I'm a double cancer survivor, cyclist and walker who does various challenges for different charities, mainly cancer-related.

My latest trip was a three-week tour of Tasmania in February 2015; amongst other things, I've cycled from Land's End to John o'Groats (2003), Rotterdam to Lemvig (Denmark) (2005), walked the Pennine Way (2008) completed the ascent of all 214 'Wainwrights' in the Lake District in only 55 days (2009), cycled 4,500 miles around the coast of Great Britain (2011), cycled all 42 of the accessible Western Isles of Scotland in under a month (2012), twice abseiled 230 ft from the top of The Big One in Blackpool, cycled the WWI Western Front from London to Compiegne via Ypres and Arras (2014) and cycled 750 miles in the Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton (2014).

Altogether I've raised over £70,000 for my charities including The Christie, Cancer Research UK, the Rosemere Cancer Foundation, and ABF (The Soldiers' Charity) and I was mightily chuffed to receive the British Empire Medal in the 2014 New Year's Honours List.

I'm a Rotarian and give illustrated talks about my adventures in exchange for a donation to charity, so if you're looking for a speaker leave me a message. I am also Event Organiser for the Ribble Valley Ride Cycle Sportive, to be held this year on Sunday 14 June 2015 - more details at www.ribblevalleyride.org

You can also follow me on Twitter - @CancerBikeMan and on Facebook - just search for Bill Honeywell

Cancer Research UK is the world's leading charity dedicated to beating cancer through research, whilst The Rosemere does fantastic work for patients in Lancashire and South Cumbria.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Day 49 – Dawlish to Stoke Fleming (nr Dartmouth)

35 miles – total 3,195 miles

When I planned this route I decided to allow some margin every now and again, partly for rest, but also so that if I fell behind schedule I could have a chance of catching up.  Today and tomorrow are two such days, and they coincide with the chance to meet up with some old friends.

Perhaps it was good timing, because for yesterday’s supper we treated ourselves to fish and chips, and overnight I felt decidedly under the weather – whether the two were connected or not I don’t know, but this morning I was certainly not at 100%.

I got several messages to say that I had been on BBC Breakfast TV but sadly all were mistaken – all I can think is that someone else is cycling around Britain and has better contacts that me!  If anyone can tell me who it was, please let me know.
































So slightly later than usual I set off through Dawlish and Teignmouth before crossing the bridge over the Teign into Shaldon, which has its name spelt out in an old fashioned floral display at the side of the road.  It’s a long climb out of Shaldon but the rewards are great views back to Teignmouth.  The road is busy though, with lots of heavy traffic.



















My father was born and bred near here, in Buckfastleigh, and as I pedalled I was reminded of all those family holidays which seemed to consist solely of visiting relatives, and getting thoroughly bored while Mum, Dad and Aunty so-and-so chatted away for far too long about things which didn’t interest me in the slightest.  I’m sure there were some visits to the beach too, but that wouldn’t suit me now either!

I managed to resist visiting the model village in Babbacombe, on the outskirts of Torquay.  Many years ago Fairport Convention recorded a concept album called Babbacombe Lee – not to everyone’s taste, perhaps, but one of my favourites.

In Torquay a motorist pulled alongside, opened the window and asked if I was Bill Honeywell – somewhat taken aback, I said I was, so he stopped and explained that he was Mike Bell, a friend of Michael & Liz Parkinson in Clitheroe, knew I was doing the ride and followed me on the tracker at www.fleetsmartlive.com until I was nearby.  Nice of him to take the trouble.
































Brixham

The traffic in Torquay, Paignton and Brixham is terrible – goodness knows how frustrating it must be to live there and spend most of your life stuck in a queue! But I finally got through to the harbour at Brixham (a replica of Sir Frances Drake’s Golden Hind is still there) and then made my way up to Berry Head, a fortification built during the Napoleonic Wars when it probably replaced an iron age fort.  I got talking to someone who, in his younger days, used to time-trial fixed wheel bikes, and remembered going down Haldon Hill (?) into Plymouth so fast he couldn’t keep his feet on the pedals. He gave me a tenner for Cancer Research UK too.



















