I had thought my season guiding for Saddle Skedaddle had finished, but then I got a call. A guide had to pull out of a two week Land’s End to John o’ Groats trip. I was able to take up the baton for the first half of this: the arguably more famous journey of Land’s End to Kirkby Lonsdale.
After a long trip from Penrith to the very tip of the island we met the group, bikes were assembled and early nights taken all round. The next day, the group found themselves assembled at the start of their adventure.
So far so good; the first day of riding was somewhat undulating but the (strong) winds were generally helping the cause along to Bodmin.
After a unique dining experience another early night was in order, the tired travellers had a long first day.
The second day of riding saw some of the worst weather I have ridden in. Torrential rains blew in and refuge was taken in a pub on the route. Once warmed up by the fire and fuelled on tea, progress began again.
On a challenging day with big mileage, the whole group did well just to start in that rain. One determined rider saw the day through to the end with me, a great achievement.
As the route worked northward, the landscape and the towns changed. Staying in Wells showcased some of the old architecture in Britain, something we often take for granted brought into focus by the amazement of our transatlantic friends!
Further north still, the route climbed over the Mendips and into the stunning Cheddar Gorge. I have been mountain biking along the top of this, but riding the road right through the middle gives a better sense of the scale of this place.
The route continued into Bristol, Hereford, and countless lanes through pretty little villages to reach the Cheshire salt plains. This would be the last ‘flat’ day before reaching The North and associated contours.
On my final day of the trip, the route started in Bolton, climbed over Rivington, then worked its way to some of my favourite local roads. A very hilly route, in stunning sunshine this was a beautiful day; bodies were aching but everyone had enjoyed it.
At the end of this day, it was a shame to have to cut the trip short and say goodbye to the wonderful guests. I had a really good week riding and making lunches for them, good luck for the rest of the trip!