Tuesday, 14 August 2012

To Land's End 2012 Awards Ceremony

At long last, we bring you the only prizes anyone's talking about this summer: the eagerly awaited To Land's End 2012 awards! 

Toughest day's cycle: Bristol to Okehampton. 13 1/2 hours, 113 miles, 4 punctures, one injury, one mad bucking horse, a few too many hills, a broken bike, and an 11pm arrival into Okehampton. One of our more memorable days! At least no one died...
Best scenery: Fort William to Glasgow day. Or the sunset cycling into Land's End.

Best bike: Lucia's Cannondale. Almost the subject of idolatry worship from some.
Worst bike part nominees: Anna's tyres (all 5 of them), Tom's brake pads, Greg O'Connor's back rack.
Worst bike part winner (by quite a distance): Adrian Treloar's back wheel, and its ill-timed dramas at the bottom of Glenshee mountain, the other side from the bike shop.

Favourite food: Apple crumble
Prettiest church: Joint first between Our Lady and St Wilfrid's in Warwick Bridge and St Joseph's in Burslem, Stoke.
Best town: Tough one. Nominations received for Gloucester, Worcester, Penzance, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Ballater, and Kirkwall. So most of them. This award is not sponsored by the UK Tourism Board.
Black hole of the Universe award: Blackburn.

Quote of trip: 'Hole!' Shouted every time there was a pot hole, to the alarm of passing pedestrians...
Biggest lie of trip: Anna- 'It's downhill'.
Song of trip: 'Don't blame it on the sunshine, don't blame it on the moonlight...' Or the Salve Regina.

Best dressed female: Lucia's patterned leggings
Best dressed male: Domenico. Sorry, I mean Greg O'Connor
Best kit award: Ryan Day. Arm warmers. Cleats. Overshoe socks. Class.

Man of the Moors Award: Greg O'Connor
Man of the Mountains Award: Tom Parr
Iron Man Award for cycling through pain: Magdalen Connolly
The Sovereign's Award for Valiance and Blood Loss for the Greater Good: Greg O'Connor
Award for Determination and Resolve: Cammy
The highly prized Joker of Trip Award: Andy
The not-so-highly prized Loudest Snorer Award: Joint first place for Greg and Greg.

The Marmite sponsored 'Love it or hate it' award: Houmous. Or Andy's jokes.
Funny Tan/Burn line Award: Andy. To infinity and beyond.
The 'Michelin Star is a special make of tyres' award for culinary disasters: Tom Parr's porridge... Destroying pots all over the country.
The Really Holey Award for an Unholy Number of Punctures: Anna (10, if you're wondering)
The Wacky Races Award for best no-hands cycling: Lucia
Special Fearless Leader Award: Anna
To Land's End 2012 Gold Star Award: Dom Roche Saunders

That's all for now folks!  Thanks from the bottom of our hearts for your prayers, support and enthusiasm. Till next time!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

6853 miles later...

The scores are in, and the team's total mileage has been calculated as 6853 miles.

As we're on trip stats, the next figure is total punctures- 16 in total, 10 from one sorry individual. We're good at fixing them now.

A quick run down on the days we skipped over on the last blog post...

Day 18: Worcester to Bristol, 65 miles

We were joined by Ryan Day, making our group a total of 8- looks impressive on the roadside, bit difficult at roundbouts! First stop was in Gloucester, with its very pretty cathedral (good hot chocolate!). We walked down the Harry Potter corridor, another highlight of the day.

Gloucester Cathedral
Morning was wet, but the weather improved to a sunny afternoon, interspersed with 2 more punctures for Anna. Punctures make for regular off bike breaks, we've come to actually enjoy them.

A quick shout out from Team Pink, with love to Grandpops!
We arrived into Bristol at the relatively early time of 5.30, staying with some old friends, the Chavasse family. Bill and Ginnie provided us a wonderful warm reception and warm dinner, and an abundantly generous reception- yet again, we were bowled over.
The wonderful Chavasses- Bill and Ginnie- in Bristol

Day 19: Bristol to Okehampton, 113 miles
We managed to get out of Bristol at about 8.30am cycling over the famous and spectacular Clifton suspension bridge. A relatively decent start to what would turn out to be our DAY FROM HELL.

First, we took a shortcut down a track after being assured by a local man that it was bike worthy. The said track can best be described as a swamp. Wading ankle deep through murky, giant puddles, we eventually dragged ourselves onto a decent road, with a sense of achievement equal to that felt by people reaching the summit of Everest.