We got talking because I don’t have a bell on the bike and I was coming up behind him (he was in a group of three, filling the path).  What I do in these circumstances is either shout “DING-A-LING!!” or something like “I haven’t got a bell but will ‘DING-A-LING’ do?”.  Most people, including today’s gentleman, see the funny side.

Meanwhile the van had been held up by a bad traffic accident, so I didn’t get lunch until the top of the hill before Kingswear, after which it was a fast descent to the Lower Dart Ferry – a strange affair.  There are two vessels which each take eight vehicles;  they are each driven and manoeuvred by a tug which runs alongside – I’ve never seen anything like that before.





















Milepost near the Lower Dart Ferry




















Dartmouth is full of character, with steep, narrow streets and an old castle on the headland.  After paying a brief visit, and meeting a holidaying couple from Lancashire, I girded up my loins for the long, long climb to the A379 which led to Stoke Fleming.  We were early, so carried on to Blackpool Sands just beyond. Almost as soon as I arrived, our friends Andrew and Merida turned up too, so it was time for an ice cream and a catch-up before we decided that the motorhome won’t fit in their drive and we’d better book in to a caravan site nearby.



















Looking back to Kingswear

We’ll go out for a meal tonight before another easy day tomorrow.  But on Saturday the hard work resumes in earnest, with over 70 miles, two ferries, plenty of hills and a change of crew.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Day 48 – Weymouth to Dawlish

65 miles: total 3,160 miles

Glorious Devon, at last!  But those hills!

At 7.30 this morning I was enjoying my usual breakfast of kippers and Earl Grey tea (only kidding! – cereals and milk!) whilst to my right, people on the caravan site were already sunbathing, which I must admit I found rather odd.



















Abbotsbury

Chesil Beach ran parallel to the coast even when the road went some way inland, but later I neared the coast again at Abbotsbury, home of the famous Swannery and a pretty village in itself.  Then for some reason there was a bit of a cock-up on the route-plotting front:  On my paper map I clearly crossed out the track that runs right alongside Chesil Beach after Abbotsbury, but it was still plotted that way on my SatNav so that’s the way I went.




















The road got rougher and rougher and eventually almost merged with the beach: I ended up walking some sections but at least I could see a car park in the distance, so I knew that eventually I’d end up back on tarmac, at West Bexington as it happened.

At Bridport my route left town on a narrow lane which climbed steeply for some time. A man in one of those convertible two-seater Mazda sports cars shouted at me, perhaps because he thought I was out of order not veering off into the verge on my side.  The irony of the fact that his wife was driving far too fast, and that he was holding their toddler on his knee (!!) seemed to escape him.




















From now on the route along Dorset's famous Jurassic Coast was a repeating succession of long climbs, then a drop down to a town or village at sea level, followed by another long climb, and so on.  First Chideock and Charmouth, then Lyme Regis, with The Cobb which featured in The French Lieutenant’s Woman.



















The Cobb at Lyme Regis

Just out of Lyme Regis came the ‘Welcome to Devon’ sign, an encouraging sight, and the ups and downs got steeper!  At Axmouth there was yet another Ship Inn, as well as the oldest standing concrete bridge in England.


















































Seaton, Beer and Branscombe – all in beautiful country;  there is a traditional old-fashioned forge in Branscombe, and a church with a strange turret on the side.  Some other scenery is truly uplifting – like the mass of purple flowers planted at the roadside by a crossroads.













































There is a famous Donkey Sanctuary at Weston, and just before Sidmouth I came across the Norman Lockyer Observatory, established in 1912 and very much involved in education.



















After a pit stop in Sidmouth came the longest, steepest hill of the day – I thought it was never going to end!  I’ve always thought Budleigh Salterton was a wonderful-sounding place, but (although there was nothing wrong with it) I wasn’t struck by anything unusual.
































After some proper country roads (with grass growing in the middle) on the outskirts of Exmouth, I arrived at the ferry to Starcross, with a 45-minute wait on my hands.  Once on the water it was really cold and I was glad to get off at the other side – which involves crossing the railway line on a footbridge for good measure.

From the pretty village of Starcross it was a short ride to tonight’s caravan site, Leadstone, at Dawllish. When I arrived I thought for a split-second that my dad had turned up, but it was his brother, Arthur, who lives in Dawlish and came out to say hello.

