Day 1 - Friday July 8th 2022
Leeds to Selby
- Distance: 23.5 miles (cumulative: 23.5miles)
- Ascent: 126m (cumulative: 126m)
So today's the day! 4 years after my last long distance cycle tour, and 2 years after my sadly-cancelled (due to the pandemic) USA-coast-to-coast trip, I'm finally setting off on another cycle tour.
Setting myself the challenge to cycle around the full coast of mainland UK seemeed like such a good idea when I thought of it - but of course I didn't have to do any hard work when day dreaming at home! Now that the day has come to start pedalling though then the scale of the challenge ahead suddenly seems so much more daunting....
They say that the longest journeys start with a single step, and that couldn't be more true today (well, if we substitute "step" with "pedal stroke"!). Final packing in the morning took a lot longer than expected (I didn't want to repeat previous mistakes of departing without a key piece of gear such as my jacket - as stupidly I did in 2016!!) so I didn't get away until 3.30pm. Given that I intentionally scheduled a short journey for the day though (23 miles on the flat) then that's not a problem.
Day 1 of my round the U.K. coast ride completed - only 4977 miles left to go! 🤣 Relatively short one today to ease back into touring again.
Day 2 - Saturday July 9th 2022
Selby to Hessle
- Distance: 38.4 miles (cumulative: 61.9mi)
- Ascent: 180m (cumulative: 306m)
So after 2 days of pedalling I've finally made it to my journey's "official" start (and end) point, the Humber Bridge. This is where - all being well - in about 4 months time I'll cycle across the bridge to "complete the loop" of having cycled around the U.K. It's quite surreal to think about that, although there's many miles and days between then and now.
Also today I met a friend for lunch in the beautiful village of Howden, played a game of chicken with a farmer's water jet (I won), raced a barge along the Humber (I lost), and met a couple who were out training on their tandem bike for a "Way of the Roses" coast-to-coast ride. Plus I was also overtaken by Del Boy in his Robin Reliant! All in all then a pretty good day.
The heat today was tough, but as a lady randomly shouted out as she cycled past me late afternoon - "The beer will taste amazing this evening". Yes, yes it will (and did). Ne'er a truer word was ever spoken!!
Day 3 - Sunday July 10th 2022
Hessle to Paull Holme
- Distance: 24.6 miles (cumulative: 86.5mi)
- Ascent: 77m (cumulative: 383m)
A short day today of just 24ish milesriding through Hull, but it felt so much longer due to the heat! A Sunday roast in the cool temperature of a pub near my accommodation was perfect reward! 😁
Day 4 - Monday July 11th 2022
Paull Holme to Withernsea
- Distance: 42 miles (cumulative: 128.5mi)
- Ascent: 199m (cumulative: 582m)
Well today was an education! Never again will I just blindly trust my GPS device...
After diverting due a road closure within the first couple of miles, I stupidly trusted that the new route I was on was heading to my end destination. Oh how naive!! 🤦♂️ After 5 miles of going in the wrong direction (no I can't believe it took me that long to twig either - I blame the heat!) I eventually realised it was taking me on a very very long way round back to the start point! 😡 So that was an uneccessary 10 miles of cycling (after retracing my steps) that I could have done without! But on the bright side though - it burnt a few more calories I guess. Every cloud has a silver lining and all that.
Today was significant in that I saw the coast for the first time (at Spurn Point) and hit the 100 mile milestone (now 128miles). And appropriately enough for a day of navigation fail, I also passed through the prime meridian (not sure if that's significant or not though 😂)
Day 5 - Tuesday July 12th 2022
Withernsea to Flamborough
- Distance: 41.8 miles (cumulative: 170.3mi)
- Ascent: 292m (cumulative: 874m)
Distance cycled today: 39.2miles
Distance walked to a bike shop: 2.5miles 😟
Cycle touring can be challenging at times, non more so than when having to deal with major mechanical issues - especially when that issue is a snapped seat post! (that's a first for me too!) 😮
For most mechanical issues it's normally possible at least to do a temporary roadside repair and gingerly cycle on until proper help can be found, but with no saddle (and not wanting to stand on my pedals lest one of them suddenly fail - I've had that before - causing the remaining seat post go up my ****!!) then I had to suck it up and walk. Grrr.
It could have been worse though - thankfully I was in a populated area and the nearest bike shop was relatively close at just 2.5miles away, even if it meant walking along a major highway which had no pavement. They're only a small store but were really helpful, and after a desperate final third search of their store room (I was starting to panic that they'd be unable to help!) they did luckily eventually find a seat post in stock and managed to sort me out. 2 hours of the day lost but I was back on my way.
