Our initial plan was to use the route conveniently recommended - in great detail - by the Cyclists' Touring Club. This placed youth hostels at suitable intervals and a well tested itinerary of roads. So maybe it didn't offer the thrill of planning it ourselves (part of the religion of 'serious' cycle tourists), but with A-levels beckoning none of us were overzealous to design our own.
However, with a triplet (see section about the bike) our overnight stops didn't match up with the recommended route. We can't navigate minor roads, because trying to steer the ten feet bike through winding lanes is not a bright idea. Thus it is that we have devised our own cunning route, sampling the finest landmarks of Britain, as well as allowing us to call ourselves 'proper' cycle tourists. We are going North, to take advantage of prevailing winds, but knowing our delightful weather system we may find ourselves battling arctic Northerlies all the way.
Below is a brief outline of our route, so if you happen to live in any of the villages or towns along the way, why not keep an eye out for us as we come through! For a more detailed account of the route, click here
Kicking off in the delight full tourist trap of Land's End, we ride across Cornwall's big toe to Penzance, then along the coast to Helston. Cutting through south Cornwall we ride to the ferry at Trelissick, before ploughing on to St Austell. The town of Liskeard is followed by Tavistock on the western edge of Dartmoor. Our hostel that night is at Belever
From Belever we press on through the heart of the South West, , to Tiverton, and then Taunton, deep in cider country. Via Burnham-on-Sea, and Weston-Super-Mare, we hope to arrive in Bristol that evening. These may turn out to be our most exhausting days, since Somerset, Devon and Cornwall are reputed to have even more climbing than the more consistent Highlands!
An early start sees us cross the Severn Bridge cycle way, and into the breathtaking Wye Valley. We wind our way through this to Monmouth, crossing in and out of Wales as we progress to Hereford. Leominster leads on to Ludlow, and that night we head North East to stop at Ironbridge Youth Hostel, near Telford.
We pass on up to Whitchurch, followed by Nantwich and Northwich on the morning of our fourth day in the saddle. Carefully picking our way between Manchester and Liverpool, we circumnavigate Blackburn to lead us along the edge of the beautiful Forest of Bowland to Clitheroe, where we turn off the route to the Youth Hostel at Mankinholes.
Restarting at Clitheroe, we turn back North West towards Kirkby Lonsdale at the foot of the Pennines. We make it up into The Lake District, past Kendal, dodging coach parties as we press on up to Penrith, and then to Carlisle, full of the delights of Cumbria (namely Kendal Mint Cake!).
From Carlisle we push on towards the Borders, which we hope to cross without trouble at Gretna, at the mouth of the Solway Firth. Via Lockerbie we move almost due north to Moffat, from where we head for Glasgow, via Crawford and Hamilton.
We aim to leave Glasgow on the Loch Lomond Cycle Path, but after this complex feat of navigation, the going gets smoother, as we wind along the A82, past the famous Loch, and through the valleys of the Grampians to the Glencoe Youth Hostel.
Heading towards the close, we pass along the inland reaches of Loch Linnhe to Fort William, and on in a direct northwesterly line, along Loch Lochy and the length of Loch Ness to Dingwall.
The long awaited final leg takes us around Easter Ross to Tain, and along the North Sea coast to Latheron, where we head north to Thurso. Finally, we ride west, along the North Atlantic coast to Duncansby Head, a thousand miles fitter and ecstatic as we roll into John O'Groats!
Our very great thanks to the Youth
Hostel Association of England and Wales for their kind donation of Group Membership.