Tag Archives: rest day

Leg 68 – to Newtown-in St.-Martin, via Land’s End and the Lizard

08 July 2013

Everything ached when I woke up at about 08.00. I think the last few days of Devon and Cornwall hills had finally caught up with me. My legs were stiff for the first time in ages, and my forearms and hands ached from all the hill climbs.

A warm shower helped alleviate the muscle fatigue, followed up with breakfast at the campsite cafe. Over a fry up I worked out I still needed to cover about 70 miles a day to get to Latitude on time, but could afford a slower recovery day today. I think I needed it physically as well as mentally, having somewhat run out of steam.

After packing up I was on the road by 10.30, cycling down to Land’s End via Sennen and passing the First and Last Inn on the way.

The First & Last Inn

The First & Last Inn

I pedalled into the Land’s End visitor centre, which is slightly on the tacky side with attractions such as King Arthur’s quest. The coastline however is fantastic affording superb views out over the Atlantic. Consequently I took rather a large number of photos which I’ve put into a gallery. I even managed to get the horizon straight on some of these, will wonders never cease.

I met another cyclist whilst at the famous sign-post, which was massively crowded with people wanting to get their photo taken. He was visiting Land’s End by car today, and took my photo for me next to the sign. He lives in Exeter and is recovering from kidney cancer – yet another person affected by this disease. It was nice to have a chat and good to hear he still gets out on his bike, doing some big distances albeit not as quickly as he used to due to reduced lung capacity. Good on you!

I spent about an hour at Land’s End enjoying the perfect weather, and despite it only being the morning had a beer to celebrate completing a Jogle, albeit a very long winded version thereof.

After having a walk around a bit of the coastal path I got back on my bike, ready to tackle the South Coast of Britain. It felt like I’d reached another milestone on the tour, and that I was really getting into the last stages of my ride. Unfortunately the wind had changed direction to a North Easterly, which was a little frustrating considering I’d been looking forward to a prevailing South Westerly. Fingers crossed it would change again soon.

I hit the hills once more, pedalling past Porthgwarra and Porthcurno, both sites of childhood escapades. I stopped at the Merry Maidens, a late Neolithic stone circle, for a quick break. I’d driven past the circle many times, but can’t remember ever actually having visited it properly, so took a wander up.

The Merry Maidens

The Merry Maidens

The circle has other standing stones called the Pipers associated with it, and legend has it that the Maidens and Pipers were turned to stone for dancing on the Sabbath. This is a little odd as I’m pretty sure they didn’t have the Sabbath in Neolithic times, Christianity not having arrived in Britain until a lot later. This tale is not uncommon, apparently being associated with other stone circles, and is probably adapted from earlier tales not involving Christianity.

The Merry Maidens - panorama

The Merry Maidens – panorama

Whatever the truth the circle is a nice relaxing spot, and it was nice sitting in the grass listening to the ever present skylarks after the busy road from Land’s End. It was quite bizarre touching the sun warmed stones and thinking they were erected thousands of years ago. I wondered what the people were like who lived here at the time, and what they used the circle for. Perhaps it was a calender to mark the passing of the seasons, or a site to perform religious rituals, or maybe something more mundane like a UFO landing site, or stone age drive through. The stones will no doubt be year for thousands of years to come.

I pedalled on to Mousehole, scene of a childhood fishing misadventure, and stopped for another walk about.

Mousehole 1

Mousehole 1

My brother and I were fishing off the end of one of the piers, many moons ago, when everything went slightly awry. I cast the line, which sailed out across the mouth of the harbour straight into the wooden beam on the other side. I reckon the wind must have taken it. The hook on the end of my line became thoroughly embedded in the wooden beam, and despite much cajoling would not come loose. Worse was to come in the form of a motor boat that wanted to get into the harbour, but was obstructed by my line. I should have just cut the line, but being very young panicked and tugged harder, which just resulted in embedding the hook further into the wood. More yanking resulted in a sickening crack as I broke my Dad’s wooden fishing rod, which he’d had since he was a child, and the end slipping down the fishing line. Calamity! Eventually a group of kids on the other side came to my rescue and unhooked the fishing line so I could reel it in. Not my greatest ever day’s fishing, however Dad was quite sympathetic.

