Land's End to John O'Groats; August 2001.

This is the trip of husband and wife team, Liz Scott and Stuart Newberry on their fifteen day, 1073 mile journey End to End.

"You must be completely mad," said the old man rolling his eyes up to the ceiling and drawing another puff on his pipe. I had heard this response a hundred times, but on this the first morning of our journey his words sank darkly into my stomach.

"One thousand miles and all on bikes?" he wrinkled his forehead as if in pain, tipped extra sugar into his steaming coffee and looked pointedly out of the rain-flecked windows. The slate-grey sky merged seamlessly with wind-whipped waves. It was the beginning of August, the beginning of our holiday and day one of our journey.

Back in the depths of Winter Stu and I had raised our glasses to toast in the New Year. Full of warmth, good company and wine the notion of cycling Land's End to John O'Groats had nudged itself into our January resolutions. I had half believed that it would end up with the empty bottles and slops of previous New Year promises. However for some reason this idea had persisted into a reality and here I was seven months on, wrapped up tight against the Cornish Summer, my panniers packed ready to embark northwards.

The Land's End sign pointed 874 miles to John O'Groats but I knew our likely mileage would be over a thousand. As we posed under the post for photos, glowing in our yellow jackets, I reflected on the nervous farewells of family and friends; the potential dangers of traffic, injuries and accidents swirled menacingly inside. Getting onto my bike and cycling was a relief it took my mind off the unknown hazards.

The south-westerly winds nudged us onwards to the glorious sweep of Mount's Bay at Penzance. Here a cycle path hugged the sea wall; the views across to St Michael's Mount as it rose majestically out of the water sent a shiver down my spine. It was moments like this when the scenery, the freedom and the wind on my face ignited a tingling thrill inside of me.

That thrill was soon extinguished by the relentless inclines of the Cornish landscape. I regard myself as a plodding but determined cyclist. I'm happy to trudge my way up hills rhythmically and slowly, but hill after hill and mile after mile was draining. The dusty greyness of Cornwall's clay country sapped me further and I was ready to cry when I realised we still had 30 miles to reach our first stop over; we had travelled 57miles. "This isn't fair," I wanted to sulk to Stu. Wed agreed to average 65 miles a day and here we are doing nearly 90. I kept quiet, gritted my teeth trudged onwards where eventually exhausted and sweaty I thankfully fell into bed at St Neot on Bodmin Moor.

The next day seemed to be one steady uphill with the occasional two-minute blast of descent here and there. We climbed up over Bodmin Moor, zapped down the Tamar valley, ached our way up towards Dartmoor through Lydford and Bridestowe and Okehampton and gratefully luxuriated down the quiet old A30 towards Exeter.
This was a glorious road through South Zeal, Whiddon Down and Crockernwell. To the left were the endless, lush green jigsaw-puzzle fields of North Devon, to our right towered up the tors of Darmoor with yellow brackeny grass. We got to Exeter having completed 66 miles and here I gratefully enjoyed the fussing and pampering of my parents.




Continues...