Having survived the perils of Devon's wilder regions, we continued south, dodging a horse that decided to try and kick Cammy in the head. It missed, thankfully.

This was also the day that Anna attempted to break the world record for the most punctures in 2 weeks. Today there were 3, taking her total to 10. Ryan's bike also tried to shed one of it's pedal cranks, forcing us to leave him in a village in the middle of Devon.

As Greg Treloar put it while on the phone at 11pm while cyclig "I think I can see light, but I 'd better go, because I'm going downhill, and my brakes aren't great."
Late night arrival in Okehampton

The saving grace of this day was, without a doubt, our friend Dom Roche-Saunders, a seaoned cyclist of Rome-Medjugore-Walsingham fame, who drove a round trip from Barnstaple to Okehampton to Exeter to cook us dinner and put up our tents, a very welcome sight when we finally arrived after 11pm. God bless Dom!

Day 20: Okehampton to St Just's in Penwith, 95 miles
This day had a sad start- our 16 year old hero (and after ten days on the road, our good friend) Cammy, succumbed to a knee problem that had been bothering him for the best part of the trip, and took a train home. We miss you, Cammy! And well done.

Team Scotland, without Cammy... It's not quite the same... :-)

We left late, after our very late night the day before, and didn't have the option of taking any scenic detours- the greater part of the day was a long, boring slog down the A30. Some lovely views, and the first sights of sea coming over Bodmin Moor. Our speed picked up, and our breaks shortened- we were all focused on getting to our destination.

An arty bike rack shot. Such a hectic day, we didn't even pause for posing.
When we got in to St Just's at 9pm, we had a bit of drama actually finding the hostel- if getting lost at the bottom of a steep hill in the dark and freezing cold after 95 miles doesn't break you, maybe nothing will! But we all eventually settled into a fish and chips dinner at the hostel, with a few celebratory drinks. With just 5 miles to go, we think we'll be forgiven for prematurely saying we had made it to Land's End!

So there you have it- a complete diary of our To Land's End adventures, not neccessarily in the right order! Thanks very much for reading. And if you haven't sponsored us yet and would like to do so, please follow the link at the top of the page- the cyclists, and our charities, would be very grateful.

The compulsory To Land's End 2012 Bike Trip Awards will appear over the next few days... keep a look out.

Saturday, 21 July 2012


We have arrived!! This morning we cycled the final 5 miles from St Just to land's End as a big, happy, roadblocking, multicoloured, all-singing, all-dancing group.

We stopped for photos, then cycled back to Immaculate Conception parish, Penzance for midday Mass with Fr Philip Dyson. We had a lovely reception from the parishioners, complete with tea and cake.

We are now pretty tired, so this will be a short blogpost. Stay tuned for more tomorrow...
Thanks... And good night!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Day 17 Stoke-On-Trent to Worcester

So far today Gregory Treloar and Cameron have both had to take the train after 11 miles due to injury. Gregory has done something to his Achilles tendon and Cameron has damaged his knee.

We both intend to carry on tomorrow after our rest day!

Day 16 Stonyhurst to Stoke-on-trent

After an early start we only managed to leave the O'Connor's by 8:30am due to bike repairs and suchlike. 10 miles down the road it started to rain, giving us a poor outlook on the day! it didn't really stop raining all day and when we stopped for lunch we were well and truly soaked which for some meant a change of clothes! we started after lunch withe the rain deceptively light because no sooner were we 20 minutes down the road we were back to normal. Despite all this we were still relatively happy keeping ourselves entertained by singing various classics to random people walking down the street singing back to us "Blame it on the Boogie!"

Cameron injured his knee in the afternoon cycling down a pot hole which he said "was actually the Grand Canyon nae' jokin'!!" however he carried on to stoke were we stayed in St Josephs, Burslem with the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate  and the girls in a parishioners house.

While the boys were left to our own devices we ate KFC, talked about football, dried our stuff and had a shot at the scales for which, one of us received a hounding about!

Ryan Day started from Hull the only news we have heard from him so far is that he got three punctures putting him above Andy and Greg O'C with the running total at 10.5 (one was a slow puncture!)

Day 15 Carlilse to Stonyhurst

Leaving Carlisle we travelled south to Stonyhurst Lancashire covering around 93-100 miles (We don't know exactly as the bike with the milometer broke and he needed picking up!). we made a good start to the day covering a large distance of 50 miles before lunch in a pub near Kirby Lonsdale for a bit too long.