Mousehole harbour 2

Mousehole harbour 2

Despite the bad memories from that fateful day Mousehole is a lovely fishing village, and it was good to have a walk around the harbour, passing the Ship Inn where I’ve enjoyed scampi and chips several times.

I continued on to Newlyn where we stayed whilst on holiday. We used to fish off the South Pier, but that’s closed to the public now due to health and safety I think. Health and safety rules are pretty vexing at times.

Newlyn - South Pier

Newlyn – South Pier

There definitely aren’t as many fishing boats in Newlyn harbour as there used to be, which I guess is down to fishing quotas making it very difficult for fishermen to make a living. I agree that fishing needs to be controlled to allow stocks to recover, however it’s sad to see a decline in the traditional way of life for so many people around the coast.

Newlyn Harbour

Newlyn Harbour

Despite the lack of fishing boats compared to yesteryears, Newlyn hasn’t changed a lot, and it was nice to stop and remember some fun times fishing out in all weathers, or walking down to the old harbour.

Newlyn harbour and old harbour

Newlyn harbour and old harbour

I rode on around to Penzance, where feeling a bit peckish I stopped for a baguette on the seafront. It really was a gorgeous day and really hot, however I was still feeling pretty tired so was glad to be taking it easy.

After lunch I pedalled on to Marazion, passing St. Michael’s Mount where people were paddling across the partially submerged causeway to the small tidal island.

St. Michael's Mount 1

St. Michael’s Mount 1

St. Michael’s Mount is called Karrek Loos yn Koos in Cornish, which means ‘grey rock in the woods’. The island was once surrounded by forest rather than the sea, but at some point the sea flooded in and cut it off from the mainland. There are varying accounts of when this may have taken place, and various interesting historical facts and legends associated with the island. Was it part of the fabled ancient kingdom of Lyonesse, or the island visited by the Greek geographer Pytheas in the 4th century BC?

St. Michael's Mount 3

St. Michael’s Mount 3

The Mount has been the site of a monastery in the past, and still boasts an impressive looking castle.

St. Michael's Mount 4

St. Michael’s Mount 4

From Marazion I cycled round to Helston on theย  main road, the A394, up and down several hills which were pretty challenging in the heat. The buzzards were circling waiting for exhausted cyclists to fall by the wayside and provide a tasty meal, although by this stage of the tour there was far less of a meal to me that when I’d started. I seen a lot of buzzards since entering the west country, along with a variety of other birds of prey.

Drinking a lot of water and taking it easy in the hot weather I turned on to the A3083, passing Culdrose Airfield, and cruised down a comparatively flat road to the Lizard, the most southerly point on the UK mainland.

The Lizard wasn’t as busy as Land’s End but there were still a lot of tourists about, and a decided lack of lizards which slightly confused and disappointed the Lobster who I think may have been suffering slightly from sunstroke.

The name ‘Lizard’ may originate from the Cornish name for the area, which means ‘High Court’, so it may have been an important settlement in the past. Or it may be to do with the serpentine rocks which stretch down into the sea and look a bit lizard like. It’s a lovely spot, with Kynance Cove on the western side of it, and well worth a visit. The whole coast is worth a visit when the weather is good, or bad if you’re prepared for it; visually stunning and emotive in all seasons . When conditions are bad and the sea rough you can well imagine why it’s hazardous for shipping, the coastline around here being known as the ‘Graveyard of Ships’, hence the many lifeboat stations including one at the Lizard.

After a break I rode back up the road, before turning off to Goonhilly passing the ‘Satelite Earth Station’.

Goonhilly 1

Goonhilly 1

The satellite dishes looked like something out of Star Wars, and I half expected to see an Ewok pop out of the long grass. Maybe Lobster wasn’t the only one suffering from a bit of heatstroke. Chief Chirpa did not make an appearance as I pedalled past.

Goonhilly 2

Goonhilly 2

Feeling tired I decided to stop early after covering just 51 miles, my shortest day in a while. I found a campsite in Newtown-in-St.-Martin, not far from the Helford River which I planned to cross tomorrow. The campsite was a bit of a find, also being a pub – the Prince of Wales.

The Prince of Wales in Newtown-in-St.-Martin

The Prince of Wales in Newtown-in-St.-Martin

I set up my tent and had a very welcome shower, before making my way to the pub to celebrate completing the full set of cardinal points; I’d been to the furthest points north, south, east and west on the UK mainland.

