A record of my cycling trips in Britain and abroad


Who says it’s November?

Ok, it’s cold, and recently it’s been frosty in the mornings - but the afternoons have been really sunny for the most part. I rode up to Almscliffe Crag the other day; the photos make it look like summer! This is a really nice part of the world to cycle in, I think. There are enough roads that you can head off without worrying about either getting lost or ending up on a major road, there’s not too much traffic, and it’s just the right level of hilliness to make the ride enjoyable without being too taxing.


The Trans-Pennine Trail (TPT)

The Trans-Pennine Trail, Leeds to Sheffield section
(also known as Sustrans route 67)

Distance: very approximately 80 km from my house (about 10 km north of Leeds centre) to Sheffield

I’ve ridden this bit of the Trans-Pennine Trail (or TPT, as it’s shortened to on some signs) twice now; and neither time has been hugely succesful! It’s not that my rides have been unsuccessful, but both times it’s taken me much longer than expected. The first time, I put this down mostly to getting lost, which happened a few times, and having to stop to check the map frequently. The second time, I knew where I was going, and tried to keep moving quickly, but I didn’t manage to go much faster overall.
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The North East coast: Broomhill to Cullercoats

Total distance: approx. 43 km each way

My parents have just moved to Broomhill, a small village in Northumberland. It’s about a mile inland, just south of Amble, where I’ve sailed to and from a fair few times with my dad, and 10 miles or so north of Morpeth. My parents moved at the end of May, and I spent a couple of weeks helping them move: lots of unpacking, and a lot more gardening (mostly clearing weeds, and digging out space for, and putting up, a garden shed).
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On top of Britain

So, we’d almost made it - nearly 1000km from Shrewsbury and only one peak left before we could say we’d done the Three Peaks, all the way, all under our own power. It was a perfect day for it, warm and sunny. My knee, which had been a bit sore the previous day, felt fine. We breakfasted and set off, crossing over the beck away from the road. The path leaves the valley floor pretty quickly and climbs steeply for almost the entire route, and we were above the treeline after only a few minutes. It was such a nice day that it seemed like the whole of Scotland had had the same idea, and the path was so full of people that we were constantly passing or waiting for others. While it rather took away the feeling of being in a wilderness it certanily made navigation easy (although it’s not a hard route to navigate in general). We pushed on at a fairly fast pace and we were soon at Lochan Meall an t-Suide, a small loch at the bellach between the mountain of the same name and Ben Nevis itself.
From here, the path gets steeper, and the landscape becomes much more barren, with hardly anything growing after the first few sections of path. The way narrows here too, making going quite slow as we waited for the stream of people to pass the smallest sections. It was a very different feel to the emptieness of Scafell!
After climbing up the series of switchbacks, we arrived at the summit plateau, at 1221m the highest peak in Britain. After nine days of cycling, averaging a bit over 100km a day, and over 3000m of climbing on foot, we’d made it.
We sat down for lunch at the top of the Eastern face, looking out over the 2000ft drop. It was a lovely clear day, and we could see to the Great Glen and beyond; below us, a pair of climbers were working their way up the cliff face.
Somewhat ironically, this was perhaps the most sociable time of the whole trip, and we chatted to quite a few groups of people as we were having our lunch - including another group of cyclists with a similar idea to us, except on their way to Snowdon.
We could only savour the moment at the summit for so long, and then it was back down into the valley, to showers, and down to Fort William for a well-earned meal.


To Glen Nevis, and (nearly) the end

Day 8
Cycling distance: 125 km

day8map.jpg I woke up late this morning to soft sunlight streaming into the tent, with shimmering reflections from the loch to the East filtered by the intervening trees. I had a bit of time to kill before Polly and Simon would arrive. I had breakfast and wandered - on foot - into the village, to the shop I’d passed the night before.campsite.JPG I stocked up on food and sent a few postcards, then walked back to the campsite. The bright morning sun had driven the midges away and I could already feel the heat in the air. An impulse drew me down to the shingle beach. I knew I had plenty of time on my hands before the other two arrived since I’d been up and breakfasted well before they could have been (times are all relative, and my ‘late’ lie in was till about 7 - definitely late when you’re camping in Scotland in summer - while they’d spent the night in a bed and breakfast). [Read More…]