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.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Day 31 – Seaton Sluice (Whitley Bay) to Runswick Bay

87 miles – total 2,052 miles – through the 2,000 mile barrier!

Dawn saw Mr Toop emerge from his tiny tent by the motorhome and fold it into something only slightly larger than a postage stamp. Chris and I set off to collect Mark from his luxurious B&B (?) in Whitley Bay, where we were also joined by James and Jill Alpe from Clitheroe who are doing the next three days with me.

Tynemouth Castle

I’d had a couple of ‘tweets’ from two cyclists who live around Sunderland – Dave (@roadbikedave) and Craig (@Chewbikker) – and they came out to meet us at the South Shields side of the Shields Ferry.  The only problem was… that when we arrived at the North Shields side, at 9.10, we found that it wasn’t running until at least 10.00. So we had to do a detour to the Tyne Tunnel, where there is the most amazing side tunnel solely for pedestrians and cyclists, complete with vertiginous wooden escalator!

On our back to the other side, the two gallant tweeters found us, introduced themselves, and promised to be our guides as far as the first brew stop at Seaham.  Opposite the Ferry was a large cruise ship – aboard which, it turns out, was my big brother captaingreybeard.com, aka John. No doubt still in bed.

The weather was bright and sunny as we passed through South Shields, where the Great North Run ends, and today was the Great North Dog Walk!  Then to Sunderland and over the River Wear, for a photo shoot at a very pretty fountain.  For the first time ever in several thousand miles, I caught the lace of my shoes in the bicycle chain – luckily for me I wasn’t tipped off the bike, as the lace snapped straight away.


Craig, Chris Toop, Dr Mark (Honeywell), James Alpe, me, Jill Alpe

Craig and Dave

When we had our first stop at Seaham, when Dave and Craig bid a fond farewell and set off for Durham, after enjoying some of sister Pat’s finest fruit cake.  From here we turned inland, passing through well known colliery names like Easington and Blackhall (where a paraglider seemed to be ‘practising’ just off the main road!). On through Hartlepool to Seaton Carew for another quick stop, where the wind off the sea made it freezing cold. 

Now we were really in modern industrial landscapes – vast areas of chemical plants and the like (dad used to work at Billingham ICI for a while, but I doubt he would recognise any of it now). Our plan was to cross the Tees on the Transporter Bridge, but, for our second disappointment of the day, this too was closed and another detour made necessary.

The rain started to fall about now, and got steadily heavier. By the time we had our final pit stop outside Redcar it was pretty wet and miserable.  Son Mark, whose exercise normally consists of running between the wickets or a run-up to bowl, had done 71 miles but refused to call it a day.

And so on to the final 16 miles and a real sting in the tail – the hills out of Saltburn and then into Brotton were steep enough, but then the gruelling long 1 in 4 out of Skinningrove, followed by at least three miles of uphill grind, was a real test, especially since conditions were so cold and wet at the summit.


When we finally did arrive at Runswick Bay it was still pouring, Mrs Toop had been waiting a long time for her husband and Mark was pretty much exhausted, but he’d done a great job, as had the other riders.  But with hardly any phone signal and no wi-fi at all, the blog has had to wait 24 hours. And there won’t be time to catch up tomorrow, other than a very brief summary, before a fuller resume on my 24 mile ‘rest day’ on Wednesday.

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