Tent set up at the Prince of Wales

Tent set up at the Prince of Wales

As a morale booster I treated myself to a meal in the pub too, going the whole hog and ordering a starter, main course and dessert. A spectacular home-made burger followed fish-cakes, with the meal rounded off by treacle tart and clotted cream. I’d really needed the early stop and thoroughly enjoyed my evening in the pub.

I intended to be up in good time the following day to take a series of ferries along the coast, starting with the Helford River crossing, before cycling on to Falmouth and beyond. The weather forecast looked like it was going to be another hot one, so I had one more pint of Cornish Ale (Lance) to ensure I was properly hydrated before going to bed. I can also recommend the Rattler Cider.

Day 38 – rest day in Uig

Total distance cycled= 0 miles ๐Ÿ™‚

07 June 2013

With the decision having been made to have my first complete rest day of the tour, I had a lie in, managing to stay in my tent until at least 09.00, whereupon it just got too warm and I needed the loo so had to get up.

I paid up for another day’s stay, £6 being very reasonable, and set about some chores, catching up on washing and sorting out my pannier contents a bit. This all took place during pretty much constant grazing, as I consumed cheese, pitta bread, biscuits, fruit and anything else that came to hand. By 11.00 I felt a bit sleepy so had a nap for an hour, thoroughly enjoying this day off business.

Uig - nice day for a day off

Uig – nice day for a day off


Whilst chatting to a fellow camper, whose car had broken down up the hill, I spotted a large bird of prey flying overhead getting mobbed by crows. I thought it might be a buzzard, but it looked slightly too big and the wrong colour. My erstwhile companion, who it turned out was an expert on everything, reckoned it was an eagle. It might have been a juvenile Golden Eagle, as they were present in the area and it was the right colours and had the right wing shape, but it definitely wasn’t a Sea Eagle.

After extricating myself from the rather random and ongoing conversation with the world’s expert on everything, I got changed and made my way to the Bakur Bar for lunch. I pretty much stayed here for the rest of the day, it being comfortable, with good food and ale, and allowing me to catch up on my blog a bit. I had a brief excursion to the brewery, and was very tempted to buy some Red Cuillin ale, but decided the bottles really wouldn’t work in my panniers.

By evening, and post an excellent curry, I thought I’d better move a bit so I had a walk down to the end of the pier, past moored up fishing boats and a few other walkers out for a stroll. The ferry arrives and departs from the pier, so it had been very busy at certain points during the day but was quiet now.

Uig - walk to he nod of the pier, windswept look

Uig – walk to the end of the pier, windswept look


The clouds rolling in over the hills, and the stronger wind, didn’t bode particularly well for tomorrow, however the weather can change so quickly in the area I wasn’t overly concerned.

Uig pier - clouds rolling over hill again

Uig pier – clouds rolling over hill again


 

Uig pier 2

Uig pier 2


 

Uig pier 3 - bollards

Uig pier 3 – bollards

Feeling recharged, and given a boost by some more donations to the Big C on my charity page, I thought I’d have an earlyish night wanting to get off in good time the following day to cycle back down the length of the island to Armadale, about 75 miles. If the weather was bad I could always stop in Portree, however I was thinking about trying to get to Fort William for the Mountain Bike World Championship so wanted to get on, we’d see in the morning.

Leg 19 – to Gordon Castle Highland Games

Well I say leg, I only did about 2 miles…

19 May 2013

Gordon Castle is just outside Fochabers, and wasn’t tricky to find seeing as I’d passed it yesterday on the way in. Thankfully it was a dry day so I packed up post a lazy morning, and made it to the Highland Games for its opening at 11.00. Amazingly I wasn’t hungover, which was pretty fortunate considering the previous nights excesses; must be all the cycling and fresh air.

I joined a short queue of traffic before locking my bike up to a fence just outside the entrance, where a Scout leader on duty offered to keep an eye on it and my panniers. The event was being run by a host of volunteers, including scouts and cadets marshalling traffic and visitors, selling tickets and programmes etc, it must be quite an enterprise to organise.

First up was a hot chocolate, followed by the Massed Pipes and Drums of Elgin & District, Dufftown & District, Strathisla, Buckie & District, and RAF Lossiemouth. They sounded very impressive marching into the main arena, and getting everything going for the day. They played a few times during the day and I took a bit of video I’ll try and upload, but can’t find a way of doing it on this app.

