Salmon Cycle 2006. In Aid of Brain Tumour UK

Welcome to our Land's End - John O'Groats cycle trip website! Victoria, Abigail and Imogen Salmon, supported by Matilda, will set off on 3rd September 2006 to raise money for Brain Tumour UK in memory of Daisy. We will be posting updates along the way so you can follow our progress as we go.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Day 13 (16th Sept - Daisy's 30th birthday) Helmsdale to John o'Groats!!!!!!

Daisy's 30th birthday, which made the end to our epic journey even more poignant. Set off in warm sunshine at 9.30am. Long climb out of the town and generally not nearly as flat as we would have liked (as was the case with yesterday). Berriedale Braes reminiscent of Devon (but still not nearly as bad)! Sun went in and was pretty cold and foggy. Headed to Wick for lunch, where Robin was to set to pick up Mum and Dad off their train from Leominster to meet us at the end. With only 17 miles to go until the end, we were a little worried that we would beat our parents to the post! It was a very quick and easy 17 miles so when the car still hadn't passed us 3 miles out of John o'Groats we stopped and waited (for half an hour!). Eventually we rang to find that they were already waiting for us at the end (having gone the wrong way!) At least by this time the sun had come out again! So, after a little delay to our grand finale, we cruised over the finish line! Greeted by parents, uncle, Tooda and Alex. Such a relief! Then had a long and tedious wait for our photo to be taken by a very slow and tiresome man (aka The Seaslug!) under the official signpost, on which you can have your own letters etc to make up your personal message. Had a very comfortable last night with Mr and Mrs Rowe in Thurso, in a lovely castle/farmhouse on the cliffs of Scrabster. Now just the long car journey home to our own beds at last!

Total distance: 55 miles

Day 11 (14th Sept) Dalnacardoch to Inverness

Lovely night at the Bluett's - thank you! Started in ok time despite long journey to get there. Our first entire day of rain - real, wet, Scottish rain! Victoria fully prepared (not that that is possible in Scottish weather, as we discovered) head to toe - leggings and 2 pairs of socks to the knees - quite a look! Set out over the Highlands for lunch at Aviemore, with its very unhospitable hotel (who kicked us off their terrace for eating our picnic, in the pouring rain, despite having been told it was ok to sit there :-( ! Real struggle to get going after lunch due to general freezingness! Soaked through literally to the bone, had to change clothes (not that they stayed dry for much longer!) Weather had deteriorated but battled on, as our legs turned to lead due to the cold. Victoria's speedometer decided it disliked the rain more than we did and totally packed up, which leaves an afternoon's blank in our calculations. We were all doubting that we would make it all the way to Inverness. Ended up on the new A9 at the end, which seemed to turn from a fairly busy dual carriage way into a four lane motorway! Fairly hairy! Made it to the door of our very cosy B&B, the proprietors of which very kindly tumble-dried our clothes and put our sodden shoes in the airing cupboard. Definitely our least enjoyable day!

Total distance: unknown exactly due to broken speedometer - approx 67 miles

Day 12 (15th Sept) Inverness to Helmsdale

Set off at 9.30am in the cloudy but dry weather! Luckily Victoria's speedometer found a new lease of life after about 4 miles and we can again record accurate mileage! Sun came out quite quickly and it turned out to be a gorgeous day. Lunch at Cathill just north of the Black Isle. Aiming to get to Brora but made it 10 or so miles north to Helmsdale, where we tried to sample Clarissa Dickson-Wright's top 6 fish and chips at La Mirage, but it was shut so had to settle for 2nd best across the road. Ended the day with 55 miles to go to John o'Groats! Stayed in very nice Victorian farmhouse b&b just outside Brora with views out to sea. Only one more day to go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Total distance: 66 miles

Day 10 (13th Sept) Gateside to Dalnacardoch (in the middle of nowhere!)

Long drive from Edinburgh to Gateside, but managed to get off in ok time - 9.30 am. Did a bit of unplanned off-roading at Dunkeld as we were following the National Cycle Route along the river Tay. Made such good time to our scheduled lunch stop at Dalguise that we went on to Pitlochry (just short of our scheduled finish!). Had lunch by the Pitlochry dam and (appropriately!) it's Salmon fish ladder. Lunch extended rather longer than expected so the day ended up being shorter than usual, but we still ended up 10 miles north of our stop. Long drive back to Lethendy Bank Farm for our night with the Bluetts. Thank you to the Fergusons for our bed last night.

