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.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Walking in the Axarquía area, Andalucía  – May 2015

Day 2 – Málaga to Cómpeta

We had breakfast in the square near the old town – lots of orange juice and coffee, then showed John, Susan and Roger the way to the Cathedral and the Picasso Museum before heading up to the Castell Gibralfaro – a stiff pull up the path but worth it as the view got better and better towards the top. Yesterday a huge cruise ship had been in the port; today it had been replaced by just a very large ship! The passengers were tendering ashore, and many of those not on organised excursions were going the same way as us – onwards and upwards. The weather was fine and warm and an entrepreneurial local was selling bottles of ice cold drinking water half way up.

After enjoying great views of the port, the bullring, and other features of the city from our vantage point, it was a disappointment not to have enough time to go into the castle area, but as we were being picked up at midday we reckoned that we’d probably have to leave only a few minutes after going in, so we made a gentle way down again, encountering two black (or at least very dark brown) squirrels on the way.

I’d stopped at an ATM to get some money out, when an Englishman, probably from the cruise ship, asked me if the machine was English-friendly, but I misheard him and thought he’d asked if the English were friendly. I was tempted to say something like ‘Not where I come from!’ but thought better of it, then helped translate the Spanish instructions for him. So the English are friendly then.
Back at the hotel we picked up our bags and went to the nearest cafe to wait for our minibus. The idea was that Spanish Steps had arranged to pick up another group, coming from Gatwick earlier this morning, then collect us and take us all to Cómpeta together. The Gatwick group, later known as the ‘B’ group (we were the ‘A’ group of course!) were to walk the Silk Route, staying in three or four different places including Canillas de Albeida and Frigiliana.

Through the outskirts of Málaga, then along the coastal motorway towards Nerja before turning off at Veléz Málaga and heading inland into the mountains. The road snaked up through Algarrobo and Sayalonga, heading higher and higher with many a twist and turn (Linda feeling more and more queasy) until we arrived in Cómpeta’s tiny square – the Plaza Almijara, to be welcomed by Peter Strange, the proprietor of Spanish Steps. He and his wife Sue know Ian and Jackie well – Ian has helped them with baggage transfer in the past as a kind of extended holiday – and soon we were shown to the house which we would all share. It’s a very Spanish house with over 20 rooms, lots of places to bang your head, and about 18 bottles of wine in the wine rack to keep us going through the week.

We were soon allocated bedrooms, then off to the Bar Perico in the square for a late lunch before having a free afternoon to explore the village. The streets are narrow (most only wide enough for pedestrians and mopeds) with the houses almost touching at roof level; very, very steep and of course, very white. The Moorish influence is strong here (even though the last of the Moors left around 500 years ago) making Cómpeta a real pueblo blanco,  looking like it could slide off the side of the hill at any moment.

In fact the village has experienced two devastating earthquakes, destroying the church tower each time, as we learnt from an information board by the main square.

Cómpeta is now so popular that 43% of the population is non-Spanish. Peter told us that when he arrived in the early 1990’s there were very few outsiders, but understandably its popularity has grown and grown, as our exploration of the surrounding area would show over the next few days.

In the evening we ate in the Square again, with Peter, Sue and their son Andy for company, learning about the area, their business, and the walks we would be doing during the coming week. It sounded so good, we all had to finish with a Benedictine!

I’ll tell you about the first walk in the next episode.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Walking in the Axarquía area, Andalucía  – May 2015

A week’s walking and getting to know a quiet corner of southern Spain

Life isn’t all about cycling. There’s plenty of walking to do too!  Every Christmas our friends James and Jill arrange a day’s walking in Lancashire, almost invariably in wet and windy conditions - although last Christmas was a welcome exception.  Last autumn another couple in our little group, Ian and Jackie, suggested being a bit more adventurous and going to Spain for a week. They knew a couple who run ‘Spanish Steps’, a walking holiday and accommodation business based in Cómpeta, not far inland and about an hour from Málaga airport.

Keen to sign up, in addition to ourselves, were James and Jill, John and Susan, Peter and Linda, and Roger, making a group of 11, and so we booked with Spanish Steps’s proprietors, Peter and Sue, who have been running the business for over 20 years,  making them probably the most experienced people in this business in the entire area.

We were to stay in an authentic country ‘town house’ in the village, left to our own devices but with meals provided by friendly bars/restaurants in the village square and guided during the day by Peter or his son Andy.

The holiday started with an early morning flight from Leeds Bradford on a typical cold, wet and windy morning. The contrast with southern Spain, less than three hours later, couldn’t have been more marked. Blue skies and a light, warm breeze welcomed us to the birthplace of Pablo Picasso. We’d arranged to travel a day early so as to have an afternoon and evening in Málaga, so instead of the usual airport transfer we headed across the concourse to the modern railway station.

The automatic machine was a bit of a challenge but nine of us got our tickets from the airport to Málaga Centro-Almeida station at the bargain price of €1.55. John somehow got at cross-purposes with the Spanish instructions and ended up with two tickets to Sobra-somewhere at €8.00 each. I managed to find out how he could get a refund but it was so complicated, and would probably have taken so long, that poor John decided just to write the cost down to experience.

When we arrived in the city centre we found our budget hotel in quick time, then parked our bags (while we waited for the rooms to be got ready) and went for something to eat, along the harbour front. James and John had spotted a place that hired Segways and after a bit of haggling about four of us (excluding me!) had about half an hour on them, with James threatening to kill some poor pedestrian in no time.

Val and I went to have a look around the Cathedral. The turrets on the right hand side look unfinished - apparently the local population left them that way and sent the money they saved to help the residents of Galveston, Texas, buy their town, but whether or not that's true, I can't say.  It's pretty impressive inside though.

Ian had booked a table for 11 in Málaga’s wonderful old town, full of character and not far from where we were staying, but on the way we called at a traditional bar where the wine was served in small straight glasses straight from the barrel and the tab was chalked up on the bar with real chalk. At €1.05 for a glass it wasn’t the best wine in the world but it was great fun!

We had a great variety of tapas at the restaurant before making our way back to the Hotel Sur for a well-deserved night’s sleep. In the morning we’d have time for a bit more exploring before being picked up by minibus and taken the hour’s drive to Cómpeta. More next time...

...BUT - before I go, can I just point out that this blog now had ADVERTS! Please don't just ignore them, because the more click-throughs I get, the more money I make to send to the Rosemere Cancer Foundation - so would you be kind enough to check out the adverts AND share this blog with your friends? Thank you!