Other than that, I ticked off a couple more seaside towns in the form of Bridlington and Hornsea (no time to look around unfortunately!)
Hopefully tomorrow is a better day!!
Day 6 - Wednesday July 13th 2022
Flamborough to Whitby
- Distance: 44 miles (cumulative: 214.3mi)
- Ascent: 619m (cumulative: 1493m)
Tough day today with my first day of hitting the hills (although my legs are starting to feel stronger, yay!!), but made worth it by the glorious weather, the outstanding views, meeting Timmy Mallett (who's doing the same ride as me but in the other direction), and above all meeting up with my mum & step-dad in Whitby for dinner!
Day 7 - Thursday July 14th 2022
Whitby to Middlesbrough
- Distance: 40.3 miles (cumulative: 254.6mi)
- Ascent: 592m (cumulative: 2085m)
So today I broke my long standing personal rule to never walk a bike up a hill.... 😢 I've managed to stick to that over my last 2 bike tours, always conquering every hill, but finally I had to break it on the 25% gradient climb (so the road sign said) out of Sandsend - gravity finally got the better of me and I walked the bike up. Damnit! Mind you, pushing a heavily laden touring bike up a looong hill that steep wasn't easy either and got the heart pumping worryingly fast too. I was so thankful the council had put lots of benches by the side of the road for regular rests!
After that experience I sadly diverted away from Staithes too in order to avoid another painful climb out (I said yesterday my legs are feeling stronger; they're not that strong yet though!), and instead took the fast road to Saltburn and onto Redcar before a relatively flat final 10miles to Middlesbrough.
Loved it when a kid in Redcar shouted out at me "are you touring the world on that bike?". 🤣
Day 8 - Friday July 15th 2022
Middlesbrough to South Shields
- Distance: 47.4 miles (cumulative: 302mi)
- Ascent: 524m (cumulative: 2609m)
The first of 2 long days this one, and even then I had to shorten it by the end as I was too shattered!! My wet weather gear also got it's first use with heavy rain showers (so much for this promised heatwave?!) but the rain eventually cleared up to make way for a glorious evening, and it was great to see so many people out making use of the beaches. This part of the country has some fantastic beaches in resorts that I must admit I've never heard of; one day I'll have to come back for a (relaxing) holiday.
I also passed the end point of the Coast-to-coast ride at Roker beach, witnessing 3 other cyclists dipping their wheels in the sea having just finished it. I guess I'm doing the C2C in a way as well - just via a very circuitous route!!
Day 9 - Saturday July 16th 2022
South Shields to Seahouses
- Distance: 60 miles (cumulative: 362.1mi)
- Ascent: 542m (cumulative: 3151m)
Wow what stunning scenery! Today was a stupidly long ride (60miles, necessitated due to a lack of available accommodation) which I'd been dreading for a while, but in the end this has been one of my favourite days so far 👍 All day I was treated to glorious Tyneside and Northumberland scenery, and all topped off by perfect weather. Winning!! 😁🚴
The day nearly started terribly though, as I arrived at the terminus for the ferry crossing to North Shields to find the place deserted and nobody around at all. After waiting 10 minutes I assumed the ferry wasn't running (which would have required a 6 mile detour on an already long day) and so started to turn around, until an arriving passenger pointed out the approaching boat to me. Phew!!
So after a short hop over the Tyne (my first boat trip of this tour) to the charming North Shields, the day then just kept serving up visual gems in the form of the stunning Tynemouth beach, Whitley bay, Newbiggin by the Sea, Amble, Warkworth castle - the list goes on! 😁 With the weather as it is too everywhere was really busy; it's great to see U.K. beach resorts doing so well.
It was also slightly surreal to have, halfway through today, joined up and onto my Lands End to John o'Groats route from 2016, although I recognise very little of the roads so far. Looking at Strava segments I'm a little faster this time too - awesome 👍
And, unsurprisingly in this part of the world, I started to see several other cycle tourers today as well. One Dutch couple are cycling up and over the U.K. to the Scottish island of Iona, whilst another 2 men I met are cycling to Glasgow (I didn't find out where from though).
Tomorrow fortunately is a somewhat easier day, either a leisurely 27 miles (albeit slightly hilly) to Berwick upon Tweed, or 39 if I visit Lindisfarne too (tide depending of course).
