I am opening a little window into my John O’Groats to Lands End (JOGLE) adventure.

These blogs are a combination of photo’s, lessons from the road and the ‘relive’ video that shows my daily journey through the UK. It is not the full story, that is something for a longer conversation or may be a book!

I hope you enjoy your peak into the days of an End to Ender.

Day Five – JOGLE

Waking up in Inveraray was beautiful. I didn’t realise how tired I was last night but waking up with my book, notes and phone just lying on the bed next to me gave me some idea! The sun was just peeking through the curtains and I felt refreshed. My body was getting used to the routine and it thought that 6am was a good time to wake.

It was peaceful at the B&B. My fellow travellers were still asleep. I hadn’t heard them come home, but I can’t imagine it was very late. Still I didn’t want to wake them so I crept quietly around the flat packing my bags and sorting my breakfast; porridge pot, banana and strawberries with cream left over from the night before.

Then panic struck – as I tried to find the key to the front door of the apartment. Frantic searching began – opening all my bags again and even looking in the fridge! Just in case I had inadvertently put it in there with the shopping I had bought last night (yes method to my madness). But no key could be found.  Finally I decided that there was nothing I could do about it.  I would have to contact the land lady later in the day and own up to losing it somewhere in the flat. Let’s face it, it couldn’t be anywhere else.

I stepped out the front door and opened the lock safe to put the room key in. Low and behold there was the key. I must have left it in the lock downstairs as I arrived home last night… Christ I was tired.

It was an important lesson. Firstly I was grateful to the people I was meeting along the way, each one looking after me. Secondly I needed to look after myself just as well. Tired I may be, but I needed to keep myself safe.

  • Miles : 84.6
  • Meters Climbed : 1,205
  • Average Speed : 11.2

Day Five #LessonsfromtheRoad

The kindness of strangers gives you the boost that you need.

Day Five – Relive the event

Day Five in Photo’s

 

Breathing in the lake air I felt renewed and ready to go. Losing the key had not been an ideal start but still no harm done.

It was still early and the little town was just waking up. I had time to head down the main road and circle the lake in relative peace. From Inveraray I could see St Catherine’s across the lake. It would be nothing in a boat but 20 miles by bike… I longed for a ferry, but jumped on the bike and found my rhythm quick enough.  Bluebell woods to the left and the lake to my right – OK, it’s not all bad is it.

I took tea, second breakfast, alongside the guests all eating their breakfast at Creggan’s Inn. The view of Inveraray was surreal. An 1 hour 40 minutes and 20 miles in on my journey and I had made very little progress to Land’s End.

 

The beauty of the lakes and mountains never cease to amaze me. I could see for miles as I stood on the shore line, knowing that I would be following this lake for its entirety. As I reached half way I stopped at Loch Eek Caravan Park. Gwen and her excitable dog Sky greeted me. Thankful for a quick pit stop and a clean toilet I passed the time of day chatting about life here in the highlands. Gwen was a ‘blow in’ some 10 years ago and never left. Her life now is balanced with running the park and enjoying walking and fishing around the lake. It was idyllic. The choice to buy a lifestyle business was to be the making of her.

I love listening to stories like this. I am sure that it is not all play and that hard work is involved somewhere. Yet the story that she retold was one of gratitude, living outdoors and having the freedom to do what she loves most.

It was a tough decision to push on – I could have happily sat for longer listening to the life she has created for herself and her family.

It wasn’t long long before I got my first real sign that I was on the right course for the ferry at Dunoon. The smell of the sea hit me as hard as the head wind! I had been looking at the clock for the last hour wondering if I could catch a lunch time ferry.  I needed to eat but equally I didn’t want to hang around for lunch and then spend time waiting on the ferry. Combining the two was my preferred option.

I could see the ferry docking in the distance, I gave it a 15 minute turn around before heading back over. I also wanted to find a sandwich to take with me. The wind was incredible. Every time I thought I’d got on top of it I rounded another little headland only to be pushed back. I peddled as fast I could. Over the road from the ferry terminal was a little sandwich shop – grabbing a ready made bap and a cold can I dashed to the passenger gate. Finding myself one of the last to board.