Massed Pipes and Drums

Massed Pipes and Drums


The Games were then officially opened by the owners of the estate, Angus and Zara Gordon Lennox, and compered by Hamish who somehow kept going throughout the day. There were a plethora of stalls to look around, from the informative to those selling various Scottish themed wares you’d be hard pressed to find in your local mall. One stall was warning of the dangers of ticks and Lyme’s disease, which I’ll need to watch out for as I generally wear shorts and will be passing through and camping in a lot of countryside. I immediately felt itchy but didn’t find any ticks, thought I had enough to worry about with the midges! Will buy a tick removal kit if I find one.

Throughout the day there were loads of events to watch and get involved in, from archery, shooting (laser and clays), and fly casting, to watching the actual Games, Highland Dancing, Dogs, and lots of other attractions.

Highland Games - hammer throwing

Highland Games – hammer throwing

The first event of the actual games was the hammer throwing, where Hamish repeatedly warned that the hammer could go anywhere so we’d better keep an eye out, despite the safety net which was a new addition to comply with health and safety regs. The competitors were all Scottish heavy weights and huge blokes, and the Games are taken pretty seriously. These are serious athletes, all competing in several events during the course of the day. Think there were 10 of Scotland’s top competitors vying against each other in the hammer, shot putt, weight for distance, weight over bar, caber toss, stones of density, and stone putt. Jeff Capes eat your heart out.

Scottish Heavies

Scottish Heavies – part of castle in background

I watched a few of the events over the course of the day, the weight over bar looked extremely challenging; a new record was set at over 16 feet I believe.

I hadn’t seen highland dancing before, and was intrigued to see what it was all about, with several different dances from the Flora to the Sword Dance. Mostly girls from the age of about 7 into their teens, and equal in competitiveness to the Highland Games. Don’t quite know how they kept bouncing on the balls of their feet for so long, but must take a lot of practice and stamina.

Highland Dancing 1

Highland Dancing 1

 

Highland Dancing 2

Highland Dancing 2

Accompanying the dancing were more bagpipes, in fact I don’t think there was a single point during the day when I didn’t hear the skirl of the pipes coming from somewhere, there being a solo bagpipe competition going on too. The constant piping can get a little draining after a while!

There were various animals in abundance at the Games, including ferrets, terriers, birds of prey, and Gordon Setters which were originally bred here. There was a Gordon Setter dog show but I skipped it, dog shows not really being my thing unless they’re jumping through fiery hoops or something, but I did see the terrier racing, which was fun.

Terrier racing 1

Terrier racing 1 – lined up at the start and raring to go

The terriers get very excited at this point, they can see the lure and start barking and clawing in their eagerness to get at it.

Terrier racing 2

Terrier racing 2 – and they’re off

 

Terrier racing 3

Terrier racing 3 – and they’re on their way back

There was also audience participation on this, with several of the spectators wanting to get involved, of a canine persuasion that is. A few did quite well, chasing the lure and finishing, in fact I think the organisers would have quite liked to take them on permanently. Several however got distracted, made it halfway and then saw something else interesting or that smelt nice, or didn’t really start at all and went in the wrong direction. Great fun all round and the dogs obviously love it.

Birds of prey flying display

Birds of prey flying display


Several different birds of prey were flown including a European Eagle Owl, Harris Hawk, and a Saker falcon I think. From a young age I’ve always love to watch birds of prey, so great to see and would love to give falconry a go some day. Will add it to the list!

Fly casting demo

Fly casting demo from bloke on stilts


 

Re-enactors in traditional garb

Re-enactors in traditional garb


 

Foxhounds

Foxhounds


The Foxhounds only drag hunt these days I think, not sure if the law is different in Scotland. The master huntsman was with them and put them through some moves a but later in the day.

Vintage cars 1

There were several vintage cars present, I liked this Jag


 

Nimrod cockpit

Nimrod cockpit


 

Phantom cockpit

Phantom cockpit


Cockpits courtesy of the Morayvia organisation.