Day 10 - Sunday July 17th 2022
Seahouses to Berwick-upon-Tweed
- Distance: 32 miles (cumulative: 394.1mi)
- Ascent: 399m (cumulative: 3550m)
Half the distance of yesterdays ride, but in some ways tougher with insane amounts of flies and bugs everywhere for much of the day (it felt like cycling into a hailstorm at times!) and my gears starting to slip. But.... more glorious Northumbrian coastline today!
It started with a visit to Bamburgh Castle (where Harrison Ford last year filmed some of the new upcoming Indiana Jones movie), and then something I'd wanted to do for years - cycling over the causeway to Lindisfarne (aka Holy Island). Fortunately the tide was out when I arrived so it was crossable 👍 I had hoped to get my drone up to film it but the annoying thing is insisting on a firmware update before it will fly 😠 Bad timing DJI!
I also met a Canadian couple cycling from Edinburgh to Paris (enjoy!) and passed many other cycle tourers too. It's a popular part of the world - for good reason (apart from the trillions of flies today of course!!)
Day 11 - Monday July 18th 2022
Berwick-upon-Tweed to Dunbar
- Distance: 32.3 miles (cumulative: 426.3mi)
- Ascent: 516m (cumulative: 4066m)
Hot hot hot! Today was a scorcher - and it's only going to be hotter tomorrow 🥵 Not as hot as at home in Leeds, but still it was very tough with quite a few hills, out of Berwick upon Tweed and again out of Eyemouth. I stopped pretty much every 200m whenever I found some shade from a tree, so it was very slow going! I crossed the border into Scotland finally (yay!) though so it was all worth it. 👍
At the top of the climb out of Eyemouth is a wind farm; when I rode the road 6 years ago I had a ferocious headwind (so much so that I had to pedal down the steep hill on the other side!), but luckily today it was just a crosswind (shame no tailwind!).
I also last night discovered (via the magic of Instagram) 3 other cyclists currently heading round the UK coast (separately, not as a group). All of them are going clockwise and are at various points in Scotland at the moment too, so I'll hopefully meet each of them on the road sometime after I leave Edinburgh
To Edinburgh tomorrow where I'm staying for 4 nights - ie I'll have 3 whole days of rest. 😃 Can't wait!
Day 12 - Tuesday July 19th 2022
Dunbar to Edinburgh
- Distance: 37.7 miles (cumulative: 464mi)
- Ascent: 354m (cumulative: 4420m)
Well, I finally made it! I've arrived in Edinburgh 😃 Ok so it's only about 10% of my overall trip that I've done so far, but it feels significant as this is where I'd initially planned all my accommodation up to - beyond here I have nothing (yet) booked. A feeling of freedom again!!
Not long after setting off I realised that I'd over stretched myself with my schedule and hadn't given myself enough time for the fitness to build up (albeit the few crazy hot days didn't help either!), so I've had many moments where I doubted that I'd make it to Edinburgh on this schedule. But I have, and now have a few days rest scheduled to plan the next few days at a pace I'm comfortable with. Woohoo!
So today was quite a scenic trip today along the Lothian coastline. After leaving my accommodation (the superb Dolphin Inn hostel in Dunbar; if you're ever in the area then try it - they could teach the YHA a thing or two about how to run hostels!) I explored a little of the gorgeous Dunbar harbour and it's castle. Dunbar is the birthplace of the naturalist John Muir - founder of the US National Parks - so it was only natural that much of the route I followed today was the John Muir path, taking me to the very pretty North Berwick and along the coastline before reaching Edinburgh.
And given that today was the hottest day on record in England (and pretty hot here in Scotland!), it was unsurprising the vast number of people that were out on the beaches! ☀️🏝🍭🏊 My planned route should have taken me along the promenade at Portobello beach outside Edinburgh, but the sheer volume of the crowds there made it impossible to even walk my bike!! Cue a quick diversion on the back streets.
I'm now spending several nights in Edinburgh (in a hotel with air conditioning - bliss!!) to rest, get my bike serviced, plan the next sections, and best of all - to see my dad who visits tomorrow. 👍
Given the heat today it was unsurprising to see the beaches so crowded along my route. Bear Edinburgh the promenade along Portobello beach was so crowded so couldn't even walk my bike along it, necessitating a quick diversion along the back streets!
Now staying in Edinburgh for a few days (in a hotel with air conditioning - bliss!!) to rest, get my bike serviced, plan the next sections, and best of all - to see my dad who visits tomorrow. 👍