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

In 2016 I climbed every single 'Birkett' in the Lake District - all 542 fells over 1,000' within the National Park, including all 214 Wainwrights. I've also done a three-week cycle tour of Tasmania in February 2015 and 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 (my first) 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), cycled 750 miles in the Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton (2014), done a bit of sky-diving and cycled Australia's Great Ocean Road - just before lockdown in 2020.

Altogether I've raised over £120,000 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 5 September 2021 - 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, 1 June 2011

Day 20 – Dunnet Bay to John o’ Groats

26 miles – total 1,352 miles

Most cyclists arrive at John o’ Groats feeling somewhat elated, having completed around 1,000 miles during their journey from Land’s End. Despite having completed over 1,350 miles since setting off on 10 May, it’s a tad too early for elation to be amongst my emotions – there are still another 3,000 miles to go before completing the Coastal Challenge.  Still, there was certainly a feeling of satisfaction – one more landmark reached, in fact more than one, as today we visited the most northerly and the most north-easterly points in mainland Brtain – Dunnet Head and Duncansby Head respectively.

After three days in which I’ve covered 213 miles (and 16,000 ft of ascent) today’s plan was to have an easy short day and rest the legs for the afternoon.  Despite a nice weather forecast, the morning started wet and windy, but once on the road it wasn’t as bad as it seemed.  We left the Caravan Site without contravening any more regulations (as far as I’m aware) and were at Dunnet Head in under half an hour.

Bonxie gently persuading a Gannet to give up its food

The cliffs host lots of nesting Fulmars and Guillemots, but my favourites are the piratical Bonxies (Great Skuas) which terrorise other birds into giving up their food.  One or two were cruising around like B52s, looking for victims.  There were also quite a few orchids along the roadside, mainly Early Purple and Marsh Orchids, I think.

We took the back roads through Ham, past an amazingly large derelict cornmill (surprisingly, there’s a lot of arable land in this corner of Scotland), around Castle of Mey and then on to the main road for the run in to John o’ Groats.

Mark and Sandra arrived with the motorhome at the same time as us, so we booked in to the caravan site and had a brew before cycling out to Britain’s most north-easterly point, Duncansby Head, which also has a lighthouse, cliffs with Fulmars and Guillemots, Bonxies and a pair of impressive sea-stacks – and an Oystercatcher incubating three eggs on a piece of gravel hard-standing.

Duncansby Head Lighthouse

Back to the cluster of gift shops and cafés that is John o’ Groats.  The hotel at the Start/Finish is now closed, sadly, but the adjacent café has the record books of “End-to-Enders”.  I looked up my entry of 23 May 2003 and was amused to see that I had complained about the amount of rain. Not much change there then.  I wrote another entry for today without mentioning my opinion of the café’s attempt at paninis.

And now for the weather forecast.  The tiled floors in the toilet block here at the caravan site were mopped this morning, and were still wet this afternoon.  This is a sure sign (100% according to my father-in-law, and he used to be a farmer, so he should know) that the weather is about to be very good.  And he’s never wrong…

Finally (and I make no apologies for writing this reminder) my aim in doing this ridiculous bike ride is to raise £20,000 for Cancer Research UK.  Many readers have already donated (and we're almost up to £7,000) but probably even more are hedging their bets and waiting for me to give in!  If you haven’t made a donation yet, please do – it’s important work they’re doing, for goodness’ sake!  As always, the links are http://tinyurl.com/cancerbikeman and http://www.justgiving.com/Bill-Honeywell. And please be as generous as you can! Thank you!

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