By this point it was about 16.00 and I’d begun to feel a little odd, a combination of tiredness, a bit of dehydration and some rather rich and sickly food in the form of chocolate brownies, on top of hog roast and pancakes. Bagpipes may have been taking their toll by then too. I should have recognised the warning signs from earlier on with the slightly blurry vision and being off balance. The migraine came on pretty swiftly and I had to exit stage right, missing the caber tossing, although I saw a caber sail through the air from a distance during my retreat. Great show from the Scottish heavies.

I’d intended to head down to Aberlour that afternoon, to my godfather’s, but instead had to call a rain-check and made my way back to the Fochabers campsite; tricky trying to ride and control a heavy bike whilst wanting to vomit and feeling decidedly off-centre! I quickly re-pitched my tent and disappeared into it for a few hours. Unfortunately migraines can make me quite sick so I lost most of the days carb loading, but after a few hours lying down felt a lot better. Whilst migraines make me sick I fortunately rarely suffer from the bad headaches, just have to shut out noise and too much light for a while.

The late evening was quite nice by the time I’d emerged and had a shower and lots of water, but no food – wasn’t ready to risk that quite yet. The sun had even come out for the first time in days.

Evening sunshine at Fochabers campsite

Evening sunshine at Fochabers campsite

So a very short leg today, but lots of fun despite the migraine, and I had made very good progress to date so could afford a bit of an extra time off the saddle. I’d head down to Aberlour tomorrow instead.

Leg 6 – To Whitby – rest day ahoy!

Still a couple of blog posts behind but getting there on the catching up front. Photos will have to wait until I get to a computer, or I might put up a complete gallery individually if get to a good place with wifi for my phone to connect into. Trouble is the wordpress app on the phone isn’t that great, several usability issues that could be fixed relatively easily and improving it lots.

06 May 2013
Seeing it was a rest day had a later start to the day, not setting off until 10am. My legs were aching slightly from yesterday’s exertions so definitely good timing on the break front. Packed up in the sunshine, with little in the way of wind, just enough for the kids camping nearby to get their kites up in the air. One of them proceeded to nearly dive bomb me several times accidentally – was slightly worried any sudden gust might take them over the edge of the hill and down a steep drop, that would have been character building at the very least!

Had a wander around the campsite and was bemused to see several caravans with satellite dishes or tv aerials, not sure why people would want to watch tv in such a beautiful spot but guess they like their home comforts, and don’t want to miss their favourite soap.

Bay Ness farm also hosts an off roading centre which I thought was a little dangerous, perched as it is at the top of a very steep and long hill, but probably adds to the adrenalin rush. A group of men were standing around a rugged looking jeep being loaded on to the back of a pick-up, all peering at the underside and admiring the damage done the day before; bent axle, bits sticking out that shouldn’t be, I’m sure my friend Neal would have been able to identify the bits far better than I, into off roading as he is. The owner of the jeep was promising to put photos up on his website of the post mortem, all very exciting if you’re into cars judging by the convivial atmosphere and general mirth and grunting. I prefer bikes, easier to mend and generally less expensive, most of the time.

Anyway I mounted my trusty steed for day 06, seems like longer than that since I left Norwich, and made my way back down the hill that nearly broke me the day before. Think I’m going to have to get some new brake pads in Edinburgh! After a couple of false starts I found the Cinder Trail, helped by some locals who called out that I was going the wrong way, must happen a lot. Headed North towards Whitby with the black dust coating everything again, making me think I should have taken the road, however the trail goes through some great countryside and wasn’t too bumpy today. I wouldn’t like to do it in the wet but fine in the sunshine, and I was having day 6 of sunshine so all good.

Quite a few other cyclists and walkers out for a bank holiday morning outing, general greetings exchanged in passing. I try to vary my greetings now otherwise gets boring, so occasionally I throw in some French, or Italian, the latter being trickier as I know very little Italian. Even broke into a tuneful ‘good morning, good morrrning’ at one point due to some downhill exuberance, which seemed to confuse the elderly couple I passed, they smiled though. I was passed by one other tourer, the first serious one I’ve met so far, on more of a mountain bike than my Ridgeback so he was coping better with the terrain. We had a brief conversation on the merits of different tyres for this sort of track; I was worried mine might get shredded at some point. I think I’ll either have to change to fatter tyres or stay on them roads more, although saying that haven’t had another puncture, touch wood, since day 2.