We started again this time with a strong head wind and made for the Moors, these hills were not for the faint hearted! The Moors were highly challenging and even required walking some stretches (for some!!) Although the scenery was stunning it was back breaking work, which meant we didn't arrive at the O'Connor's till 8:30 whereas lovely spread was laid out for us and we were instructed on some lovely stretches.

Weather: still lovely surprisingly

Terrain: Absolute  murder...

Food: The evening meal Perfection!

Puncture count: Andy is joining the League table with an untimely puncture less than 5 miles from the house destroying his inner tube with 2 massive slits! he was disappointed to have come so far to be driven the last bit.

All in all it can be said, "when the going gets tough, the tough get going!"

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Day 14: Dumfries to Carlisle

Another blog post! We are becoming very conscientious, since parents/friends have loved the recent blogging frenzy. We shall try to keep it up, but want to make clear that if it is a choice between blogging and sleeping, the latter will definitely take precedence. Sorry mum(s).

Leaving St Andrew's, Dumfries, we cycled roughly 5 miles before stopping at an ice cream farm which came highly recommended. Flavours abounded: apple crumble, lemon and lime, banana fudge, cherry cola, the list goes on. 
Loving the ice cream

Continuing on our way, we reached a particularly significant milestone: we crossed from Scotland to England!
James welcomes us to England

We met James Knox (far left in above photo), at whose house we stayed, in Gretna Green, and after visiting what is apparently the world famous blacksmith shop people elope to - complete with wedding underway, and bagpiper (our first, and only 1 mile from the border) - we made it to Carlisle, faultlessly led by James. We cycled to Warwick Bridge for Mass at Our Lady and St Wilfred's - which interestingly had been designed by Pugin and was absolutely beautiful - before returning to James' for dinner, which was our old favourite... pasta! For dessert James artfully created a culinary masterpiece consisting of Bailey's cheesecake, strawberrys, cream, amaretti, and raspberry coulis. We really, really, really like James.

We would like to end by bidding a fond farewell to Scotland, the country of haggis, kilts, thistles, beautiful mountains, and numerous other delights, too many to mention here. It really has looked after us, both with the weather, and the hospitality of people we have met along the way. If you are one of those people, thank-you!!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Day 13, Glasgow to Dumfries

Blog posts are getting shorter, we're all a bit tired in the evening! We're even a day behind, but here goes...
We left Glasgow eventually, after a slow start, and started on the road. And then actually left Glasgow a few hours later, as Glasgow is massive, we discovered...

A slow morning's cycling, with the compulsory puncture from Greg O'Connor, followed by a beautiful afternoon's cycling into Ayrshire. The ride into Dumfries was a over 30 miles of descent with stunning scenery, and even a bit of sun!

Real Scottish thistle!

So we turned up in Dumfries at about 7pm, and went to the parish of St Andrews, where we were staying for the night, and were overwhelmed with a fantastic welcome and dinner! We've even taken a photo of our pudding for you- a trifle made by a lovely parishoner called Mary, who also made us chicken pie- we called it Mary's Meal! Fr David Borland, the parish priest, and a visiting Ugandan priest entertained us with some great conversation over dinner.
Mary's yummy trifle

The next morning, we stayed for the Saturday morning Mass in St Andrew's parish, followed by exposition. Here's a photo of us with the lovely parishoners sending us off on our way.
Parish of St Andrew's, Dumfries

Thank you St Andrews!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Day 10-12: Helsmdale to Inverness to Fort William to Glasgow

We have had a blogging absence... many apologies. We've receieved messages asking us if we are still alive, and if we have got any further than Wick, so would like to assure you all we are doing fine!

Our number of cyclists has increased- Lucia and Gregory Treloar joined us in Inverness, where we were very kindly hosted by the beautiful parish of St Mary's. A stunning day's cycle down the banks of Loch Ness (no monster sighted) and the lochs further south, followed by a climb into the mountains, past Ben Nevis and some stunning scenery, ending our day in Fort William, where another parish, also called St Mary's, hosted us again! Anna made 2 awesome apple crumbles from scratch, and after cycling 65 miles - not a bad effort we thought- for dinner, and we also had pasta. We have had a lot of pasta, and are still loving the stuff.

Outside St Mary's church, Inverness

On the shores of Loch Ness

Loch Ness paddle.... bit cold...

