Evanton to Helmsdale & Beyond 57-74 Miles

Taking Advantage of a Beautiful Day


We are almost there and we cannot believe it. Yet again the conditions have been perfect – no rain or wind, almost balmy temperatures and some periods of sunshine. We have seen deer, seals and highland cattle, numerous sea birds and even a tall ship in Helmsdale harbour.

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We have been treated to a range of delicious goodies from the back of Alison’s friend, Julie’s car and we have tasted the best hot chocolate in the world in Dornoch. The roads in the morning were spectacular again – though the A9 during the afternoon was not so much fun! The weather was so good that a few intrepid Cyclopaths decided to cycle a few extra miles today on order to slightly shorten their final day tomorrow. We were treated to a stunningly beautiful ride in the early evening sunshine while others may have to cycle that road in rather inclement weather tomorrow – watch this space.

We are feeling a huge sense of excitement, anticipation, and so much sadness that our epic adventure is almost over. Bring on Day 14……

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Aviemore to Evanton – 57 Miles

By John Anderson

Today was a welcomed, relatively warm and dry day. We had stunning scenery with sunshine highlighting the Highlands with The Cyclopaths weaving between the heather and fir trees for much of the morning.


57 miles seemed an easy task! Given what has gone before it did not appear too daunting at breakfast in Aviemore. However, after 800 miles of cycling, nothing is ‘easy’. First thing each day, you need to be back in the saddle. Every fibre of your body screams for some respite, particularly those in direct contact with the saddle. After a few miles the legs relax and warm up and things get easier, although it does seem like certain parts of the anatomy complain all day long.

One of the team had an interesting time repairing a puncture on the main bridge out of Inverness. Never a dull moment, or a day goes by without some form of new challenge. Shortly after this there was warm refuge in the White Cottage Tea Rooms where the team refuelled and refreshed before heading for Evanton.

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For Alison the day had an unexpected and welcomed surprise as her best friend Julie, flew up from Cheltenham to appear on the roadside to cheer us on.


This is one of many examples of the support friends and family have offered members of the team. Each one is very special and provides much needed encouragement and energy to both that individual and the group as a whole. We are aware that many are following this blog and we find inspiration and motivation from the messages left – thank you.


What a Difference a Day Makes

A Message From Christine:

From the peak of fitness, cycling 80 miles a day to hardly being able to put one foot in front of the other was a shock. I knew as soon as I hit the ground I wouldn’t be continuing to John O’Groats but immediately felt safe surrounded by the Cyclopath doctors and nurses. I could hear the reassuring Scottish tones of the local fireman and my good friend Julia was close by. A & E was bearable thanks to Chris and Chris who have more than lived up to their title “support team”. Thanks guys for looking after me.

I received excellent care at Wishaw General Hospital where a fractured pelvis was diagnosed and my new challenge was to walk to the bathroom and climb stairs. This was doable with the support of physios and encouraging words  “you can do it hen” from my cheery, elderly roommates, Myra, Alice and Elizabeth. They applauded when I made it across the room and shared their treats. By the end of that day they all wanted to “have a go” at walking.
On Thursday my ‘knights in shining armour’; husband Malcolm and daughter Emily made a 691 mile round trip to deliver me safely home. Stopping at the services was hairy with my lack of coordination with the crutches, an old lady swiftly overtook me. Riding a bike is much easier!
Many thanks to all the people who sponsored me and I WILL complete the journey as soon as I’m able. Thanks to everyone who wished me well on the blog. Best wishes to the Cyclopaths for your last two days, savour the moments. I loved cycling with every one of you and I’m enjoying the blog and the daily photographs. I almost feel I’m there and can picture each of your distinctive riding styles and remember all the subtle ways that each team member contributes to the daily progress. Congrats on raising so much money. It’s all downhill from now on!!!! Much love, Chris


Pitlochry to Aviemore – 60 Miles

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We were all looking forward to today. After a week of extremely long days, 60 miles through the beautiful Scottish scenery seemed an easy prospect. We knew the wind and rain would descend by late morning / early afternoon so with another early start, we thought we would get a few miles covered before we got wet.

Oh, the best laid plans! The rain started by about mile 10 and was torrential! We had 30 miles to cover before our first stop with nowhere to along the route that we could stop beforehand. We followed the busy A9 on a ‘cycle track’ that our road bikes were not equipped for. The gravel, potholes and mud all made more treacherous by the heavy rain.

For many of us, these 20 miles were the toughest we had encountered. Black skies, cold, wet and windy combined with the road conditions, we had to dig deep to reach Dalwhinnie.

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Thankfully our support team were as always on hand when we reached Dalwhinnie, with layers of extra clothing and a wonderfully welcoming cafe with a log burning fire. A hot drink, bowl of soup and change of clothing, along with the usual camaraderie and support for each other and an hour later we were ready to brave the elements again.

Thankfully, the rain eased off and for periods, actually stopped and we even encountered some brief glimpses of sunshine for the second leg of our journey. A brief pit stop in Newtonmore and we reached Aviemore late by afternoon. The scenery was stunning and we managed to enjoy much of it on this leg of the journey.

