Journey from Birmingham through Ross-on-Wye, Cardiff, Bath, Bournemouth, across the Channel to St Malo, Mohon, back to Bournemouth and on to Cholderton, Oxford, Harpenden and Camden Town
Twelve swans on the river Wye near Ross-on-Wye. At Ross-on-Wye I gave a talk to the Methodist / URC church which generated a brilliant £299.75 in donations. Rev Glyn & Sheila Jenkins kindly put me up for the night.
On my way to Cardiff I passed the Newport Transporter Bridge over the river Usk. It’s an aerial ferry which opened in 1906 and is still operational some of the time. In Cardiff I managed to get an interview with Radio Cardiff.
View of the Second Severn (M4 motorway) Bridge from the Severn Suspension (M48 motorway) Bridge.
Between Bristol and Bath I cycled along the Bristol and Bath Railway Path (former Midland Railway).
After Bath I headed on towards Bournemouth where I had planned to pass by Sue Stone. Sue is a life coach http://www.suestone.com/ who I had met before. I had learned that she was holding a retreat workshop in Brittany around the time I was to pass through Bournemouth with one place available. After thinking it over I decided I would take a boat across to France and cycle to join it!
Here is my bicycle on the car ferry from Poole to Guernsey. I had to stop over half a day there and then take another ferry to St Malo in France.
St Peter Port, Guernsey and a blue letterbox! Isn’t it amazing how things can change over such small distances. Pillarboxes were trialled in the Channel Islands in the 1850s before they were introduced to mainland Britain. It reminded me of how language dialect can change over small distances too. The day I cycled from Manchester to Liverpool, a distance of just 35 miles, was enough to change it from Lancastrian to Scouse.
Coming into St Malo the ferry passed a lighthouse (Phare du Grand Jardin) and there were many yachts sailing around. The old city of St Malo is surrounded by fortress walls and the town has a long and spectacular beach.
From St Malo I crossed the La Rance Tidal Barrage when the tide was coming in. Here the tidal range is 8 meters. It became operational in 1966 and generates the equivalent power used by a town of 225,000 people.
En route to Mohon I passed through this quiet French village (it was Sunday). I managed to take a cross-country route cycling along country lanes for much of the way.
Unfortunately I found the routes that google maps recommended for bicycles in Brittany not as reliable as I had found them in the UK. I had to backtrack several times when the route became too impassable. Here is a ford along a farm track that I decided not to cross. I thought there was a good chance the route would get worse and I didn’t want to have to turn around and come back through the ford a second time! Eventually I reached my destination (an old farmhouse).
Special lunch outing in Josselin during Sue’s retreat workshop (all women except me!). It was great to make some new friends and I found the retreat useful with plenty for me to work on and practice during the coming weeks and months back in the UK.
On the cycle back to St Malo I passed a water tower featuring an impressive painting of Theodore Bortrel. He was a popular singer–songwritier, poet and playright born in Dinan nearby in 1868. It made a nice change to seeing mobile phone antennas, etc. on water towers back in the UK. The road sign is similar in format to many in the countryside at turnings off what in the UK would be a B road to little hamlets and other places.
A group of cyclists out for a Saturday ride in St Helier, Jersey. The boat journey back from St Malo to Poole meant stopping there for half a day.
Elizabeth Castle at St Helier and Corbiere lighthouse just off Jersey. There have been plenty of shipwrecks around here in the past. When I got back to Poole that evening it was raining hard and I went round in circles for a while before I found a route back to Bournemouth via Sandbanks and along the seafront.
After Bournemouth I went to Oxford via Cholderton. Here is a country lane I went along between Cholderton and Oxford.
After Oxford I passed through Aylesbury where I joined the Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union Canal joining the main canal at Marsworth. From Marsworth I cycled south along the canal to Berkhamsted.
From Berkhamstead I took a cross-country route to Harpenden. It was great to meet up with friends in my home town at High Street Methodist Church http://highstreet.church/ including Rev Mark Hammond here outside the church. A celebratory chocolate cake and mugs of tea appeared!
After a night staying near Hapenden with Ben & Diana Batt (more church friends) I cycled the last 27 miles to Camden Town. The CtCT Challenge was physically completed!
8,189 miles (Cairo to Cape Town) last year followed by 1,864 miles (Cork to Camden Town) this summer = 10,053 miles. Over £33,000 has been donated or pledged to Christian Aid’s work in Africa so far which is amazing. If you can add £1 or more to that total it would be fantastic. Please go to www.virginmoneygiving.com/nick.simon
Emma (daughter), Guy (son) and Katherine (Guy’s fiancée) met me at the ‘finish line’ in Camden Town and we later enjoyed a celebration meal together at Lemonia in nearby Primrose Hill.