Our next day was affectionately known as D-Day. The morning was absolutely stunning, leaving Fort William to cycle through Glencoe and the West Highland Way area. The ascent was long but kind, and the descent was long and much more fun.

We cycled 107 miles in an effort to arrive in Glasgow at 7 for Mass and a gatheringwith our good friends the Glasgow Faith Forum, hosted by the Sisters of the Gospel of Life. Fathers Gerry Byrne and Kevin Douglas celebrated Mass for us, after we eventually arrived after 8. Glasgow is big and confusing, our map was little and confusing. Not a good match. The food was wonderful - we believe the Scottish call it a "nosh-up".

The group outside St Brigid's Church, Glasgow
Team and mascot, Sr Andrea

Holy Cross Church, Glasgow... with an extra lady...
We have our new t shirts... Thought we'd all wear them today, the passing drivers liked them. We think they're great too.

Now an entire paragraph devoted to punctures- Anna is now on 4, Greg O'Connor is mounting a catch up effort on a current total of 2, one very inconveniently timed to interrupt our frantic sprint to Glasgow for 7pm. We can almost fix them now we think.

Weather- great. We can't quite believe it.

And to show it's not all hard work....

Monday, 9 July 2012

Day 9: John who? John O'Groats!

Today is le grand depart from John O'Groats southwards to Land's End. Rested after a weekend in Orkney, we left the hostel at 6am to cycle to St Margaret's Hope ferry port, from where we crossed over to mainland UK. We cycled into John O'Groats harbour, to find none other than Greg O'Connor waiting for us! He had a joke, which we thought we would share with you:

Knock knock.
Who's there?
John who?
John O'Groats!

Great to have you here, Greg!

After a cup of tea, we went to the famous sign, and took the photo you've all been waiting for...

We're going on south to Helmsdale, 57 miles. We're writing this in Wick library again- we've been here so many times, they had library cards waiting for us when we arrived! There's other benefits of a bit of route repetition- we actually don't remember much of the scenery from the first time round! And it's good to know exactly where your bed is going to be.

The rain's held off, and as we're heading south, we're now blessed with a good tail wind, having spent days cycling into a headwind... We'll call it training!

Food: Bread, meat, cheese, and pasta. The food of kings.

Day 8: Kirkwall, Orkney.

Mileage: 0 (!!)

Today we took the opportunity to do no cycling, since we had nowhere in paticular to be, and it was ridiculously windy. Kirkwall is a lovely town on the main island of Orkney, with a particularly beautiful Church of Scotland cathedral, and we thoroughly enjoyed wandering round seeing the sights.

We had to leave the comfort of our hostel between 10am-5pm. Braving the elements, wearing numerous layers (including tights), we wandered into town, visiting the cathedral and harbour, before watching Andy Murray lose valiantly to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final.

We went to Mass at Our Lady and St Joseph parish, Kirkwall. According to the parishioners the church has been passed between diocese' through the years, at one point coming uner the jurisdiction of a Norweigian diocese. The priest had to be ferried in from Thurso, on the Scottish mainland, and was also responsible for the parish in Wick.

Meanwhile, on the food front, we were scandalised to wake up this morning to find our eggs, milk and leftover curry gone from the communal hostel fridge! Extremely bad form on someone's part - or so we thought, until it was pointed out to us that we had mistakenly/exhaustedly left our food on the "help yourself" shelf. Lesson learned. Dinner was pasta and extremely tasty Scottish pancakes. Carbohydrates are goooood.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Day 7: John O'Groats to Orkney

Distance: 17 miles
Total distance so far: 399 miles

Having made it to John O'Groats, we have 2 days before the main leg of the trip sets off south for Land's End. We have decided to visit the Orkney Islands, firstly, because we're not coming back this far north any time soon, secondly, because we hear they're pretty, and thirdly, because they happened to be the closest place with Sunday Mass. We took a ferry from Gill's Bay to St Margaret's Hope, leaving Adrian on the shore to make his way to Thurso, where he will start his train journey home. Bye Dad!!
We arrived to a windy, wet Orkney, where a dutchman on a bike (there seem to be loads of them around this way) took our photo for us.
Orkney has some pretty good wildlife, we were told. Straight off the ferry, we saw some enormous brown seagulls eating a dead seal. We love nature.