We had a ‘Highland Buffet’ arranged for the evening and thoroughly enjoyed the ‘eat as much as you like’ element of the meal after expending so many calories during the day.

No two days have been similar and we think about the last leg of our journey over the next three days from Aviemore to Evanton to Helmsdale to John O’Groats with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. We are tired and saddle weary but very much in good spirits as we get closer to the end of our challenge.

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Kirknewton to Pitlochry – 80 Miles

Scotland did us proud today!

WhatsApp Image 2018-09-05 at 09.37.57Today was a great day of beautiful Scottish countryside, breathtaking views accompanied by glorious sunshine. We had plenty of climbs but many were rewarded by glorious views as we reached the top of each climb. The first stop was on the banks of the beautiful Loch Leven and after that a few more climbs interspersed with speedy paths alongside the infamous A9 before our stop in Dunkeld. We reached our final destination Pitlochry with sufficient time to shower and change before supper – a luxury we haven’t always had!

The hills were different to those in Devon and by afternoon many of us were actually enjoying the undulating roads with little traffic and fantastic views. A wonderful (albeit long) day had by all.

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Ecclefechan to Kirknewton – 80 Miles


Today repeatedly showed us all how wonderful people can be.

Crawford Village Hall

WhatsApp Image 2018-09-04 at 23.34.58We met our support vehicle near Crawford Village Hall. Unbeknownst to us, every Tuesday lunchtime, there is a coffee and chat for the villagers. £1.50 for as much cake, coffee and chat as you can manage. Enter twenty Cyclopaths! What a warm welcome we received from these lovely people. We were welcomed with open arms (remember we are rather dishevelled and sweaty at this stage), plied with lovely homemade cakes, cheese on toast and cups of coffee. When they realised we were on a charity cycle ride, they had a whip round and donated very generously to The Cure Parkinson’s Trust. We met some lovely people, shared our stories, had a laugh and left feeling uplifted by the welcoming support from complete strangers.

Firemen and Staff at Abington Fire Station

Shortly after this lovely break, one of The Cyclopaths had an accident and came off her bike. Those trained in medicine and nursing rushed to Christine’s aid, whilst others in the group stopped traffic to ensure her safety and the safety of those helping her as she was lying in the middle of a busy road. The accident happened outside a fire station and the staff from within were immediately on hand offering support and expertise. Thankfully Christine was awake and alert but needed a thorough medical assessment. She has since been admitted to hospital with a fractured pelvis. Throughout she has been remarkably strong, brave and selfless, insisting that we all carry on our journey, leaving the support team to accompany her to hospital.  Sadly she will not be able to complete her journey with us this time.

This incident was scary for all of us and very sobering. This was busy road and thankfully no other vehicles were involved. Chris will not be able to cycle for some time and is understandably upset not to be able to finish the trip. We are so very sad that she is unable to continue her journey with us. Her family have offered to cycle the path she would have taken so that she can complete her LEJOG at a later stage. Some of The Cyclopaths would like to join her too if she would like this.

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The Cyclopaths

A team of confident, competent cyclists, who support each other during this challenge. So many examples of kindness, selflessness and support within the group. It is a privilege to be part of this amazing team.


Chris & Chris

Our support team Chris & Chris are providing a fantastic service. When we planned this trip, we debated whether we would need a support vehicle and team. Our experience tells us we absolutely did! They have not only fixed our bikes on so many occasions, they have also gone above and beyond many times, too numerous to mention them all but the whole team know, we couldn’t do this without them.

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On arrival at our hotel tonight, I was pleasantly surprised to find my Mum, Dad and sister were there to show their support. Many of us have been lucky to have friends and family join us along the way, provide practical support and offer encouragement.

WhatsApp Image 2018-09-05 at 19.36.19Today has been a day of wonderful highs and sobering lows but the support we received today from so many people in so many different ways was uplifting.




Another 80 miles cycled. We made it to Kirknewton late yesterday. The day had it’s mixture of highs and lows and we will try to update you tonight. We simply ran out of time and energy last night to do anything other than eat and sleep!

Setting off now for Pitlochry.


Every Single Mile

Kendal to Ecclefechan – 75 miles

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Today was the hardest day for most of the team. We thought the hills in Devon were tough. Add in a few very, very long climbs, torrential, driving rain, for most of the day, a long cycle along the extremely busy A6 and you might begin to imagine how tough we found it. Too difficult to stay as one group, we quickly found ourselves in smaller groups. Today’s story was very much one story, there will be many more perspectives amongst the group.

