I am cycling from John O' Groat's to Land's End in September.

The cycle ride will be unaccompanied and without back-up. I have done this before but the other way round: Land's End to John O'groats. However, I am now 10 years older and it will be against the prevailing winds.

My brother had a cycling accident last year which has left him serverly brain damaged. The air ambulance were the first on the scene. Without their service, my brother, a father of two small boys, would not be here now.

I think the Air Ambulance are amazing and I hope this ride will help to raise donations they need to keep up this fantastic work.

UPDATE 26.09.23

I completed JOGLE; John O’ Groats to Land’s End on my 20th day of cycling, including a rest day at home. Due to 50-60 mile an hour winds and torrential rain that day I was glad I wasn’t on the bike. The day before I‘d nearly been blown off the old Severn bridge, having taken off from my b and b at 7.30am. The bridge was closed later on. Phew! 

My journey from John O’ Groats eastward to Bettyhill, began in a heat wave. The north coast of Scotland bathed in sunshine is more beautiful than any I’ve seen; it even surpasses the stunning northern coastline of Spain! To admire the view even more, I Stopped for a coffee, and cake of course, falling into conversation with a couple and their doggies from Rotherham. They were my first sponsors and almost like a security blanket, gave me courage and belief in myself that I could do this. Thank you so much Lisa and Paul. 

The next day I headed in a southerly direction toward Lairg. The first coffee stop being 40 miles in the middle of nowhere at the Crask Inn. 

B and B’s were difficult to book, even 3 to 4 days ahead. Scotland was doing well in the hospitality business which also made restaurants and roads busier than usual. 

The terrain was very hilly and often I went onto minor cycle routes to avoid traffic, particularly when I hit Loch Ness and the A82. That’s probably how I missed Nessie, when I went off the beaten track.

A couple of days later, after sightings of Red deer and Red squirrels, I pedalled to Oban - right off my route, but the only place I could book a b and b. Ten miles off my route altogether. There were a lot of those kind of detours on my trip, but hey, at least I had a warm, safe bed for the night.

Cycling past Loch Fyne and through Inverary was delightful, despite the drizzle. Mid morning, the next day, I took a 30 minute ferry journey from Dunoon to Greenock, where I watched dolphins and eider ducks. The Loch was flat calm.

The terrain got bumpier somehow and I lost my bike computer. It must have just jumped off the holder. I retraced my steps for 2 miles but without success. Never mind the computer the coastal route was stunning and flat for a while on National Cycle route 73 and 7.

In Troon, I managed to stop at a bike shop and was given an old computer like mine from a very kind, understanding cycle mechanic. I managed to buy a battery for it the next day and set the computer up for my bike. However, being computer illiterate, I couldn’t, and still haven’t, managed to change kilometres into miles. The latter had to be done in my head whilst travelling….but Yeh! I had a bike computer. Thank you Mark at the Bike Post for your patience and kindness.

After a delicious meal at the Nithsdale in Sanquhar, a kind waitress handed me a £5 note to put toward the Air Ambulance funds. People have been so kind on my journey.

The next day after a very uninspiring route snaking under, over and alongside the M74, I was in Kirtle Bridge just north of Gretna Green. Alison, the owner was lovely, inviting me for a large glass of wine and a chat with another guest that evening. That was so relaxing. Thank you.

The next day was over the border to Cumbria National Park cycling on near empty roads. This was a delight. I reached Keswick early afternoon and visited my brother at Calvert Reconnections, an outdoor centre for restoration of people with brain injuries. My brother was so happy to see me and when I told him what I was doing, he said that it was a long way and quite an accomplishment. At that time he really understood.

The next evening I stayed at Hest Bank, near Morcambe. Angela the proprietor, was very generous, running after me with cash in her hand, after talking to the guests at breakfast and finding out why I was cycling. Thank you Angela. I also loved your beautiful, courtyard garden.

I thought this day was going to be a bad day… cycling through Warrington! It wasn’t too bad and onto Haydock, but no horse racing today.

There were lots of major roads that I couldn’t avoid until I got to Ludlow. In Shrewsbury Castle there was a brass band playing and I stopped to listen to Men of Harlech and watch the young bandsmen go through their paces before the proper parade. It made my day.

The next day I went off piste a little to see my friends, Gill, Trev and Paul for coffee and cake - it was lovely to see them. After that I cycled down the Wye Valley past Tintern Abbey to Chepstow. 70 miles that day, the hills being at the end!

The next day was touch and go whether the old Severn bridge would be open. I left at 7.30am I was nearly blown off the bridge. It closed to traffic later.

Later on that day a very kind man lifted my heavy bike, complete with panniers over a five foot high blockage on the cycle path, the men working on it several miles before said I would be able to get past. Hu!

Thank you that lovely dog walker who helped me.

On day 17 of cycling I set off from home on a familiar route meeting up with one of my cycling mates. We had coffee at J’s, then he kindly took me to the Taunton canal path where he headed home and I carried on to Tiverton. The day started very sunny but started to rain when I cycled along the canal path. Then I heard an irritating rattle. I discovered one of the arms on the metal cycle rack supporting the panniers and tool bag had snapped. My friend Ron gave me a big roll of gaffer tape before I left saying that it might come in handy. He was absolutely right. As it was tipping down with rain, it got soggy and I had to stick it up a few times. It was 65 miles to Tiverton as I kept losing GPS signal because of the rain and the paper maps would have been ruined. There were good parts in this day, on the canal path, I met Andy and Alan two walkers, who chatted and donated £10. Thank you everyone who helped make my day.

Day 18 started off lovely for the first few miles but Hurricaine Nigel started to whip up rain and a very strong headwind. My claim to fame is that I have never got off my bike to push it up a hill…but today was the day that that was broken. I’d struggled up a 1 in 4 hill toward Moretonhampstead, the front wheel lifting off the tarmac. It felt dangerous. I got off, but could hardly push the bike the wind was so strong. I managed 200 metres but by that time I’d pulled a muscle in my right calf. That night I was at a delightful farmhouse outside of Tavistock. Lowenna charged me less for my b and b and very kindly donated the rest to the Air Ambulance. Thank you Lowenna.

The next push was to Truro which was a very busy route and again hilly my calf was still excruciatingly painful to walk on but a bit better cycling. 

Truro to the end via Penzance into a severe headwind.

But I arrived at Land’s End safe, happy and well. Not everyone would call this a 70th birthday, treat and raising money for Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance was just an added bonus, but I do.

Thank you so much Ian for taking me to the beginning of my ride and collecting me at the end, you are a very good friend indeed. Thank you everyone who has encouraged me or/and donated. I really couldn’t have done this without you. 

JOGLE = 1076 miles

Finally: Lands End!

UPDATE 18.10.23

I am so grateful to the following people who contributed cash donations, both on my travels and since I have been home:

  • Angela Wain £20
  • Joanna Laird £5
  • Alan and Andy £10
  • Lowenna Edwards £25
  • Maggie and Axel Goodbody £10
  • Margaret and David Simpson £20
  • Mary Carlisle £5
  • Helen Sealy £5
  • Sue Reece £5
  • Richard Burt £40
  • Katherine and Andy Coulson £100
  • Sandy Juba £50
  • Trevor and Gill Cook £20

£315 more to add to the fund.

Thank you to Ross, Callum, Mark Parker, and Agnes Morrison family for your generous donation and fantastic support.

Denise Hoogesteger