We followed the road to Kirkwall, where we will be staying. We cycled along Churchill's causeways, so called because they were built as a defence against German submarines in WW2. Next to the causeway was the Reginald, a sunk battleship:
Reginald: back left. Tom: front right.
The history lesson continued: a few miles up the road (and a few islands later, this is Orkney, after all...) we came across the Italian Chapel. This was built by Italian prisoners of war, and inside, it has the same roof structure as a bunker, but has been decorated beautifully as a very ornate chapel. The walls are painted to look like bricks and pillars, and the stained glass windows, also made by the POWs, were beautiful. This is what one prisoner said about building the chapel:
Beautiful, we thought.

Here is the outside of the chapel, overlooking the sea:

Sorry we've no pictures of the inside, as the camera ran out of battery.

Here is Domenico Chiocchetti, the prisoner who oversaw the building of the chapel, and stayed behind to complete it after the others returned to Skipton in Yorkshire for repatriation. He returned several times over the years with his wife, also in the picture. You can see some of the chapel interior here.

So, now in Kirkwall. We had jacket potatoes for lunch, with carrot cake. It was great. And there's lots to see here, and hopefully, lots of sleeping to be done.

So, we'll leave it there, and wave you all goodbye, till Monday, when we set off again!
Pun intended.

Day 6: Helmsdale to John O' Groats

Mileage: 57.

Leaving the hostel in Helmsdale at about 7.50am, we carried on north uphill for about 7 miles, into a pretty steady wind. On our left was a dense evergreen forest, and on our right, the North Sea. Reaching the summit of a partcularly unending climb, we were confronted by a deer (see photo). Anna immediately christened her "Debbie the doe", and declared her intent to ride her all the way to John O' Groats, since she was the size of a shire horse. On closer inspection though, it was clear Debbie had a minor injury to one of her rear legs, and so was let off being used as a noble steed.

Adrian then spent about 20 minutes with his head in a ditch so he could use the water there to find the source of Anna's slow puncture. Puncture fixed, we continued north, down a particularly steep descent, after which was another 7 mile slog uphill. Stopping for break at a lovely little cafe complete with crofter's museum, Anna befriended another animal. Kirsty the foal was particularly frolicksome, but too small to be used as a vehicle.

On, ever north, through the Sutherland area of Scotland, past Loch of Wester, to the town of Wick, from where we brought you yesterdays illuminating and witty blogpost complete with photos. They've been a long time coming, we hope you are suitably impressed! After lunch and rosary in Wick, it was a mere 17 miles(ish) to John O' Groats. In glorious sunshine, but a strong headwind we cycled through the increasingly windswept countryside, reaching John O' Groats at around 5.30pm.

We first cycled to the Duncansby lighthouse, mainland UK's north-easternmost point. We then cycled back to the harbour in the village, for a photo at the famous signpost pointing to Land's End and New York. We arrived to find a white pole defiantly bare of all signpostage. Apparently, the arms are removed at night to prevent thievery, which was something we were unaware of. Undeterred, we took the photo anyway. Photoshop can help with the rest.

This is the part of the blog in which we enlighten you with some extremely interesting general knowledge. John O' Groats was founded by Dutchman Jan de Groot, who ran a ferry between mainland Scotland and Orkney. This wonderful nugget of information was not found on Wikipedia, whatever anybody says. We met a friendly Dutchman, who was kind enough to take a picture of us at Duncansby lighthouse. We initially thought it may be Jan, but on closer inspection he turned out to be a tourist.

It is important to mention here that this was Adrian's final day on the cycle ride. He completed 380 miles from Berwick to John O' Groats, (plus an extra, unofficial 2 miles to pick up brake pads that I know he would want me to mention). Bravo Adrian!!!

We ate dinner at a local restaurant. Fish pie. Honourable mention goes to wholemeal bread and cheese, which Adrian going, and flapjack which Tom and Anna thoroughly enjoyed.
Puncture repair- episode 1, Inverness

Bishop Peter Moran, with parishoners of St Peter and St Boniface, Fortrose, outside the ruins of Fortrose Cathedral

The amazing Cromarty-Nigg ferry

Scenic descent from Dornoch

Tom liked the Award Winning Beach.

Debbie the deer. She's about 5 ft tall. No zoom used, she was a few feet from us.

Kirsty the pony, who is 14 days old. We didn't name her, the farmer did.

No matter how remote you are, there is always seems to be a tearoom.

Look, no hands... Arriving into John O'Groats

Duncansby Head lighthouse, by John O'Groats
View of the stacks from the cliffs of Duncansby Head

The classic John O'Groats sign photo. Spot the mistake...