Total distance: 56 miles!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Day 9 (12th Sept) Stobo to Gateside

Left Stobo at 9.15 this morning, in the first drizzle since we set off at Land's End. The mist soon cleared and we got to Edinburgh fairly quickly but unfortunately it took longer than expected to navigate the cycle routes (annoyingly, cyclists aren't allowed on the bypass) round the city to the Forth Bridge. Met Robin for lunch in the slightly smelly town (rubbish tip and general damp seaweed smell!) of Inverkeithing. Set off to Gateside, just south of Perth, past Loch Leven and finished at 5pm after the first real, torrential downpour of the trip! Apparently weather not looking good for tomorrow, but fingers crossed.

Having made such good progress we are now much further north than expected from our scheduled stops (Edinburgh and Lethendy, nr Blairgowrie tomorrow night) so it took an hour to get back to Edinburgh and will probably take the same tomorrow night, which means two very early mornings to keep up the good progress!

Supper chez Mrs Attwood (Matlida) tonight which was delicious, sorry to miss Mr A though! Off to bed at the Ferguson's.

Total distance: 60 miles

Day 8 (11th Sept) Low Hesket to Stobo

Very late start (latest yet) due to general faffing! 10.30 from Low Hesket. Managed to navigate our way successfully through Carlisle where we picked up a random little Chinese man (from Aberdeen!) doing the same thing who decided to follow us. He insisted on a photo with us at Gretna Green (?!), but unfortunately we lost him as he pedalled off into the distance as we had a photo at the "Scotland Welcomes You" sign!

Lunch at Dinwoodie, just south of Moffat. Lovely sceneic route afterwards, up over the mountain pass (A701) towards Edinburgh - long, but surprisingly easy haul up (now we're so fit!). Rode all the way to Stobo Home Farm (our first stop exactly on our route) to end our second longest day yet.

Thank you so much Mr Seymour for much needed rest and sustainance!

Total distance: 76 miles

Day 7 (10th Sept) Ellel to Low Hesket

Slightly later start than usual (or hoped) at 9.30am after a night in the "junior rank" quarters of Weeton Barracks (the officers certainly get a better deal!) Still reasonably fresh from our rest the day was relatively easy. Long climb over the Shap Fells was about the most strenuous part of the day, but worth it for the ride down the other side and the lunch that Robin laid on for us in Shap village. Made really good progress and ended the day in Low Hesket just south of Carlisle (way north of our scheduled stop at Appleby-in-Westmorland). Stayed in a very friendly B&B overlooking the river and Castle. Pub supper and bed!

Total distance: 64 miles

DAY 6 (9th Sept), Whitchurch to Ellel

0900 start. Another sunny day but a little chilly at times. Made great progress up to Warrington and managed to weave through the busy traffic with no mishaps. Cruised along (thanks to our day off!) and made it nearly to Preston before lunch which was our original end point for the day! Picnic lunch with Mum, Dad and Boogie (the dog) between the A49 and M6!

Kept up the pace all afternoon and eventually stopped just short of Lancaster as we had got bored by then. Had a quick drive back down to barracks at Weeton (kindly organised by Christopher) where we were met by Robin and said goodbye to Mum and Dad.

Total distance: 72 miles

Friday, September 08, 2006

Rest Day

Although not in the original plan we scheduled in a rest day at the last minute. We had a great lie-in and spent the day with Mum and Dad fishing on the Dee in the glorious sunshine and resting our sore bottoms!

Not really looking forward to getting back on the bikes tomorrow but hopefully it will keep getting easier as we continue our journey North.

Thank you Brunts for your excellent hospitality!

DAY 5 (7th Sept), Yarpole to Whitchurch

We had an early morning wake-up call from Eleanor and Bertie, yet still did not managed to be on our bikes before 0845! Matilda left us at Yarpole as she had to get back up to Edinburgh, but we hope to see her next week up North. Instead we were supported by Mum.

We continued North towards Shrewsbury. In Craven Arms we felt like true celebrities as we were spotted by someone who had seen us in the paper (the Shropshire Star no less!). Otherwise an uneventful day - chilly North wind the entire journey made for slow progress, coats were on all day despite the sun, chat has considerably diminshed with the occasional request for loo stops! Lunch was to a very high standard - thanks Mum. She's up there with Matilda!