Overall a good day- hard work up all the hills, but somehow they are easier for the mind to deal with than headwinds – perhaps it’s because you can see them, perhaps it’s the fact that with headwinds you feel you’ve been unlucky – on another day they might have been behind you – I’m not sure.  But I didn’t mind the hills too much today.

Tomorrow, after Torbay, we are staying at the house of some friends, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to do the blog as usual but if not, I’ll catch up soon after.  I’m getting my sights set on Land’s End…

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Day 47 – Swanage to Weymouth

54 miles – total 3,095 miles

Today I left behind the busy south-east and entered proper rural Dorset.  First of all I had to climb from the caravan site back up to the road near Langton Matravers – a good start if you want to get warmed up quickly!  



















The scenery was rolling fields with the sea in the distance – nice to see lots of green for a change!
































I could see Corfe Castle in the distance, and after the steep descent from Kingston, the village of Corfe Castle soon appeared.  The castle has an absolutely superb setting, overlooking the village from a high knoll, and probably looks better in its ruined state than it would in perfect condition.




















The next section was great fun, up and down through quiet villages of thatched cottages before a longish climb before turning left to East Lulworth. But at this point I was faced with a big red flag, a locked gate across the road and a sign saying that the road was closed for miltary training. There was nothing for it but to make a big detour around Grange Heath before passing Lulworth Castle and Lulworth Camp, where the semi-automatic gunfire was so-close to the road that I was getting a little worried – I think I was pedalling faster than usual!
























That'll be as opposed to 'Gradual Gunfire' then...

































West Lulworth is a very pretty village, and Lulworth Cove is also very attractive - and extremely interesting from a geological point of view, but it’s obviously a big tourist attraction, with visitor centre, shops, and all the other paraphernalia.  Still, I had a look at the twisted rock strata before climbing away again.  



















I didn't visit Durdle Door but brother John went to have a look and took this photo from some distance away - it's a pretty impressive sea arch!



















This was cycling like I’m used to at home, with plenty of hills, not like the flat terrain I’ve been on for the last two weeks.  Mind you, up in Lancashire we don’t have any white horses carved into the hillsides!



















Weymouth is bigger than it looks, with the seaside part followed by quite a bit of ‘town’ on the way to Portland, really a peninsula consisting of the original Portland Stone, connected to the mainland by the narrow causeway that is Chesil Beach, the longest gravel spit in Britain.

































It’s a big lump of rock which meant another climb over the top before dropping the surprisingly long distance to Portland Bill at its southern tip, where, reminiscent of Dungeness, there is a conglomeration of wooden huts, although this time they really are beach huts rather than over-priced houses.

Retracing my steps I soon came back to tonight’s caravan site – Pebble Beach at Wyke Regis just outside Weymouth.  We’re next door to another army training ground, and small arms fire is rattling away as I type this blog.

I’m now in a spell of a few shorter days, although there are lots of hills to get up and down – tomorrow, after Lyme Regis, I’ll reach Devon and visit the wonderfully-named Beer, as well as Sidmouth and Budleigh Salterton before taking the Exmouth to Star Cross ferry.

Did I mention that I’m now over half-way to my target of £20,000 for Cancer Research UK?  But only just!  There’s still lots of donations needed, so please don’t be shy and go to www.justgiving.com/Bill-Honeywell - every donation is welcome!

STOP PRESS: I’ve just heard from the organisers of the Rock the Castle Gig, which takes place at Clitheroe Castle on Friday 12 August, that they are donating a third of the profits to my Cancer Research UK fund.  So make a note in your diary to attend!  I’ll get more details and post them soon! 

Monday, 27 June 2011

Day 46 – Warsash (nr Southampton) to Swanage – Part 2

81 miles; Total 3,041 miles

Enter the New Forest. Trees, Ponies. Beaulieu.
































The Needles in the distance




















Followed by Lymington and a couple of seaside places – Milford-on-Sea and Barton-on-Sea with views of the Isle of Wight, before Highcliffe and Mudeford Quay, where we met up with Val’s cousin John and family.
