The ferry journey is about 20 minutes or so and I pass the time, as usual, chatting to a couple of passengers. Chris has just bought a tandem in the hope that he can persuade his wife to set out on a few bike adventures. Finding common ground is something easily done when travelling like this. There is always a story about a bike adventure to be heard. Chris is a keen mountain biker and we have ridden some of the same trails and swapping stories about mayhem and mishaps keeps us both entertained.  Walking off the ferry in amiable company wishing each other well. A few miles down the road I hear a ‘beep beep’ as Chris overtakes me tandem strapped securely to the roof of his car.

 

The next few miles follow a coastal path, but I am on the A78 a really busy road. I stop and pull the bike on to the path at one point to get some respite. It’s not hard but it is boring as hell. I want to look out to the sea and feel part of the landscape again but safety is paramount and keeping an eye on the road is all I can do. At this impromptu stop I spotted the seals basking. I am so glad I stopped. The picture clearly doesn’t do it any justice – but it’s proof.

At this point Jess and his owner catch me up – sorry I asked the dog’s name but not his. Jess’s owner is a local and asks where I am heading. Informing him that Largs is my next stop for tea and cake he promptly gives me a new, quieter, route to take. His farewell included “Oh by the way it is a bit of a steep climb – hope that’s ok…”

Steep!  Climbing up a 12% hill for a mile was a struggle. However the view and the peace and quiet were to be welcomed.

Looking out to sea I had my warning to keep pedalling.  The black cloud was moving ominously my way. Within minutes I was soaked to the skin. Still I am grateful that the cliff top path was covered by tree branches, to a degree anyway and that I was not being pelted by rain and by cars driving along the A78.

As I descended in to Largs I felt distinctly uncomfortable. The brakes on Hope were not responding as I would like them too. What goes up must come down and the 12% descent was hair-raising to say the least. I felt like I hadn’t any brakes at all. Add to that as I rejoined the A78 into town I could no longer see the potholes in the road and this was where my second puncture came.

The RNLI station was to my right and I trudged over and asked if I could stand in the dry and repair it. They took it to mean could they repair it and the lady promptly went to find someone to help me. It was very sweet of them, but I was already halfway through to fixing it when the gentleman came out. It was then a short stop at a cafe to refuel and to fix my tube.  Horrified that the puncture today was around the valve which meant it was useless. I had one spare inner tube and that was hastily fixed in the rain.

 

Largs no longer has a bike shop and so I was forced to continue with just one spare and of course ‘hope’. Two miles out of Largs and my rear tyre is flat again. This is going from bad to worse. Now on the edge of a duel carriage with another puncture I am reduced to tears. I take a deep breath and set to fixing it.

A passing cyclist, Gordon, became my saviour in that hour. Not that he fixed the puncture but that he just simply came and cheered me up. I had nearly finished the repair but I was desperate to put more air into the tyre than I could muster. Ideally I need 100psi – with the weight that this wheel is carrying. I am not physically able to pump in enough to deter the pinch punctures and debris from piercing the tyre. Gordon ably assists and makes me laugh too.

However, I now have NO spare – the tube was pinched so that is stuffed too.

There is nothing I can do but carry on towards my goal.  I hope, there it is again, that I can arrive in Irvine before the shops close and find a bike shop. I made a quick call to my husband, who was still at work, to see if he can do a bit of research and see what is available.

As he searches I carry on riding. The sun begins to shine as I pass through West Kilbride but my mood is still gloomy. I feel every bump in the road and fear that ‘phsst’ sound and loss of control. Riding within myself in more ways than one.

Time for another chance meeting!

In need of sustenance and the toilet I stop at a garden centre that is situated along the A78. Mood changer food of choice has to be an ice cream… However it also turns out that Cathy and Anne are there to greet me too.

Walking my bike towards the road I have a mind to eat and walk for a while along the coastal path. There are two women sat on a low wall just by the entrance – both of them giggling like loons. They look up at me and in more fits of giggles they ask me what I am doing.  I guess I look a sight. Telling them about my journey their response is priceless “What the hell you doing that for Hen?”

“Well you know, for fun! I am also raising money for a charity that’s close to my heart and really it’s all about putting life into your day.”

Intrigued by what they were laughing at I asked them the same question – “Well what are you two doing?”

“Well,” said Cathy, “We wanted to go over the road here and so we set out. It’s a bit busy but we stopped the traffic. (STOPPED the traffic on the A78 at 4:30 which is practically rush hour). We then descided to climb down the rocks on the other side…”

Still giggling as they tell the story I ask my next question – “What the hell do you want to do that for” (half smiling)

“We wanted to play on the beach.” Came the reply. “Well what else you gonna do on a Monday afternoon Hen.”