At 17 hilly miles, soaked to the skin and being blown about on the very busy A6, freezing cold, shaking all over, I decided I couldn’t continue the next nine miles to our planned stop in Penrith. Julia and Paula to the rescue and ten minutes later we were sitting in Shap village hall with a hot chocolate and bowl of soup served by the ladies of the local WI and young Jack, one of their grandsons. Chris and Chris, our support team brought the bus and with heating on full blast we accepted a lift to Penrith, ready to pick up any others along the way. We were already experiencing a huge sense of failure that we accepted a lift for those nine miles and so after an hour of warming up, a change of clothes, a few extra layers, with offers of support from Caroline and John to cycle with us, we asked to be driven back to Shap to complete those nine miles plus as many of the remaining 49 miles after that. Far too many miles to really believe we could complete in such awful conditions, so we set ourselves small goals:

  •   9 miles to Penrith
  • 14 miles until a roadside drink and energy replacement stop
  • 15 miles to a cafe break for food, rest and warmth
  •   8 miles to Scotland
  • 12 miles to our hotel

And slowly, step by step we met our targets. The rain was relentless, the hills unforgiving, the wind much stronger than anticipated, our feet sitting in pools of cold water within our shoes, our clothing soaked to the skin, our hands numb with the cold, we waded through every single tough mile arriving back at our hotel with only a few more minutes of daylight to spare.

All of the group have done every single one of the 620 miles so far. What a fantastic team effort!


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Bolton to Kendal – 75 miles

A lovely send off from Bolton, with Neil Haslam, his cycling buddies and lots of The Cyclopath’s friends joining us for the first part of the cycle. However, it was another incredibly long, tiring and more hilly day in the saddle. Nothing major to report – miles and miles along boneshaking canal paths, testing our balance, some lovely cycle paths through the parks and woodland, miles of winding country roads – wonderfully quiet on a Sunday and a few town based, busier roads but nothing we couldn’t handle!

We are pleased to say that Nigel and Hiro, despite considerable pain, stiffness, cuts and bruises are made of strong stuff and cycled with the group the whole way today.

Today, we reached the half way mark

505 miles cycled, 505 miles to go!

In the absence of any other major news – we are tired, our knees ache, as do our bottoms, shoulders and backs. Nothing we haven’t told you about before, so here are a few messages from The Cyclopaths.

Caroline and Paul

It was great to see the family when we stopped in Cheltenham. Physically so far so good and we are being helped along by the great company, weather and routes. Crossing into Scotland tomorrow will be a big boost. Worst bit: Cobble stones and a full bladder are not a good combination….


Todd and Leanne

We have been amazed with the beauty of the changing landscape, feel very lucky with the weather we’ve had and couldn’t imagine a more friendly and supportive group to undertake this epic journey with.


Marianne and Steve

We have enjoyed the variety of the English countryside especially cycling along the canals and the rolling hills – although cycling up them hasn’t been so much fun! Another highlight has been eating lots of our favourite English food guilt free.


Paula says that she’s loving the cycling so far and is improving on the hills (although has got sore knees!).

Message for Thomas: don’t forget to send Harry into school with his P.E kit!



Loving everything about this adventure … the serene moments, wonderful company, sunshine, hills … not so sure I love my saddle after seven days though!


It has been relentless and arduous but very satisfying. We have seen a range of sights from wonderful countryside to very deprived inner cities. The group has been pacy but quite happy to wait for those of us who struggle on hills.

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Loving the company, the route, the challenge, the sense of satisfaction, the achievement, the support of family and friends and the visit from my sister -in-law, Alison and nephew Robbie this evening.

Not loving, twelve hours in the saddle each day, saddle sores, back pain, knee pain and permanently feeling exhausted!

Message to all my family: Don’t worry – I’ve got this!


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Penkridge to Bolton – 90 Miles

‘It’s not about the destination but about the journey’

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We all set off early in the knowledge that today was one of our longest days. We were all focussed on reaching our destination in Bolton. Little did we know what the day would bring and how many highs and lows would be experienced by individuals within the team.

A lovely sunny morning cycling 30 miles to our first coffee stop. We then split into smaller groups to complete the remaining 60 miles. Some of us only arriving at our hotel in Bolton twelve hours after setting off this morning! More cows, closed roads, wrong turns and numerous punctures throughout the day.

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Some beautiful scenery, lovely canal paths and just short spells on busy roads. Some of us stopped in the early evening sun to take in the beautiful serenity of the canal with the tress reflecting in the water. At this point we decided that today’s quote should be ‘it’s not about the destination but about the journey’.

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Unfortunately, today was not without mishap. Eighteen miles before our destination, Nigel had an argument with a pole on the canal towpath in which the bike came off rather worse and Hiro, riding behind him was knocked off his bike too. Undeterred by the trauma of a significant fall, both riders were patched up and were able to continue their journey but the spare bike had to be deployed from our support vehicle as the front fork of the afflicted bike was completely broken. We all suspect there will be a lot of bruises, pains and stiff limbs tomorrow.

Thankfully we are now all safely in Bolton, exhausted but on the whole exhilarated by our achievement so far as we approach the half way point of our epic challenge.

A special thanks to Chris and Chris our fabulous support team who seem to find a solution to most of the problems we present them with!

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We are making new friends along the way, seeing new sights, experiencing new physical and psychological challenges and rising to these, supporting each other, raising funds for some very worthy causes and still managing to have lots of fun!