I made it to Whitby in good time and checked out the Abbey, which looked suitably Gothic and impressive (insert photos but look it up on google for the time being). Couldn’t see any Goths though, probably a bit bright, and I’d forgotten my goth get up, wouldn’t have fitted in the panniers too well anyway.

From the Abbey I walked my bike down an extremely steep and cobbled road into the town, it was a little hair raising at times with such a heavy load. If I’d let go could have caused quite a pile up at the bottom due to the sheer volumes of tourists out today. Whitby was absolutely rammed, so before going any further I stopped for a bacon and egg roll from a great little cafe at the bottom of that hill. Only ยฃ2.50, the yoke did go everywhere though and I had to do some emergency cycling top cleaning.

I continued to brave the masses for a bit, taking in Whitby’s lovely narrow streets and odd mix of shops, from the standard touristy ones where I bought some liquorice and ice cream, to the weirder curiosity shops and goth jewellery and clothing boutiques. And of course a host of fish and chip shops, more than I’ve seen anywhere else. I did have to be careful not to take anyone out with my panniers as I cycled out to the harbour, it was so crowded and people don’t hear or look for bikes, plus they were in general holiday bimble mode so weren’t very alert.

One comment, people really need to get on their bikes more or do some exercise, haven’t seen quite so many overweight people in one place for a while. They’ll be a heart disease epidemic at this rate; something close to my heart, as it were, having had an erroneous electrical pathway in my heart fixed a couple of years ago. Amazing operation via catheter ablation, I got to watch it on a screen whilst it was being done, under the effects of morphine. I remember grinning inanely at the nurse. Glad it’s fixed as your heart rate going up to insane speeds is not pleasant for an extended period of time and made the Docs think I was having heart attacks. In and out in 2 days, hurrah for wonders of modern medicine and the NHS.

Having had my fill of crowds I retreated to the campsite, Broading’s Farm, located just outside the town. Nice and quiet site with good shower block, always important, and friendly owner who let me charge my mobile. Lots of friendly dogs too, including a black lab puppy I think, very inquisitive. At this point my Garmin decided to break, and wouldn’t turn back on despite leaving it to charge for ages. Think it needs a hard reset but can’t do that on the road as don’t have the right tools, will try and find a shop in Newcastle or Edinburgh. Until then the Nemesis device will be out of action, probably a good thing given the last few days of it going wrong. Will use maps for a bit and see how I get on, plus write to Garmin with some feedback when this is over. It’s great when it works but has gone wrong too often, and now I’m going to have to record my miles manually.

Spent the next few hours reading my book, Josie Dew’s Slow Coast Home as recommended by a mother and daughter I met when out training in Norfolk, seems like an age ago but was only a couple of weeks. Great read so thanks for the recommendation. I also napped a fair bit.

Headed back into Whitby in the evening for more feeding and a few beers. Chilled out in the Shambles Bar for a while, which overlooks the harbour and serves great ale. Unfortunately they’d run out of food due to the bank holiday masses, who as mentioned earlier could really have foregone a meal or two and left some for me.

I had dinner at the Fisherman’s Wife, tomato soup followed by haddock and chips. Best haddock and chips I’ve had so far and the waitress gave a donation to the Big C which was great, must add it to my page. The restaurant has a great view over the beach and harbour area. Took some more photos which again I’ll put up at some point – there’s going to be hundreds of them, might have to buy a camera if iPhone runs out of memory. Saw a few rowing jigs, think that’s what they’re called but could well be wrong, out for an evening’s team session, haven’t seen the like since I holidayed in Cornwall.

I did miss the Magpie Cafe which I’d wanted to visit, it was just too busy; the queue was massive for hours. I spent a few hours in the Buck Hotel Inn bar writing up my blog and enjoying a few pints of Tim Taylor’s Landlord again, really superb pint and seems to taste even better up North, must be because it’s closer to home. The bar has free wifi and was playing some great old school tunes as mentioned in my post last night.

So, fully rested and fed I made my way back to the campsite, in a slightly wobbly but responsible fashion, and crashed for the night. Aching legs and body all forgotten, and ready for tomorrow’s leg over the River Tees and beyond. Feels like quite a long way from home now but morale good and looking forward to the next week. I recommend Whitby for anyone that’s not been, i’ll be trying to make it for the Goth festival next year ๐Ÿ˜‰