The loneliness of the long-distance sunbather

John promised me I’d have a pleasant cycle through Christchurch and Bournemouth, but I’m not sure – old Christchurch was fine but the seafront at Bournemouth was a nightmare of thousands of people walking about apparently aimlessly and making cycling a near-impossibility.  Soon I was at that most expensive stretch of real estate, Sandbanks, sticking out into the entrance to Poole Harbour and leading to the chain-driven ferry across to the ‘Isle’ of Purbeck.



















Now this is some ferry – it takes double decker buses!  On the other side all is heathland for a while before reaching Swanage – another seaside town – from where the road heads relentlessy uphill through Langton Matravers, over a steam railway with proper old-fashioned railway engines, up into rolling countryside before the drop down to Haycrafts Caravan Club Site.




















Val and Alan had arrived somewhat stressed out after the SatNav had taken them down some narrow roads that were virtually impassable.  They weren’t impressed by my advice – after the event – to ignore the SatNav and rely on (a) the map and (b) the Caravan Club directions.

I think I’ve passed through the busiest part of the south coast now.  It’s been interesting, but I can’t say I’ll be sad to leave it behind. Since Broadstairs it’s been a busy stretch of coastline, fully developed and very congested.  There are population pressures in this part of the world, I know, but – despite having many spectacular natural features – it’s not the prettiest part of Britain’s coast, at least not in my opinion.

Some nice parts of Dorset to come now, then Devon and Cornwall so a great deal of hilly terrain too. We’ll soon see if all those miles – over 3,000 now, since 10 May - have made me fitter or just worn out!

Day 46 – Warsash (nr Southampton) to Swanage - Part One

81 miles; Total 3,041 miles

A leg injury
Two ferries – one pink, one chain-driven
A visit to the world’s largest cruise company offices
Val plays a blinder with a Southampton traffic warden
A visit from Val’s cousin near Bournemouth

Now, I keep forgetting to mention brother John, aka Captain Greybeard of Cruise Blog fame. He’s accompanying us this week in the motorhome and was beginning to feel a bit left out, not having been mentioned and all that.  So – HELLO JOHN!




















Before even setting off this morning I managed to walk straight into one of the wooden benches on the camp site and give my leg a large lesion and a big bruise. Ouch! It probably needs lots of fresh air, so no problem there.

































The Pink Ferry from Warsash to Hamble is amazing. I didn’t think anything could be that pink. It was 8.40 and the lady waiting at the jetty told me I would get a telling off for arriving before the official starting time of 9.00. It was a fairly mild telling off:  the skipper has also survived cancer, so I think we hit it off, although – quite rightly – he still charged me £1.75 for the trip.


































Hamble is rather quaint and as I’ve already photographed a Nimrod and a Phantom on this trip, I thought you’d like to see one of the Red Arrows Gnats.

Along traffic-free tarmac roads through the Victoria Country Park, then along the side of Southampton Water. I was a bit worried about the busy roads in the city, and approaching the Itchen Bridge I managed to persuade another cyclist to remove one of his iPod’s earphones so he could tell me how best to cross it, which he kindly did. Or at least he suggested I follow him, up some steps on to the bridge itself. No problem.

Back to the man who I failed to mention until tonight. John writes a most excellent blog concerned with anything and everything cruise-related – it’s at www.captaingreybeard.com and he is also a twitterer - @captgreybeard.  He had arranged for me to visit the Southampton HQ of Carnival UK, the umbrella organisation for P&O, Cunard and Princess Cruises, to meet those lovely PR ladies Michele and Kate (pictured). The powers that be didn’t approve of me taking the bicycle inside and so a lock was fetched – which turned out to be a gold anchor chain – look at the size of that!



















Kate had very kindly cooked up some Lemon Drizzle buns, so I volunteered to be test pilot for one. Michele is doing the Race for Life for Cancer Research UK next weekend. Val and Alan turned up and we had a very pleasant meeting in the atrium of Carnival’s exceedingly plush offices.

Now, as promised, I must tell you about Val and her absolutely first-class blagging skills!  She had left the motorhome on a Pay and Display Car Park, with a 2-hour ticket in the windscreen. When she returned, a Traffic Warden was studying said ticket and making a few clicking noises with his tongue.  Val asked him if anything was the matter.