We made it North of Whitchurch and finished the day earlier than usual, as we are still just ahead of schedule and thought we'd save our knees a little!

Spent the night chez the Brunt family and looked forward to tomorrow's rest day.

Total distance: 58 miles

DAY 4 (6th Sept), Bristol to Yarpole

Left Bristol at 0845. A beautiful sunny day. We made good time to the Severn Bridge and were met on the Welsh side by Chris Davis who provided much needed morale in the form of Lovehearts and Minstrels!

We had a wonderful cycle to Chepstow to Monmouth through the Wye Valley past Tintern Abbey and mostly downhill! Unfortunately there was a long uphill stretch out of Monmouth, but once we reached the top there were some beautiful views of the Herefordshire countryside - great to be in home territory.

Lunch was fairly unglamorous (in a layby on the A49!) but still delicious. We were quick to push on through Hereford with a couple of hairy moments weaving through the traffic, followed by a steep climb up Dinmore Hill and Chris then left us at Leominster. Finally we arrived at the Salwey Arms where we were met by Mum and Dad, Mrs Compton and Ben, and Mr and Mrs Southall. We were also spotted by Nancy North as she was driving past.

We had a great night - home from home - with Cordelia and David Niblett and the gang!

Total distance: 68 miles

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

DAY 3 (5th Sept), Bish Mill to Bristol

Although we got up early this morning, and were well fed yet again by Mrs Connell, we somehow only manage a 0915 start after a minor crisis with the bike pump!! Luckily being practical girls we managed to sort it and soon headed off for our first hill of the day.

Leaving Devon, beautiful as it is, was a big relief as the hills eventually flattened out and we managed to up the pace. Matilda managed to visit a honey farm and took a quick drive-through tour of Exmoor before providing the rest of us with another great lunch.

Due to the time made up in the morning we were able to push on past our intended destination of Churchill right on up to the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Our hosts Asha and David provided a wonderful supper and welcome beds, and Dave was roped in to fixing bikes for which we are extremely grateful! Thank you!

Total distance: 80 miles

Monday, September 04, 2006

DAY 2 (4th Sept), Padstow to Bish Mill

Left at 9.15 (not as early as hoped), very slow progress due to unbelievably hilly terrrain! We all struggled. Lunch couldnt come quick enough, we met Matilda after her Eden project adventure at Great Torrington, after which we very reluctantly set off to be met by 25% gradient hills, one after the other - a low point! Despite this we made quicker time than expected and arrived at Bish Mill at 6pm.

Had a rather hair-raising drive to West Liscombe Farm where we were met by our hosts Mr and Mrs Connell and Moss, the Jack Russell terrier. We had a wonderful home-cooked supper and straight to bed!

Total Distance: 70 miles

DAY 1 (3rd Sept), Land's End to Padstow

Slow start to the day due to photos etc. eventually got pedalling in thick fog at 9.45am (Abigail fell off before we had started!!) Matilda went to St.Ives and bought lunch before meeting us at Porth for our sandwiches. After lunch we were immediately met by the extreme dips and climbs of the North Cornish coast - bit of a struggle! Arrived in Padstow at 5.30pm. Thanks to Marcus for putting us up.

Total distance: 60 miles

Arriving in Land's End (2nd Sept)

Matilda and Imy had a nightmare journey despite leaving in plenty of time. They hit traffic all the way down- at one point travelling 4 miles in 45mins- and arrived at Penzance an hour and a half late! Meanwhile Abigail's and Victoria's train from London arrived on time, meaning they had to get a taxi to our B&B.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Last minute preparation!

With only just over a week to go, we had planned a final burst of training over the last few days. Unfortunately things have not quite gone to plan. Although Abigail and Imogen managed to get in some good training rides in Ireland recently, Victoria was hoping to do some last minute preparation this week, but has spent the last three days in bed with flu! Abigail was hoping to finally get her cleats sorted but none of the cycle shops in London seem to stock size 7 shoes! At this rate Abigail will be trailing behind without clip-in pedals and Victoria will be struggling due to poor fitness! I think Imogen will definitely be nominated to carry the panniers!

On the plus side, Imogen has done a sterling job of trying to find us places to stay en route. We are now just short of 3 places - Appleby, Pitlochry and Brora. So if anyone can be of any assistance in our quest for accommodation please do let us know!