Photos were duly taken and they gave me whatever change they had in their purse for my charity. But it was more than that. They had given me their friendship and a much needed hug. These two ‘girls’ were still out living their adventure.

 

You would think the day was nearly over… yet I still had so far to go. It would take me another 3 hours to reach Prestwick.

Leaving the coast I started cycling inland to Irvine. There were no bike shops on my route and certainly none that were going to be open in the time I was passing, even with a detour. I had to keep pushing on. The day was moving towards evening and my Garmin started to flash its warning of low battery. I plugged in the battery pack and to my dismay it was dead…

Could it get any worse?

To get to my destination I needed the map. It was not a simple route to navigate to Prestwick. I had chosen a winding route to avoid the A78 as much as possible. It took me round the back roads and cycle routes as well as trying to circumnavigate the town. I would have to stop and find somewhere to charge up using a power socket, but where?

I was in the industrial area of Irvine, no cafe’s or even convenient fast food restaurants to speak of. In the end I spied a petrol station and relied on simply asking for help. Given my state I was immediately gifted food, drink and a source of power. With all batteries being re-charged I mull over what has been one hell of a day so far. Conversations bring me to where I am and what the next 10 miles might bring up for me. Local knowledge is always better than relying on a map.

As we talk I take a glance outside – I thought that a high sided lorry had pulled up as the room had been thrust into shadow. No such luck. The darkness was the thickest, blackest rain cloud you could imagine. The look of horror on my face prompted my companion to check how charged the Garmin was.

“It’s 20% will that do?” she asked?

It will have too – this cloud is not going anywhere and I am not going to outrun it.  Better to get out in the dry than wait any longer and prolong the inevitable. I may get a few miles before the heavens open.

Conditions are far from helpful. The torrential rain impedes my progress and makes navigating a problem. The Garmin is trying to get me to ride down the A78 which at this point is a duel carriageway.  In the light on a dry sunny day I would probably give it a go – but in this weather, with this darkness there is no chance. I had wanted to take the route into Troon anyway and along the cycle path to Prestwick – I couldn’t understand why now the Garmin was telling me different.

I take the Troon road – knowing that is the right direction and trusting that the Garmin will just sort itself out when it realises I am trying to go a different way. The automated re-routing had been working thus far on the trip when I had deviated from its scripted course. Typically today this was not going to be the case. A gremlin in the works and an operator who, at this point, is soaked through, freezing cold and experiencing a sense of humour bypass doesn’t lend itself to an easy ride. No matter what I do it keeps trying to take me towards the A78.  Take a look at the relive video, it gives you an idea of how close I was yet so far away.

Eventually the rain relaxed a little, enough for me to read the map and to re-work the route. Following the list of names on the written map I managed to get myself around Troon and then back onto the Prestwick Road and the cycle path that would take me all the way to my destination.

Arriving over 2 hours later than I expected my host Ellen was all kindness and consideration. She carried my wet bags into the hallway and place them on laid out towels. Then she walked me around to the side of the house where I would be able to lock my bike for the night and guided me into my room. As I let the warm water fall over me she found me a warm coat so I could take the short walk up the road to the local restaurant and even researched a bike shop opening times for me. As I changed and got myself ready to go find food she was happy to put my wet things in the wash and hang everything else out on the radiators to dry.

Today I felt so looked after.  As I sipped my glass of wine waiting for dinner I couldn’t believe how far I had travelled in just one day. It seemed impossible that all this could happen in the space of just 12 hours.

Work with Nicky and live your adventure

As a bravery coach I support my clients to get curious about living a life full of adventure and find the courage to step out of their comfort zone. We work in partnership – I listen, reflect and empower my clients to create action from inaction and encourage them to follow their dreams and ideas through to conclusion.

Could this be the moment you stopped wishing and started doing?

Nicky completed JOGLE in May 2017 raising money and awareness for Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court. To find out why Nicky chose this charity you can follow this link.

To sponsor Nicky you can head to JustGiving and pledge your donation.

Visit Other JOGLE Journals

Day 1 :  Day 2 : Day 3 : Day 4 : Day 5 : Day 6 : Day 7 : Day 8 : Day 9 : Day 10 : Day 11 : Day 12 : Day 13