“Well you see, you’re taking up two spaces, so you should have bought two tickets.”

Val said “I know that, but I knew I was only staying for one hour, so I bought ONE ticket for TWO hours instead.”

“Oh, well that seems to be OK then.” A pause. “But actually, the vehicle is crossing this line too, which means it is technically taking up three spaces.” To which Val replied:

“I’m a woman driver, what can you expect?”

The Traffic Warden laughed his head off, put his notebook back in his pocket and walked away!

She’s brilliiant, my missus.

After negotiating the rest of Southampton past the docks and all the other busy stuff, I was soon back in quiet lanes, over the little toll bridge at Eling (free for bikes) I carried on through the lovely Hythe, with its pier, and the not-quite-so-lovely Fawley, with its power station, to the picturesque seafront at Lepe, where I met another cyclist called Roy Jeffries, who was on holiday but had wisely brought his bike with him.  Also retired, and, like me, with us courtesy of the NHS, Roy and I seemed to be on the same wavelength as we cycled the five miles or so to my first official brew stop at Exbury, on the edge of the New Forest.




















At which point I’m going to post this blog as Part One, otherwise the whole thing is going to be too long. Hopefully Part Two will arrive shortly!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Day 45 – blimey! 45! – Bognor Regis to Warsash

65.7 miles, total 2,960 miles – today I passed the 2/3rds mark.

The day dawned with great anticipation – yesterday’s weather forecast was for a very warm day with lots of sunshine. The reality was cool, with grey cloud, and light drizzle. I wasn’t surprised.  Of Bognor Regis I saw surprisingly little – virtually nothing at all, in fact, before I was in Aldwick, the suburb to the west.























Notice the drizzly cobwebs

On the way to Selsey I had to keep wiping the drizzly spots of my glasses.  Now Selsey is where Sir Patrick Moore lives, although I don’t know exactly where.  It did strike me as slightly amusing that there is a pub called The Neptune there.  Selsey Bill is, to be fair, just another bit of beach when you get there.



















Pleasant country lanes took me via Wittering to the ferry at West Itchenor (well actually, pedalling took me there but “pleasant country lanes” sounds better). I just missed the Itchenor Roll-on-Roll-off Ferry (see picture) but got chatting to a lady who was going across the water for a bike ride with her two daughters whilst her husband messed around on the water.




















Bosham is a very pleasant village and clearly a bit of a tourist hot spot.  The sun came out and the sky turned blue – fantastic!  A bit of main road through Nutbourne and Emsworth before the causeway to Hayling Island – partly very rural and agricultural, partly touristy with miniature steam engine and beaches.  Approaching the ferry, a fret seemed to move in off the sea, forming an atmospheric mist over the marshes.


































Now I like to say something nice about people wherever I can, but I’m a bit stuck when it comes to the couple who operate the Hayling Island to Portsmouth Ferry.  A more surly woman I find it difficult to imagine.  And her other half had clearly been to the School for Traffic Wardens when it came to marshalling people as they embarked.  There were lots of bikes aboard, and the picture perhaps warrants a caption competition.




















Not that I’m a nit-picker you understand, but just off the ferry I did appreciate the gratuitous apostrophe on the blue van.




















Through Portsmouth now and on to a very big ferry to Gosport where you had to buy tickets at a machine!  The Millennium Tower looks great but does nothing apart from having an observation deck or two at the top.  I love form and function, but this edifice gets 10 for form and 0 for function, making it a bit difficult to judge.





































I saw a sign for the National Submarine Museum and remembered that my great uncle Richard Honeywell had entered posterity by welding teeth on to stripped gear, which was later exhibited in the museum.  But the guy at the entrance had never heard of it, and I didn’t fancy paying the £10 entry to find that it had been removed, so I carried on.




















Lee-on-Solent is a popular seaside resort and was certainly busy today.  Our venue for tonight, Dibles Caravan Park at Warsash, is excellent – spotless and a great welcome.  Soon after arriving we were visited by Suzanne (sister of my good friend Bernadette Brown) and Keith, and spent a convivial half hour in the sun.




















So another day, another milestone (2/3rds done!).  Tomorrow should be 81 miles to Swanage vial Southampton and Bournemouth – let’s hope the weather holds!