6 takes all the traffic. After 18 miles pedalling, the route arrives at Carlisle, the county town of Cumbria. Carlisle has held city status since medieval times, via a grant endowed by the reigning monarch. Cities only had the association with having a cathedral, since the time of Henry VIII, who founded dioceses in 6 English towns; and introduced the requirement for a cathedral, and granted them city status by issuing letters patent (a right given by a monarch). Carlisle started as a Roman settlement

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