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.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The Western Isles Itinerary


A few people have asked for more details of where we are going and when. I’ve had to draw up a strict timetable because so much depends on the ferry timetables – with some ferry routes only used once or twice a week, falling behind by even a few minutes could mean the difference between catching or missing a vital ferry and having the whole schedule set back by several days.  So that’s why the itinerary has to be planned so carefully – it’s not that I’m normally so organised!  So here is an outline (islands in capital letters):


















The Oban - Mull ferry at Craignure

April
29:     BUTE
30:     GREAT CUMBRAE and ARRAN
May
1:       (ARRAN) & HOLY ISLAND, then ferry to Claonaig
2:       GIGHA
3:       ISLAY (stay overnight)
4:       (ISLAY) & JURA
5:       SEIL ISLAND, LUING, EASDALE
6:       COLL
7:       TIREE
8:       Oban
9:       KERRERA, LISMORE
10:     Mallaig
11:     RUM
12:     CANNA, MUCK, EIGG, SKYE
13:     RAASAY
14:     HARRIS
15:     LEWIS, GT BERNERA
16:     SCALPAY
17:     BERNERAY, N. UIST
18:     BALESHARE, GRIMSAY, BENBECULA, FLODAIGH,  GRIOMASAIGH, S. UIST, ERISKAY, BARRA
19:     VATERSAY
20:     (SKYE) (again)
21:     MULL
22:     (MULL) & ULVA
23:     IONA, ERRAID
24:     COLONSAY & ORONSAY
25:     Finish at Oban.
















Tobermory

I make that 41 islands… but if you know of any more (inhabited, accessible by regular ferry or road) then feel free to let me know! Having said that, St Kilda, Ailsa Craig and the like are out of the question!  (The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that I originally had 40 on this blog - I'm grateful to Baz (@bazzargh on Twitter) for pointing out the tiny island of Griomasaigh, which I had missed!)

Incidentally we now have accommodation on Bute, Arran, Islay, West Tarbert and Oban, Portree (Skye) and Mull, but are still looking for Coll, Tiree, most of the Outer Hebrides and Mallaig – so if you’re reading this and have a spare bedroom (or know someone else who might have) – please let me know.  We’ll make a donation to Cancer Research UK for each night we’re home-hosted.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Cycling 111 miles from Clitheroe to York and back (nearly!)


Yesterday was the longest bike ride of the year so far:  Ruth Warman, a fellow member of Clitheroe Bike Club, had planned to ride from Clitheroe to York and back to raise funds for Everyman Male Cancer and I thought it would be a good idea to go with her for a bit of moral support.  It’s nearly 65 miles each way, so to do this in one day is a serious undertaking.















Ruth & Mum at the start in Clitheroe

Two of Ruth’s friends were also hoping to join her but had to drop out: I must admit, whilst suffering from a touch of man-flu the previous day, I was having misgivings myself, but… well, there’s no substitute for a bit of exercise to see off those coughs and sneezes!  So I arrived at the Platform Gallery on time at 8.00 am to find Ruth and her mum who was there to see her off.  There’s not much traffic at that time on a Sunday morning so we decided to follow the main A59 to Skipton rather than use hillier country roads through Rimington and Barnoldswick.

I hadn’t ridden with Ruth before so it was reassuring to find that we were both on about the same pace.  She’s also very polite, taking her turns at the front, so I had no doubt we would get on for the rest of the day!  Through a quiet Skipton, past Chelker Reservoir where the ageing wind turbines are always stationary, then the lovely downhill through Addingham. Just as had my hands full with some food the car in front of me decided to stop, which was a bit interesting!





















Red Kite

From Ilkley the traffic can be avoided by taking a really pleasant country road on the other side of the Wharfe, quiet but for the Sunday rugby games which were just starting on the town’s pitches. Otley next, then Pool and a short stretch of the busy Leeds – Harrogate road before turning on to more quiet country lanes. It was here that I saw the first Red Kite of the day, hanging in the air above a small copse and really quite close to us. For the next few miles these magnificent birds were almost everywhere – imposing birds of prey with long wings and a forked tail, seemingly oblivious to our presence. Sometimes we could see four at once. I still get that jaw-dropping feeling at times like this.

Through Sicklinghall to Wetherby (where a Sparrowhawk dashed across the road so close in front of me that I nearly hit it) then a fast, level 12 miles with a helping tailwind to York. Although I told Ruth that I know York quite well, I usually only walk around the centre, so of course I went the wrong way (for a bike) and ended going the wrong way along a one-way street (which was effectively pedestrianised anyway with the Sunday shopping throngs). Right at the end of the street a policeman pointed out the error of my ways, but he was really polite and let us carry on. 



















At York Minster

And then we were at York Minster, which seemed a fitting place to end the first leg.  I never cease to marvel at the work that went into this iconic building.

From here it was a short ride along the River Ouse to the house of my son Mark and his wife Sandra, where we grabbed a brew and freshly-baked scone.  It was after 2.00 pm when we left, so we knew we were going to need lights later on.














Near Sicklinghall a Fox ran across the road just in front of us and the Red Kites were hanging around again. The wind wasn’t as helpful on the return, and it took us over two hours to get to Otley, where we were both ready for the loo. It took a while to find them, by which time the man from the Council was just closing them.  Now you’ve all heard stories about ‘jobsworths’ so I have to say that this gentleman was a delightful exception. He said he was happy to wait, in fact he would keep an eye on our bikes, and then directed us to a good bikers cafĂ© where we had a coffee and a big plate of chips.

I couldn’t believe that it was now 5.00 o’clock! And still 35 miles to go! So off we set on the back road to Ilkley in fading light, then found a section of old road which gave us a quiet entry to Addingham where it’s a long, long uphill.  The light was OK when we started but by the time we got to the top it was dark!!  The pubs in Addingham looked so inviting I was tempted to just stop there and ring Val for a lift home! (I didn’t, of course!).  However, as we passed Chelker Reservoir again, Ruth’s front light went out with a dud battery. We decided that it would be too dangerous to cycle all the way to Clitheroe, so I rang Val and asked her to meet us at Skipton Station. Ruth tucked in behind me for safety and as we carried on to Skipton, the temperature dropped like a stone.

In the town itself we had our second encounter with the police – a fast-moving patrol car stopped as it came towards us: the driver wound down his window, shouted “Have you seen an Audi going fast up here? Which way did he go?” Almost before we could answer, he dropped the clutch and sped off again – very exciting!
















Skipton Station

By the time we got to the Station we’d done 111 miles, so Ruth’s promise of doing 100 miles for Everyman Male Cancer was well and truly fulfilled. It seemed a nice thought that in the spirit of mutual assistance, men could raise money for women’s cancer while women could reciprocate by raising money for men’s cancers! 

This morning my sore throat and runny nose have now returned but I’m glad I did this ride with Ruth. Not just because she was good company, or that the ride was pleasant, but I know how lonely it can be doing such a long stint all alone, with no moral support, when you’re not sure of the way, or things (like batteries!) let you down. Even though when I cycled the coast, much of the cycling was alone, I still had a support crew nearby and on call: it may sound a bit strange, but none of that journey was as lonely as a solo ride to York and back would have been.

Ruth isn’t far from her fund-raising target, and if you could help by making a donation at https://www.justgiving.com/RuthWarman-WillcycleforEveryman it would be much appreciated.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

A Western Isles Update


People are so brilliant!!  As you know, I’m planning a cycle tour of 39 of Scotland’s Western Isles with Richard Dugdale, starting 28 April.  I think I’ve already mentioned the problem with camping, and the cost of B&B every night for 28 nights is not cheap, to say the least!  So I’ve been putting out feelers and the response has been terrific!

Through a network of friends, friends of friends, Warmshowers.org and Twitter (which was so helpful on my Cycle Round Britain’s Coast) we have so far been offered accommodation for 10 nights, from Bute to Mull and from Islay to Oban.  It’s adding a whole new dimension to the ride as we’ll be meeting several old friends and several complete strangers – it should be great!

So far we’re still a bit thin for Skye and the Outer Hebrides, but I’ll keep working on it.  If you, dear reader, know of anyone in those areas who might be able to help (also Mallaig and Ballachulish/Onich), please let me know.

Mentioning Skye reminds me of a trip about six and a half years ago, when Ian Hardy and I decided to do the two-day walk of the Trotternish Ridge. Naturally the weather turned rough, and the night camping on the tops was really bad – the rain and high winds meant we had to pitch the tent on sloping ground.  We spend all night slithering to the bottom end of the tent and then trying to shuffle back up again, discovering in the process that the groundsheet wasn’t waterproof any longer! But that wasn’t the best bit…

Back in Portree on a Saturday afternoon we went to a pub for a ‘refresher’ when in came a chap about 40 yrs old, clearly the ‘worse for wear’.  He looked me straight in the eye and said, in that distinctive Islands accent, “Everyone’s a homosexual.”  “Really?” I replied, not quite sure if that was the correct response.  “Why, are you one?” he asked. “No,” I said “But it was made legal a few years ago;  we’ve been out on the hill for two days and I just wondered if they’d made it compulsory whilst we were away.”


At this point his friend arrived, explaining that they were the rump of the Portree Football Team who had been over to Stornoway, where they were soundly beaten and were now back on Skye drowning their sorrows (I think they’d been working hard at this for a few hours).

We talked about life on Skye, then they said how rubbish the English were, so I tried to make a brave defence of my native country. Then one of them said “Right, what are you two girlies having to drink?” I said “I’ll have a pint of heavy and Ian will have a Talisker, thank you.”

“Did you no mind me calling you girlies?”

I said “Well, you’re buying a round – let’s get the drinks in and then we’ll discuss the girlie business!”

That seemed to go down well. We soon left for another pub, and then another, and just as I was thinking that we were going to end up inebriated, the first fella said “Sorry guys, we’re going to have to go home, we can’t stand up any longer.”  That was a relief.  They were good company but I didn’t relish the thought of a major hangover the day after!

Happy days!

Friday, 10 February 2012

The Next Big Ride


Planning is underway for the next Tour – this time the Western Isles of Scotland, in April and May 2012.

Which islands to visit?  It’s not as easy as it sounds – but for various reasons I decided that I would include all those that were inhabited and accessible by a scheduled ferry service, or directly by road (like Skye, or Great Berneray). Uninhabited islands, like Staffa, aren’t included.  After all, if there are no roads at all then it’s not really worth it on a bike tour!

As always there are exceptions. Ulva, off the west coast of Mull, doesn’t have a scheduled ferry service, but the man there will come across the narrow sound as soon as you send a signal, so it would be a shame to miss it!

So I have 39 islands on the list, starting with Bute in the Firth of Clyde on 29th April, and finishing with Colonsay (and Oronsay) on 24/25 May. The mileage isn’t massive but there are a few other changes this time:

I’ve got company: seasoned touring cyclist Richard Dugdale is coming with me. Richard leads a number of CTC Tours at home and abroad (including China). He also has a genuine pennyfarthing, which takes some riding. You can find his blog at http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/Pennyfarthing/

I’m not travelling light – it’s the touring bike with panniers this time, carrying everything I need for four weeks.

I will be fund-raising for Cancer Research UK of course, but perhaps not as ‘full-on’ as last time – after all, there are only so many times I can persuade all my friends to part with their hard-earned cash. But of course, if anyone wants to make a donation they can still follow the link to http://www.justgiving.com/Bill-Honeywell

The Route

This took some sorting out! You can’t just go from one island to the next, because the ferry timetables don’t allow it. Still, after a few evenings of poring over the timetables and head-scratching, I’ve managed a roughly South-North route which goes roughly Bute – Arran – Islay – Coll & Tiree, Small Isles, Skye, Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Mull, Colonsay.  I’ll work out the mileage some time and let you know.

Accommodation

This is now the BIG challenge! A motorhome is totally impracticable because of ferry costs. Camping is out of the question because I’m too soft (I can’t stand cold and my back isn’t up to hard ground) and 28 nights’ B&B is too expensive. So…. We’re looking for local people to offer us a bed for a night (well, two beds actually!) – we’re not bad company, honest, and anyhow we’ll probably be in bed by 10 o’clock!

So far we’ve got one night’s accommodation arranged on Mull – with thanks to Tony and Jean Wagstaff – and we’ve got people coming back to us for a couple of other locations, but we’re looking for volunteers elsewhere – can you help? Do you live near one of our overnight stops or know someone who does?  Here’s the list:-

Rothesay (Bute), Brodick (Arran), Kennacraig, near West Tarbert (3 nights total), Port Askaig (Islay), Oban (2 nights), Coll, Tiree, Onich/Ballachulish, Mallaig (2 nights), Broadford (Skye), Portree (Skye), Tarbert (Harris), Lewis, Lochmaddy (N Uist), Barra, Uig (Skye) Mallaig again, Oban (another 2 nights) and Scalsaig (Colonsay).

Any help would be VERY much appreciated!

That’s enough for now! I’ll post some more information on how the preparations are going soon.  In the meantime if you have any comments or suggestions, DO let me know!